Martha Raddatz on Bob Woodruff

Jan. 29, 2006 — -- This morning, senior White House correspondent Martha Raddatz briefed George Stephanopoulos on what happened to "World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt in Iraq earlier today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. We have to begin today with some news that has hit close to home for all of us here at ABC. Our "World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt were reporting today from Taji, Iraq, when their convoy was hit by an IED.

Both are in serious condition, and they've been medevaced to a U.S. military hospital in Iraq, where they are now receiving treatment. I'm now joined here in the studio by our White House correspondent, Martha Raddatz, who, of course, has also covered the Pentagon for years. And you've been talking to the military this morning. What more do we know?

RADDATZ: Bob and Doug were in a convoy, and they were with U.S. military as well from the 4th Infantry Division, but they were with Iraqi security forces. As you know, the U.S. military is training Iraqi security forces. Bob and Doug were apparently with the 4th Infantry Division in an up-armored humvee and wanted instead to go in a vehicle with the Iraqi military forces.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Much softer target.

RADDATZ: Much softer target. It was a mechanized vehicle. At least it wasn't one of the pickup trucks which they usually drive around in. They were in the lead vehicle and they were up in the hatch, so they were exposed. They did have all of their body armor on. They had helmets on. They had eye protection. But the IED went off, the improvised explosive device.

They were both immediately injured, taken away. They have shrapnel wounds. Both apparently have shrapnel wounds to the head. They were first transferred to the green zone, the international zone. Their medical condition -- they were stabilized. Then they were flown by helicopter to Balad. Balad is north of Baghdad.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the best military hospital in Iraq.

RADDATZ: That's a very good military hospital in Iraq, and Bob is currently undergoing surgery. This happened several hours ago. Immediately medevaced, again, both stabilized. Bob is in surgery. I'm not sure Doug is in surgery at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the initial reports, at least this morning, were that after the IED went off, there was also some gunfire.

RADDATZ: Again, some of the reports I've gotten from people over there, as you know, these things change. Initial reports are sometimes wrong. But the initial reports were that they hit an improvised explosive device, and then that was followed up by small arms fire. This is very common over there now. These attacks are planned, and this is a secondary attack. Sometimes when medical personnel come in, they'll have small arms fire following up on that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Training these Iraqi forces is the heart of the U.S. strategy right now, so there's really no way to cover this story without going out there.

RADDATZ: There's no way. And I've been, in fact, with Doug and others when we have to go with the Iraqi military forces. If you're going to cover the Iraqi military forces, you have to be with them. You have to see how they live. I will tell you one thing, a few months ago when I was there and we wanted to get into an Iraqi pickup truck, one of the American soldiers said, you can't do that. It's way too dangerous.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because -- and we've actually seen. The insurgents know this as well, so in recent weeks and in recent months, that's been their target.

RADDATZ: It's become a primary target. It's a softer target, as you know, but it is a primary target to attack these forces. There have been hundreds and hundreds -- thousands, probably -- of Iraqi security forces killed. Sometimes they're attacked by suicide bombers, but they have become a primary target. It is very dangerous business, training these troops for that reason alone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And both Bob and Doug understood this. And as you pointed out, they're not being hot dogs here. They were wearing heavy...

RADDATZ: Not in any way. I have worked with Doug Vogt so many times. He is no hot dog. Bob Woodruff would not take risks that were -- without his body armor or anything else. They are both very careful. Doug, as a matter of fact, when he was with Terry Moran a few months ago, they hit a very small IED, and one of the Iraqi forces was killed. Doug was also in that convoy, but he was in an armored humvee at that time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha, I know you'll be following this all morning. Obviously, this is very tough news for all of us here at ABC. It gives us a taste of what so many military families are going through every day. Our hearts and our prayers go to Bob, his wife, Lee, and their four kids, Doug's wife, Vivian, and their three daughters. We're going to be praying for them. We hope you will too. We'll be right back.