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Pace: Will of American People is Enemy’s ‘Center of Gravity’

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2006 – The American people will make the right decisions in Iraq if they understand what’s at stake in the war on terror, the top U.S. military general said here today.

“Baghdad is the center of gravity in Iraq, and the American people are the center of gravity for our enemies,” Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Pentagon news conference.

In military terms, an opponent's “center of gravity” is what prevents a force from accomplishing its objectives. For the United States, Baghdad is the most important city in Iraq and one that other sections in Iraq will follow. It is the center of gravity for the fight against terrorism in the country, he said.

The will of the American people to carry on the war on terror prevents the enemy from meeting its objective; it is the enemy’s center of gravity, Pace said.

He said Americans may be getting an overly pessimistic view of the war in Iraq. “If you go back to the beginning of this war, you remember we had 24-7 coverage of the war,” he said. “Any citizen who wanted to could avail themselves of as much information as they wanted to and come to their own decision about what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong.”

But as time went on, other stories crowded out this 24-7 coverage. News is a business, Pace said, and time, column inches and Internet space went to other stories. “So the time that's allocated ends up being allocated to the things that go ‘bang’ -- not the schools that are being built, not the girls that are going to go to school, not the highways that are being built, not the crops that are being grown, not the agreements that are being made politically, but the bombs that have been going off is what's being shown,” he said.

Pace said he believes that as a military leader, it is his responsibility to answer questions “so the American people can listen to my answers and answers from others and questions from others, from both sides of the problem, so they can make their own judgment.”

If leaders make that information available to the American people, they will find the right center of balance and make the right decision, he said.

Pace said he has confidence that America will choose wisely.

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General Peter Pace

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