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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > November

Interview on Indianapolis WRTV/ABC

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Interview by Rafael Sanchez
Washington, DC
November 13, 2003

(3:51 p.m. EST)

MR. SANCHEZ: Mr. Secretary, welcome to Indianapolis and thank you for joining us this afternoon.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Rafael.

MR. SANCHEZ: We spent a lot of time talking to Hoosier families today wanting to ask you some questions. Mike Ernest is with the 101st Airborne, and his mom wants to know from you, what are you doing to make sure that her son and all the others come back home safely?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, of course, the Army is doing everything they can to protect our troops who are in dangerous situations in Iraq. The 101st is doing a particularly outstanding job up in the northern part of the country. It's almost a model of what we would like to see throughout the country. They're working with town councils. They're building hospitals and schools. They're helping people organize themselves.

But at the same time, they are at risk. It's a dangerous area and we shouldn't forget why we are called soldiers because often we have to go into harm's way. And we want to make sure that we bring all of our soldiers back if that's possible, but we know it is not possible. Some lives will be lost.

And I just want to assure her that we will do everything we can to protect those youngsters -- give them every defensive technique and measure that we can think of. But it is a dangerous environment, and there should be no illusions about that. And that's why we want to bring this conflict to an end as fast as we can. And her loved one is an important part of accomplishing that mission.

I know the 101st very, very well. I was privileged to command a brigade in that outstanding division a number of years ago.

MR. SANCHEZ: Mr. Secretary, what we've found of a lot of the parents who are in Indiana -- they're so proud of the young men and women that are serving in Iraq. The next parents: Ben Bath of Shelby County, they want to know: Why the dependence on National Guardsmen, many who signed up thinking they were going to be doing some Homeland Security, doing some floods and some sandbagging, but are now in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: The demands on our force structure to deal with the situation in Afghanistan and in Iraq, as well as the other deployments we have around the world were of such a nature that it was necessary to call upon our wonderful National Guard and Reserve troops -- not only because in the National Guard and Reserve we have some special skills that we don't keep in the active force -- and we called them up and we need them from the Reserves and the National Guard, and also combat units and other kinds of units that are being called up from the National Guard and Reserves to fill out the ranks of the active force.

I know that many of them thought that it would just involve one weekend a month and perhaps two weeks during the summer, but all understood, as volunteers, that it might require more than that. What is so -- what is so reassuring and makes me so proud is that they are coming forward to serve their nation, recognizing that it will be a major impediment to family life and to their own professional plans -- their own civilian occupations. But nevertheless, they're coming forward and they're serving proudly. But beyond that, they're serving exceptionally well and I'm very proud of them.

MR. SANCHEZ: Our senior Senator, Richard Lugar, says that this may take five to ten years. Do you believe that this situation will take that long?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know. I don't think so. I have the greatest respect for Senator Lugar and, of course, he chairs on one of the committees that provides oversight for me and my department, but we want to get it over with as quickly as we can. We don't want it take five or ten years. That's why Ambassador Bremer was back here this week consulting with us on some ideas that he received from the Iraqi Governing Council.

He's on his way back now, and we hope we can put in place an accelerated political process so we can get to the point where the Iraqis are governing themselves as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, that will take some time. And I ask my fellow citizens to have patience along with a spirit of perseverance to make sure that we do this right, and not necessarily fast.

MR. SANCHEZ: We've seen a lot of violence images in the last couple of days from the Middle East. What would you tell Hoosier parents whose children may be considering enlisting? Would you encourage them to enlist?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I would -- I still believe it is noble to serve your nation, and not just in times of peace, when there is no danger, but when there is danger and when the need is great. Americans have always rallied to the cause in times of danger and when there is risk, and I know that Hoosiers will not be any different now. They have always rallied before, so I would encourage youngsters to come forward, volunteer to serve your nation. You will learn a lot about yourself. You will acquire skills that will be useful: skills of self-awareness and skills with respect to leadership that will make you a better citizen.

But beyond that, you will get a sense of satisfaction for what you're doing for someone else -- for a nation that is very much in need -- the nation of Iraq, or perhaps in Afghanistan. So I hope young people will continue to stand up and step forward to serve the nation.

MR. SANCHEZ: Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us here in Indianapolis on First at Five.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Rafael.


Released on November 14, 2003

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