(Regional Telephone Interview with CBS – Eric Singer)
Singer: It is a pleasure to meet Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I had an opportunity to meet you the last time you were at the Air Force Academy graduation and tomorrow Ft. Carson wives and also other soldiers and their families are going to be able to chat with you one on one and be able to give their concerns. What kind of message are you going to be giving them tomorrow, sir?
Rumsfeld: Well I’m looking forward to it. This state, of course, is very hospitable to the men and women in the armed forces and Fort Carson has thousands of thousands of people here, plus thousands serving in Iraq and in the Central Command’s area of responsibility. I’m going to be meeting with them and telling them how much I appreciate all they’re doing and how important what they’re doing in Iraq and how well they’re doing it.
Singer: Many of the families have had their concerns, specifically about deployment schedules. What would you tell them about the schedule? Is it going to change? Are the soldiers going to be coming home a little bit sooner?
Rumsfeld: The Army has attempted to manage that as well as it’s humanly possible, and they’ve tried to put off certainty at the long end, so what they’ve said is up to one year. And the precise date that elements actually move out within that period is something that is managed at the level of the Army, and they’re working hard to try to make certain that they communicate effectively with the troops. In addition, they’ve thought this out trying to provide some time off for selected people to be able to come home if they wish to, and that program is just starting now.
Singer: Now, with the Military Commission in Iraq and the war against terrorism continuing to evolve, continuing to change, what would you say as far as a national draft, perhaps to continue to have an infusion of more and more service people so that way they can be able to provide better services for that mission?
Rumsfeld: You’re talking about going back to a draft?
Singer: Correct, sir.
Rumsfeld: No. There just wouldn’t be know need to. We’re meeting the recruiting and retention goals quite well at this present time. The draft, when it was there, was really used to be able force people to come into the service and serve for a relatively short period of time and tended to be paid much less than what the civilian manpower market pays.
So, what we have to do today if we’re going to attract the wonderful men and women we need in the armed forces, we simply have to pay them the kind of incentives that make sense to them. And that means you’ve got to compete in the market place. And rather than going back to a draft and using compulsion as crutch to pay people less than they can make in other fields, it seems to me they’re much better out paying them what they’re worth.
Q: All right thank you very much, sir, for being here and chatting one on one with me. And we’ll throw it back to you.
Reporting from Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor, Eric Singer, 11 News.
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