Myers: Morale, Commitment High in Armed Forces
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2005 Morale within the U.S. military is high, and servicemembers around the world have a clear understanding of their mission, the challenges they face and the importance of what they're contributing in the war on terror, the top military general told Pentagon reporters here today.
Two days after returning from a 10-day, around-the-world trip to "take the pulse" of the military, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he's convinced that America's armed forces are the "best-trained and most capable force we have ever seen."
After visiting 18 bases and meeting with more than 15,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, plus Defense Department civilians and contractors, Myers said Americans should be assured that their military is "the finest organization on the planet."
But just as importantly, he said, its members recognize the role they're playing in maintaining security around the world and see firsthand the difference they're making, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"They particularly want to finish the job at hand," he said, noting that they see the progress they're helping bring about.
But despite his upbeat assessment, Myers said he's concerned about what he called "the growing gap between what people are hearing back here in the United States and with what we saw on this trip."
While not pointing his finger at the news media, Myers acknowledged that news coverage of activities in Iraq could be "fuller," and that news, by its nature, often focuses on negatives rather than positives. "It's human nature that we tend to go where the fire trucks...or the police cars ...or ambulance are going," he said.
Myers said the military leadership needs to do a better job of getting the word out about activities that paint a more complete picture of what's taking place on the ground. "There's a lot of other things that are happening that are indeed great measures of progress, and ... I think we can do a better job of helping explain that, and we will," he said.
Myers said it's critical that the American public keep focused on the importance of the success in the war on terror.
"It's so easy for people to forget that we are a nation at war," the general acknowledged. "These are very serious times (and) the stakes are huge."
The American public "should never underestimate the challenges that our military members face in this global war on terrorism," he said. "We are asking a lot of our people. They're performing tremendously, and they always have ... when their country has called."
U.S. troops "know the mission and they're fully up to the task," Myers said. "They are trained and they are ready, and they want to see the mission through to completion."
That demands staying the course in Iraq, he said, noting that troops understand the winning strategy "is to continue to fight the insurgency and to create an environment to allow the political process to continue."
Winning against the insurgency in Iraq "will take time and patience," he acknowledged.
"The most important thing we have as a nation is our will and our resolve," he said. "This military can do anything as long as they have the will and resolve of the American people."