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Myers delivers spirited defense of Pentagon war plan

Critics 'working another agenda'

By Sean Loughlin
CNN Washington Bureau

Gen. Richard Myers:
Gen. Richard Myers: "We still think it's a good plan."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an unusually strong and passionate defense of the Pentagon's war plan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff criticized those who are questioning the military campaign in Iraq as "absolutely wrong" and said their comments are "not good for our troops."

"It is not helpful to have those kind of comments come out when we've got troops in combat, because, first of all, they're false, they're absolutely wrong, they bear no resemblance to the truth, and it's just harmful to our troops that are out there fighting very bravely, very courageously," Gen. Richard Myers said at Tuesday's Pentagon briefing.

His spirited answer came in response to a question about reports of insufficient forces on the ground and delays in deployment orders. Both reports, Myers said, are wrong.

"I don't know how they get started and I don't know how they've been perpetuated, but it's not been by responsible members of the team that put this all together," Myers aid. "They either weren't there, or they don't know, or they're working another agenda, and I don't know what that agenda might be."

Myers comments come after days of reports in the news media about some retired military officers -- and some troops and commanders in the field --who have raised questions about the war plan. Chief among the complaints is that the Pentagon did not anticipate the level of resistance from Iraqi fighters and that coalition ground forces were spread too thin with not enough reinforcements.

Myers and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have repeatedly dismissed such comments as baseless. They say the war plan is unfolding on target, but add that it is subject to revisions and adaptation, something they described as routine for any comprehensive combat strategy.

"Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed up to this plan and the way it was executed from the first day, and they'll be signed up to the last day because we still think it's a good plan," Myers said.

Rumsfeld praised the war plan, even as he made a point of stressing that it was the handiwork of Gen. Tommy Franks, the leader of the U.S.-led military coalition. Asked whether he was distancing himself from the plan by noting Franks' authorship, Rumsfeld dismissed the suggestion.

"I am not," Rumsfeld said. "I think it is an excellent plan."

Rumsfeld said the war plan was drafted after he and others determined an existing one that had been sitting on the shelf was "old and stale."

The two men said Republican Units have been weakened by days of sustained bombing. He said Iraqi reports of a cease-fire negotiation were wrong and no outcome but "unconditional surrender" would be acceptable.

"There will be no outcome to this war that leaves Saddam Hussein and his regime in power," Rumsfeld. "Let there be no doubt."

The defense secretary made a point of noting that Saddam did not appear, as expected, during a televised address Tuesday to the Iraqi people. Instead, a statement was read by Iraqi's information minister in which the Iraqi people were urged to resist coalition forces.

"Where are Iraq's leaders?" Rumsfeld asked. "The night before the ground war began, coalition forces launched a strike on a meeting of Iraq's senior command and control, and they have not been heard from since."

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