Myers Reviews Year in Iraq, Speaks of War on Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 19, 2004 One year after combat operations began against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, now more than ever is the time for the international community to pull together against terrorism, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said on CNN's "American Morning," ABC's "Good Morning America" and "Fox News Morning" that America should pay tribute to the members of the armed forces on duty around the globe. "They are the reason that we're being successful," he said on CNN.
Myers advised a wait-and-see approach to the military actions under way in Pakistan. The Pakistani armed forces have a good-sized fight on their hands against suspected al Qaeda fighters, he said. Some Pakistani officials have said they believe Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri is surrounded.
Myers said it remains to be seen exactly what is confronting the Pakistani military. He praised the Pakistani armed forces for their fight against the terrorists in the tribal areas along the country's border with Afghanistan. He said this is something new for the Pakistani military, and that it is doing a good job.
Myers cautioned that even if there is a "high-value target" captured or killed in the action in Pakistan, it is just one step. "It's like the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the other high-level al Qaeda operatives that we've captured or killed," he said. "It's one step in a many-step process to defeat international terrorism."
By itself, he said, the capture wouldn't stop plots that are under way, but it would help the overall intelligence picture as the world combats terror.
Myers highlighted the progress being made in Iraq. He said the coalition will stay in the country until the job is done. About 120,000 American forces, 24,000 coalition forces from 35 nations, and a 209,000-member Iraqi security force are on duty in Iraq. And though Iraqis in security positions have been among terrorist targets, the chairman said recruiting continues to be strong.
"Some of the attacks from the jihadists and the former regime forces are against these Iraqi security forces, yet there are more people lining up to take part in freeing their country," Myers said.
The foreign jihadists are making their stand against people who want to live in peace. "They are coming from other places in the world to make their stand," he said.
The chairman also spoke about progress in the political, infrastructure and economic arenas. He said Iraq's electrical generating capacity has surpassed the prewar levels. Oil shipments have increased, and are at or beyond prewar levels, he added.
On the political side, the adoption of the Transitional Administrative Law, Myers said, is a great step for the Iraqis.
The international community has kept the pressure on the terrorists on all fronts, Myers said, and that needs to continue. "This is not something you can pick and choose with one country or one area to fight in," the chairman said. "It's got to be fought all over the world, and it's got to be fought by the international community.
"This is one time when the international community really has to pull together," he continued, "because this threat is very pervasive; these terrorists are everywhere. We've seen bombings literally all around the world. To think we could ignore one area would be a mistake."
The chairman again warned Americans that terrorism is a huge threat to the United States. "It can create fear that causes us to think in very illogical ways," he said. "It's got to be addressed, and the burden falls a bit more on the military to take this fight to the enemy. The men and women of our armed forces understand this very well. They are proud to serve. Most of the families support these efforts, because they understand the consequences of not winning the war on terrorism."