Saddam Capture 'Another Step' on Path to Iraqi Freedom
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, Dec. 15, 2003 The capture of Saddam Hussein was just one more step "admittedly a big step" in the path to Iraqi freedom and democracy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said today.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers speaks to soldiers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait before a USO show Dec. 15. Myers brought actor Robin Williams, wrestler Kurt Angler, NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and TV personality Leeann Tweeden to the region for a series of USO Holiday shows. Photo by Jim Garamone.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Myers is bringing United Service Organizations-sponsored entertainers to the U.S. Central Command area. With him is Academy Award winning actor Robin Williams, Olympic Gold Medalist and current WWE wrestler Kurt Angle, NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and Fox Sports Net personality Leeann Tweedon.
The chairman expects the group will meet and talk with up to 30,000 American service members during their stay in the region. "The purpose of the trip is to show the service men and women that America cares," Myers said during an interview with reporters traveling with him.
Myers discussed the U.S. capture of Saddam Hussein, saying the capture will have symbolic and substantive effects on the situation in Iraq. "There's great symbolism in seeing the leader of a country finally being captured in such an ignominious way," Myers said. "(He was) coming out of a hole in the ground, disheveled, probably demoralized, disoriented, and obviously frightened."
The chairman said the video of Saddam looking so bad gives hope not only to those in Iraq but also around the world. "Leaders that behave in that way and perhaps cause the death or torture or disfigurement of hundreds of thousands of people eventually will be brought to justice," he said.
The general said there will also be an impact on Baath Party loyalists who held on to the shred of hope that Saddam would lead them back to power. Coalition forces have said since April that that is not an option, but now there is another nail in the coffin.
Myers pointed to other steps as signs of progress in Iraq. The 160,000-member Iraqi security forces, economic development in the country and improvements to the infrastructure are all further hopeful signs, he said.
The general said the capture of Saddam gave a lift to American service members' spirits. "It's hard work," he said of the role of the military in Iraq. "It takes perseverance, it takes a lot of folks doing their job right, but it eventually pays off."
The general was pleased at the work intelligence personnel performed. "Like all this work, one lead guides you towards another, towards another, towards another," he said.
He thinks this will continue with the capture of Saddam. "I think there is a good chance we'll get good intelligence out of this," he said. Coalition interrogators are speaking with Saddam, who Myers said was "talkative, but not necessarily cooperative." Still, he said, coalition officials may get a better understanding of the enemy forces and a better understanding of the role Saddam Hussein played.