Full Interview: Dick Cheney on Iraq

The following is ABC News' Martha Raddatz's interview with Vice President Dick Cheney in Ankara, Turkey on March 24, 2008.

ABC NEWS' MARTHA RADDATZ: Mr. Vice President, I want to start with the milestone today of 4,000 dead in Iraq -- Americans -- and just what affect you think that has on the country. Your thoughts on that?

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Well, it's obviously, brings home for a lot of people the cost that's involved, the global war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Um, it places a special burden, obviously, on the families and we recognize I think -- it's a reminder of the extent to which we are blessed with families who sacrifices as they have. The President carries the biggest burden, obviously. He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harms way for the rest of us. And we wish nobody ever lost their life. But unfortunately, it's one of the things that go with living in the world we live in. Sometimes you have to commit military force and when you do, there are casualties.

ABC: When you talk about an all volunteer force, some of these soldiers, airmen, marines have been on two, three, four, some of them more than that, deployments. Do you think when they volunteered, they had any idea that there would be so many deployments or stop-loss? Some of those who want to get out can't because of stop-loss.

VP: Well, my experience has been going back to my time as Secretary of Defense. Um, the all volunteer force is a tremendous national asset. A lot of men and women sign up because sometimes they all see developments, for example, 9-11 stimulated a lot of folks to volunteer for the military because they wanted to be involved in defending the country. And, I am struck continually as I make the rounds and visit with troops as I did on this trip by the caliber of people that are willing to do what they do.

One of the experiences I think you saw, you were there that night, when I decorated the young 19-year-old woman with a Silver Star. Only the second time since World War II, that award for bravery has been given to a woman. It's a very, very remarkable young lady and if you spend as much time as I do on whether it's out here with the troops or back home on bases around the states, the thing that comes through loud and clear is how much they are committed to the cause to doing what needs to be done to defend the nation and sign up to reenlist--

ABC: You have to know how difficult these multiple--

VP: Of course, of course it is, Martha.--

ABC: --deployments are?

VP: So what would be the solution to that? I mean, how would you deal with that?

ABC: Well, I don't know. There are lots of plans out there.

VP: But--

ABC: But it certainly--

VP: But the fact of the matter is that we've got a say these remarkable folks that volunteer to serve that deploy over and over again, that reenlist. The other night after I decorated the young woman with the Silver Star, I reenlisted six soldiers on the spot who'd signed up for four more, for another four-year tour. In Afghanistan, after they'd been out there numerous times and were so committed that our reenlistment rates, for example, in the combat zones was higher than what we ordinarily get in peace time.

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