tv U.S. Senate CSPAN October 30, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
against syria. some time we had dr. kissinger as a witness put them last week we had by professors in the hearings that we had. in three coated doctor kissinger when he said syria is the latest symptom of a disintegration to supervise the middle east. is this consistent secretary carter? >> the middle east summit to come back to american interest in that circumstance with the
>> id with the last elected in october for the first time so this is a pro-western effort in their response was to send blankets. >> but do you agree general that was the right response to read table you perceive to be our role? >> know when to be evasive but i am not sure i can comment on the issue of policy by a job is to provide military options in support of the policy. >> let me ask a question.
fallujah right now is held by insurgents one area that has been identified for future operations for iraqi security forces. >> secretary carter. >> one thing we should have alerted the middle east or north africa is everytime be think it can get worse the cost of thousands of american lives with that war that led to the vacuum to spawn isil we removed a group that obie had chaos
that could loosely be called a country so to speak of the endgame so many colleagues now believe it is to focus directly on the removal of the a sovereign she rather than the current administration focusing on isil. what a fall without a plan in place in a political settlement? >> how confident are you that syria would not just slip into a more chaotic state to create new opportunities and a new wave of refugees to make them look modest? >> the end game that we seek
is a transition in syria and you are right. the sooner that occurs that the structures of society are not complete the destroyed that is why hastening that transition with the political forces to include the forces to oppose this side have the opportunity to rebuild the country that is why we support that transition that we have to support isil they have to be militarily defeated. >> should decide paul beatty to think about what comes next it is a just an opportunity for isil and other groups in the region. >> i believe the talks as
secretary kerry is having is precisely to decide within a political settlement and what would cop after it. so why this occurs quickly is the structures of the state is important to the future and that is what white it is so wrongheaded. and with the no-fly zone that was brought up earlier earlier, what is the limitations of that course of action given with the news sophisticated air defense for russia that is now inside syria? >> the military perspective we can implement a no-fly zone and rehab the capability to do that.
the challenges are political and legal and a diversion of resources in support of the no-fly zone so those are the factors that are considered with the no-fly zone. >> moving back to secretary carter with your previous appearance in front to this committee in july you emphasize the prime minister was to read everything he could to recruit sunni to the fight film the the sunni could take back anbar deal still feel this way can you update of the progress or lack of progress to trade security forces? >> it is still true the recapture of western iraq will require sunni forces that participate and to keep the peace after the piece is one that is why we are intent to get the fighters into the fight and though
legacy of prime minister maliki was to be armed forces more sectarian to the detriment of the sunni one of the things that led to isil i think what the prime minister is trying but to be honest. >> aged a lot of damage. >> but if we reverse it ready to recruit arm and equip the sunni course is and that is our purpose in that these to be part of the future. >> to address the no-fly zone to be clear we have studied and i will give you some of the considerations to ask if we have recommended that at this stage and we have not but the no-fly zone is intended
so i should note however most of the civilian casualties inflicted by the forces on the civilian population are from artillery so to do something about airstrikes. but i respect people who make recommendations and also a humanitarian ends that are referenced also with a portion of syria now speaking conceptually, where people could congregate and be protected. those that would be contested at a minimum to be defended set to take the
ground force to accomplish that end the people protect said could be the people that live there or those who have moved in touche turkey if they want to move back but i want to be clear coming to keep it safe would require fighting to keep it safe because those who want to terrorize the population would attempt you deed to see who is in and who has kept out and we have considered all of them with
those specific recommendations in that regard. >>. >> thanks for letting me jump ahead. if i have this right to trade people inside of syria rather than treating them outside of syria. right? new strategy. >> count you for trying to help. >> is this a goal? >> yes a transition to the government. >> is it smart to that pressure fight isil every stay out?
>> it is in fighting. >> would that be good for us? >> we need to be engaged in our own national interest and we should do that. i am not confident. >> i a.m. with you so touche supply air support. >> we are. >> today want to take assad down? to read the ones we are supporting right now are focused. >> i don't know. >> what do you read? >> they want to fight and destroy isil. >> is that really a mystery? >> it is not. >> no. will russia fight for assad? >> brushing is.
>> will iran? >> they are. >> hezbollah? >> error during that. >>. >> can you answer? >> just to be clear. >> that day is coming. >> to use the a scenario. >> the people that we equip to come from the occupied territory of isil. >> do they want to take a saudia down -- assad down? you ask them? >> we know their intent. >> come on. you know, as well as i do the average syria not only
wants to destroy a isil but also assad tizzy has killed two and under 50,000 here is the question how do we leverage him leaving when rush-hour will fight for him and everyone will fight for him and has a lot and we will not to read jim thing to help people take him down? you both know that so when kerry goes to a geneva is there any credible military threat now that they are on his side? is there any military threat to take him down? >> i the day are at the us side and vintage. >> he is as secure as the date as long. this is what has happened
this strategy has completely fallen apart. russia rand iran will fight for their cry and we will not do a thing to help the people who want to change syria for the better deal see that scenario where we would fight to support that effort is the -- is that possible? >> does it have a military component? >> is a component. >> the answer is no? >> will be fight or will be provided military help? >> our program. >> the answer is no. i will end this so this is a good day for me because the
american beverage has just said without saying it, this fight to replace we. the russians in their radians this is a good day for them because their guy has no military credible threat. tell me what deal we will get i'm sure we would get a good deal with this contract so what you have done is to turn syria over to russia and iran in told the people who died by the hundreds of thousands this is a sad day for america the people will not accept this.
>> consider this in the pending nominations is there a version of the motion carries. >> the primary objective of your action is the defeat of isil. so to ring gauge in military activities afghanistan yemen and libya and during that week of congressional recess the president sent a war powers letter of vacating the detachment of 300 american troops to cameroon to assist in activities from boko haram that has pledged
allegiance to i so have i. it omitted any countries that there is current activity that is ijssel or that have pledged allegiance? >> we're watching isil all over the world as it tries to of metastasized it uses the web the director has made this clear that americans who have self radicalized it is a phenomenon around the world not just around with their cells but some law-enforcement circles and why a ijssel these to be defeated. >> with connecticut's activities am i right that currently is a rack syria afghanistan libya bin the deployment of troops to cameron? >> it depends on what you mean by that.
