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Myers Discuses Terror War, Leadership at NDU Graduation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, D.C., June 9, 2004 – More attention needs to be paid to the nonmilitary portion of the war on terrorism, and the military must do a better job in cultivating relationships among agencies and countries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

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Retired Army Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster, left, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers and Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn, stand at attention during graduation exercises at the National Defense University today. Goodpaster received an honorary doctorate degree at the graduation. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the graduation address; Dunn is NDU's president. Photo by Jim Garamone

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

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told the National Defense University's graduating class he is a bit leery about calling the ongoing struggle the "war on terrorism."

"Most people assume that if it is war, then the military is the lead agency," Myers told the 507 graduates of the NDU's Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the National War College. He said the image most people carry of a war is that the military instrument of power "is the dominant instrument of power, and there is a clearly defined military victory or defeat."

In the war on terror, this is not true, Myers said. "We have an important role to play, but the military alone cannot win or lose this," he explained. "When Iraq becomes a stable and thriving democracy, the struggle against violent extremists will not be over. If we capture Osama bin Laden tomorrow, it won't be over. It's going to take all instruments of our U.S. national power and those of our allies to succeed."

Rather than being waged over territory, the war on terror is one of ideologies, the chairman said. "At its heart, this is really a battle of wills for competing visions of how we want our future to develop," the chairman said. "It's a test of resolve, much like the Cold War."

Myers said equipment is important to the war on terrorism, as are command and control, logistics and so on. "But even more importantly, we absolutely must have people who can think, people who can lead, and people who can cultivate the vital relationships between agencies and, just as important, between nations."

The security environment today is extremely dynamic, Myers told the graduates, and it demands people who are flexible. "We need people who can think and study and write about the complex tasks that we face," he said.

Myers said his recent exposure to World War II veterans at the memorial dedication in Washington May 29 and the D-Day anniversary activities in France June 5-6 hammered home the point that the world needs leaders. The veterans represent thousands upon thousands of stories on leadership ranging from Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied commander in Europe, to the squad leaders and individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

"That was that generation, and they were fantastic," he said. "Now it's your generation, and it's your moment in history to lead."

The chairman said he has worried that the senior military schools haven't focused enough on leadership. The idea was that being chosen for the university was sort of proof that students could lead.

"The reality is we can all learn more," he said. "The scope of leadership continues to expand as you assume greater responsibility." The students must consider studying leadership as they advance in rank, the general said.

The National Defense University, the senior joint service professional military education facility in the military, often is called "the school for generals and admirals." It is the equivalent of the Army, Navy and Air war colleges. The lieutenant colonels and commanders attending the university today will be the general and flag officers of tomorrow, Myers said.

Both schools offer master's degree programs and are open to Defense Department and other-agency civilians and to the military and civilian personnel of other countries.

The military and civilian specialists who graduated today, Myers said, must continue to cultivate "the strongest possible relationships between our government agencies and the international community so we can synchronize our efforts in defending our freedom against extremists."

Finally, Myers stressed that the U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are even now on patrol, often in harm's way.

"They are doing amazing work every minute of every day," he told the graduates. "They are dedicated, they are focused and they understand the importance of their mission. And they deserve the absolute best leadership that we can give them."

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Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs Chairman

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