No Sidelines, 'We're All Vulnerable,' Myers Says of War on Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2002 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will use his upcoming visit to Asia to re- emphasize that all freedom-loving countries must unite against terrorism.
"In this war on terrorism, we're all in this together," Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said today during a briefing at the Foreign Press Center here. "It's not a situation where you can elect not to be a part of it. We're all part of it. We're all vulnerable."
Myers is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea and the Philippines shortly. Security precautions preclude giving the exact dates or itinerary.
He said he will meet with leaders in the countries and thank them for their assistance so far in the war on terrorism. He will also discuss lessons learned and the way ahead. He will also discuss bilateral military issues between the countries and the United States.
Myers applauded the debate stimulated by the Koizumi government's effort to expand Japan's military response. He said all countries should engage in a similar debate. "The security environment of the 21st century -- we knew it was going to be very different from the Cold War, but until Sept. 11, I don't think we realized how different," he said.
The question countries need to ask is, "Do we need to change to address a threat that is changing?"
"In 1995, sarin gas was used (by terrorists) in Tokyo. In 2001, airliners were used to attack buildings," Myers said. "We know for sure that terrorist groups are very interested in weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological and even nuclear. We know for certain that if they could get their hands on more devastating weapons of mass destruction, they would and they would use them."
He said he will deliver this message to all countries.
In South Korea, North Korea will dominate the agenda. President Bush lumped North Korea with Iraq and Iran as part of "the axis of evil" during his State of the Union address in January. Myers said he is concerned about the communist dictatorship because it has intercontinental ballistic missile capability and is developing weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea also proliferates these dangerous technologies. Myers said the North Koreans will sell missile technology to "almost anyone willing to pay."
Finally, North Korea still maintains a 1.1-million man army, most of it concentrated on the Demilitarized Zone that divides it and South Korea.
In the Philippines, Myers will meet with national and defense leaders and then travel to the southern portion of the country where U.S. service members are helping train Philippine soldiers to combat the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.
A primary purpose will be to thank the troops for their help in the war on terrorism, he said. Another will be to get feedback on how U.S. training assistance and advice to the Philippine armed forces are being perceived and taken, Myers noted.
While in the region, Myers will attend changes of command for Gen. Thomas Schwartz, U.N. Command chief in Korea, and Adm. Dennis Blair, who is stepping down as commander of U.S. Pacific Command. Adm. Thomas Fargo will replace Blair in Hawaii and Army Lt. Gen. Leon J. LaPorte has been nominated to replace Schwartz.