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Pace Discusses Allies, Supplies at Mississippi Speech

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2004 – The United States is thankful for the 30 allies contributing to security in Iraq, and Americans should not measure allied contributions to the war on terror solely on the number of troops involved, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff told an audience in Mississippi.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace told the Mississippi Gulf Coast Salute to the Military gathering at Biloxi that it's not the size of a nation's contribution that matters, but the quality of that contribution. He said that in the war on terror, 20 special operations force members could be crucial in tracking down a terrorist. A well-trained group of special forces soldiers could have a strategic effect.

Countries decide how troops and resources will be used in the global war on terror, he said. And the contributions of nations in choking off funding to terrorists or helping in reconstruction efforts can be a valuable contribution to eliminating terrorism or giving hope to those who oppose the extremists, he said.

The U.S. and coalition military "can and will provide the security necessary to allow a free government in Iraq government and a free government in Afghanistan."

So it would be a mistake to measure allied contributions solely by the numbers involved. "We should look at the quality of the commitment and the totality of that country's contribution, both on the battlefield and in very important other elements of national power to see how our friends and allies are doing," he said. "The United States is thankful (to those countries), and we recognize the many contributions that our friends around the world are making."

Pace said that during the Korean War, the United States provided about 90 percent of the coalition troops on the peninsula. In Iraq, the United States provides about 80 percent of the force.

Pace also spoke about reported supply problems in Iraq. He said there is probably some servicemember somewhere who does not have a piece of equipment he needs, but it is a distribution problem, not a numbers problem. He described the matter using the Small Arms Protective Insert to the flak vest as an example.

He said that at the beginning of the war, the SAPI plates were experimental and the military had only 2,000. They sent those off with special operations forces. In the meantime, servicemembers went to war with regular protective vests.

The feedback on the SAPI plates was that they worked, and the military went to Congress and asked for the money to get that equipment to the rest of the military personnel deployed overseas.

Congress approved and industry responded, churning out 20,000 SAPI plates a month. With 160,000 troops based overseas, it took eight months to get servicemembers the best protection. "The complaint wasn't that they didn't have any protection," Pace said, "but that they had old protection."

Pace said the United States will ensure that the troops will continue to receive the best equipment as soon as it becomes available.

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Marine Gen. Peter Pace, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

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