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Myers: Work toward jointness, but take pride in services

CAIRO, Egypt (AFPN) -- Jointness is the way ahead, but that does not mean Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are going to merge into some national joint force, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here March 13.

Gen. Richard B. Myers spoke to U.S. servicemembers at the embassy here and complimented them on forming a good joint-service team. But he said he did not think the individual services should go away.

He said pride makes the individual service cultures important. He said the pride people show in their service is an important part of why they serve. It is also an important part of “why we do extraordinary things when asked to do (them).

“Whatever uniform you wear or what patch you wear on your sleeve has a lot to do with our esprit de corps and our willingness to sacrifice for our friends, our comrades and our nation,” General Myers said.

The chairman said a second reason why the individual services are important is because they breed healthy competition.

“Competition is a good thing,” he said. “The American system is based on it -- in economics (and) the political world. Competition breeds excellence.”

He said the services compete not for resources as they did in the past, but for which service can come up with the best ideas.

General Myers said he still thinks there is room for more jointness in the military.

“That does not mean we should not be a well-integrated fighting machine,” he said. “I think we are. We’ve come a long way since Congress had to legislate that we’d be joint back in 1986.”

He said the military was “pretty pathetic” in its ability to work together before President Reagan signed the Goldwater-Nichols Act. Even in Operation Desert Storm, jointness meant deconflicting the battlefield and was not really an integrated effort, General Myers said.

But, he said, the military has changed, and anyone studying major combat operations in Iraq or Operation Enduring Freedom will see that service integration is a way of life.

What is important now is integration beyond the Defense Department, he said. It is especially crucial for DOD officials to work closely with their compatriots in the State Department.

“One thing that can help is the education process,” General Myers said.

By the time a military officer reaches 20 years of service, roughly 10 percent of that officer’s time is spent in an educational institution of some sort.

“I don’t know if that is mirrored in other departments of the government,” he said.

General Myers said the DOD schools reserve slots for people from other government agencies. All involved see the benefits of that sort of commingling. He said he has appealed to Cabinet members and agency leaders for some sort of cross training.

“It’s usually well-received,” he said. “Leaders understand that this is important.”

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