tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 2, 2016 2:30pm-4:31pm EDT
with challenges due to the lower price of oil with huge reconstruction bill as it retakes city's from isil. in syria, competing agenda for the political agenda are inhibiting-- inhibit aiding isil forces. secretary kerry and secretary luke are focused on this intently, but they need support from you and congress to ensure military momentum is matched with political and economic momentum and that the military defeat of isolating syria and iraq when complete will be lasting. i have articulated ache clear strategy with interstate being lasting defeat of isil and that means it must be achieved by local forces. our strategic approach therefore enable such forces to collapse isil control of muzzle and a rock by bringing to bear and supported them the full might of the us military through some of
our most unique capabilities such as precision air campaign, offense of operations of cyberspace, training, logistics, sustainment and equipment. enabling local forces, not substituting for them is necessary to ensure lasting defeat. sometimes that means it's predicated on the speed at which local forces can absorb our enabling. some seem to suggest we pursue different strategies and there are, in fact, alternative strategies and i have addressed these alternatives in previous testimonies. we don't recommend them and here's why: one alternative would be to leave the complex and chaotic middle east, try to contain their danger to the united states and target terrorists from offshore. on approach of this suit-- sort avoids complexities of the middle east, but the rally is
such a containment approach cannot succeed in today's connected and globalized world and i don't recommend it. another alternative would be to introduce significant foreign ground force. hypothetically international although almost certainly preponderantly american to capture iraq and mozilla and other territories captured by isil. there are several problems with this approach. strategic approach would entail a significant military undertaking much as we wish otherwise, realistically would embark upon largely by ourselves and it would be seen as competitive advantage it a special forces mod-- mobility and firepower. instead fighting on enemies term admits local population that has previously responded violently to such an approach and in the medium term seeming to americanize our western i met
effort to expel isil from a population of iraq in syria we might turn a local people fighting isil who are inclined to resisted their rule into fighting us instead. as chairman dunford said isil would love nothing more than a large presence of us forces on the ground in iraq and serious zero they could have a called to jihadi. lastly, in the long term there were still remain a problem of securing an governing the territory recaptured, which in the end must be done by local forces. we cannot substitute for them to the bottom line is this, we cannot ignore this bite, but cannot win it entirely from the outside in and that's why we help capel, motivated at local forces every way we can without taking a place. finally, went to include-- conclude with a few words about resources as i have serious concern with the proposal from one of the defense committees to
underfund dod overseas war fighting accounts by $18 billion. and to spend that money on items we did not request. i have to say this approach is deeply flawed and troubling. having detailed my objection was yesterday before their preparation committee today in this content i want to highlight the danger of underfunding our war effort and gambling with funny for our troops in places like iraq in syria. as secretary of defense i cannot support such a maneuver. indeed it is exceedingly important we provide our troops and command all the resources they need to succeed. and i know with your support and with the continued dedication of our people and our partners we will deliver isil a lasting defeat. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general dunford. >> chairman-- >> secretary, you. >> thank you for the opportunity
to join secretary carter to appear before you today to talk about the counter isil campaign. senator carl just provided an update of our approach in before taking your questions i would like to share my perspective on where we are the military campaign and where we are going. my full isil is a transracial threat with affiliates located from south asia to west africa are top priority remains to disrupt attacks against the homeland, the american people, our allies and partners regardless of the source. we continue to assess the most dangerous threat remains isil in iraq in syria. i just returned from iraq last week and received an update from our leadership. i also had the opportunity to visit with troops and observe iraqi forces at their training sites. the situation is complex with no shortage of political and military challengers and i was encouraged by what i heard and saw the ground. last fall it would've been fair to say isil had momentum.
i do believe that is the case any longer. without lipreading detail progress outlined by secretary carter i will summarize by saying with our strikes in conjunction with iraqi security forces and sunni tribal forces we've reduced isil's territorial control, undermined its brand of invincibility and the pro-- destroyed his war fighting capability. the enemy's resources have also been significantly reduce. the pressure we are applying is degrading their morale. more importantly, the progress of the last several months has instilled conference-- confidence in our forces. they believe they can defeat isil. currently at iraqi forces continue operations while simultaneously conducting operations to isolate mosul and in the months ahead iraqi forces, page murder and sunni tribal forces will bring increasing pressure to bear against the enemy and mosul and we will be aggressively looking for opportunities to reinforce success as secretary carter said and we will seize every
opportunity to main momentum and increase the effectiveness of our partners. similarly in syria the pressure we put on isil has degraded their capabilities, leah-- limited their freedom of movement and reduce resources. in the past months the local kurdish and arab horses we support every taken a significant percentage of territory previously under isil control. other vetted syrian opposition forces are currently fighting along the turkish syrian border and operations that will put additional pressure on isil. the recent authorization of additional us forces in syria will allow us to increase the capacity and capability of ground forces and set the conditions for operations against rock i. in closing, i believe we have moved the campaign forward over the last few months and the progress israel. with that said, we are not satisfied or complacent about where we are. we will be satisfied until isil is defeated in iraq and syria
and where it attempts to take root. once again, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, general. secretary carter, it's frustrating to a lot of us as you outlined the options that we have. the option you left out, which is entirely doable and i know this for a fact is if we had about 10000 of 100,000 person contingent of which the sunni nation would contribute that would go in on the ground and take rocket and moz zero and when you talk about territorial gains you forget to mention that the second-largest city in iraq is still an ice's hands and they have no strategy so far to retake, but it's frustrating to us when you set this up that the only alternative we have is to walkway and the other is a preponderantly american force. that's not true.
