Myers: Fallujah Insurgents Have Paid Heavy Price
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2004 Insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq, have paid "a heavy price for their resistance," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, appearing on NBC's "Today" program, told host Matt Lauer a "very high" number of insurgents have been captured and killed in Fallujah, but that numbers are not what Operation Al Fajr is about.
"The whole point is not how many insurgents are killed or captured, but to return Fallujah to a status where the people of Fallujah can go about their business without intimidation," the chairman said, "and where, hopefully, come January, we'll have elections and they can participate."
Terming the operation so far as "very, very successful," the general emphasized that victory in Fallujah won't mean an end to the fight in Iraq. "If anybody thinks that Fallujah is going to be the end of the insurgency in Iraq, that was never the objective, never our intention, and even never our hope," he said. But the operation is living up to what planners had in mind, he added. "We're exactly on plan," he said. "The insurgents are paying a heavy price for their resistance."
Myers predicted success in the Fallujah operation. "It's going to achieve the objectives that we want," he said, "and that's a Fallujah that is free of intimidation, free of that center of insurgency, no longer a safe haven for terrorists, if you will -- because that's what it was -- and where the people there can return to life, and reconstruction efforts will begin, and they'll be a part of the new Iraq."
As the nation observes Veterans Day today, Myers said that while he foresees the global war on terror being a long struggle, the hope is that it won't always involve military forces being on the front lines. "But what we are doing is creating a whole generation of veterans who have combat experience, like their fathers and their grandfathers and their great-grandfathers, who are going to come back to the United States of America having defended our freedoms and provided hope to millions of people," he said. "So this is, I think, in a long line of traditional activities by our military that bring great honor on themselves and, for that matter, on this country."
On the CBS "Early Show" today, Myers pointed to Afghanistan's recent election as one example of the hope U.S. military people have provided. "I think what's happening in Afghanistan is a real tribute to the United States armed forces," he said. "I mean, the fact that almost 10 million people showed up and voted, almost half of them women, and they seem to be on a path towards democracy, is a real tribute to the men and women in uniform."
The general told host Harry Smith that the work of bringing all of Iraq under control has three key aspects.
"On the security side, coalition forces help the Iraqi forces provide security for their own citizens," he explained. "And as we build up their security forces, which is a major part of our effort, that's one piece.
"There's a political dimension," he continued, "and that's what the interim Iraqi government is doing in terms of the political solution in Fallujah (and) in Mosul, in trying to put people in those positions, either in chief of police or as governors or mayors of those cities and towns, to bring back control."
The third part of the work, Myers explained, is on the economic side. "And you're going to see that work here in Fallujah fairly shortly," he noted, "because all that's going to come together here in Fallujah."
Still, he acknowledged, the way ahead in Iraq does have challenges, such as the continued use of car bombs against the Iraqi people by enemies of a free Iraq. "These are the extremists killing their fellow Muslims, killing Iraqis," he said. "There are a lot more Iraqis that have been killed by these extremists than coalition forces over this fight."
On ABC's "Good Morning America" today, Myers praised the performance of Iraqi security forces despite reports that some elite troops did not report for duty in the first wave of Operation Al Jafr in Fallujah.
"What I do know is that the Iraqis that are fighting side-by-side with our Marines are described as doing a very good job," he said. Some 3,000 Iraqi troops are fighting alongside U.S. Marines and U.S. Army soldiers in the operation, he added.
"This is about Iraq," the chairman said. "This is about the new Iraq. This is about Iraqis making it secure for their own citizens."