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U.S. Military Steps Up Relief

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," January 3, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Now to U.S. military aid. A major U.S. military mission is under way at this hour to help the tsunami (search) victims. The operation is the largest in southern Asia since the Vietnam War.

Joining us by phone from Utapao, Thailand, is Brigadier General Kenneth Glueck, deputy commander for the joint task force. Welcome, General.

GEN. KENNETH GLUECK, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Well, thank you. It's good to be with you this evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: General, can you give me some sort of outline as to what the U.S. military is doing to help these people?

GLUECK: Absolutely. We are putting every effort possible. We're under the direction of PACOM, Admiral Fargo. Under his direction, we have initially established a joint task force in Utapao, Thailand (search). What that task force mission, of course, is to prevent additional loss of life and to relieve the human suffering that is currently occurring. This task force will basically coordinate all the efforts.

We've had a great opportunity here to work with a lot of our coalition partners to actually scope this operation. And to address that, what we did was establish coalition support groups in Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, which were the most affected areas. And we work with those three groups to assess the requirements and coordinate the right supplies, the right medical support to the right location, as efficiently as possible and as expeditiously as possible.

VAN SUSTEREN: General, I take it that there are some areas that are far more difficult to reach than others. Is that right? And what are the more difficult areas to reach, and what are you doing to reach them?

GLUECK: Well, the most difficult areas right now that we've identified are probably on the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. And it's down the coast from Banda Aceh down to Meulaboh. And what you have is that virtually every bridge along that highway there has been washed out. Small villages are gone. And so what we've identified is what the requirements are to get aid into those isolated areas, as well as the major population area down at Meulaboh.

VAN SUSTEREN: General, there are some areas in the region that have had some civil unrest in recent years. Is there any problem associated with that in carrying out your mission to get food and relief to people?

GLUECK: Well, we're very cognizant of that fact, and force protection is always paramount in our mind. But we are working with the appropriate amount of force protection into our mission to ensure that we can accomplish the goals and objectives of the commander of PACOM.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you had any rescue missions in the last 24 hours, or is this, at this point, simply getting food and clothing to those who have survived?

GLUECK: We have moved, you know, some medical evacuees to medical centers. We have brought people back to Thailand. We have P-3 reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft that are scouring the entire affected area, and if we see any efforts that require a search and rescue, then we coordinate that with the host nation.

VAN SUSTEREN: General, ever have a job like this before?

GLUECK: Well, yes, I have. I had the opportunity to work with an earthquake in Turkey, and -- only about two weeks ago -- I was in the Philippines, where we had a typhoon relief effort to help our fellow Philippine coalition partners.

VAN SUSTEREN: What can we do to make your job easier and all those who are working with you to bring relief to these people?

GLUECK: Well, I think that right now, there is a lot of efforts to gain additional funds. But I think your thoughts and prayers, as well as just basic support for our forces, is very important.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you expecting more forces to join you?

GLUECK: Yes, we do. And it's kind of based on the requirement that we define, as we continue to scope this operation, and we'll adjust those forces as required to address the different areas.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, General, thank you very much. I appreciate it, sir.

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