>> we don't currently have operations ongoing examined against ijssel or libya the supporting characters is i is our support of operations for boko haram. >> but we can get you what we're doing in each country. >> i don't want to talk about non the dod activities but the public record of activities in most countries >> secretary carter is it fair to assume that isil continues to mutate into other countries with dod activity other than those we have mentioned? >> that is why we need to
kill the source of syria and iraq. >> is it fair to assume, we pray this is not the case but the death of either rid not be the last death of this campaign. >> we need to be realistic. our people will begin position that they are in right now every day. people are treating and advising forces they are in harm's way about. >> can we have lost service personnel before surgeon wheeler not just direct combat but they were in positions of danger because of their support for this mission. >> make no mistake they are in harm's way no doubt. >> get your professional judgment your notion the
primary objective is the defeat of isil. how long will that take? >> i cannot tell you but i think it needs to be sued which is why we are strengthening our effort to work with the iraqis to strengthen our trading in we are prepared to do more educating of willingness and enable those forces to take back those territories and even in syria with a coalition forces that are intent to get back to the question is therefore urge
they deserve our support. >> with you say soon, be realistic. with all the countries that we have mentioned, are we talking about the of multi-year effort into the next administration? >> that is probably the case because the strategy, as an important part of the strategy, it is to support capable and motivated forces to take and hold territory. not to substitute but that takes some time to identify those forces to motivate and trade those forces depending on the circumstances in the iraqi and syria it does
depend on the political circumstances that is anything other than a very real factor without lasting defeat we want isil not only to be defeated but it passed to state defeated they need to govern themselves to restore peace and order and it is hard work but that is what we're doing in iraq with the new train in the clip program it will take time. >> i think that answer of the complexity under any circumstances it is very relevant the position about the authority to wage the war is based on the
authorization passed september 18, a 2001 that specifically says the president is authorized to use force against the terrorist attacks from september 11th 2001 and i would agree to the observation and it is beyond those that did not vote on that at the time that they would apply 50 years later this by the admission of witnesses to take a good deal more it is time congress revisit to provide underlying legal justification for the ongoing military action.
>> secretary carter, where you sense. >> i would. with the ferocious cruel and brutal force some of the forces with the population to fight a saudia as has been indicated is the more moderate syrian forces and they don't behave that way that is why they deserve to be part of the syrian political future after a saudi. >> are you concerned russian and iranian attacks and we will see more moderate fighters cooperate with ijssel because they are more capable. >> precisely the point that
i made to the russians like pouring gasoline on the civil war in syria by supporting iraq and the wing to enhance the extremism that they say fear it had every reason to because and russia has had bitter experience and their actions are not consistent with their words. >> and alidade to another. >> have you told russia not to attack humans to avoid certain areas for their operating ord to do indicate
united states would respond? >> end rigo intent to make changes and we are determined to do that. >> you have communicated if there are attacks on u.s. trained troops or units in any way that we will respond? >> i said earlier publicly in this testimony we have an obligation to the forces that we have trained to protect them and we intend to do that. >> that does not include the coalition trade units? >> we don't control all of the opposition forces into oriented towards of fighters and then to come under
we have an obligation and the legal authority, but i'm happy to put that in more detail. there are other aspects you are alluding to that we simply have to talk about in session. >> thank you. >> mr. sec., before sitting to graham began is important my questioning a road in my notes will never pushed aside out as long as russia and iran are all in. we can't say whether there will be a political solution.
they are talking about a no-fly zone which would bring us into direct conflict with the russian air force raising geopolitical questions. give me more thoughts on senator graham five questioning. let's be realistic. wishing is not going to make a policy. aaside will be there as long as russia and iran are willing to stay all in. how do we change their calculus without a significant additional commitment of military power? >> two things. first of all, the russian support to a sod is having the affect of increasing and catalyzing and motivating the opposition to a sod.
so i believe that both the russians and the syrians will see the effects on the battlefield. they will be conditioned by the military situation on the ground. with respect to the political transition and at what point russia would recognize that its actions were fueling serious civil war and fueling the extremism and fears come i cannot speak to that. secretary kerry is exploring with the russians -- >> the russians have not decided. >> they have to decide that. isis is a bigger threata bigger threat than the loss of assad command i don't know when that will occur,, but i agree, that is the narrow diplomatic opening. right now they seem to be
trying to have it both ways. they are essentially propping up isis. >> the logical contradiction in their approach. i said that from the day that it started and why it is so wrongheaded, their approach and at what stage that will recognize that, i don't know. i commend the sec. for talking to them and trying to find a different way, but they have to reset recognition, and part of that will be learned on the battlefield and part in terms of extremism and how it is turned on russia. >> i think the question the administration has to addresses how we ratchet up pressure to change the military calculus in such a way that it is going to move that calculation? let me just change the subject for minute. both of minute. both of these the term
capable motivated iraqi forces. your self-appointed out that is what is missing. is there any likelihood that that is changing? >> there are some, but not nearly enough. for example, the counterterrorism service which has been trained by the united states over time is an effective, capable, motivated force. what we lack enough of in iraq are capable and motivated sunni forces. that is the type of force that is in short supply, and that is why it is so important that the government continues to recruit sunnis, pay them. we equip them and train them and pay them in the battlefield. it will require sunni forces to retake sunni terrorism. >> does the body understand, or is he just giving lip service? if this isn't real inclusion
we are signed. >> he has been consistent and what he has told us. >> i think you have to be candid and say that prime minister a body does not have the complete sway over everything that happens by and through the government of iraq. very clearly and you see that there are malicious, shia militias that are inadequately under the control of the government of baghdad. the forces we support are those under the control of prime minister a body command i talked to him and believe he is sincere in
wanting to do the right thing there. again, wanting to do the right thing and having a complete authority but we do not yet have all of the sunni forces recruited, paid , and rolled, paid and so forth that we need and want. >> i certainly hope we will use our influence to the maxim. if that inclusion does not happen then this full enterprises were not. >> thank you for being here today. a very difficult time. i was in theater with a handful of colleagues. very disturbed at what i see going on in the ground. a very tumultuous time. you did state that we need to take the fight to isil.
