Myers Picked to Lead Military

Article excerpt

Byline: Rowan Scarborough

President Bush yesterday formally introduced Gen. Richard B. Myers as his choice for Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman during a news conference in which he told the military it cannot expect funding for all the weapons now in the planning stage.

"General Myers is a man of steady resolve and determined leadership," the president said of the career Air Force fighter pilot who, if confirmed, will guide the president's plan to transform the armed forces. "His is a skilled and steady hand. He is someone who understands that the strengths of America's armed forces are our people and our technological superiority, and we must invest in both."

Gen. Myers said at the news conference that he was "humbled" by the honor and was eager "to get back to work, to building the kind of military that President Bush envisions, one that is poised to meet current obligations and emerging threats."

Speaking to reporters near his Crawford, Texas, ranch, the commander in chief also introduced Gen. Peter Pace, current head of U.S. Southern Command, as the replacement for Gen. Myers as Joint Chiefs vice chairman. If confirmed by the Senate, Gen. Pace will become the first Marine Corps officer to hold one of the top two Joint Chiefs leadership posts.

"General Pace is a proud Marine and represents a new generation of leadership and military thinking," said Mr. Bush, joined on the stage by the two four-star generals and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "I've spent a substantial amount of time with both these men, and I'm convinced they're the right people to lead our military into the future."

Gen. Myers, 59, and Gen. Pace, 55, face confirmation hearings next month before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gen. Myers, who has been confirmed by the Senate for previous assignments, including his current post, will succeed Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, who retires as chairman Sept. 30 after two two-year terms.

Mr. Bush was questioned yesterday on the wrenching studies now going on inside the Pentagon to try to design a new force for the 21st century. Known as the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and due to Congress in a little over a month, the process has produced passionate debates inside the Pentagon. Mr. Rumsfeld's staff has pushed for significant cuts in troops and units to help bankroll the replacement of aging equipment and weapons. But military service leaders are resisting.

Mr. Bush, who must approve the final QDR, said some planned weapon systems must be sacrificed in favor of developing more futuristic ones.

"There are many good ideas, but this administration is going to have to winnow them down," he said. "We can't afford every single thing that has been contemplated. And when we make decisions, they will fit into a strategic plan."

The president seemed to be suggesting that he expects Mr. Rumsfeld to terminate major weapons systems, but no significant cuts seem imminent based on recent internal proposals. Initial study panels appointed by Mr. Rumsfeld spared all major tactical aircraft, including the Marines' V-22 Osprey, the Air Force's F-22 stealth fighter and the tri-service joint strike fighter.

Pentagon officials say drafts of Mr. Rumsfeld's Defense Planning Guidance, which sets parameters for the QDR, calls only for the termination of one major system, the Army's Crusader artillery piece.

Mr. Rumsfeld described the major procurement decisions he faces as "balancing some risks" of being able to counter current threats while transforming the force at the same time.

"It's that complicated process of balancing those risks that will lead the services to come back with their recommendations, which we will all consider and take into account in our recommendations to the president," he said.

No military officer has been more involved in the QDR process than Gen. …