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Pace Thanks Vets, Talks on Way Forward in Terror War

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2006 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thanked the nation’s 30 million veterans and talked about the way forward in the war of terror during television interviews today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participates in interviews with morning news programs at the Pentagon, Nov. 10. Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace spoke to hosts of morning news shows from the Pentagon. He said America owes its freedoms to veterans. He also thanked the families of those who serve for their sacrifices.

The chairman said he was saddened by the Nov. 8 resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. “He has done an enormously powerful job as our secretary of defense,” he said. “He is a dedicated patriot and has worked harder than anyone in the department to do the job he has been given the best he knew how.”

Pace said Robert M. Gates, President Bush’s choice to lead the department has a fine reputation as a strong leader. He said if the Senate confirms Gates, the Defense Department will pass “from strong hands to strong hands.”

Pace said the change in leadership will not affect what the United States does or doesn’t do in Iraq. “As you would expect, we continuously review what’s going right, what’s going wrong, what needs to change,” he said. “We do that for Secretary Rumsfeld, we’ll do that if Dr. Gates is confirmed by the Senate. The process has worked for decades. We will give our best military advice based on the situation on the ground.”

The chairman said the serious issue on the table is the strategic objectives of the United States in the war on terrorism. He said military and civil leaders need to ask what is going right in pursuit of those objectives and what is not and should be changed. He said that examination goes on continuously, and he works with his fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as Army Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of Multinational Force Iraq.

Pace said winning in the war on terrorism is to provide a secure environment inside the nations America is trying to help so their governments can function. “Example: here in Washington, D.C. there is crime,” he said. “But there is a police department, and the police force keeps the level of crime below which the government can function.”

He said there is no way to do away with terror attacks altogether. The U.S. strategy is to provide the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere with enough security capacity to keep the terrorist acts below a level at which their governments can function and provide their people with jobs and opportunities.

Pace said Americans are still supporting the troops. “Regardless of their stand on the war, the American people have been extremely supportive of their military in so many ways,” he said, “whether it is greeting them when they come home at airports, or in the case of those who have been wounded or killed in action, taking care of their families. There are organizations out there that provide scholarships for the children or homes for those wounded.

“The American people have reached out in amazing ways to our returning veterans,” he continued, “and all of us in uniform thank them.”

Pace sent his greetings to his fellow Marines on the Corps’ 231st birthday. “It’s a great day to be a Marine, whether you are a private or a general,” he said. Later today, he will continue that celebration by participating in the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.

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Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

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