tv Washington Journal Sen. Tom Cotton CSPAN May 22, 2019 2:14am-2:45am EDT
cotton served in the army in iraq and afghanistan and between tors he served with the infantry regiment, old guard at arlington national cemetery. he explains what will be happening thursday at the cemetery. guest: thank you for your interest. every thursday before memorial day, thursday is a normal
working day in the cemetery, funerals performed at 3 p.m.. of the army,l unit the only time of the year old guard soldiers wear combat fatigues and the cemetery and carrying march in american flags. they have phase lines, timelines and the mission is to place a flag at every single headstone and niche in the cemetery. every soldier buried in arlington, a quarter of a million graves will have a single moment with a new soldier currently wearing uniform to honor their sacrifice to our nation. host: is there a specific way to put the flags in? guest: there is a briefing before hand, operation order,
overhead infantry, phase lines, tricks and techniques soldiers have. 2010, i was going down the rows, placing my flags at the headstone a foot, you use your foot to space it, it had not rained for a while. i asked young soldiers, how are you moving so fast? they asked me if i had a bottle cap. i said, no. they looked at me with astonishment. is likea bottlecap, missing a rifle in iraq. i can understand why it was critical. you move faster. host: how did you go from combat in iraq to serving in arlington? story.different old guard has some of the
strictest eligibility standards in army. they act on behalf of the nation at one of the highest profile locations. normally it is application, volunteer only. high standards. you have to have a ranger tab and airborne wings for officers. .n my final weeks, i got notice i went up to the call trailer, called the personnel officer. they had hand selected six officers, because they were short, as so many units were strained in those days because the nation had given more missions to the army then personnel could handle and reasonable fashion. when your hand selected that typically means you have done something well or are being increasedgiven responsibility. there must be a lot of meet the criteria.
how do you choose six? that they said, -- we chose the six tallest ones. hadmonths later, we all screaming eagle combat patches 6"7".raq and one was aboutsacred duty, talking it with the author, senator tom cotton of arkansas, republican, joining us until 8:30 a.m. this morning. phone lines are different. active and retired military, (202)-748-8000. we want to hear from you. all others, (202)-748-8001. host: why did you think this book was needed now? guest: i was greatly honored to serve with the old guard in between iraq and afghanistan. i don't think i fully
appreciated what a special place it has in the hearts of fellow citizens until i came to congress. thousands come to visit me every year. mostly, they stick around for days and see the sights in washington. for many, this is the first and only time they come to the capital. i asked them what the highlight of the tour was and they almost say, they almost always say, the tour of the national cemetery. good booknever been a about the old guard, a rich and long story going back to 1784, three years before the constitution was written. i want to tell the story of the young soldiers of the old guard who have defended our country on the front lines and have performed that sacred duty in arlington to honor our fallen heroes. host: what is a no fail zero defect mission? guest: most missions get
accomplished one way or another. sometimes easier, sometimes harder. for funerals, for all garden arlington, that is a no fail and zero defect mission. they perform up to 30 funerals per day. for every family, that is a unique once-in-a-lifetime moment. we take it with the greatest seriousness. we spend hours and hours preparing uniforms, building metal racks, perfecting our craft, folding flags, marching, making seven rifle sound like one during the volley. for every family member, that is the last moment they will have with the united states army before they lay there loved one to rest. expection and army perfection in those moments. host: take us through the sequence of events when a u.s. soldier dies on a battle, say
afghanistan, what happens leading up to that funeral? guest: i write about this in sacred duty. there is always someone with a soldier, accompanied by a servicemember of some kind. for instance, a soldier dies on the battlefield. there is no doubt he is killed in iraq. this happened to us in 2006. remains taken to a mortuary, usually at an airport, they will then be transferred to aircraft. these days, there is enough time in capacity for a ramp ceremony. they will often be transferred from a vehicle converted to a battlefield hearse. lots of soldiers, other service partnerssome posts and will honor that soldier as he leaves on that airfield. dover's airds at force base. old guard takes over.
