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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Defense Secretary Speaks to American Troops

Aired February 7, 2003 - 09:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to take our viewers live now at Aviano Air Base in the northeastern section of Italy. Donald Rumsfeld there, the defense secretary greeting the American troops gathered at that air base. We shall listen.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECY. OF DEFENSE: They are looking for cooperation and hoping that the force flow will bring about cooperation, but, thus far, it has not. We don't talk about deployments in the specific, but we have brought a good many guard and reserves on active duty. Fortunately, a great many of them were volunteers. We have been able to have relatively few stop-losses. There are some currently, particularly in the Army, but relatively few in the Navy and the Air Force.

And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

After that, we have a responsibility as a country that if force were to be used and if the United States did have to go in with its coalition partners. and there are a growing number of nations that would be participating in a coalition of the willing, we feel an obligation to see that what is left after that regime is gone becomes a state that does not have weapons of mass destruction -- and that would be part of our responsibility, that it would be a state that would not threaten its neighbors and launch Scuds into it or use chemical weapons on their own people or their neighbors, as they have in the past, that it would be a single country and not broken into pieces, and that it would be a country that would be setting itself on a path to assure representation and respect for the various ethnic minorities in that country. The number of people that that would take is reasonably predictable.

HEMMER: Donald Rumsfeld at Aviano Air Base in northeastern Italy, talking about a topic that has really started to take on a new tenor in the past several weeks, post Iraq, what happens if, indeed, there is war, a U.S. invasion, how does that country stay together. Donald Rumsfeld making it quite clear the U.S. intention there, if, indeed, it comes to that, is not to allow the country of Iraq to break up into three splinter groups, but actually keep it together as one cohesive unit.

Aviano Air Base, you might remember the air war over Kosovo back in 1998, a key staging point for the U.S. Military operating during that conflict. That's a wrap from Italy.

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