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Myers Challenges Civic Leaders to Learn About Military

By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2005 – Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers challenged 54 civilian business, academic and local-government leaders to "get to know the men and women of America's armed forces and learn how the military works."

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Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers meets with members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference April 24. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott F. Reed, USAF

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

The civilians are participants in DoD's 69th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a weeklong event that offers civilian leaders the opportunity to tour military installations, fly on military aircraft, board military vessels, and observe a variety of urban warfare, special operations, and other demonstrations. Myers met with the group April 24.

"If you just pay a little attention this week, you will learn a lot about the military and about how the whole team works together," he said.

"Be interactive," Myers told the group, "and you will meet some wonderful people. They will energize you. You will see their dedication and loyalty. And you will come back changed.

"Your only obligation," he added, "is to take whatever you've learned and talk about it in your communities."

Myers called it "a dangerous thing" for the U.S. military to get disconnected from the U.S. public. "You are that connection," he said. "When you go home and talk about what you've learned, another 20 people who didn't know anything about the military will learn from you."

Myers also spoke to the group about the global war on terror, saying, "The stakes are extremely high."

"Terrorist extremists want to create fear," he said. "They want to cut into your confidence."

America's goal is to create an environment in which young men and women no longer want to become jihadists, Myers said. "It's a complex endeavor," he said. "A great momentum built up after the Iraqi elections, then slowed down a bit during the pause that followed.

"But the political piece is more important than anything else," he added, referring to the power of freedom and democracy to change a country.

In response to a question, Myers said his greatest worry was extremists who would "use any means to carry out their goals."

"That nexus that exists between terrorist extremists and weapons of mass destruction is my greatest worry," he said, adding, "And not necessarily nuclear weapons, but radiological or biological weapons that are readily available."

Myers thanked the group for their interest and their willingness to spend a week with America's armed forces. "The one thing we learned after 9-11 is that we are all connected," he said. "Not just the military but the business, academic and civic community. That's why this conference is so important."

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Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF

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Joint Civilian Orientation Conference

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