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Chairman Asks Troops to Prepare for Hardships

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2001 – Fighting terrorism is the most important thing America's armed forces have been asked to do since World War II, the military's top officer said.

"Everything else, at least for the next couple of years, will probably pale in comparison to efficiently and effectively carrying out the orders that the president of the United States has given us," said Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers.

Myers, in an American Forces Radio and Television Service interview to be broadcast to U.S. forces overseas, said he's counting on troops to stay focused on their missions and to take care of themselves and their comrades.

He warned that America is entering a whole new era of military engagement and that service members should be prepared for long tours of duty away from home.

"We are at war," Myers said. "We will stretch the force, and I would just hope the force is going to understand that ... this is a global war on terrorism. It is defending what every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, (and) Coast Guardsman said when they raised their right hand and they took their oath -- to defend and support the Constitution of (these) United States.

"I mean we're defending freedom in the most specific and the broadest sense of that word," he added.

Myers said there's no question in his mind that there will be personal hardships among service members and their families. But, he added, he and the rest of the Joint Chiefs will do their best to mitigate that impact.

"Our job is going to be try to balance our war on terrorism with our exercise programs and everything else that we have going on, and try to balance it in a way that puts the minimum hardship on our people," Myers said. "But I hope the troops out there understand, this is really the most important task I've been assigned since I've been in the military."

The chairman also asked service members' families to stand strong. "You're part of it, too, just like you always are," he said directly to families, then added, "so I would ask for their support of the service member piece of their family and we'll get through this just fine."

Deployed service members also need to make every effort to communicate with family members back home.

"If you're overseas particularly, your family's going to worry about you, so communicate with them as you can," Myers said. "If you have access to e-mail, then e-mail them. Write letters the old-fashioned way. But stay in contact, because, naturally, moms and dads and spouses are going to worry about members forward deployed. So, as you can, reassure them."

But most of all, he wants troops to believe in what they're doing. "If we're successful, then our nation will be victorious, and in the end, freedom will be victorious," Myers said. "And that's what it's all about."

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