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Military Stressed, But Able to Execute Strategy, Myers Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2005 – Despite stresses and strains on the force, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told members of the House Armed Services Committee today that the American military remains able to execute America's national military strategy.

"We are now in our fourth year of sustained combat operations," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said. "We are still a nation at war. Our servicemen and women continue to perform superbly under conditions of significant stress and in the face of myriad challenges. They stand ready to protect the United States, prevent conflict and surprise attack, and prevail against adversaries."

Myers said the military has had significant successes against a shadowy and dangerous enemy. "We and our partners have captured or killed many of al Qaeda's senior leaders and hurt their ability to conduct operations," Myers said. "But they are still a very real, global threat." The general added that the military will continue to hunt down terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The chairman stressed that while the U.S. military is being successful, it must have multinational allies and interagency cooperation to be victorious. "While I believe the various agencies of our government have learned to work together in new and better ways, we need to become still more efficient and effective in integrating the efforts of various government agencies," he told the representatives.

Building Iraqi capabilities is the key to success in Iraq, the general said, and a timetable for American withdrawal from the country would be "counterproductive." A timetable would lead terrorists into thinking they could wait America out, he told the committee.

Iraqi forces are assuming a greater share of the security role, he said, and the recent national-assembly elections "represented a moral defeat for the insurgents."

As the coalition moves to the future, the objective must be to shift from the coalition providing security to building counterinsurgency capabilities in Iraqi forces, he said.

In Afghanistan, the plan also is on track, Myers said. The Afghan National Army is 19,000 members strong and is a "multi-ethnic, visible symbol of national pride, unity and strength," he said. The United States and coalition allies will continue to build that capability, he added.

But Iraq and Afghanistan are not the only hotspots. Myers said the threat of weapons of mass destruction, "particularly North Korea's and Iran's ongoing nuclear weapons-related activities," worry military planners.

Terrorist organizations too wish to acquire stronger and more deadly weapons, the chairman said, and the confluence of terror groups and nations willing to provide the groups with WMD is disturbing. "We will continue to work with the international community to expand counterproliferation activities," the general said.

Myers said servicemembers remain America's "No. 1 asset." He said morale in all components remains high, but said the department must revisit reserve-component mobilization processes.

He said fiscal 2005 will be "a very challenging year for both active and reserve component recruiting," and he is particularly concerned about recruiting for the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. He said the military is increasing the number of recruiters and restructuring enlistment bonuses to boost the numbers.

The general also said he was concerned about the wear and tear on equipment and vehicles caused by ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

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