we actually have to have momentum going forward. right now the only group that i see in iraq fighting that has momentum is the kurdish --dash murder. again, everybody knows how i feel about this. they have been great allies to us. and in testimony before this committee over the past several months we have many, many prestigious had many, many prestigious military, former military commanders and governmental officials such as general david petronius, gerald, general mike kane, general jack keane command former secretary bob gates. we really do need to enhance our support to the iraqi kurds as part of a more comprehensive strategy. and i am very concerned that right now our current strategy piece meals the weapon, equipment, and we
have so many various types of calibers of weapons coalition partners in the united states. has a lot of station and transporter support of those forces i know how difficult this would be for any army that we are peace mailing so much up to the best burger. so what is our strategy to develop more capable pitch murder force for the long-term fight for isis? >> absolutely. you are absolutely right. the kurdish --dash murder are an excellent example of capable and motivated ground forces, and so they had taken and held territory.
we support the men most recently, of course, in the operation conducted this past week with respect to equipping them command you would know from your logistics background as you indicated very well, rapidity and certainty of supply are very important to them. and we have a policy of rallying equipment to the kurdish --dash murder through the government of baghdad. i think that is where the hands turns for the region to you back that our approach is to try to support a multi- sectarian government in baghdad. so we are trying to do both, supply the pitch murder and support prime minister a
body as the leader of the country overall. in the early days that issue led to some delay in our supplies to the kurdish --dash murder. those delays do not occur now. and so it is not just us. there are more than 14 other countries that are shipping tons and tons of equipment. so i do not believe they're now is a bottleneck in our supply to the kurdish --dash murder. we still do go through the routine of shipping through and with the permission of the government of baghdad for the very simple reason that we want to stick up for the principal. >> very quick if i could turn to you, how did the
iraqi security forces or the iraqi army, how does their maneuvers fire and effect units the kurdish --dash murder units? >> i think the best of iraqis, cts forces command brigades that we train compare favorably. also very competent forces. it's about comparable to the pitch murder. >> murder. >> and we are utilizing them to the best of our capability? >> we are, and that is an important question. does brigades that we have put through training, there is a qualitative difference difference in their performance. to brigades surround riemannian right now, and they have performed at a much higher level than the other units as well as the counterterrorism services. >> so you believe that training and advising and assisting below the division level would be very important in any future operations?
>> i do. from a training perspective in particular yes. >> i do believe that needs to be part of our decision-making process as we move forward. >> thank you, misses chairman.you, mrs. chairman. general, and your testimony you went over a number of areas in our fight to defeat isis. we need to get thecut the flow of foreign fighters. can you briefly describe what we are doing now? >> i can. we have a theme on the ground, part of the ten nation coalition that is working on foreign fighters right now, but it is mostly a military view of foreign fighters. and so when i sat down and spoke to that team, one of the challenges that became clear is we really don't have amongst all the coalition a common view of where the foreign fighters come from, how they move back and forth but more importantly not much of aa
track where they go once they leave. to get a view of foreign fighters as a whole and to make sure we maximize the legal, military, and political tools that are available to us to cut off the flow of foreign fighters. >> is this an area where we will see measurable improvement? >> there are two areas that i think we need to focus on to move the campaign forward , two of many. the two that i personally personally engage on his foreign fighters and intelligence. >> we will see some appreciable measurable improvements. i know you can't talk about the intelligence side of things.
>> but he iswhat he is thinking, but i can tell you what his behavior suggests. avoid the collapse of the syrian state which as you indicated, i think he believed could occur and was one of the things that spurred his support, enhanced support for aside. i have told you what i think i think that it has -- it is going to backfire, as it has had the opposite of the effect that he is seeking. it enhances the opposition to assad, and it enhances the extremism. so it is not a sensible
strategy, but that appears to be what his behavior -- >> that appears to be his immediate goal. i think that he is also smart enough to figure out that if you really want stability he may not be able to get it as long as a size of power. what should we do to make sure sticks? we have now for quite a while and preceding my time as secretary of defense analyze the possibility of no-fly zones. that would involve operating a part ofa part of the country which is not generally where we are
conducting your operations now and where there are syrian air defenses. it's a substantial military undertaking. >> you have to assume. >> again, we have not undertaken to have us forces engage sods forces with that kind of likely scenario, that's one of the reasons we hesitate. >> ownssounds on the ground would have to be defended as
1st, i would like an update on the radiant presence. the discussion by having the iraqi government reengage the sunnis is already a broken record. >> that acted on the words. >> with the caveat that we are not satisfied with outreach. train and equip 8,000 sunni. >> is that more transactional? sorry, i want to be sensitive. is that more of a transactional when?
>> i can tell you i have seen systemic changes. >> what about the presence in iraq? >> you know, the numbers have been bounced around. more than a thousand iranians. >> and in syria? >> less than 2,000. >> i appreciate you mentioning sergeant wheeler. i know he was from oklahoma, but he and his wife and four sons lived in north carolina. he made a comment that those
are operations that are probably occurring frequently. an american soldiers are risk. in myrisk. in my opinion i think the pitch murder would consider that a combat operation. >> he was killed in combat. that was not the intent. he was accompanying those forces, but when he saw the running into trouble he very heroically acted in a way that all the reports suggest spelled thespell the difference between the success and failure of that important mission. >> i want to start with general dunford. >> i have not been passed positive or negative to the men and women in uniform? >> my job is to identify the
requirements we need. >> do you think some of those were fulfilled by our passage? >> absolutely. >> those requirements will not be fulfilled unless we can come up with a solution. >> secretary carter, were you consulted by the president? >> i was. >> i was. >> what was your recommendation? >> to support his veto. i supported command i will tell you why. >> two principal reasons. the 1st is that i started saying this in march and i believe it. >> i am going to be out of time. >> let me finish.finish. to the extent that the chair will let you continue i will defer. are you telling me then that you think that the president's veto leaves our military of the nba better off than with it?
