Tuesday, September 18, 2001
(Interview with Al Rantel, KABC Radio, Los Angeles)
Rantel: -- Without further ado we have a great American on the line that we want to get right to, because I'm reminded of a statement made by President Reagan once that people often talk about the United States, the defense establishment, and the military complex and all of that, but as President Reagan said, at times of emergency and times of war, suddenly it becomes the arsenal of democracy.
Live at the Pentagon we have with us one of the members of the United States military who will be so important in the days to come, Rear Admiral Craig Quigley of the United States Navy is actually with us from the Pentagon.
Admiral, welcome to KABC, sir. Good to have you with us.
Quigley: Thank you, Al. My pleasure.
Rantel: So you're there at the Pentagon.
Rantel: Were you there when the plane crash occurred on Tuesday?
Quigley: Yes, I was. Our office, fortunately, was just about opposite side of the building from the attack by the aircraft, but it clearly could be felt, even that far away.
Rantel: I'm sure that over the years that you have gone to work at the Pentagon, Admiral -- I've been to the Pentagon myself as a tourist. The building is such a monolithic, impenetrable looking structure. Did it ever occur to you that something like this was even within the realm of possibility?
Quigley: No, I don't think so, Al. I think our thinking changed on that very dramatically last Tuesday. Never before, I believe, in our history have we considered that an airliner would be used as a weapon. Our defenses and our posture have always been faced and arranged outwardly, out from America's shores. As of a week ago today, our thinking absolutely has to change, and we must consider internal threats as well.
Rantel: And you have been trained, as I guess our entire military establishment has been trained, Admiral, to fight an enemy that is probably I guess we could say a more conventional enemy. In other words, countries that we might have to go to war with such as we had to do with the Persian Gulf War, where we had to remove the forces of a foreign country, Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait.
This is a whole different attitude, isn't it?
Quigley: You've got it exactly right, Al. This is an entirely different way of looking at an adversary, an entirely different way of looking at war.
We typically, throughout our history, are used to fighting nations and nations have air forces and armies and navies.
Quigley: And this does not have that. These are enemies that operate in the shadows. They use cell phones and laptops and suitcase bombs and it's an entirely different way of looking at war.
Rantel: And how much more difficult is that kind of an enemy?
Quigley: Incredibly more difficult. It's a group of networks that, like I say, operates in the shadows. It is not a visible, high profile organization, but it needs support. It needs a place to train. It needs money. It needs a safe haven for the people that operate within the terrorist networks. Our goal is to -- over a sustained period of time -- to eliminate the money, eliminate the safe havens, and eliminate the training camps to try to eradicate terrorism, organized terrorism, from the face of the earth.
Rantel: And Admiral, I guess it wouldn't be outrageous to say that the statement you just made, the objective that you just made which of course the President and others, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, have made, others have made, is going to be a lot easier said than done. There's no doubt about that, is there.
Quigley: Yes, sir. Absolutely true. This is a long, hard road we have described for ourselves. It will be against, in many cases, a faceless, nameless enemy, very difficult to track down. But we look for the long haul to be successful by using a combination of American strengths. Diplomatic efforts, financial efforts, and military efforts all combined with a single focus, and that is to combat organized terrorism.
Rantel: How focused do you see... There's a great deal of focus in the country. You know the country seems very unified. You see that outburst of patriotism that I've never seen in my lifetime. My dad was in World War II in the Pacific during the, following the Pearl Harbor attack, and my dad says he's never seen anything like this since then when Americans unified against the Japanese and the other enemies of World War II.
Do you see that same spirit within the rank and file, within the upper echelon of the military that you're in?
Quigley: No question about it, Al. I mean this was an attack on our American way of life. It's just that simple at its core. All the freedoms that we enjoy, the very values that we as Americans hold so dear, this was an attack on those.
Now the terrorists want to change our behavior. We can choose to do that and go into a defensive crouch as a nation, or we can take action to change their behavior, and that is the path we have chosen.
