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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. Forces Establish Air Base in Southern Iraq

Aired March 29, 2003 - 03:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: One of the things we have been watching over the last several days as this operation progresses is the moving of -- the securing -- the attempt at securing the supply lines, but also the moving up of forward positions. We heard about the Army moving up a Patriot missile battery to a very forward position.
And now, an air base has been established inside southern Iraq, and that's where we find Bob Franken.

Bob -- what is the significance of this airfield?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the significance is its proximity to the battlefields. It's 150 miles closer than home base, which is down near where Daryn is.

This is in southeastern Iraq. It was an Iraqi air base until a little less than a week go. It is quickly becoming a fully operational U.S. air base. It's going to be where the A-10s stage and refuel. It's going to mean that when they do their ground support, they're going to be able to do it very, very close to where they are needed. The same will go with search and rescue efforts.

Another thing, it's going to be a transit station. Over on the other side of the base there is a constant supply of C-130s coming in and discharging fighting men, troops from the U.S. Army. They're not the ones who are fighting in this immediate area, but this puts them in a better position now to travel to points north because of all of the hot spots that ring this area. So it's going to have that value.

It's going to have a variety of different values. One of the important ones is going to come (AUDIO GAP) gets into full swing. The plan is for this base to be a major staging (AUDIO GAP) for the humanitarian efforts. I can tell you (AUDIO GAP)...

COOPER: All right, we're going to drop out with Bob Franken. Obviously, you know one of the problems with this communication, this technology, as good as it is, there's a lot that can interfere with it obviously. Bob Franken just had a problem with the satellite.

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