>> i think the presence veto is something that reflected to facts, to get back to what i was going to say. one is that we need command i believe the department of defense needs budget stability greater than a one-year horizon and a foundation of base funding. >> tech is back to sequestration, but i find it remarkable given the circumstances we are in now on the testimony today that we would take a step back while we continue to fight that fight because that will require a willing administration, and this administration is not willing to confront the challenges that these men and women have in uniform today. taking a step back in dangerous times does not
make sense. thank you, mr. chair. >> if i can just say, say what i thinki think we need comeau what we need is my hope is going on now, which is a true budget agreement or washington comes together behind and honest straightforward budget with some multiyear horizon. that is what the department deserves and what i have been saying for months and perhaps is occurring as we speak. ii can only be honest and say what i think is best for the department. that is honestly what we need. i realize no individual member or individual committee can deliver that.that. it requires a coming together of gridlocked washington behind an overall budget there is some indication although i am not involved. that is what i have been urging that is what the
troops deserve and what the world needs to see. please continue. >> there is just one other aspect. i would ask the committee apropos the nba. there are number of reforms that we have requested now for several years consecutively that have been denied in the authorization bill. >> for example? >> some having to do with healthcare, some having to do with adjustments and for structure. these are things that the relevant armed services have determined are the optimal use of their resources, and the authority to carry out those reforms has been denied, and i just appeal to
you not to allow those reforms because it is the professional judgment of the department of defense better use for those funds can be had. in years when it is difficult to find funding for the federal government, andgovernment, and i understand the reasons, we have to use every dollar we do get to best use. we are not able to do that with some of the restrictions. thank you. >> well, there are about 11 billion in savings, including the mandatory seven a half percent per year reduction. they have been made.
with you as we begin new hearings, when we resolve this issue and further necessary reforms and i am proud of the reforms that on a bipartisan basis this committee enacted. i am proud of the fact that we have dramatically revised the retirement system. i am proud of the fact that we are finally trying to get a handle on the cost overruns that is characterized acquisition practices. you may have some concerns. i can't tell you how proud i am of the bipartisan product that we produced and hope that maybe sometime you might recognize that seminal -- sen. blumenthal. >> i 2nd i 2nd that. i thank you and thank you personally.
i salute the committee. we asked the taxpayer to give us more money for defense. we also show that we use every dollar well. >> i thank you, mr. secretary. we will have hearings i am proud to work closely with a graduate of west point. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think both of you for your service to our nation and for your candid and forthright answers today in an area that is exceedingly difficult. as you may no, i am working with a number of colleagues who both supported and opposed the joint comprehensive plan of action
to strengthen the united states policy toward iran, and other words to improve and strengthen that agreement among other ways by providing more military assistance to our allies in the area and anticipating that some of the financial windfall will go toward increased extremism and even terrorist violence in that area. and so to bolster the defenses and military capacity of our allies in that region this legislation will reassert the united states policy that a nuclear armed iran will never be permitted. they will reaffirm our dedication to imposing sanctions related to terror financing and human rights abuses and ensure that our allies, most especially israel, will be present to that provided with the assets that they need so that their defense will be bolstered and they will be able to deter iran.
you have just visited the area. can you tell us what additional assets we can provide? can you commit, and secretary carter can i ask you to join in this question that the united states will, in fact, bolster assets going to israel and our other allies in the middle east and comment on this legislation. >> sen., i cannot talk to the details now. the minister of defense from israel is here today. we will have dinner with him this evening. as you probably know, they are developing their perspective on what cooperation further we might have with them. initial discussions with the chief of defense minister defense minister defense and prime minister last week during my visit.
>> the conversations that preceded our votes on the agreement in effect israel will receive all the necessary assistance to make sure it's qualitative edge is not only maintained but enhanced. >> qualitative military edge of israel. come and important part of our overall policy toward the middle east. also other golf partners and allies and i also need to add since you're asking the maintenance of the military option which we are charged with continuing to do and i continue to pay personal attention to.
and our efforts to counter iranian malign influence around the region and protect our friends and allies. there are a lot of dimensions double we do all of which remains unchanged with this agreement. all of those things, the military option, support israel and other gulf countries is long-standing pursuit of american interest >> i recognize thei recognize the policy remains unchanged but the military assets will have to be increased. >> we will be doing more with israel which is one of the subjects of my discussions. as it was when i visited there a couple of months ago and he hosted me the way i will be hosting him. >> can you tell us whether you are satisfied with the progress that has been a?
>> he and i have a very good relationship. i can go into all the details here, buthere, but if we could share them separately it is a very close trusted defense relationship. >> i would appreciate your sharing those details in a different form. i am very interested in the details of the discussions that are underway now and i want to be satisfied that we are filling the commitments that were made to myself and my colleagues in the course of our discussion. >> thank you. chairman mccain statement today, general betray us was here recently, and in his
testimony he also emphasized that the middle east there is no easy answer but that inaction has costs whether it is others filling a vacuum like we are seeing whether us credibility is undermined, especially when an action contradicts policy statements. i think that this is something most of the members of the committee see is a significant problem do you believe in action has its own costs? how does the us military way the cost of inaction of doing nothing when you are presenting options to the president, options on what we should be doing in the middle east. >> first of all, i absolutely agree that an action is unacceptable. we talk about protecting our national interest.
with regard to when we provide military options to a particular challenge, absolutely it is my responsibility to clearly articulate both the opportunity, cost, and risk associated with not taking action. >> thank you. secretary carter. many members of the committee have been concerned about us inaction and another part of the world, and a lot of us on this committee saw that inaction was raising costs and undermining us credibility. the shangri-la dialogue. i was going to express concern but just read the paper about the freedom of the navigation operation that we evidently conducted inside a 12-mile zone of the built up chinese island just yesterday. is that true? did we do that?
>> we made a commitment command i appreciate your support as part of our rebalanced to the asia-pacific which is so important to america's future. we are doing more at sea, more in the way of presence. a general question, we have said fly, sale, and operate wherever international law permits. >> that we send a destroyer? >> there have been naval operations in that region in recent days and there will be in the weeks and months. >> inside the total meltdown. >> the particular operation. >> it is all over the press. >> i am sure that it is. >> is that consistent with
international law? >> yes. >> should we be doing that on a regular basis? >> fly, sale, and operate wherever international law permits and whenever operation requires it. >> it will be good to know whether or not the press reports are accurate. >> let me ask another question about another area where it seems like us inaction clearly seems to be inviting more russian aggression where russian actions are changing facts on the ground. mr. secretary, in your confirmation hearing be talked about the arctic being a major areaa major area of importance to the united states but strategically and economically in the future he said it is fair to say that we relate to the recognition of that. it is also fair to say that the russians are not way to the recognition of that since your confirmation the
russians have done the following in the arctic, new arctic military command for new arctic brigade combat teams, 14 new operational airfields and the russian arctic. announcements of up to 50 new airfields by 2020. a 30 percent increase of russian special forces in the arctic, 40 icebreakers. we have two. one is broken. huge new land claims, increased air patrols with bombers and a major military exercise in march that taught the us military completely off guard. 45,000 troops,. 45,000 troops, over 3,000 military vehicles, 41 naval ships, 15 submarines, 110 military aircraft, numerous elements of russia's western military district and the elite airborne troops in that exercise. a lot of this concerns a committee.
