Chairman Encouraged by Meetings with Troops, Iraqis
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 17, 2005 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was encouraged following meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and President Jalal Talibani here today.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers is in the midst of a 10-day tour to assess U.S. troop morale. As part of this, he brought a USO troupe to Forward Operating Base Speicher near Tikrit, to Camp Liberty in Baghdad, and to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq's Anbar province.
The chairman met with Talibani and Jaafari at their offices in Baghdad. He said both men were tired, but confident that the Iraqi constitution will be finished "fairly shortly." The Iraqi National Assembly voted Aug. 15 to extend the deadline for writing the document by one week. The constitution is expected to be unveiled Aug. 22.
The chairman also participated in a broadcast of NBC's "Today" program from the Tigerland dining facility here. Matt Lauer interviewed soldiers about their lives in Iraq and also questioned Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of the Multinational Force Iraq, and Myers.
Myers said the whole day served to cement his belief that the effort in Iraq is "in good hands, because the troops know what it's all about."
He told of a young National Guard woman who came up to him after a USO show and "before I could thank her for her service, she said to me, 'Well, thank you for the opportunity to come over here and serve and make a difference.'"
The chairman said the troops understand what is a stake in Iraq. They know they can make a difference in the country. He tells them that in 20 years they can tell their children of grandchildren that they helped change the world. "They are out here making a difference," he said. "They know we can do this."
The chairman commented on a barbaric attack earlier in the day. Terrorists struck a busload of civilians, then attacked ambulances, firefighters and police who responded, and then attacked the hospital where rescuers brought the victims. "There is no excuse for that," Myers said. "I do think that in a war like this ... there is a large element of this that is our will vs. the adversary's will. Our will is for tolerance and building. It means freedom and hope. And the will of the adversary lets them bomb a bus and attack a hospital."
Myers said militarily United States military cannot be beaten by such attacks. But these attacks are not aimed at a military victory, he noted, but to sap the wills of people in Iraq and around the world. "It's not going to shake anybody's will," the general said. "Yes, I think most of the world is impatient. We like to fix things and get on with it. But what you can be proud of is our men and women in uniform. They get it, and every day they're doing what they are asked to do, and do it in a marvelous way."