Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discusses Iraq attack

In his first interview as defense secretary, Lloyd Austin talks about Iraq, the Capitol insurrection and on how the Biden administration will respond to military threats.
5:04 | 03/05/21

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Transcript for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discusses Iraq attack
The secretary of defense says the US is still sensing who's behind an attack on US forces in Iraq this week. At least ten rockets had a base housing US soldiers Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Martha Raddatz about that attack in his first on camera interview since taking on general. This week we saw a second significant attack with those ten rockettes. Do you know who did it and what kind of responses might we expect. We want to make sure that. But again we understand who's responsible for this a message to those. That would carry out such social characters. You know expect us to to do what's necessary to defend ourselves low strike. If we didn't give us what we think we need to do at a time and place of our own choosing. Martha Raddatz joins me live now with more on this one on one interview with Defense Secretary Austin Marc bash thanks for being here. Talking to and I know you spoken to him before but after speaking to him in this interview what's your take. I'm how to Biden administration is going to respond to dress. Well I I I think date they really can't let this pass I mean they can try to ignore one but I I don't see in this case. How they let this pass because it it's clear that. US military personnel and contractors. Could have been injured in this attack and of course there is one before that. But they don't want to escalate the situation either I I'd king just as secretary Austin said that given a lot of thought Dell decided. I know that. It they have given the president advised that look. The clock is yours you can wait there is no hurry to do this kind of retaliatory strike. Also asked him where do you get in it you know a tit for tat and it just goes round and round and round. Because of course there was retaliatory strike last month and the Iranian backed militias or at least that's too. It is probably believed to view the Iranian backed militias there in Iraq after that they struck again. So you don't want to get in his back and forth and back and forth and back and forth an escalation and escalation. At and particularly in the middle of of a time when the US really would like to start renegotiating. That nuclear jail with Iran and you people see more diplomacy going forward. I think that is the number that is a number one thing that Lloyd Austin talked about what does this man is a lifelong soldier 41 years in the army but he stressed yeah. Very much that to. How important diplomacy has how you have to do it it essentially expire diplomacy before you do anything else I think there's always this myth. About people in uniform and he's no longer in uniform obviously there's this myth about people wouldn't in uniform that they that they want to go to war. That's really the last thing they want so I think you'll see a lot of diplomatic out reached. By Lloyd Austin in this new role with with those in the same positions elsewhere defense ministers. I I if I think he will be burying gauging. With Sam and try to work everything else out at the tape. Well not on a battlefield. And I know you also asked secretary Austin about the January 6 insurrection at the capitol and extremism within the military what are you have to say about that. It's he's very disturbed by it he has ordered a piece to what's called a standout in the military one day stand down. Chew out the military every single. Base every single member of the US military pass to basically think about extremism ask questions. I talk about it. Figure out we're it is in the military and it certainly has no place in the military. Check Sherrie Austin also said because I asked him what is a punishable offense and he said if you act on that. Extremism. But he you know he is experienced this himself as as a black soldier. In the US army for 41 years he knows. What it is and he doesn't want it in his military funny it was a black soldier in the US army for 41 years now he's the first African American secretary of defense Martha how does he feel. About breaking that barrier in the historic nature and being in this role. You know I I have known him for a long time and was with him and covered him in Iraq. Several times. Lloyd Austin is one of those but those soldiers you call a soldier's soldier I think probably the last thing he likes to do is interviews he'd probably rather be within a bright they're flying around in a helicopter in Iraq didn't been sitting down for an interview but she is clearly very proud of his accomplishment it was not easy and I think one of the big things he said that I love the most is he said my goal is not to be the last. Black secretary of defense. I'm Arthur and it's always great to have you Martha thank you thanks and be sure to watch Smart fiscal interview with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that's coming up this Sunday. On ABC's this week.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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