Will, Resolve Key to Defeating Terror, Leaders Say
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 29, 2005 U.S. leaders of the American effort in Iraq told senators that U.S. strategy in the country is correct and that Americans must see it through.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers; U.S. Central Command Commander Army Gen. John Abizaid; and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
All called for patience as Iraqis prepare to vote on their proposed constitution Oct. 15 and hold national elections Dec. 15.
Myers, who steps down as chairman Sept. 30, thanked the senators for their past support. He said troops based around the world understand what is at stake in the war on terrorism. "They are 100 percent committed to accepting nothing less than winning this important struggle," Myers said.
Myers said servicemembers can take great pride in their successes: recent elections in Afghanistan, the constitution being debated in Iraq, and the growing capabilities of Afghan and Iraqi security forces, to name but a few. "All they need from us is the resources to finish the job, the continued resolve of the nation, and the support of the American people," he said.
Abizaid spoke about the worldwide threat al Qaeda poses. "Its global reach and its ability to inflict damage should not be underestimated," he said. "In this year alone, over 400 suicide bombers have been deployed worldwide, and thousands and thousands of innocent civilians -- most of whom are Muslims -- have been killed by al Qaeda as al Qaeda attempts to become mainstream ideologically in the region."
The general said that now is the time to "get in front" of al Qaeda before propaganda and proselytizing encourage more Muslims to see the terrorists as a plausible alternative to democracy.
He said the world saw how the al Qaeda ideology worked in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies oppressed the masses and "covered a nation in darkness," he said. The government allowed no music in the country, conducted executions in soccer stadiums, sequestered women, and destroyed priceless works of art.
But the vast majority of people in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa "don't buy this perverted view of Islam," Abizaid said. "They want to lead more prosperous lives. They do not want the extremists to win."
The terrorists' main effort is "not to defeat us militarily, but to break our will by capturing the headlines, by making us think we cannot help the people in the region help themselves against the extremist ideology," the general said. "They know that propaganda and grabbing headlines are more important than military operations."
Casey, the military commander in Iraq, agreed with Abizaid's assessment. "We're in a tough fight, but we've been in tough fights before to advance the cause of democracy and protect our way of life," Casey said. "We should not be afraid of this fight. We and the Iraqi people will prevail in this battle of wills if we don't lose ours."