i often flew on a black hawk helicopter with a six man team and a general officer as a distinguished visitor for these events, carried those remains often airplane, at the air force base after the old guard has conducted dignified transfer, remains under autopsy, they are prepared for final uniform, final presentation to the family and fellow mourners. plot ismes, a family preferred. in many occasions, it has been in arlington, section 60, the internal home of those who have fallen in the war on terrorism. host: how long does it take? is fromhe high-priority the moment they die to the time they are interred, it is somewhat dependent on the
family's wishes. two weeks is probably a good average. they can be faster depending on where the family is and where the person may have died overseas, maybe longer or shorter. host: tom cotton with us until 8:30 a.m. active and calls, retired military, (202)-748- 8000. all others, (202)-748-8001. we want to hear from you as we talk to the senator about his new book, sacred duty. how long was your tour? how many funerals did you participate in? 2007-2008months, between iraq and afghan descent. 400 to 500 -- iraq and afghanistan. i performed 400 to 500 funerals. one of the old guard companies was deployed overseas when i was
there. that put pressure on the old guard companies that stayed behind. we had to cut down on other missions, much less tactical training for soldiers. ra no fail zero defect mission. that does not stop for arlington. last december, during president bush's state funeral, funerals proceeded every day in arlington for families. host: tom from princeton, new jersey, good morning. caller: good morning. hi, mr. kotten. -- mr. cotton. i served during the reagan .dministration looking for a job has been more
and more difficult because we do not get recognized as a serving in the cold war, which in my opinion was the last war we actually won. we still signed on the line and dedicated our life to the country yet there is no veterans preference, nothing between 1975-1990, is really sort of lost. we don't get recognized on any job application. what is congress doing regarding recognizing, even giving one preference point for soldiers that served during that era? host: thank you for your call and your service. --st: we want to earn of t we want to honor the service of all veterans. the cold war without firing a shot because of the brave men and women who wore the uniform in those days.
if we have preferences, they should apply for all veterans. we have additional or heightened preferences for people who have been wounded in combat and are in purple heart. there is increasing recognition in society that veterans can do any job that requires leadership and management, even if they don't necessarily have skills or background in that specific industry or company, put a veteran in that job and they can pick up those skills. what everyone else lacks is the lessons they learned in the military and in combat. responsibility, discipline, teamwork, acting in ambiguous circumstances. that is what i would tell my soldiers when they were worried about getting a job. you can apply all intangible lessons we learn in the army in almost any workplace setting. palms, california.
larry. caller: good morning. patriotic but you stood by when this guy sitting in the white house called mccain not a hero. where were you? when trump called obama not a real president, where were you? i am pretty disgusted with you republicans. host: larry. guest: thank you for your service. i believe john mccain served his nation valiantly and in particularly as a prisoner of war. i honor his service over many decades, first as a naval aviator, then a senator. i was privileged to serve from them. willie,tired military, louisiana. caller: good morning. i think god i got a chance to talk to this guy. about iran.
to hear this guy talk like this, he needs to be whipped. deaths, iran, military how concerned are you about a new shooting war? guest: i am very concerned. the reason we are sending new aircraft carriers, b-52 bombers, patriot missile-defense systems is not to take military action. it is to stop military action by iran. if iran struck the united states, there would be two strikes. what i mean is we will not provoke military action. iran would be taking the first type. if they take it, we will retaliate ferociously. that would be the last strike. we can totally destroy iran's military. host: what can you tell us about the briefing today? guest: secretary of state and director of cia will be there,
maybe other officials will be there as well. as a member of the intelligence committee, i have been following it carefully every day for the last three weeks. i can tell you, there is increased and more intense reporting about the threats we face from iran through their own forces and proxy forces. there are multiple credible threats. that is one reason why our military took actions of deploying additional carriers and missile-defense systems to the region. we hope that will have a deterrent effect from iran making a grave mistake. that is the reason we postured additional weapons in the middle east. host: tom cotton with us for the next 10 minutes, his new book, now theuty is released head of a very important weekend
-- released now ahead of a very important weekend, memorial day. yorktown is an important place for members of the u.s. military. jan, retiredginia, military. caller: thank you. i am a retired navy nurse. desert storm era. went, had awhen we , whene in saudi arabia i am sureame down, you remember -- we had a service at the airport and the military was flown back to america to be interred in various areas of the world.
i am saddened by what is happening today. i want people to know i am a peacekeeper. i believe that we should really try not to get involved in the saudi arabia area and let them handle their own problems. we can support them from afar. let me tell you, we need to get off the oil and onto more energy efficient areas. guest: thank you for your service, jan. that is exactly what we are trying to do. over the last couple weeks, we weapons todditional avoid the terry conflict from happening in the first place. if we had taken -- avoid military conflict from happening in the first place. threatsd taken seriously in the first place, we could have aborted that war in the first place.
host: when it comes to the war on terror, you note in your book, the old guard at arlington were some of the first uniformed soldiers on the battlefield in the war on terror in 2001. guard was old probably the first army regiment deployed on 9/11. yardson, a couple hundred across washington boulevard from the southeastern corner of the cemetery. when the airline lasted into the pentagon, funerals were already underway. this is another example of no fail zero defect mission. they continued all day. -- for everygarch oligarch soldier not committed to doing funerals that day, they
were sent to the pentagon. helped sort through debris to make sure loved ones got back --sonal effects, wallace wallets, keys, and so forth. they were at the pentagon for a month after 9/11. funerals continued. for 30 days, they were on that first battlefield of 9/11. host: jimmy, active or retired military, washington, d.c.. i go to arlington every month. service member shall never be forgotten. i appreciate senator tom cotton's obligation. it is a religious place for me
and my family. it is inspiring. me that c-span has invited tom cotton on the show. senator cotton, take your nose out of it. always itching for war with iraq, not to mention john bolton. you never met a war you didn't like, did you? guest: thank you for your service and thank you for what you do, visiting those in arlington. the reason i think we need a firm stance toward iran and other adversaries like china and russia, as so we do not have more wars. so there are not more young soldiers, like i was, or others today who have to fly to the air force base and carry those remains often aircraft. aircraft.
