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24 August 2001

Bush Nominates Myers to Chair Joint Chiefs of Staff

(Nominee now serves as JCS vice chairman) (970)
By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- President Bush has nominated Air Force General Richard
Myers to become the 15th chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
(JCS), the most senior military advisor in the United States.
Myers, a former combat fighter pilot in the Vietnam War, is the
current JCS vice chairman and a former commander of the U.S. Space
Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Colorado
Springs, Colorado. He succeeds Army General Henry Shelton, who retires
September 30 from a 38-year military career that includes combat tours
in the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.
Myers met with Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the
president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, August 24. Rumsfeld and Myers
also briefed the president on an extensive military review that has
been conducted at the Pentagon since he took office in January.
"Secretary 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 General Richard B.
Myers," Bush said during a briefing at a Crawford community center.
"General Myers is a man of steady resolve and determined leadership.
His is a skilled and steady hand."
Bush also named Marine General Peter Pace, who currently commands the
U.S. Southern Command, to become the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs
to succeed Myers.
"I've spent an essential amount of time with both these men and I'm
convinced they are the right people to lead our military into the
future," Bush said.
Rumsfeld said that what he expects from Myers is "candor, sound
judgment, keen insights, fiber and good humor." Myers, he said, "is
from Kansas, a man of the prairie, who's conquered the skies from
service as a fighter pilot in Vietnam to commander of the U.S. Space
Command. His career is the embodiment of the transformation with which
he will be charged as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
Myers' selection comes as the Pentagon is undergoing a major
reassessment of the size and mission of the post-Cold War armed
forces, and as the Bush administration actively promotes research and
development of a multi-level anti-ballistic missile defense system. He
brings to the post a background in East Asian affairs -- having
commanded all U.S. forces in Japan and the 5th Air Force at Yokota Air
Base, and U.S. Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii --
and knowledge of the role of space and aerospace technology in
national security.
His military career and educational profile meld well with the Bush
administration's transformation plans for the U.S. armed forces. Bush
wants to shed a Cold War structure and shift to a military that is
capable of utilizing high technology to operate globally in peacetime
and defeat any adversary quickly in wartime. Along with that, he wants
the military to counter emerging threats from terrorism, computer
attacks and the proliferation of ballistic missiles and, for the first
time, provide for homeland defense against weapons of mass
Bush will send Myers' and Pace's nominations to the U.S. Senate for
advice and consent -- the Constitutional process of evaluating and
ruling on a nominee's selection
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military
advisor to the president, secretary of defense, and the National
Security Council (NSC). The JCS consists of the chairman, vice
chairman, the chief of staff of the Army, chief of naval operations,
chief of staff of the Air Force, and the commandant of the Marine
Corps -- all of whom may act as advisors and submit opinions to the
president, secretary of defense and NSC.
The role of the JCS has changed substantially since World War II.
During that war, the Joint Chiefs acted as executive agents dealing
directly with theater and area combat commanders, but with the
National Security Act of 1947 that role changed and they became
planners and advisors. Today, the JCS has no direct authority to
command combat forces -- a role that resides with the president, who
directs the secretary of defense, and who in turn directs the specific
combat commanders.
The 59-year-old fighter pilot succeeded Air Force General Joseph
Ralston to become the JCS vice chairman in February 2000. Ralston left
to become the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, at NATO and
commander-in-chief of the U.S. European Command in May 2000.
Myers was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated in 1965 from
Kansas State University with a bachelor's degree in mechanical
engineering, and he holds a master's in business administration from
Auburn University. He began his Air Force career in 1965 through the
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and has held operational command
and leadership positions in a variety of Air Force and joint
He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in a variety
of aircraft, including 600 combat hours in the F-4 Phantom.
In addition to his traditional education, Myers has attended the Air
Command and Staff College, the Army War College, and the Program for
Senior Executives in National and International Security at the John
F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
The last Air Force general to become JCS chairman was General David
Jones, who served from 1978 to 1982. Army generals have held the
chairmanship since 1989, and eight of the 14 chairmen were from the
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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