Rantel: We're going to take a short time out and we're going to come back with Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, United States Navy.
How long have you been in the Navy, admiral?
Quigley: Twenty-six years.
Rantel: Well, after a quarter of a century, finally something you never expected comes along, right? Isn't that how it is?
Quigley: Very true. It's been an incredible time of change, transitioning from the Cold War to the immediate period right after the Cold War, but here is an enemy for the 21st Century that absolutely must be vanquished.
Rantel: We're going to put Admiral Quigley on hold, and certainly the admiral is eager, actually, to take your telephone calls as well. Obviously the admiral will be somewhat limited in what he's going to be able to tell you about our military response plan, but certainly you're free to ask whatever questions and if the admiral can or is able to answer them, I'm sure he will, at 1-800-222-KABC if you'd like to get a chance to speak, live from the Pentagon with Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, United States Navy. Sixteen minutes after 3:00 o'clock on the Larry Elder Show with Al Rantel, and KABC's dependable traffic.
Rantel: Okay, 22 minutes after 3:00 o'clock on the Larry Elder Show with Al Rantel until 7:00 o'clock. You're having an opportunity not to speak from the Pentagon with Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, United States Navy and he is, of course, with others involved in the planning. You know, I have to say, I know you guys don't get involved in politics and that's great, but sometimes God smiles on America and I think it's a wonderful thing that your boss, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, just so happened to be there when this happened, because the experience that he has is pretty phenomenal. We're going to need that kind of thing. We're going to need those kinds of experienced hands at the wheel, if you will.
Quigley: Al, he's an amazing guy to work for. He has lots of experience, years of experience both in government and in the private sector, and I think he is exactly the guy to lead the Defense Department during this time ahead.
Rantel: Isn't it funny how that works out?
Quigley: Sometimes you do get lucky, you're absolutely right.
Rantel: An old friend of mine used to say sometimes it's better to be lucky than smart.
Quigley: Yes, indeed.
Rantel: This could be one of those times.
Let me ask you about the men and women in uniform. You know most of the time, admiral, as you know people don't think much about the military unless they're actually in it or they have friends or relatives who are in it, but most of the time the military goes about its business, and in time of peace, most of the discussion that takes place about the military is at the political level, about how much money we should spend, and should we have this program or that program, should we build missile defense or not? And it's only at times like this that suddenly the military becomes real in people's minds and we really depend on them to protect our very lives and our very freedom.
Now you're there, that's your focus all the time. The rest of us have not been focused on that because we're about the rest of our lives. So from your standpoint, do you have any concerns at all about readiness, about equipment, about spare parts, all the things that are going to be needed to conduct a big operation?
Quigley: Al, let me go back one point if I could, then I'll come back to that, on the American people.
It's a funny thing to see. Yeah, it's true, in times of peace we may not be the first thought on people's minds as they go about their daily lives, but in times like this you see that deep, underlying support for America's military throughout all strata of American life. And I'll tell you, the men and women in uniform feel it, hear it, know it, and they are strengthened by it on a daily basis.
Now America's military is the most powerful in the world, bar none, and there's been a lot of public discussion recently about some of the ways that we can improve. Ways that we could rearrange ourselves to better face the threats that we see coming at us in the first part of the 21st Century. That's all through. But we also have an amazing capability to get the job done with the equipment in hand when that is what is required. That's what you're seeing here, and make no mistake about it, America's military will contribute to this overall mission.
Rantel: The bravery and the ability of people in the military to do things has always been astonishing. For example, people like to compare this to Pearl Harbor, but certainly you would agree, admiral, I think that America's military readiness on December 7, 1941, was pretty low. And yet we marshaled, we did what we had to do.
Quigley: I do think there are some very striking similarities and differences between now and Pearl Harbor. The similarity would certainly be the surprise attack aspect of events on both dates, but the difference is indeed the readiness of America's military.