we had a unanimous agreement here to create an operational plan for the arctic. >> work with the committee on a robust military plan that will enable us to check russia's aggressions in the arctic. given that is in the nba right now. >> you have mine command i appreciate your leadership. an important region for the united states and the entire world. we need to do more there. you are a champion of that can consider me a supporter. we will have a chance to discuss that later this
week. >> thank you, mr. chair. we have a sense of frustration sometimes. the news reports all day or about a us destroyer, naming the destroyer, going inside the 12 miles on. i would do not confirm or deny that happened. this is what frustrates members of this committee when it is out there in the media and you won't even tell us. maybe you understand our frustration here. >> i do understand your frustration. i match it with my own frustration. these operations. >> the american people should know about it.
you refused to confirm or deny the mac you come before this committee and say you will not comment? >> i'm not going to be coy. i don't like the idea of talking about our military operations. what you read in the newspaper is accurate. >> i don't think the senator asked you why, when command how. asked whether you can confirm it or not. >> i can. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the safe zones, we seem lost. we seem lost.
put any real marker down or have any plan for success. they are voting with their feet. they are leaving. refugees all over the world now. they have the opportunity to set up safe zones. what i here his we are worried about the russians, syrians at what point to be put a plan together, execute the plan, tell them what we are going to do and say stay out of the way? >> with respect to a safe zonea safe zone from a no-fly zone, save zone is a zone on the ground, we have analyzed them and discuss them with partners in the region. they are principally not in regions where you expect them to be contested.
we have not made that recommendation. >> senator, let me go back. if you create his own like that, you have to ask you is going to come into the zone. zone. are there people that have left syria who are going to return? from turkey for europe? occupy a zone from which they did not come, people elsewhere who are going to come to the zone. you do have to ask yourself,
for whom would this be attractive and secondly -- >> probably some of the folks in germany and other countries who would rather have stayed in there own country. >> if they wish to return to the part of the country for which the zone, in which the zone is created. again,. again, it would depend on where it was. >> let me ask you, we have talked about ts time after time. why are we unwilling to send the message that if he continues with barrel bombing we will stop them and crater his runaways? >> we have not undertaken to engage as us military the syrian military. we have not taken that step. >> how do you ever stop the barrel bombing? >> the way that the civil war in syria, to get back to what we have been saying repeatedly, for a sawed to
the part and further to be a political -- >> why would he depart at this point? >> the opposition is intense and strengthening. >> well, as far as ii can see has three or four additional allies who have come on board. >> again, our priority has been to combat isil. we are not undertaking to combat -- >> let me ask you this, in the process of combating isil, does the united states standby has another nation barrel bombs? >> we have sought now for some time and continue to do a political transition in syria. >> i would just say from my perspective we have
extraordinary confidence in the leadership. i would love to see alternate plans that may be out there. i was in aa rack a few months ago with the sunni tribal leaders. i just want to ask you, and spending time they said, said,said, look, if you showed an interest in us, had a helicopter come by every now and then logistics and advice, that partnership and friendship, we will be there and get the job done. >> senator, there are sunnis that absolutely can't take the fight to the enemy. we have seen that in the past.
while we continue to hope and pray the iraqi security force gets better, are we sitting here with sunni tribal leaders who have the individuals who can actually start to move out? >> i think the central government would do better at outreach and we absolutely could recruit more, trained more, equip more command support more syrian the fight. >> it is fair to say the team is ready to go. they justthey just need to get the signal to go. >> it would take some work, but there are people out there we could put together to fight isil. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you, sec. carter and gen. dunford for appearing in front of our committee today and for your service to our country. the white house has been sending mixed in the times controversial to the contradictory messages about what the interests are and what threats to our security exist in the middle east. many americans are understandably coming to
find their current strategy somewhat reminiscent of the old song says the pres.'s reactionpresence reaction seems to be to send in lawyers, guns, and money. the situation in the middle east is a complicated problem for our current posture but it is certainly not historically aberrational. dominate by external powers or internal authoritarians have destroyed cultural institutions and disrupted the natural development of societies. the decentralization of power in the states compounded by radical islamists conflict and stability and the trend in our security, we continue to
receive contradictory reports about the effectiveness of ongoing efforts to retain, trained and equipped the security forces. this time around it will work. i'm usually told something like the following, well, following, well, we have a better political partner in baghdad now than we did before and the partner who will not repeat the mistakes of the predecessor. we know how quickly political institutions for political situations and calculations can change in the middle east. i am more concerned by what your predecessor described as the we will to fight factor. i believe that extends beyond simply having a better leader in baghdad. do you believe the kind of
united a rack that we have seen for the past century with borders drawn by the british and french and held together either by a western backed monarchy or baptist dictator is something for which the people, especially when the who don't have emergency assistance from a coalition like to have now. >> i think for most people is a lot more local the national. if the central government would outreach and provide basic services that we would get sunni fighters it would fight on behalf of the government. we have seen that in the past. i would like to expand the question more broadly to places like syria or yemen. the people of those countries have the we will to fight in places where
current territorialwere current territorial lines may have been imposed by a foreign force to back. >> there is no evidence that would indicate. >> we are looking too hard for an easy or simple answer. some of these complicated questions, and i encourage my colleagues in the american people to thoughtfully consider auctions in the middle east before continuing down paths that i believe may lead to mission creep and an indefinite us military presence to prop up week and sort of artificially created states designated around unsustainable boundaries. but the department of defense syria train and equip program failed by a long shot. define and train the level of fighters decided under the voting requirements established by congress and the white house. congress but these in place
because it was concerned about who would be using us assistance and for what purpose. sec.secretary carter, does the failure of this program indicate to you the desire for serious something does not exist within the parameters that the american taxpayer may be willing to support? >> i was disappointed in it as well, but i don't draw that conclusion. >> we talked about the syrian kurds as an example. the so-called syrian arab coalition and the new train and equip effort that we described today, we will look to identify and then support capable and motivated forces. we have identified some already.
the new is to train and equip rather than trying to create such forces. you are right. it was authorized by this committee last december and i understand the considerations that went into that. we have concluded that that approach was not working the way it was conceived of a year ago and is precisely why we have change the approach. that will allow them to gain more momentum and in particular to allow us to put pressure on the city, the self-declared capital of the caliphate. on the syrian side that is our intent and they are trying to gather momentum.
