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Myers Speaks of Importance of Focused National Power

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2001 – Focusing national power is different following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, said Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In the past, people viewed the military, diplomatic, law enforcement and financial arms of the government as separate entities, he said at the Fletcher Conference here. The conference is jointly sponsored by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and the Army. The theme this year is "National Security for a New Era."

The U.S. military's experience so far in the war on terrorism shows what focusing the power of America can mean, Myers said. "Terrorism is a direct threat to freedom around the world," he noted. "All instruments of national power are now engaged in a just and relentless campaign we've named Enduring Freedom."

The national objectives in the war in Central Asia are to deny Al Qaeda the use of Afghanistan and to make clear to the Taliban and others that there is a price to pay for harboring and supporting terrorists. The United States seeks to destroy the military forces of the Al Qaeda and Taliban and, finally, it seeks to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

"This is a new kind of war," Myers said. "The military may not be decisive." Bankers, diplomats, intelligence operatives, law enforcement officials and customs officials have important roles to play in this war. "Even the IRS is involved. Thankfully, they are on our side."

He likened the war against global terrorism to taking down an organized crime syndicate. "You want to hit them where it hurts," Myers said. National power is focused on going after terrorist finances and logistics. Agencies seek to interrupt terrorist information flows and their ability to train and recruit new personnel. U.S. undercover agents infiltrate to gather intelligence, and other elements of power go after known bases of operations.

Fighting the war, therefore, can mean "green-eye shade types" going after money or Generation Y kids surfing the Internet, he said.

Myers said the coordination between these diverse agencies is crucial to victory. The United States has learned to focus these elements via an interagency process.

"I've been involved in interagency debates and operations and the process, and I would say that so far the interagency coordination and cooperation has been remarkable," he said. "In fact, I've never seen the different agencies of our government work so well together."

He said he had an object lesson on how that worked in the Pentagon. He said he walked through the Joint Staff Crisis Action Team area and spied a gentleman in a suit. "He was introduced as the FBI representative to the team," Myers said. "That's a pretty good optic of what we're talking about here."

He said the military must push this type of cooperation to the theaters. The military has always had good liaison with the intelligence agencies, he continued, but in the future military commanders will need better liaison with Treasury, the FBI, the State Department and others.

One aspect of current Afghanistan operations where this process didn't work particularly well was in the information operations campaign. "It took too much time to put together the team," Myers said. "We missed the opportunity to send the right message, sometimes we sent mixed signals, and we missed opportunities as well."

Information operations range from psychological operations to public affairs. "It's a complicated and demanding business," he said. It is clear, he said, that the information operations campaign must be front-loaded -- that is, in place beforehand.

"It can't be done by a pick-up team," he said. "It takes too long to get everybody up to speed and figure out who's working for whom."

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