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21 November 2003

Myers Says Failure Not An Option in War Against Terrorism

Rumsfeld says terrorists seek to alter behavior through fear

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer

Washington -- Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers says the danger of terrorism today "is the greatest threat we've ever faced" and failure is not an option.

Speaking to Department of Defense employees and civilian contractors at a "town hall" meeting at the Pentagon November 21, the four-star Air Force general said the stakes are high in the global war against terrorism. Global terrorism represents "a creed of fear, hatred, violence and intolerance," he said.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who also spoke to the gathering, said terrorism is designed to frighten people so that they alter their behavior. He predicted that waging the war against terrorism "is going to affect all the countries of the world, in one way or another."

"We have no choice but to go out and find the terrorists ... before they ... kill another 3,000 innocent men, women and children in this country and hundreds of thousands more across the world in Bali, or Istanbul, or you name it," Rumsfeld said, adding that it may involve breaking up terrorist cells, disrupting funding networks, shutting down training facilities or dealing effectively with the countries that harbor or provide safe haven to terrorists. Combating terrorism also means being engaged in the battle of ideas, he continued, so that the appeal of potential terrorist recruiters is reduced.

Asked how to measure success in this war, Rumsfeld said it would not be concluded with a formal signing ceremony. Success will take time, he said, but pointed out that there is a broad coalition of 90 nations helping. Victory will occur, the secretary said, when people are no longer fearful and can send their children off to school with every confidence that they will return at the end of the day.

Rumsfeld was also asked about the possibility that some of the new media in Iraq may be undermining the coalition mission. "People are free to be wise ... foolish ... helpful ... disruptive" in the post-Saddam Hussein era, he said. The many newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations that have surfaced are a sign of success, the secretary said, because Iraqis can now say and do as they please after decades of oppression. While freedom of the press makes the job more difficult, he added, "the benefits vastly outweigh the burdens."

Myers noted that it is often difficult to communicate coalition messages inside Iraq. A significant portion of the Iraqi news diet is delivered via satellite dishes, he said, noting that efforts are under way to begin running quality programming in December to compete with current anti-coalition programming produced by the al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera news organizations.

Rumsfeld said a start-up period would be required to develop an audience for the new programs. "It's going to take some time to persuade people to watch different programming," he added.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for operations for the Combined Joint Task Force-7 briefed local reporters on November 21 about the most recent attacks in the capital. He said between nine and 14 rocket-propelled grenade launchers mounted on donkey carts were aimed at the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the Palestine Hotel. A few of the rockets thought to be destined for the Palestine Hotel went awry and hit the nearby Sheraton Hotel, he added.

Other rigged donkey carts aimed at the University Law building and the Kurdish Democratic Party were discovered later in the day. "This is an adaptive enemy" who is also inventive and ingenious, Kimmitt said.

It is an enemy trying to "break our will," he said, and capture headlines. "But these attacks, with the exception of a seriously injured civilian," Kimmitt said, "have had, frankly, no tactical value, and they're militarily insignificant."

Asked about the psychological impact, the military officer said the terrorists are trying to promote fear, but the facts on the ground indicate that Iraq "is a relatively stable country." Ultimately, the enemy will fail, Kimmitt said, "because our will is unaffected by these attacks."

A reporter asked the briefing official if he still believes that Iraq is 90 percent safe, secure and stable as the Coalition Provisional Authority maintains. "Absolutely," he replied, adding that there were only "two rocket attacks in the space of one day in a very small area," and "about 90 percent of the districts in Baghdad are safe."

Kimmitt said his forces continue to work on creating "a safe and secure environment" there while simultaneously "getting on with the process of providing essential services, restoring the economy and passing governance to the people of Iraq."