>> thank you. i see my time has expired. >> thank you for being here and let me just at the beginning of my questions below mentioned to master sergeant joshua wheeler. there probably is no better example of someone who has run the danger for this country over and over and over again. his loss and loss of his family command we support them as they go through this trying time. cinder read my ask you about forces in northern syria, have we sit resupplied those forces? >> we have, sen. >> okay. have they have they successfully called in airstrikes? >> they have.
>> can you tell us how many? >> ii cannot. i can get that for you. >> that will be terrific. on a rack traina rack train and equip have a tendency to read as reports. raised severalraised several concerns. one is asking us to refurbish the conditions under which the iraqis are training. the dod ig recommends that the coalition work with the iraqi minister of defense to defund the plan to plan that clarifies the contributions of iraq and the united states to improve their living conditions. evidently we are having desertions because their living in such skull -- such squalor in terms of the conditions. i think of the billions and billions on infrastructure that we have bent. are we going to go in and fix up something that will rot when we leave? or will it rack step up and do it's necessary to make
these conditions palatable for the recruits? >> senator, this is my perspective and where we are right now, our relationship has to be transactional and they have to be certain conditions that they would meet before we provide support and is the framework within which i will provide recommendations race support to the iraqi forces, based upon their behavior and willingness to be true partners and meet certain conditions that would indicate they would be headed in the direction you describe. capitol expenditure is great on many of us who have watched the amount of money that we wasted on capitol expenditures. on that same line of questioning, the m wrap's, the same reports.out that many are missing parts command there is a question whether they have the capability of maintaining these going forward. other discussions about who
was going to bear the cost of making these actually operational?"n >> you talk about what we give the afghan security forces. >> the excess ones that we are moving over. the us is providing 250 to the iraqi army. excess defense items being shipped. that's what i'm talking about. >> i cannoti cannot comment on the arrangements, but i will get that information for you in terms of what arrangements were made. typically it is an as is condition when we provided to another country. i assume that is the rule. >> i just want to make sure we are not going to the expense of sending them something that is not operational that we don't want to have to spend money to fix up and secondly that they don't have the capability of maintaining. you know, sustainability, sec. carter knowssecretary carter knows this has been a
refrain from the very beginning. .. >> why is everyone not opening up these records and doing everything we can to get the word to these people? there are a lot of folks out there that were subjected to mustard gas experiments, and the v.a. wants to point at you, and i'm hitting a wall at dod on this. and i really need a commitment from you all today that you will
get me the information as to why this is -- why me trying to help veterans who maybe have been exposed to mustard gas, why this should be so hard. would you all be willing to make that commitment that you will work with my office instead of -- they just keep throwing up roadblocks. >> i'm not familiar with this issue, but as always, we'll make sure that we support your request. i'll look into it with the chairman, and we'll get back to you as appropriate. >> and i've been waiting since july for evidence to back up your claim that there was justification for the $36 million, 64,000-square-foot building in afghanistan. there was a call for discipline for the people who had okayed that building, it's sitting empty x i've been -- and i've been asking since july as to -- you said you didn't think, secretary carter, you didn't think disciplinary action was appropriate. i've asked what the evidence is that would indicate the action
is not appropriate, and i've been waiting since july. so if you could get that on your to-do list, i'd appreciate it. you've got an able helper who ought to help with this. >> on behalf of senator mccain, let me recognize senator sessions. >> thank you very much. senator mccain laid out some serious criticisms of how we're being, how we're conducting policy in the middle east. i share most of those. i don't think they're little matters, they're important matters. and i think we made some mistakes and struggled in ways that are not well, not good. i think it's -- so i'll just leave it at that. what i'd like to address today is the need for a strategy long term in the middle east. i asked kenneth pollack of the brookings institution several months ago, he had mentioned in his statement this may take a
long time. so i asked him, the whole problem of extremism in the middle east, this spasm of violence we're seeing throughout the entire region, how complex it is. and i asked him -- and so i followed up with him and said so you're saying this could last 10, 20, 50 years? and i remember very vividly he looked at me, and he gave an answer you don't often get: yes. that was his answer. so we've -- and do we need a strategy, a long-term strategy that could deal with that? i've asked that question to walter russell mead, and he said he'd never seen us as a nation be so unfocused in a strategy, the historian that he is. the entire panel, i believe week before last, general jimmy jones, president obama's national security adviser,
general keane, ambassadors all agree we need a strategy, and we really don't have one. then i asked secretary gates last week x this is what he -- and this is what he said that i think is relevant. he said my concern is that i don't see an overreaching or overriding strategy on the part of the united states with this complex challenge for the next 20 or 30 years. and one of the benefits of containment -- and there are lots of disagreements about how to apply it and how the wars we fought under it and so on -- but i will always believe that critical to our success in the be cold war was that we had a broad strategy called containment that was practiced by nonsuccessive administrations of both political parties. it had bipartisan support. the general notion of how to deal with this.
so we don't have anything like that with respect to the middle east. and i think that is wrong, and so we're kind of dealing with each of these crises individually rather than backing up and saying what's our long-term game plan here. and who are going to be our allies? who are going to be our friends? where do we contain? where do we let it burn itself out? we just haven't really addressed those long-term questions, because it seems to me we're thinking strictly in the short term of month to month. i know we've got nine points, secretary carter, but i don't sense anyone in the region or anyone in the congress believes that we have a deeply-studied and long-term policy for the middle east that could extend for decades. first of all, do you think we
need one, and do we have one? >> we have a strategy toward the middle east, and many elements of it are, in fact, of longstanding, decades-long standing. and again, our strategy begins with the pursuit of american interests, and that involves protecting our own country and our people, defending longstanding friends and allies who include the gulf states and especially israel which was discussed already. opposing the introduction of nuclear weapons to the region which gets us to the iran circumstance. and in the current matter of isil, protecting our people and our friends and allies against isil by defeating it where it began which is in iraq and syria. we describe today that the
implementation of the strategy in both of those places to defeat -- degrade and defeat isil, so we're doing that. so it is a complicated region. i called it kaleidoscopic in my statement. but american interests are not unclear. they're clear, and we -- our strategy is intended to pursue those interests, and that is what we're doing in strengthening the pursuit of that strategy. it is why the chairman and i have been describing to you today the new steps we're taking in iraq and syria and with respect to unilateral actions. >> well, i know that's the position of the administration but, frankly, our middle east allies that we talk to and come and visit us don't feel
confident that they know what the long-term goals of the united states are. whether they'd defendiraq against isil -- defend iraq against isil? are we going to pull out all troops? apparently not now in afghanistan regardless of the situation on the ground. what are our red lines in syria? are we going to honor those? look, you can say that, but i think it's clear that confidence and understanding of where we stand and what we're going to do for the next 10, 20, 30 years as any leader of a middle eastern nation has got to think and as we should think as a great nation, i don't think we're there. i really believe more work needs to be done. i'm talking to my colleagues in the senate, i believe we can reach a bipartisan policy. i really do. i don't think it's impossible. and i'm going to work toward that goal.