I think by any historical standard you found America's military at a low ebb in December of 1941. Building perhaps, but still pretty low. And today it is much higher.
What you saw in 1941 was the amazing resilience of the American people, the American economy, the American military to eventually carry the day. Here I think we have an advantage of starting off at a higher level of readiness today with our armed forces, but the outcome will be the same.
Rantel: Admiral, I just want to ask you one thing because I know everybody that is going to call in may have this question on their mind and we'll save them from having to ask it.
Rantel: You know how we are here in America. We like instant results. And when somebody does us wrong, our first impulse as Americans is to punch them back in the nose as quickly as we can because we don't like to sit around and be abused. This is a pretty tough nation.
So I guess my question to you is, there's a lot of folks out there, it's only been a week, but there's a lot of folks out there who I know are itching and saying you know, when are we going to take care of these people who did this.
I know you can't give me dates and times and places or anything like that, but what kind of answer could you give to a question like that?
Quigley: Well, first off I completely understand the impatience and the desire to do something. Americans are very much an action-oriented people. I assure you and all of your listeners that that is the sole focus of their government in the Washington, D.C. area right now, and a variety of ways to go about doing this.
But by the same token, we've got to do this right and not just lash out, but make sure that we do the right thing in the right direction. I know that the President has promised that it will be as quick an action as we can reasonably do it, and that is our commitment.
Rantel: Let me put Brian on the air here. Brian is in Corona. You're on with Rear Admiral Craig Quigley at the Pentagon. Go ahead.
Q: I've got a question for you. I'm a young guy. Obviously this is the first time anything like this that I've ever seen. I was raised in a Republican home and all this, and I've learned and heard about the military cutbacks during the last eight years. And especially down in Long Beach where they've closed the Navy bases and all that stuff. I was just curious on, you know Marines, (unintelligible) or whatever, that the military is really strong and you know, because they're calling up the Reserves and all that.
Quigley: So you wonder if we're up to speed? Is that what you're basically asking?
Q: Yeah, I was just kind of curious. When they call up the Reserves, does that mean that they're low on actual Marines and Army men and that kind of deal, or...
Rantel: That's a good point. Maybe, admiral, you ought to explain that. When people hear we're calling up Reserves, what does that actually mean?
Quigley: Sure. Brian, let me go back a step and say that at the end of the Cold War we did indeed reduce the size of America's armed forces and it was absolutely appropriate at that point in our history. And you saw a period of several years of reductions, and indeed a substantial peace dividend was returned to the American people during that time.
Time has passed. It's time to rearrange and restructure ourselves, and to modernize ourselves to be better prepared for the threats of the early 21st Century, and that is what we are setting out to do.
Now the president last Friday authorized the call-up of up to 50,000 members of the Reserves. Our initial estimates are that we're going to need about 35,000 of those up front, and it all goes -- it will be broken down by different services -- Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, I might add. Each of the services and the combatant commanders that are stationed around the world will carefully assess their needs for additional manpower and will describe to our Reserve component commanders the sorts of units and the skill sets that they will need to do the job. They are all hard at work at doing just that. I would expect the first of those call-ups to happen this week, and we will proceed down that road in the weeks ahead.
Rantel: But the volunteer Army, volunteer military forces that we have, admiral, are adequate as far as you're concerned.
Quigley: Oh, I think there's no question that our volunteer military that's been in place since the end of the draft in 1973 is absolutely, history will show that that was absolutely the right decision to make. Everyone that is in uniform today is there because they want to be and that is a tremendous motivator of itself.
But we made a conscious decision several years ago, many years ago, to have both an active and a reserve component of our armed forces. It allows us to have a much larger force at the ready, if you will, and these are men and women that work next to you, wherever that might be, throughout America, and --
Rantel: There are a lot of them here in Southern California.
Quigley: Absolutely. Absolutely. And in times of crisis the nation calls and they take off their suit and they put on a uniform and then go serve.
