Troops in Iraq 'Not One Day Longer' Than Necessary
U.S. Troops to Be in Iraq 'Not One Day Longer' Than Necessary, Myers Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 15, 2003 – American troops will be in Iraq "as long as required and not one day longer," the U.S. military's senior officer said here today.
Saddam Hussein's regime is history and "the process of returning Iraq to the Iraqi people has begun," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Arab and Muslim journalists at the Foreign Press Center.
And Iraq's global coin of the realm – oil – has been secured for the future of all Iraqis, Myers pointed out.
The general asserted that that oil revenue will be harnessed by newly freed Iraqis "to develop their country after decades of neglect" by Saddam's despotic regime.
Myers pointed out, however, that while major combat operations are finished in Iraq, U.S. and coalition forces continue to run into pockets of regime diehards.
In fact, President Bush noted today during a Rose Garden press briefing that victory in Iraq isn't complete.
"There is more to do," Myers agreed, including finding and eliminating any weapons of mass destruction, expanding humanitarian relief and assisting Iraqi's to get their infrastructure –- to include the country's police and fire departments -- back on its feet.
And "we must help the Iraqi people create the conditions for a rapid transition to a representative self-government that is not a threat to its neighbors," Myers continued, "and is committed to ensuring the territorial integrity of that country."
Myers pointed out that Iraqi leaders were meeting today in Ur to discuss their future government with retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who heads the U.S.-led interim administration in Iraq. The delegates agreed to meet again in 10 days.
At today's meeting in Ur, U.S. administration official Zalmay Khalilzad told Iraqi delegates the United States has zero interest in ruling Iraq.
"Iraq has to figure out how to govern itself in the future," Myers emphasized.
U.S. military forces in the Persian Gulf region are drawing down, Myers pointed out, noting that two of the five aircraft carriers deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom – the USS Kitty Hawk and Constellation -- are slated to soon head home.
And B-2 stealth bombers, F-117 stealth fighters and other aircraft, Myers added, are also returning home.
"We have begun transitioning from combat operations to working with local Iraqis to stabilize and secure Iraq's cities and towns," the general pointed out.
Myers emphasized that the U.S. military and its coalition partners are in Iraq to "support the Iraqi people as they rebuild their nation."