>> thank you. >> one more thing, my time is over, but i believe the defense department may underestimate the critical nature of the refugee crisis. this is not like iran, iraq war that went on for many, many years. this is impacting europe right now. it is a humanitarian crisis. it's being exploited by everyone else in the middle east that would like to come to europe. europe is facing what one top diplomat told me was the greatest crisis since world war ii. and i think we've got to think about this safe haven. these safe zones. and get busy on it. and general petraeus said it might have to have some of our people at risk defensively to try to protect those areas, but we wouldn't take a lot. you and i talked, secretary carter, about it. can't we get moving on this?
how many more millions are going to have to flee and being lined up in areas that we don't -- before we act? just morally, my judgment is that europe needs to know there is a place for these refugees to go other than to flee the entire region. that will strengthen them. can we not do that? quickly. [laughter] >> well, the, insofar as the refugees are coming from syria, they're actually coming to europe from several -- >> all over. >> but to the extent they're coming from syria, this is why it is so important that the syrian civil war be put to an end. and our approach to that is political, it's not military, and that has been a persistent subject of discussion here. we have not undertaken to
achievement and that goal -- achieve that goal militarily. our approach to that is political. we hope that that transition occurs and that the civil war in syria ends. and that is something that -- >> what if it takes three years? can't we provide some sort of area there for people who are in danger to have safety and not have to leave the entire region? >> i just repeat what i've said. we have analyzed and i'm prepared to have shared with you the analysis we've done of safe zones, buffer zones and no-fly zones. we have looked at the advantages and costs of those, and the president has not taken them off the table, but we have not undertaken to create any of those zones at this time. i don't rule that out in the future, senator, and we're happy to discuss it with you and discuss in a different setting the analysis that we have done.
>> on behalf of chairman mccain, let me recognize senator ayotte. >> i want to thank the chair, also thank senator donnelly, appreciate it. i wanted to ask secretary carter, recently the iranians have actually tested a long-range missile in violation of existing u.n. security council resolutions. this is something that ambassador power has confirmed and, in fact, if you look at what the iranians have done post-agreement, not only have they tested this missile, but of course they've wrongfully convicted a washington post reporter in iran, and they, of course, we've had a lot of
discussion today about the cooperation between russia and iran undermining stability in syria and our interests there. so i've also -- it's been brought to my attention recently that the supreme leader of iran has actually said about the recent agreement that any imposition of sanctions at any level under any pretext including prefabricated pretexts of human rights on the part of any countries involved in the resolution will involve the jccoa. so here's my question to you, primarily to you, secretary carter, what are we going to do about their violation of already-existing u.n. resolutions when it comes to testing ballistic missiles and long-range missiles? and you know, you're the one that testified before this committee, the i in icbm is
intercontinental. and as i see it, already iran is violating resolutions with no response from us. already the supreme leader is basically saying you impose sanctions on any reason, even our support for terrorism or other human rights violations, we're going to walk away from the jcpoa. so do you not agree that their violation of the missile resolution warrants a response from the united states of america? and what is that response going to be? because at this point i haven't seen any response. >> i think that it needs to be very clear, it's certainly clear to us in the department of defense that the conclusion of the nuclear deal with iran, assuming it gets implemented which is part of what your question gets to, does not address all of our security
concerns. >> but let me ask you this -- >> iran. >> yes or no, should we respond to their testing of this missile that violates existing u.n. resolutions? >> i'll describe one response in our area, and that is our continuing commitment to the development of missile defenses. that's one of the reasons why we are developing and -- >> i understand that we're developing missile defenses, but what is our response when they behave badly already? shouldn't there be a response from the united states of america? be we had recently a panel of experts here. and i asked each of them, and they came from different perspectives, if we should respond. and they all agreed, yes. >> well, in our area of responsibility i would say this, senator, i'll let the ambassador power and secretary kerry address the diplomatic side of it. but in our area of responsibility, and i made this
clear right from the beginning of the negotiations on the iranian nuclear deal that that does not end all of our security concerns with respect to iran. >> i mean -- >> that is why, mr. secretary, i'm sorry, i don't have a lot of time. but ending? it seems -- not ending? it seems like it's just beginning really as we think about this unholy alliance between russia and iran undermining our interests in syria, as we think about them testing in our faces this long-range misis ill -- missile, as we think about what the supreme leader has basically said, any sanctions we're going to walk away from the jcpoa. i would say it's really just beginning. that said, before i leave -- i don't have much time, but i need to ask a question of you, general dunford. i had the privilege of recently, on friday, going to the guantanamo bay detention facility and meeting with our
men and women who serve there. and they're doing an excellent job under difficult circumstances. as you know. and one of the issues that was brought to my attention and i know that you as a leader in our military, one of your jobs having been a commander and serving, obviously, in the highest position in our military understand that taking care of our men and women in uniform is so critical. and yet we have a situation down there where we met with women guards who are being prevented from fully performing their mission because the five 9/11 attackers who are charged with killing 3,000 americans will not allow them to perform their duties because they're women. can you tell me what you think about that and whether you think that is right? and how we should be addressing that. >> senator, i can tell you how i
feel about it, i feel the same way as the commander, general kelly, describes it as outrageous. i read his weekly report and have read it for probably about the last seven or eight weeks, concluded two or three weeks before transition. it's outrageous, he's identified it, and as you probably know, senator, that's being worked by lawyers. i'm not using that as an excuse, i'm just sharing with you that's actually where it's at right now. it's being worked by lawyers. the commanders identified it. i think it ought to be -- it is outrageous, it ought to be fixed, it hasn't been to date. >> i'd like to see the administration speak out against this. here we talk about giving women more opportunity in combat, but this is an area where these women that we met with, by the way, that are serving there, they're the very best, and they are not being able to perform the full responsibilities of their positions simply because they are women because 9/11
terrorists are manipulating the system to say that our women cannot guard them. secretary carter, i hope you would agree with me that this is outrageous, and i would hope that the administration would do everything in its power to stand up for our women -- >> i do want to associate myself with what the chairman said. it is outrageous, and what general kelly said, this is pursuant to an action of a federal judge, and i understand that. but if you're asking -- i think it is counter to the way we treat service members including women service members and outrageous is a very good word for it. >> i appreciate both of you being here. thank you. >> mr. secretary and general dunford, i've known both of you for many years, and i've appreciated very much your outstanding work, and i am great admirerrers of both of you -- admirers of both of you, and i
appreciate your service. could i again caution you, mr. secretary, it isn't helpful to our relations and members of this committee when there's a widely-spread story stating the name of the ship, where it went, how it went and then you come and tell us that you can't confirm or deny something that is out there in the media? so, meaning that somebody has leaked all that information to the media, and it's out there, but you can't tell this, members of this committee who have the responsibility -- it isn't a privilege, it's a responsibility to exercise oversight. the second issue i want to mention to you is guantanamo. i understand that the president has said many, numerous occasions that one of his objections is guantanamo. you and the president's top aide came to my office and said you were going to give me a plan. i've always favored closing guantanamo for a whole variety of reasons, and yet we still haven't got a plan from you.
