- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

CRAWFORD, Texas President Bush today nominated Air Force Gen. Richard Myers to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying the former head of the U.S. Space Command will help the military meet “the changing threats of tomorrow.''

If confirmed by the Senate, Gen. Myers will replace Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, who steps down Sept. 30.

Peppered at a news conference about his budget priorities, Mr. Bush said there is enough money to increase defense spending and protect domestic programs like Social Security. He said congressional spending was the biggest threat to the budget, and told lawmakers, “Don't go hog wild.''

He called Gen. Myers, 59, “the right man to preserve the strengths and traditions of our armed forces while challenging them to innovate to meet the threats of the future.''

Mr. Bush announced the selection at a community center in this rural town close to his ranch, where he has been vacationing all month. He met beforehand with Gen. Myers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for an update on continuing efforts to overhaul the nation's military.

“Change is hard, and changing so vital an institution as the U.S. Department of Defense is not undertaken lightly,'' Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Gen. Myers, 59, flanked by a row of U.S. flags, said he was humbled by the appointment.

“I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and build the kind of military that President Bush envisions … one that is poised to meet current obligations and emerging threats,'' Gen. Myers said.

Mr. Bush also announced that Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, would become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing Gen. Myers.

Gen. Shelton, the man Gen. Myers is slated to replace, said in a statement that the new chairman has “the heart of a warrior and vision of a leader to his position.''

The nomination of Gen. Myers, a supporter of anti-missile systems, comes as the Bush administration is stepping up its bid to develop a missile defense system, and possibly unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty.

“I have no specific timetable in mind,'' Mr. Bush said yesterday. “We will withdraw from the ABM treaty on our timetable, at a time convenient to America.''


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