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Myers: Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan Doing Well

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

PORTSMOUTH, Virginia, April 5, 2005 – Though he got only a few minutes to chat with them during his recent trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said "the troops are doing well."

The Joint Chiefs chairman provided this assessment to reporters after his keynote address to defense industry representatives here today at the Joint Force Command/National Defense Industrial Association Industry Days 2005.

"It never fails, when you go to Iraq or Afghanistan (or the) Horn of Africa, that the troops know exactly what it's about," Myers said. "They understand the importance of the mission and I'd say morale was extremely high. It has been from the start."

Myers said issues remain in carrying out the mission, such as how the forces are structured in the 21st century. One element that needs addressing is rebalancing the reserve component-active force mix. Myers said the balance as it is right now hampers force agility and flexibility.

That and other issues will be addressed during the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, he said.

The Army is doing a terrific job, the chairman said. "They are, of all the services, the one that is probably the busiest," Myers said, referencing deployment tempo. "They are also involved in transforming themselves."

He noted the service is transforming to a modular concept. With a modular force, Myers pointed out, commanders can pick and choose the building blocks desired to come up with the most effective combat unit for the job.

"They decided the basic unit of combat will be the brigade," Myers said.

With this decision comes the increase in the number of brigades from 33 to 43 with very little increase in end-strength. Some of those new brigades are already on-line and serving in Iraq.

This kind of action is truly transformation, he said.

"Don't think of transformation as a new ship or plane or tank. That's not what it is," he said. "It's how do we organize ourselves ... lead ourselves? What's our doctrine?

"This is a big deal. And they've done it very well," the general said.

Myers said there are a myriad of reasons why people to join the military.

"I'm convinced that clearly one of the reasons people want to join now is that they understand that this nation is at risk right now. The stakes are very high and they want to do their part," the chairman said. "In many respects, this is the next 'Greatest Generation.'"

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Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF

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