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Bush Nominates Myers as JCS Chief, Pace as Vice

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2001 – President Bush announced today his nomination of Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, 59, to become the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Speaking to reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush added that Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, 55, would succeed Myers as vice chairman. The current JCS chairman, Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, is slated to retire Sept. 30.

Choosing a new JCS chairman is "one of the most important appointments a president can make," Bush said. The Senate must confirm both nominations.

"Secretary (of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld and I thought long and hard about this important choice, and we enthusiastically agree that the right man to preserve the best traditions of our armed forces, while challenging them to innovate to meet the threats of the future, is Gen. Richard B. Myers," Bush said.

Bush called Myers, who has served as vice chairman since March 2000, an officer "of steady resolve and determined leadership" who "understands that the strengths of America's armed forces are our people and our technological superiority.

"And, we must invest in both," he added.

Pace "represents a new generation of leadership and military thinking," Bush said, adding that he has spent "a substantial amount of time" working with both men and "is convinced they are the right people to lead our military into the future."

Currently the commander of U.S. Southern Command in Miami, Pace is the first Marine to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

In making his announcements, Bush was accompanied by Rumsfeld, in Texas for force review and defense budget consultations, nominees Myers and Pace, and their wives.

The president has tasked DoD to transform the armed forces into "a 21st-century military that can deter aggression and help us extend peace" well into the new century, Rumsfeld said. That kind of change is difficult and "not undertaken lightly. It takes clarity of vision, and unity of purpose, and it takes leadership. Gen. Dick Myers is such a leader."

Myers was a fighter pilot in Vietnam, is a former commander of U.S. Space Command, and was the assistant to former JCS Chairman Army Gen. John Shalikashvili. Rumsfeld characterized Myers' military career as "the embodiment of the transformation with which he will be charged as chairman as the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Pace, a former deputy commander of U.S. Forces Japan, has extensive experience, having served "from the jungles of southeast Asia to the streets of Mogadishu," Rumsfeld said.

"General Pace has fought the country's fights, small and large, and demonstrated an extraordinary capacity for leadership along the way," he added, noting that Pace's "background, expertise and insight" would complement Myers'.

Under the leadership of Myers and Pace "the men and women of the U.S. armed forces are in fine hands," Rumsfeld said.

The secretary also used the occasion to thank Shelton, the outgoing chairman, for "his outstanding and his courageous service" and professionalism.

Shelton himself noted in a Aug. 24 statement that he was pleased with Myers' and Pace's nominations, describing Myers as "a crucial and indispensable part of the national security team for the past two years," and praising Pace's "wide-ranging operational and joint experience."

Both nominees said being chosen humbled them. Myers noted that he had learned a great deal under Shelton's tutelage, adding he has "figuratively and literally enormous shoes to fill."

Pace said he and Myers "would work to take great care of the wonderful young men and women who serve this country in uniform."

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