Pace Speaks With Servicemembers in Afghanistan
By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher, USAF
American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, April 22, 2007 Extensions, training and congressional support topped the list of topics discussed at a town hall meeting here yesterday with Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses servicemembers at a town hall meeting April 21 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Pace talked about the recent extensions affecting all soldiers in U.S. Central Command and answered questions. Photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Pace and his senior enlisted advisor, Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, addressed servicemembers from all service branches and answered questions as part of a visit to the air base.
The chairman began the meeting by congratulating the troops and commending them on their actions during the Taliban’s attempted spring offensive. “This year’s spring offensive, you all have them trying to figure out what they’re going to do next,” Pace said.
He took questions on a variety of topics and attempted to settle concerns about media and congressional support for the troops and the war effort. “The American people are with you,” he said. “There are Americans who support the war and Americans who do not. They all support you.
“If you go all the way back to 2001 and remember the initial attacks on Afghanistan and in 2003 the attacks on Iraq, there was 24-hour coverage,” he continued. “Over time, the amount of time on TV allocated to the war has gone down. What gets on television is the bombs going off, not the well being dug. We can either wring our hands about this or realize what the environment is and adjust to it.”
Despite what troops might hear on television, Congress continues to support them in the field, Pace said. “Our Congress has continued to fund everything we ask for,” he said. “They will come to whatever compromise they need to come to, to give us what we need. That’s why you’re here: to protect the right to have those kinds of debate.”
The chairman said troops can help shape that debate by talking to people when their deployments are complete. “When you come home, talk to some group in your hometown,” he encouraged. “If all of us do that, there will be more Americans who get a bit of information here and bit there.”
Pace also addressed the recently announced extensions that soldiers in U.S. Central Command, which includes Afghanistan, will now serve. “We did it to stop the just-in-time decisions,” he told the troops, “to stop telling people they’ll be home for 12 months and then nipping away at that.”
The general added that he understands the sacrifices soldiers and their families are making. “It really is the families sacrificing the most here,” he said. “You know when you’re in danger. They don’t, so they think about you in danger a lot.”
At the end of the town hall meeting, Pace shook all the servicemembers’ hand and thanked them for their sacrifices. “I don’t know how to thank you properly,” he said. “You’re making a difference.”
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher is assigned to the Regional Command East Public Affairs Office.)