AIR FORCE Gen. Myers said to be Bush's choice to head Joint Chiefs of Staff

Wednesday, August 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Air Force Gen. Richard Myers is President Bush's likely choice to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking American military officer, White House officials said Wednesday.

Myers will be in Crawford, Texas, on Friday and the aides said that his presence at the president's ranch was a strong indication that he was Bush's pick.

However, the officials _ including several senior White House aides who are normally kept abreast of Bush's plans _ said they had not been told definitively that Myers was getting the job.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer confirmed that Myers will be among those briefing Bush on Friday about Defense Department plans to revamp the military. ``He's one of the key people involved in the military transformation,'' Fleischer said. White House chief of staff Andrew Card was also traveling to Crawford for the Friday meetings.

One senior official who had talked to Bush about the selection said the president had shared his choice with a small circle of aides and ordered them not to reveal it. That official refused to say who Bush had chosen.

Bush's pick, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, who steps down Sept. 30.

The president was planning to meet with Myers, who is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday to discuss Rumsfeld's continuing reviews of military forces and the U.S. nuclear strategy.

Last week Rumsfeld said Bush had settled on a nominee. Rumsfeld would not say who was chosen, but other defense officials said Myers was a finalist, along with Adm. Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the nation's most senior military leader and top military adviser to both the president and the secretary of defense.

By law, the only candidates are the top generals and admirals who lead each of the services, as well as the commanders of the military's war-fighting and supporting commands _ 13 four-star officers in all.

Given the administration's pledge to reform the military, many inside the Pentagon believe Bush's choice will reflect the military's need to place more emphasis on newer technologies, the importance of space and computers in warfare, and emerging threats around the globe.