Rantel: Admiral, let me put you on hold. Boy, we have a lot of enthusiastic callers on the line here who want to speak with you. If I may, sir.
Quigley: You bet.
Rantel: Let me put you back, on hold. Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, live with us from the Pentagon, United States Navy. I know you want to ask questions. We'll do it next on the Larry Elder Show with Al Rantel today at 3:31. Talk Radio 790 KABC.
Rantel: 3:37 on the Larry Elder Show with Al Rantel at 1-800-222-KABC. Only a couple more minutes we have left with Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, United States Navy speaking to us from the Pentagon, so let's give our callers the chance they're waiting for here.
Admiral, we're putting you up with Ray here on his cell phone. Go ahead, Ray.
Q: Hi, Al and admiral.
My son's in the Navy. He was stationed in Norfolk. I'm just wondering what role the Navy was playing in whatever would be happening.
Quigley: Well Ray, we would envision that this would be, probably involve a variety of capabilities from probably several branches of the armed forces. We're hard at work on what options to prepare to present to the president for his choosing, but I think it's pretty safe to say that the Navy and other branches of the armed forces will be well represented in this.
Rantel: Here is John on a cell phone on KABC. Go ahead, John.
Q: Thank you, Al.
Admiral, it's more of a comment than it is a question, and this, I'm a 41 year old man, I've got a wife and two kids and always felt somewhat patriotic, but it's still such a deep emotion of the tragedy that's been on and wanting to do something. We're donating at our work to causes September 11, 2001 and such.
But as far as the military is concerned it's something that I feel that you, in my area, have the support of not only myself but of friends and family and coworkers that I've talked to, and I think it needs to be said that it's not something that you give the support today, next week, next month, but a very strong and determined support for the ongoing years that it might take to do an operation like this. We thank you for being there and being prepared and we look forward to winning.
Quigley: Thank you, sir, very much. Indeed, we're in this for the long haul together.
Rantel: Yeah, and you know, admiral, the other thing is too, I've been reading that many young Americans are flooding into recruiting stations all around. That's a little bit of a change of atmosphere, I suppose. You say you've been in the military 25 years so I guess that would have been since about 1975, right?
Quigley: Yeah, I went to the Naval Academy. I went there in 1971, yeah.
Rantel: So you were right in there at the beginning at the end of the Vietnam War when it was a very, very difficult time for the U.S. military as so many of us remember. So this is a whole different environment today, isn't it?
Quigley: Indeed. Again, you see we have received many, many, many visits and phone calls and lots of interest expressed from young people who I think are looking for, who are just as outraged as the rest of us by last week's attack, and are trying to find a way to serve and to be a part of this and to be a part of this national effort that has now started.
Rantel: And you are accepting recruits, I guess.
Quigley: Oh yes sir, absolutely.
Rantel: Can I just ask you a final question, admiral, before I let you go, and that is how much secrecy there will have to be on this to protect national security and not to give information out in the media that could help our adversaries anywhere in the world, but at the same time Americans are going to want to know what kind of military operations are going on. How do you envision that's going to work?
Quigley: Sure, I understand completely.
We do envision that the actual planning and in the early stages of the carrying out of this portion at least of the national effort would need to be very, done in secret for two reasons. One, to give any untoward advantage to our adversary is just not our goal; and just as important is to place American lives at risk by some sort of a compromise of our intentions.
So in the early stages in the planning and just before the carrying out, it would be done with great secrecy. But when the actual operations are being carried out, this is something that we will do our very best to share with the American people. It's their military. They want to understand what we do and how we do it, and they deserve it.
Rantel: And it might be sooner rather than later.
Quigley: Well, I won't put any timeframe on it, but I'd tell you we're hard at work.
Rantel: Admiral, thank you so much for your time, sir. We appreciate it. And God bless you and thank you for serving our country. We're so dependent upon all of you right now, that we can never thank you enough.
Quigley: My pleasure, Al. Thank you.
Rantel: Thank you, sir.