Myers Praises Australian Efforts in War on Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 16, 2004 The top American uniformed officer delivered the American military's thanks to one of its most steadfast allies here today.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, troops the line during a ceremony at the Australian Defense Force headquarters in Canberra Jan. 16. Photo by Jim Garamone
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thanked his counterpart, Army Gen. Peter Cosgrove, chief of the Australian Defense Force, for his nation's help in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the global war on terrorism.
Myers is finishing a trip through the Asia-Pacific region with a stop in Australia. He met here with Cosgrove and Defense Minister Robert Hill, and earlier in the day with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney.
Myers met with the Australian version of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Russell Building here the nerve center of the Australian military establishment. Cosgrove said the Australians had a "fascinating" time discussing regional and world events with Myers and his staff. They discussed ongoing operations, the U.S.-Australia exercise program and the issues of interoperability between the United States and Australia, he said.
Cosgrove passed along the Australian military's praise of the U.S. military in its continuing missions around the world.
Myers specifically thanked the Australian Defense Force for providing airlift support, technical experts and security personnel for maritime interception operations in Iraq. "Because of their commitment, they are helping create a stable and secure environment," Myers said during a press conference with Cosgrove. He said the Australian efforts will help the Iraqis transition to self-government.
"This alliance this partnership between America and Australia is strong, and it is vital," Myers said. "Both our countries have experienced the senseless murder of innocent people at the hands of terrorists. The very nature of the threat demands that the community of nations stand together against this evil. We are partners in a war that we must fight, in a war that we must win, in a war that we are winning and will win."
The military leaders revealed that the United States and Australia are discussing the possibility of building a joint training area here. Myers said the idea is "embryonic," but is being studied to see if it's worthwhile. Cosgrove said the idea was floated by the United States, and representatives are discussing it. He said there are no concrete proposals about where the base would be, how it would be built or who would man it. Myers said if the two countries did build a training area, it would not involve basing Americans in Australia.
Missile defense is a hot topic in Australia since the government revealed last month that it may be interested in participating in the U.S. effort. Coincidentally, a U.S. team is in Australia to negotiate with the Ministry of Defense, but this had no connection to Myers' visit.
Howard commented on the issue after his meeting with Myers in Sydney. "We are exploring ways to be involved," the prime minister said. "It's a common-sense proposition to prevent missiles directed at Australia from arriving in Australia. I can't see anyone being against that."
Reporters asked Myers about the state of the coalition in Iraq and about the situation in the country. He said 38 countries have military forces in Iraq, and another 14 are considering sending forces. He said that since U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein last month, there has been a drop in attacks against the coalition and an increase in cooperation with the coalition.
The chairman pointed to the almost 200,000 Iraqis in a variety of security organizations as proof that the Iraqi people want better lives for themselves and their children.