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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Policy Planning Staff > Secretary's Open Forum > Proceedings > 2001 - 2002

Opening Remarks and Introduction: Civil-Military Affairs and U.S. Diplomacy

Alan Lang, Chairman, Open Forum
Dana Priest, The Washington Post
Remarks to the Open Forum
Washington, DC
June 25, 2001

Alan Lang: General Myers, Ms. Priest, distinguished colleagues and friends, good afternoon. Iím Alan Lang, Chairman of the Secretaryís Open Forum. I am pleased to welcome you to this on-the-record Conversation on Civil-Military Affairs and U.S. Diplomacy featuring General Richard B. Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Ms. Dana Priest, Military Affairs Correspondent for The Washington Post and Guest Scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Todayís program is part of the Open Forumís Distinguished Lecture Series which examines critical issues related to U.S. national interests and honors leaders in government, academia, private industry, the media, and the nongovernmental organization (NGO) community for outstanding contributions to national and international affairs.

Before proceeding, I would like acknowledge the cosponsors of this series:

  • The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • The American Foreign Service Association
  • The Elliott School of International Affairs - The George Washington University
  • The Center for Peace and Security Studies - Georgetown University
  • University of Maryland University College;
  • The United Nations Association of the National Capitol Area
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Center for Corporate Citizenship; and
  • The Public Employees Roundtable

As you may recall, Ms. Priest and Ambassador Robert Oakley launched this series with two excellent keynote presentations on March 23. That program was followed by events featuring former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry on May 1 and retired Army General Wesley Clark on May 30.  We are honored that General Myers and Ms. Priest are here for the capstone of series that has explored the ways in which the Pentagon, the State Department, the Regional Commanders in Chief and others are working to advance our national interests in a rapidly changing world.

Our first speaker and series moderator, Ms. Dana Priest is a highly respected journalist. She was recently awarded the coveted Gerald R. Ford Prize for distinguished reporting on national defense for her brilliant three-part series on the growing foreign policy clout of the Regional Commanders in chief.  That award was richly deserved and I want to acknowledge Danaís laudable contributions to the field of journalism and to our nation. Please welcome her with a warm round of applause.

Photo of Dana Priest and AudienceDana Priest:  Thereís probably no one in uniform today who has witnessed the making of foreign policy the way General Myers has. Before he became the vice-chairman (VCJCS), he was the military assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the job with the most understated title in Washington. No, he did not keep General Sheltonís schedule, he was Sheltonís senior liaison at the State Department and his job was to represent the Pentagon over here every day and to be at Secretary Albrightís side as she traveled the globe. He was the secretary's first read into the thinking of the Pentagon on any given issue and, no doubt, he was a constant reminder to the State Department of just how much successful American diplomacy has come to depend on the military for support and follow-up. And while the regional CINCs (Commanders in Chief) often complained that they were blocked from the Pentagon from having more contact with the State Department. It was General Myersí job to imbed himself here. 

The State Department, you should note, has no similar position. Its closest equivalent is the POLAD, the political adviser for the CINCs. Until a few years ago, these were not competitive positions and they still are not a sure track upwards. Contrast that trajectory to the military assistants, just to name a few. General Shalikashvili, Chairman Powell's military assistant, became the chairman himself. General Barry McCaffrey became CINC at Southern Command and then Drug Czar. General Mike Ryan became Chief of Staff at the Air Force, and Sheltonís first assistant, Don Kerrick, went on to become Deputy National Security Adviser. General Myers, as you know, is now the second-highest military leader in the country. I think the Pentagon understands the importance of the military-political link, much better still than the State Department. 

As the vice-chairman, General Myers is in daily contact with the regional CINCs, whom weíve talked about in this series of presentations. Heís usually the one they call to pulse or to gripe at before, or in lieu of, bothering the chairman. In that sense, he gets a more unvarnished account of their frustrations. The four CINCs that I traveled with, their primary frustration is the lack of a more focused strategy for their region of the world or for a particular country and they didnít hesitate to let the vice know their feelings. 

Now that Iíve mentioned regional focuses and long-term strategies, Iím hoping that General Myers can help us to understand what is to become of the so-called shaping missions that each of the CINCs spends much of his time on these days. I think we have some clues already as to the future of that. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the other day that the Clinton strategy "Shape, Prepare, Respond", might need to be replaced by "Assure, Dissuade, Defend, Deter, Defeat." 

Now what does that mean? There were hints in Secretary Rumsfeldís testimony before the Senate. He said the U.S. military must "maintain deployed forces forward to reassure friends and allies to pursue security cooperation, etc." and he said that the U.S. military should invest in "pre-conflict management tools to mitigate the chance of war by deterring conflict and influencing the choice of decision makers." Iím hoping that General Myers, one of the most experienced civilian-military interlocutors can clarify that even further today.

Alan Lang:  And now it my pleasure to introduce todayís keynote speaker.

General Richard B. Myers is the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nationís second highest-ranking military officer. 

General Myers graduated from Kansas State University, and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Auburn University.  He entered the Air Force in 1965 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. His career includes operational command and leadership positions in a variety of Air Force and Joint assignments.

His prior positions include: Commander in Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Space Command; Commander, Air Force Space Command; Department of Defense manager for space transportation system contingency support at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado where he was responsible for defending America through space and intercontinental ballistic missile operations; air component commander for the U.S. Pacific Command and the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As the Vice Chairman, General Myers serves as the Chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, Vice Chairman of the Defense Acquisition Board, and as a member of the National Security Council Deputies Committee and the Nuclear Weapons Council.

We are delighted and honored to have General Myers here with us today. Please join me in welcoming him with a round of applause.

Released on May 30, 2002

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