Myers: U.S. Strength Never More Important Than Now
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Feb. 4, 2005 It's never been more important for the United States to be strong, because the enemy in the global war on terror seeks to destroy U.S. society, the nation's top military officer said here Feb. 3.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at the annual Chamber of Commerce awards banquet here.
"They view the values that we represent and hold dear as a threat," the general said. "Their weapon of choice is fear. They know no limits, be they territorial or moral."
Torture chambers, weapons caches, fighting positions in mosques and videotaped beheadings are among the reminders of the type of enemy coalition forces face in Iraq, Myers said. Before the country's Jan. 30 election, he noted, terrorists warned Iraqis to save their lives by staying away from the polls, promising the voting sites would be attacked.
"The stakes in this war," he said, "simply couldn't be higher."
Eliminating extremism as a threat is a demanding and complex struggle, Myers said, and he acknowledged it's going to be a long one.
"There will be more attacks," he said, "but if we take a step back, we'll see that the U.S. and coalition forces are helping the Iraqi people build institutions of a strong and free society."
Myers noted that all the latest technology is being used to defeat the enemy. "But our most potent weapon, without a doubt, is the brave men and women in uniform," he said.
Whether they came from big cities or small towns across America, the chairman added, they have one thing in common: "They volunteered, and they answered their nation's call to serve," he said. "I believe that when the history books are written, this truly will be the new 'Greatest Generation.' They are absolutely awesome."
The chairman said U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have worked "with tremendous courage, with patriotism and with compassion to bring security and stability but most of all, great hope to these countries."
With tough challenges ahead, Myers said, the nation can't afford to lose its focus or its resolve. But the military can't fight the war on terror on its own, he emphasized.
"Our armed forces are very good at what we do," he said, "but it's going to take virtually every agency and department of our government working together with the international community and international governments to work more closely than we ever have before to defeat this threat of extremism."
Myers told the audience of business leaders and merchants that he understands the sacrifices that businesses especially small businesses have made in recent years, with so many of their Reserve and National Guard employees called to active service. "But I also know that a number of Little Rock companies have provided real support, outstanding support," he said. "So I want to especially thank you and all the employers of National Guard and Reserve for what you do for our troops."
He noted that more than 3,300 Arkansans have been mobilized to fight in the war on terror, "serving with distinction all over the globe."
"Your support of their service could not be more critical," he said. Anyone who needs ideas on how to do that, the general added, should visit the "America Supports You" Web site. "It's run by the Department of Defense," he said, "and it's a place where people trade ideas on how to support the troops."
Unlike in World War II, when rationing and shortages and efforts such as scrap- metal drives affected most Americans directly, life goes on fairly normally for most Americans during the global war on terror, Myers said. This, he warned, presents the potential danger of the nation losing its focus. But he assured the audience no such danger exists in America's armed forces.
"I can guarantee you that the active duty, Guard and Reserve are all 100 percent committed to winning this conflict that we are now engaged in," he said. "And they also couldn't be better role models for our nation, and I couldn't be prouder of them, as I know you are of all of them."
People serving in the military know the war on terror will be a long and tough fight, the chairman said. "And they really, really understand what's at stake," he added.
"They also know that they're making a huge difference," Myers said. "They realize the rewards are great freedom for ourselves and our friends, and most importantly, freedom from tyranny."
The chairman pledged victory in the war on terror. "No matter how long it takes," he said, "failure is not an option, and we will not fail."