Myers Says U.S. Needs Patience, Commitment, Will to Win
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
FORT RILEY, Kansas, Oct. 18, 2003 America's highest-ranking military officer visited the beginnings of his Air Force career and spoke to ROTC cadets and the trustees of Kansas State University about the war on terrorism.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told his fellow alumni that the threat posed by terrorists is the most serious to face the United States since World War II.
"I will tell you one thing: Your armed forces will never give up. We will never, ever give up. Those men and women who are fighting tonight are not going to give up," he said to applause.
But the danger comes from terrorists spreading fear and intolerance in the United States, Myers said. "We know how harmful fear can be," he said. "It can destroy a society. Just because we have this great experiment in democracy and it is working so well, doesn't mean it has to be that way forever."
The stakes are high, the general told Air Force and Army ROTC cadets. "Many of you have seen or heard what these terrorists say about their objectives. What they want to do is do away with our way of life. If they could, they would do another 9-11 tomorrow."
Myers said that through lots of good work and some good luck, the terrorists haven't been successful. But he added they could be successful tomorrow, and the country must remain on guard.
In fighting the war on terrorism, Myers told his fellow Kansans that the nation needs three things: patience, commitment and the will to win.
The chairman said the country needs patience because the war of terrorism is different from any fought before. He said the war will last a long time, and the American people must be patient. He said the United States is leveling the full power of the country on the terrorist threat, and that the war is being fought on some nontraditional battlefields to eliminate the need that drives people to join terrorist or extremist organizations.
He said defending against the terrorist threat will take teamwork among many local, state and federal organizations and nongovernmental groups.
The general said Americans will have to be especially patient about Iraq. He said the situation in Iraq is improving, and that power production has reached prewar levels. While that level never met the needs of the country, he said, it is a sign of progress. Myers said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working diligently modernize the power grid and provide the power the country really needs.
"We think we're being successful, because the price of mobile generators in Baghdad is just dropping through the floor," Myers said.
The country also is making economic and political progress, he noted, emphasizing that the Iraqis have to take on as much of the governing as they possibly can. Officials said that more than 60,000 Iraqis are now working with coalition forces as members of the security forces. Thousands -- perhaps millions -- are working on infrastructure projects like the one in the southern city of Basra that will revitalize the city's canal system.
Myers said America must remain committed to victory against terrorists. He said the war is more subtle, with constant signs of the struggle not as apparent, as during World War II. In fact, he said, life appears normal in most areas of the Iraq.
Myers asked the alumni if they knew someone deployed to Iraq, and about half the crowd raised their hands. "That is our biggest commitment to this: the blood and treasure of our people," he said. Americans must remain committed to combating the threat that still endangers the United States and its allies, he said.
The will to win is crucial, as the war is, more than anything, a battle of wills, Myers said. He noted the terrorists have studied America and believe that when the going gets tough, the United States will cut and run. "My view is we cannot let our will be dominated by theirs, and it won't," the general said.
Myers said things are going "reasonable well" in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Does that mean we won't wake up tomorrow and read about another bombing in Iraq? No. The best chance for hope, the best chance for a free Iraq and a free Afghanistan, is for us to stay the course," he said.