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Myers Speaks on Saddam's Leadership, Need for New Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 16, 2003 – "Leadership from a hole is not leadership," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers during a press conference here today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, left, conducts a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 16 with Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 7. Myers said remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime "should be thinking about a new line of work." Photo by Jim Garamone.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Myers was answering a question about what type of man and soldier Saddam Hussein proved to be.

The chairman is traveling in the U.S. Central Command area with a Holiday USO Show. He was also briefed on the situation in Iraq by Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq. Myers and Sanchez held a press conference following their meeting.

Sanchez would not comment directly on intelligence derived from Saddam's capture. He did say that he believed Saddam was at the bottom of financing the enemy cells in the country. "So far, that is still my belief, and more to follow from the interrogations," he said.

Saddam is still being held at an undisclosed location in Iraq and is being questioned by the right people, Myers said. The former Iraqi dictator is being accorded the rights of a prisoner of war, meaning that he will be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. This does not mean that he has been granted the status of prisoner of war, CJTF 7 officials said.

Sanchez said there has been no change in the number of incidents since Saddam's capture. "We had a couple of car bombs that that hit some police stations (Dec. 15)," he said. "We expect those were in the planning for some time. We had about 18 engagements that occurred over the last 24 hours. That's about the level we've seen in the past."

He said it will be some time before the possible effects of Saddam's capture manifest themselves. "As I've stated over and over, we expect bombs to continue at some level for some time," he said. "We're prepared for that, and we'll just have to wait and see what the end results are."

There were pro-Saddam demonstrations in areas most affiliated with the former Iraqi leader. Myers said it obviously means some elements still don't want a free Iraq. "They don't want a better chance for their families to prosper and live in a society that provides for everyone, not just for the chosen few," he said. But, he said, over time he expects those elements will agree with the vast majority of Iraqis who want better lives for their children.

Until then, coalition forces will be prepared for any contingency. "We're the same force we were three days ago," Myers said. "We've got the same rules of engagement we had three days ago. We've got the same level of preparedness and we're ready for whatever comes our way."

Myers said the capture should lend some "oomph" behind the notion that it's time for all Iraqis to pull together for one Iraq.

The chairman denigrated the notion that those attacking the coalition are simply nationalists defending their country. "The facts don't support that (premise)," he said. Myers explained that most of those detained by the coalition are not nationalists, but former regime elements causing violence to the coalition, the Iraqi people and "perhaps more importantly, on international organizations like the Red Cross and the (United Nations). These aren't just nationalists. These are terrorists. These are former regime elements."

The effect of Saddam's capture on the former regime elements should be a wake-up call, Myers said. The deposed dictator was "a very powerful leader in this part of the world, and you find him in a hole in the ground; that ought to be a signal you may be on the wrong team," he said. "And you should be thinking about a new line of work, and that is building a new Iraq."

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