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Remarks by Secretary Cohen at the Times Square Recruiting Station,

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
July 06, 1998

Moderator: Good afternoon. And in order to have Secretary of the Defense Cohen here today, I look forward to renovation of what is a landmark for the city of New York and for the entire country. We're proud to say that it's going to remain an important part of New York City's future well into the next century. The site is a symbol of a New Yorker's patriotism. Thank you for the tremendous sacrifices that the people have made with (inaudible) democracy around the world. The Secretary of Defense is here because this site is more than a monument with New York City history.

As the first one-stop, joint armed forces recruiting facility, it's a monument (inaudible). Since 1946, when New York City became host to this day, the United States has promoted and defended the ideals of democracy and prowess all over the world. It's been a remarkable historic effort and a dramatic success. But it's not only that, it's the fact that this is a symbol right in the middle of a crossroads of the world.

This is the place that everyone celebrates New Year's, this is the place that people come for the great celebrations that have meant a tremendous amount to our history: the end of the war in Europe, the end of the war in Japan, the great (inaudible) that is now known worldwide as a (inaudible) took place between a returning member of the armed services is going to bend over. I once had to (inaudible). You have to bend over like this. Took place right here and this entire area of the city of New York has been rejuvenated.

And it would be unthinkable that it would be without the Armed Services Recruiting Station, which is one of the most active and most effective in the country. So we are very, very proud that not only is it going to remain, but it's going to be remodeled, it's going to be even grander, and as 42nd Street gets ready for the celebration of the year 2000 and the new millennium, where the whole world will celebrate, our Armed Forces will be right in the center of it, as they should be. Because New Yorkers are enormously proud of the men and women who serve us and defend us. And I want to thank you very, very much, Mr. Secretary. Secretary of Defense Cohen.

Secretary Cohen: Thank you. Thank you very much. And let me say whether it's an honor of me and my wife Janet to be here today as tourists in Times Square. There is an icon of American patriotism for more than 50 years from this wartime and peace, tens of thousands of Americans have answered the call to serve their country. And like New York City itself, this recruiting station can only be described with superlatives.

This was, as the mayor had pointed out, the nation's first historic recruiting station to ever bend over services. It would become a model throughout the country. Times Square proved it's the most successful recruiting station in the nation. Let me repeat it. It's the most successful in the country. Some 200 men and women enter the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines every single year. New Yorkers are answering the call.

This is the busiest location of the country. Again, as the man had pointed out, because the prominence of the first nation was busiest processing in the country and the world. Some of our very best recruiters are here as well. All of the services place a high emphasis on the quality of the recruiting. And these gentlemen and ladies who are behind us are the ones who are responsible for keeping the quality of our men and women in uniform so high. As for Mayor Guiliani, let me say that you appreciate the importance of this mood to New York City, the military, and the nation. And I want to personally, on behalf of all of us at the Department of Defense, all of us in Washington, we want to thank you for protecting this crew this past year.

The 25 years we've maintained the most powerful fighting force in the world with volunteers -- across the country from 350,000 young men and women that volunteered for service in the reserves and the vast components of our armed services. They are ranked to include all minorities and women and our military is our finest quality than any time since the draft. So, I want to thank you on behalf of all of America for your support, New York City's support, the state of New York's support of our military. And I want to thank you, the recruiters for their outstanding work in recruiting the very best and brightest, that the United States will continue to be the most powerful instrument for peace and throughout the world.

We are the number one nation because we love our service men and women who are the best educated, the best trained, the best equipped, the best fighting force in the world. As a result of the commitment of New Yorkers and others, we're going to stay that way for the future. Thank you very much and congratulations again.

I would also like to invite Rudy Washington and Michael Handy to step up here. Michael, Rudy? From the first moment that there was (inaudible) as moving that girl away with this station, these two gentlemen were right there making certain that we, as a city, didn't contribute to a terrible mistake. And I want to thank them for alerting them to it and all of us -- the work that they've done. So that we can see it stays in here where it belongs, in the (inaudible) part of the world.

Q: Will you comment on the situation in Kosovo, and would you be willing to send troops to the region?

A: Well, as Mr. Holbrooke has said, it's a very dangerous situation there. Our goal is to try to bring all of the parties to the table and that is his mission right now and hopefully, he'll be successful. We have looked at a number of options. That is, "we," meaning NATO. I sent (inaudible) a conference about two and a half weeks ago. During that conference in Brussels, all of the NATO countries went on record in saving -- supporting the air exercise and then asking the military committee to come up with a series of options, should they become necessary. Those options are now being presented to the full committee as such.

Q: Again would you be willing to send troops to the region?

A: That will be up to NATO to decide if and when they'll take action. Most of the countries feel that if you have to go to the Security Council at the United Nations to get legal authority to take military action. The United States believes that it has -- that NATO has authority to act on its own under the circumstances. So I think we are two steps away from any result right yet, but we're going to continue to focus upon the diplomatic efforts without necessarily foreclosing any military options.

Q: Then you would support military action?

A: Again, it depends upon NATO operating as an organization itself. The United States has indicated all options are on the table and nothing is foreclosed.

Q: (Question referenced the modernization of the booth as opposed to the loss of its historic value)

A: Well, I think you have it both ways. On the one hand, you have a historic location maintained. To me, it would be a great tragedy to see this particular facility get demolished and not being replaced with something that's comparable. Secondly, we are moving into the 21st century and we are going to have to compete for recruitment for those individuals who are (inaudible) to either the 21st century transfer -- of the advertising technique. Because I think we have the historic site and we're going to try to take advantage of (inaudible) techniques and honestly continue to attract/recruit the quality people that we have in the services, so I think we're having a stiff upgrade.

Q: (Question referenced Blassie Medal of Honor (MOH)).

A: Well, it's something that said they would take up with (inaudible) as well as those in the Congressional Medal of Honor (inaudible). Those are very important.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: I want to talk with all of the people involved before MAJ (inaudible).

Secretary Cohen: (Inaudible.) Okay, you all through the questions? You got any other questions?

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: I'm sorry?

Q: (Question referenced the success rate of the Station)

A: Actually, this particular group is well ahead of its schedule. They are higher than their goals by anywhere from 120 percent or 130 percent, so they are doing just fine. It is becoming more difficult nationwide because of the strength of the economy. So, we have to really make a strong effort across the board to get better -- as many qualified people in. We're doing very well, but because we've had an economy that is so strong, there are some specific types of services -- we're having greater difficulty. This move has been more than successful.

Q: (Question referenced whether Times Square Station is the most successful.)

A: Well, I think this is the most successful. And so, this is the standard that we're trying to reach. They enlist some 200 young men and women each year and that's the high level that we have. Within standards they're the highest. Others that may direct -- some of the services this year will fall a little bit below, but they're about -- they're a little bit below (inaudible).

Q: (Question referenced layout of the new Station)

A: It will be slightly bigger. There is a photo inside of what they will look like. It will take advantage of the electronic type of media as such and it will have a representation of the (inaudible). It will also have the ability then, to portray some of the information that our armed forces receive worldwide. Yes, sir? Last one.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: No.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: The question is a very technical one that is being asked right now about the (inaudible) program, which is a joint program with several European countries and the United States to perhaps provide for a neo-defense type of system. And that program is underway and it is a very (inaudible) program. It is now being reviewed on a year-by-year basis to see whether it is affordable. I have talked with my German counterparts, my Italian counterparts -- we are now looking (inaudible) at the cost of the program and whether or not any modifications need to be made. It's an important joint program, so for that reason, we are avoiding it.

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