in fact, not only not a plan, until i asked you about it specifically, there was no communication. after coming to my office and saying that you're going to give me that plan and i said we needed it before we marked up the defense authorization bill. we got, i got nothing. not an update, not a briefing on what was going on. so we put in the language in guantanamo, and the president didn't -- voices his strong objection to guantanamo. finally, this issue of whether we are protecting those people who we are asking to fight against bashar assad and isis. isn't it true that we've dropped munitions, general dunford, to these people -- to a group of people who we are supporting in syria? >> it is true, senator. >> it is true? and yet are we, are we going to protect them from russian air attacks? >> senator, we have the
authority, we have the capability s and we have options to defend the forces that -- >> but is it true that the russians are already attacking them? >> the ones we have trained -- >> i'm not asking the ones we've trained, the ones we dropped munitions to. >> no, the russians have not attacked the ones we've dropped munitions to, senator. >> they have not? >> no, chairman. >> and they have not -- >> to make sure you and i are speaking of the same group, the group i'm referring to is what's known as the syrian-arab coalition. they're operating in the northeast part of the country, and we recently provided resupply to those individuals, ammunition. >> and if they're attacked by the russians, we'll defend them? >> senator, we have, we have the capability to do that, and we'd provide options. i can't answer that question. >> they'd be interested. they'd be interested in knowing, i think, if we're going to give 'em equipment and ask them to fight and they're going to be -- we can't answer to them whether
we're going to protect them or not. i don't think, i think it's a degree of immorality. so anyway -- >> mr. chairman, may i, on the two points you raised, just take a moment. first of all, again, i don't mean to be coy about the ship sailing, and i know things are in the newspaper. i'm just going to tell you where i'm coming from on that. it has nothing to do with this particular operation. there are all kinds of things in the newspaper that should not be in the newspaper. i don't like to talk about military operations publicly. you are, of course, entitled to know everything and be briefed on everything. but talking about things in a public setting, i'm not in favor of, so i don't want you to think i'm being coy or evasive. >> what is classified about it? what is it that you wouldn't want -- i mean, it's, in fact, i think literally every member of this committee applauds it. so i'm not sure that, what the
reason is why you wouldn't want to just state what has already been from somebody that works for you, the name of the ship, where it went, when it went, how it went, but yet you won't tell us? that causes frustration, mr. secretary. >> okay, all right. well, i don't mean to cause you frustration -- >> well, i hope you understand our frustration. >> i do, i do. and maybe my hesitation is excessive. but i don't like to talk about military operations in public, and perhaps this one should be an exception. but let me go on to the other thing you said about gitmo. i, too, favor -- like you -- closing gitmo if that is at all possible. that, because some of the detainees in gitmo are not, cannot be safely transferred to another location in order to
close gitmo, as you know, we would need to find it a location in the united states or locations in which they could continue to be detained. what has taken the time, chairman, is that we had to survey a number of sites. we've done that at a number of sites around the country. we've completed that, and some of those are department of defense sites, some of those are bureau of prison sites, and we needed to have them nominated by the justice department and then to do the site surveys there. all of that took some time. >> i understand. >> that process is now complete, and i expect you'll get your proposal shortly. >> i understand, but i would have appreciated an update. and the cynicismover on this side of the capitol is, to my view, somewhat justified because the law was broken when mr. bergdahl was swapped for five people.
the law required that the president of the united states notify the congress of the united states. and he didn't do it. so, frankly, there's a credibility gap that is huge when the president acts in direct violation of the law. and using the excuse, well, he was afraid there was going to be a leak. well, to me, that's not sufficient reason to violate the law. and so, therefore, the cynicism here is immense. and to expect -- the president complains about the ndaa -- to expect that this committee would act after the president has violated the law and there is no plan is, of course, something that is not, neither reasonable, nor in keeping with our responsibilities. and so could i say again of my respect. i appreciate the great work that both of you do. as i said, we've known each other a long time. but i also have to tell you
there's a certain amount of frustration here because of the lack of communication. what we just talked about at guantanamo is one. another one is this policy or lack of policy about what people we train and equip and whether we're going to defend them or not. the lack of a strategy to say that we can have to take out syrian air defenses in order to establish a no-fly zone is simply not true. i'll ask any military expert. that's to not true. you don't have to take out syrian air defenses. it's syrians that can't fly into our places. and we've had military members like general petraeus and general keane and many others who obviously have a very different view of the whole issue of what we're going to do which, by doing nothing, has triggered a flood of millions of
refugees which is a problem we're going to be grappling with for many years to come. it didn't have to happen. well, i look forward to more conversations with you. i appreciate you coming to the committee. i appreciate your service, and this hearing, i'm sure you'll be glad to know, is adjourned. >> thank you, chairman. [inaudible conversations]