host: how often do you get a chance to visit arlington cemetery? guest: a lot of us have been back a lot over the last month. for the last year, dozens and dozens of times as i researched this book. fortimes i go for funerals arkansasans who are there. some of the young soldiers i have met have special occasions in the cemetery. the two guards, when they are leaving, the old guard will perform a last walk, the tomb of the unknown soldier. i was there last month for a young sergeants last walk. i tried to go regularly. there,rom your service through your time is senator, is there one funeral you remember in particular? guest: every funeral is unique. it is the families only chance to lay their loved one to rest.
one funeral that stands out in my mind, that so unusual, nothing i ever experienced like 40. the funeral for ez a black hawk helicopter shot down in 2007, all members perished. the army took many months and work hard to identify remains. there were still some commingled, unidentifiable remains. burialas a group in 2007. 12 of us stood at the head of the casket bearing flags. there were hundreds and hundreds of family members and other mourners, four-star generals, large media contingent in section 60. that funeral stands out. there was so unusual, such a large group burial for active-duty soldiers who had perished overseas. host: retired military, petersburg, virginia, stewart.
caller: i served in the nato strikeforce in germany in 1962 and i was part of the virginia national guard. do they still retrieve soldiers from vietnam and korea from dogtags? you give of service do a soldier identified by dogtags? agencythere is an entire in the pentagon called the dod pow mia county agency. they employ hundreds of experts, forensic scientists, anthropologists and they're working all around the world to try to identify soldiers from every conflict where we still have missing soldiers, world war ii, korea, vietnam. it is a regular occurrence. you can go on their website and
find their releases on a weekly basis of the remains of soldiers who have been identified. they are given the same treatment a soldier killed in iraq or afghanistan. i've been to many funerals where the old guard is performing a funeral for a soldier killed in .orld war ii, korea, vietnam sometimes, those funerals are small. they do not have any relatives. someone killed in world war ii, 18 years old, did not have a wife or children -- in some ways those funerals are as much for us, the living, as they are to honor those who died. we want to commemorate their service and lay them to rest on their own soil. all those young soldiers are looking at the way we honor our fallen heroes from 70 years ago. they know they take away from that the lessons our nation will
pay any price, they will never stop looking for those fallen on the battlefield. it is a powerful message. host: a couple minutes left with you. president trump's introduction last week of his new overall overhaul of the immigration system in this country. you have worked on that effort. are you supporting the president's plan? guest: i think it is a step in the right direction. i want to review the text. we need to move away from our current system, which does not prioritize jobs and skills, to one that does. is the blueprint for what the president has proposed. it would eliminate quotas in the system and prioritize simple criteria that is objective and easy to apply toward success in the economy. english speaking ability, age,
education at higher levels in fields like science or in fields like science or thateering, a job offer already pays more than average wage in your local community, that would be very good for our economy. we need folks like doctors, engineers and computer scientists. but it would also be good for blue-collar workers, folks who work on their feet and hands all day long, who are finally starting to see their wages go up and don't need to see any wave of low skilled immigrants come to this country to compete with their jobs. host: i understand that the raise acts would seek to cut the overall immigration level in this country. the president's immigration bill would not do it, that would just change the system? guest: the number of overall immigration i think we are at almost record numbers of foreign-born residents in this country almost one in seven. and most of those came here
without any reference to their job skills. that is one reason why blue-collar workers have not had a prerace for many years because there are too many people here in this country competing for low skilled jobs. was to get the immigration system right, a system that is focused on the high skilled workers renate, that will be subject to negotiations in congress. host: jerry from pennsylvania, go ahead. caller: gary, actually. you mention immigration. i was in the service. , did not see any actual combat but i was in harms way for a while. i won't speak to other veterans, but one of the reasons i felt that one of the things i was fighting for was the integrity of our borders. on that.id the other point i want to make is about the media. a few months ago, not that long,
they reported that mr. trump had authorized a payment of $2 million to the chinese for health care for someone they did send back in a coma, i believe his name was warmbier. then, it was retracted. this morning, they reported that an alligator was found on the blowup raft but the reporter made a point of pointing out that they had verified the picture. host: we have run out of time. i want to give sen. cotton: .ast-minute guest: you do have to defend your borders as a nation. the old guard has spent time on the southern border, it was considered a genuine threat .uring world war i