the other option is that we have been pushing for months and months and years as an international force over which they united states would be a small component of and that is doable and when i keep hearing this that we only have these two choices, i say with all due respect you-- it's intellectually dishonest. on the issue of the reprogramming, yes, i was quote blocking the approval of the reprogramming until yesterday when i had a very excellent briefing from general dunford that cleared up concerns that i had and why did i have those concerns, mr. secretary? because when we spent a couple of hundred million dollars the last time then commander of central command testified before this committee we had four or five people left after expending a couple hundred million dollars in what i predicted would be and it dismal failure, which was
making these people pledge that they would only attack isil took my question is, is that still the case with this force? are they prohibited from responding to being attacked by syria backs? >> i will address both of your questions as the chairman to do the same. you are correct, i described to bookings if you like and there are various radiations in between, so you are absolutely correct. with respect to the option you describe of 89 to one ratio of international forces to us forces, that would be a highly desirable circumstance to be in. i do not doubt. i have no indication from those countries despite a lot of effort it-- effortless and willingness to do that and in the second point i would like to make and then i will leave that
point is as i was describing the possibility of foreign forces entering iraq and syria, tried to describe the welcome that they might receive and the remaining issue of sustaining territory, once it is taken and held and i think that is the principal strategic issue with a large foreign force, whether american-- >> please accelerate your answer >> , 1209 program-- thank you-- i just want to acknowledge and i acknowledge this last year, we made a disappointing start of bad and no bones about that. we have changed the approach you that fundamentally. i believe the chairman has describe that to you and that is
the basis on which you have indicated willingness to support and to be brief about the difference, we were trying when i program was initiated to make forces brand-new forces to canter-- counter isil in syria and our approach now is to identified and this is where the special forces have been valuable, forces already fighting isil who we can enable with the great mites of the american military. that's our new approach. >> i got it. do you believe that the cease-fire is collapsing, general dunford? >> i do believe there's difficulty. >> we know what happened last time before the cease-fire ended that was that the russian air was bombing the daylights out of the moderate forces, any of which we trained and equipped. what are we going to do with the collapse of the cease-fire, a
resumption of russian bombing of american trained forces? what is going to be our option there? >> chairman, if our forces are attacked by regime forces, we have the authority to respond. >> will we give them the ability to respond? >> we will, chairman's human coming service air capability? >> it does not mean that, chairman. >> well, i guess i have to go back to the problem that we face and that is that with a cease-fire breaking down, with millions of refugees, with at least 300,000 people killed and the resumption of hostilities, now with russian air practicing indiscriminate bombing, what are we going to do about that situation and can we count on a
couple of thousand american trained and equipped forces to reduce or counter what is clearly a consolidation of power on the part in the hands of assad? i hate isis, but it isn't isis that has killed 300,000. it isn't isis that has driven millions into refugee status. its assad and i wonder what you believe our options are in this obviously deteriorating situation in syria, which means a resumption of the slaughter, resumption of the flow of refugees. >> secretary, may i start and then the chairman can chime in behind it? we are intent upon fighting isil in syria because our principal and paramount responsibility is
to protect the american people and isil is trying to attack the american people. but, i agree with you also about the assad regime and the reason why a sod can be part of the future. because of what he had done to his people. i also agree with you that while the cessation of hostility has had an important effect both the north and south, but very much in the south in permitting humanitarian assistance, it is not being completely abided by. it is especially by the syrian regime and finally you mentioned russia and while you are mentioning russia i will just remind you of what i said to you before, the russians said they were coming into syria to fight isil and that's not what they did. they supported assad and thereby prolonging the syrian civil war.
