The United States will use the full weight of its air power in Cambodia and Laos should it become necessary to protect American troop withdrawals from South-East Asia.
CU Rogers speaking
WASHINGTON: ROGERS SPEAKING
ROGERS: "All our planning is based on the withdrawal of our troops from South Vietnam. The President has made it clear that he was going to do that, and he has done it. Our budgetary planning is all based on that. The government of South Vietnam knows about that and is perfectly willing to proceed with the programme. Now, in that process, while we're withdrawing troops from South Vietnam, obviously there's a risk. And the present Commander-in-Chief has an obligation to be sure that the American forces that are left are not put in jeopardy. So he is going to use the powers at his disposal, consistent with the legislative restrictions, in a way to give the ultimate protection to our forces. And why shouldn't he? Now, that use is not going to cause us to get bogged down in a land war in Cambodia -- or Laos. But we are going to continue to use that air power because it protects American lives. It's the least possible way to protect our men. And why we should have any restrictions on that air power to protect American lives, I don't know."
Initials AH/BHH/BH/1816 AH/BHH/VH/1819
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The United States will use the full weight of its air power in Cambodia and Laos should it become necessary to protect American troop withdrawals from South-East Asia. Secretary of State William Rogers made this pledge -- and defended recent air strikes in Cambodia -- at a Washington news conference yesterday (Friday).
Mr. Rogers restated President Nixon's pledge that no ground forces will be sent into Cambodia or Laos. He refuted the suggestion that the use of air power represented an expansion of the Vietnam conflict. On the contrary, he thought it safeguarded the American rundown in South-East Asia: