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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Profile: General Richard Myers
Air Force General Richard Myers gives a briefing at the Pentagon, Jan 2000
General Myers advocates space-based operations
The incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - the top US military officer - is a former head of US Space Command with close ties to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Mr Bush nominated Air Force General Richard Myers for the position before the 11 September suicide attacks on the US.

I never thought that we'd see fighters over our cities defending against a threat that originated inside the United States of America

Richard Myers
But as his Senate confirmation hearing took place only two days later, questions naturally dealt with the unexpected attack.

"I never thought that we'd see what we saw the last few days, where we had fighters over our cities defending against a threat that originated inside the United States of America," General Myers told the Senate Armed Services committee.

He was asked about what role the US military should play in homeland defence.

"I am not confident I know that answer today," he said frankly. "But I just know that the debate needs to take place now."


A former Vietnam combat pilot, General Myers was named vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs in March 2000.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Mr Rumsfeld agrees with Myers on priorities
With his confirmation in mid-September, he became the first Air Force officer to chair the Joint Chiefs in nearly 20 years.

An advocate of space-based operations and strong US defence links to the Asia-Pacific region, his thinking is very much in keeping with that of the Bush administration.

He has been Defence Secretary Rumsfeld's chief military adviser as the military carries out a comprehensive review of its goals and priorities.

Mr Rumsfeld made clear when he took office earlier in the year that he favoured an increased role for space-based operations.

Resistance to change

But budget wrangles and entrenched interests within the Department of Defense have worked to stall fundamental changes that the Bush-Rumsfeld review was expected to herald.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says that delivering fundamental military reform will be difficult.

George Bush on phone to Russian president
Mr Bush promoted Myers from vice-chairman
General Myers told the Senate that the military recognised the need to modernise to deal with new threats.

"Inside the Department of Defense we have unity of effort for transforming and for that matter, modernising our forces," he said.

He has been cautious in describing the transformation he sees as necessary in the armed forces.

In a speech to the Global Air and Space Forum in May, he said what the US military needs "isn't really a revolutionary change.

"Call it a course correction if you will, where we maintain the best of what we already have - and it is very good - and just put it on a new heading to ensure we can address 21st century challenges."

See also:

16 Sep 01 | Americas
US prepares for war
24 Aug 01 | Americas
Bush names new military adviser
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