- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

In selecting Air Force Gen. Richard Myers as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Bush has once again demonstrated his wise determination to pursue a national missile defense (NMD) system and to transform the nation's military services. Integral to both important objectives will be an increased reliance on space, an area in which Gen. Myers has had crucial experience.
The selection of Gen. Myers also confirms the primary role in space that will be played by the Air Force, which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld selected in May to be the paramount service overseeing space programs. Upon his Senate confirmation, which, given the general's superb record, should proceed without difficulty, Gen. Myers will become the first Air Force general to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs in nearly two decades; and he will become the first chairman since the end of the Cold War who was not selected from the ranks of the Army. Perhaps most significantly, Gen. Myers will be the first of the nation's 15 chairmen of the Joint Chiefs who has served as the head of the U.S. Space Command, a position he occupied for 19 months before becoming vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs in February 2000. Gen. Myers has also directed the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Mr. Rumsfeld, with whom Gen. Myers has closely worked in preparing the soon-to-be-released Quadrennial Defense Review, has identified Asia as the likely source of increased threats in the future. Fortuitously, Gen. Myers, a former fighter pilot in Vietnam, has had considerable experience in the Pacific region, where he served in Hawaii as commander of Pacific Air Forces and in Japan as commander of all U.S. forces there.
But it is Gen. Myers' experience in space that cannot be overemphasized. Beyond its indispensable role in the deployment of NMD, space will also become the essential frontier without which the military's necessary transformation process cannot be accomplished. As envisioned by the Bush administration, transforming the military would involve the application of new technologies to the military's capacity to wage war, including the linkage through space of real-time information to the conduct of battlefield operations. Through the development of a new generation of weapons, transformation would also address the likely threats in the not-too-distant future, including cyber-warfare, accidental rocket launches and intentional ballistic missile attacks from rogue nations (North Korea, Iran, Iraq et al.) involving weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical).
Indeed, Gen. Myers has the foresight that is required of anyone who would serve as the nation's senior military officer and the president's chief military adviser. In an April 1999 speech, as the Financial Times has reported, Gen. Myers, who was then the head of the U.S. Space Command, declared that the United States must develop a "space control mission" that would "ensure use of space on our terms." Last year, the Air Force's own Strategic Master Plan for space outlined the goals, in addition to the development and deployment of NMD, the United States must pursue. "To maintain space superiority, we must have the ability to control the 'high ground' of space," the plan said. "To do so, we must be able to operate freely in space, deny the use of space to our adversaries protect ourselves from attack in and through space." Not surprisingly, this strategy echoes the urgent priorities of Gen. Myers, who has persuasively argued that "The United States has space superiority, but tomorrow and tomorrow, I think, is essentially right now space superiority also must be planned for, executed and won."
Mr. Bush has found a good man ideally suited to the nation's military needs. The Senate must confirm him without delay.


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