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Service Members Step Up to Duty in War on Terror

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

TOKYO, Jan. 12, 2004 – American service men and women are stepping forward to re-enlist, "as I would expect," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers. "We are a nation at war. This is the time for our military to rise to the occasion and serve the nation at a time like no other."

Myers said in an interview with the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper that all services are making their retention and recruiting goals. The chairman said service members realize that if the United States loses the war on terrorism, the results would be catastrophic. The terrorists want to end the freedoms and rights Americans take for granted and that countless people across the globe yearn for, he said.

Myers said active duty and reserve component personnel are stepping forward to serve. What's more, young American are enlisting to help fight the global war on terror. "This is the time to raise your right hand and swear 'to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic,'" he said. "There has never been a more dire threat to our security -- and not just to the United States but to our friends and allies."

The chairman praised U.S. military people serving all over the world. "Our young men and women are serving with great distinction, not just in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Balkans, but here in the Pacific as well," he said. "My hat is off to them."

The interview capped a long day of meetings with Japanese officials here today. Myers continually emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship to peace in the region and to stability worldwide.

Myers met with officials of the Japanese Self-Defense Force, the Ministry of Defense and the Foreign Ministry. "This is clearly an area where we have great national interest," Myers said.

U.S. personnel serving in the Asia-Pacific area help ensure the stability of the region, and are helping to win the war on terror, he said. Uniformed and civilian Defense Department personnel are "absolutely fundamental" to continued stability in the region, the chairman added.

A senior military official said there was unanimity among American and Japanese leaders, and that the meetings were characterized by "extraordinary closeness and mutual respect." The U.S. leaders spent much time listening to how the Japanese see the world, and noted the many convergences between Japan and the United States the official said.

And it is not just the leadership that views U.S.-Japanese relations as important. A Western diplomat said opinion polls in Japan indicate that more than 80 percent of the Japanese people favor the alliance with the United States.

The official said the allies discussed the upcoming deployment of Japanese self-defense forces to Iraq. Officials from both countries acknowledged the dangers in the move. U.S. officials praised Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's decision to send the troops.

The allies also discussed the Japanese financial contributions to rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq. The Japanese have pledged around $6 billion to the effort.

Myers, who has served a number of times in the region, met with old friends and new ones. The Japanese government awarded him with the Order of the Rising Sun for his leadership role in the alliance. Myers accepted the award on behalf of the men and women of both military forces who have made the alliance such a success.

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