that is a tragic situation and to secretary kerry is trying to work on that and as you know i cannot described here the faux accent of our efforts. but, again i go back to our focus in this testimony, our focus pretty much in the department of that offense, not exclusively, but largely on protecting america and that means destroying isil. >> my time has expired, but obviously according to general nicholson the situation in afghanistan is deteriorating. is it imperative that we revisit the decision on reducing the number of troops in afghanistan by half now and should into we do that before these important meetings in july? either of you. >> chairman, we are constantly reevaluating the situation in afghanistan. >> we have to make a decision. >> we do and we are constantly-- >> will the president in making
that decision? >> i think the president will make that decision and he has indicated continued willingness to adjust to circumstances there and to ensure the success of something-- >> we are letting our allies know that? >> yes. >> thank you very much and i apologize for the committee for overstay my time. >> thank you, mr. jett-- mr. chairman. in this complex region, sometimes we have difficulties with our allies as well as our adversaries and turkey has been both a supporter and allowing us to operate and also someone who is not completely cooperative with some of our request. mr. secretary, can you comment on what you would like them to do more and whether they are capable of willing to do that? >> thanks. is a timely question in a very
important one because of geography they are the single most important in of the nato western family of countries that can have an influence on the situation. they are doing more and i'm grateful for what they are doing. they are doing more along the border. they are helping us to operate in a some ways i could go into another setting and i'm very grateful for that and i would like them to do more. i wanted them to do more for some time. i think i have made that clear, but we continue to work with them. they are on important part-- party, an important ally and they could make a larger contribution. >> in the spectrum of the possible operational approaches that you laid out, the one that is being adopted now is rather late footprint, special operation troops going in,
trying to degrade both isil and iraq and iselin mosul in a more significant ground presence would require adjacent country providing both operation and political staging area. do you have any indications of not being accepted, tolerated or agreed to? >> turkey has allowed us to operate in a norm as part of the air campaign. very grateful. they are willing to allow us to operate. with respect to the special forces and syria, just want to distinguish that from iraq. in the iraq case there are not special forces. we have thousands of americans doing all kinds of things necessary, logistics because remember this iraq army needs to be rebuilt and wrist-- sustained and have its line of communications sustained. there's a lot of pieces to this.
the reason again without going into detail for the special port-- forces present in syria is not the numbers themselves, but their ability to go in, identify groups that are willing to go after isil and bring down like a funnel, a tornado the great weight of the american military power through those forces and amplify and enable their fax. that's what they are so good at. that's why they are there and that's why we are increasing the numbers. >> the point would be that those operations, special operations have been supported by adjacent countries. is there indication they would support a land force, mobilizing on the territory? >> i don't have any indication from that turks they would do that, no. >> lets me shift gears. many on the committee have been urging that we take a more
proactive cyber presence in the conflict and that seems to be emerging and i'm wondering if the secretary or general could comment on the cyber operations? >> i can comment generally on at. i asked with the chairman a number of months ago, abnormal rogers-- admiral roberts to take on the work against isil, essentially the first major combat operation of cyber. he has done that. the objectives there are two interrupt isil command-and-control, interrupt its ability to move money around. interrupt its ability to tyrannize the control population, interrupt its ability to recruit externally, all of that it does in a cyber enabled way and we are talking about cyber operations in syria
and iraq and my feeling about that was and is very direct, which is we are bombing them and we're going to take other internet and and so forth as well and the modern world that is necessary to defeat an enemy and we have to use every tool that we have. this is the first big test of cyber con and i've high expectations he can be successful. >> to add what the secretary said i'm in the overall effect we are trying to achieve his virtual isolation and this complements our physical actions on the ground and a particular focus is external operations that might be conducted by isil. >> thank you. >> mr. secretary, this week we have been talking about the 250 troops being deployed to syria and 217 and iraq. how many boots do we have on the ground now? >> in iraq, total is around 3500
now, i just want to remind you that his force management level. the special operations complement that we are multiplying sixfold is from 50 to those 300 and syria. >> general dunford, pok about rules of engagement because a lot of times they talk about training equipment and we know training equip would only include defensive activity in certain areas. where are they now on that? >> sender, are you talking about our forces? >> our forces. >> number one, they are going after isil. their unrestricted in going after isil and that includes air campaign and is under attack and there is positive identification of enemy and hostile intent they are authorized to engage. >> okay. that's good.
the question-- second question i have is all of that activity, we had during the course of this hearing not really talked about anything outside of syria and iraq, but other things are happening right now. talking about in reuters yesterday that extent-- expanded territory in libya. our director clapper recently warned isil is spreading in europe and open borders across europe and have allowed isil to plant sleeper cells. general rodriguez has said isil force in africa has grown to 6000 and the past year with major presence in eastern cities. we talk about eastern cities, libya, tunisia, algeria, but now it's gone down further. it's in sub-saharan africa, somalia, nigeria and some say
even in central africa republic of the eastern congo it's becoming apparent. now, my question is, when we developed africa it was developed without resources they have to get their resources from other sources. that being the case, what is happening right now i think if we say we had a strategy to contain isil at the strategy did not work. we are not containing isil, so we talk about our troops, what they are doing, training equip programs in syria and iraq, but what about these new areas they are going into now and how are we going to be able to resource them should we have to ask what are your thoughts? >> i will give a * admin the chairman has been working on this very much. you are correct. we have seen and director
clapper, i'm not familiar with his testimony, but i'm sure it's right and you know africa well yourself, senator, there's a mixture of two things going on. one is a rebranding of existing extremist groups signing up, so to speak to isil and the other is newly inspired or newly funded nuclear's of groups, both of those are of concern. i would not say containment, i would say destruction of isil wherever it emerges is the right strategy. with syria and iraq, that is necessary. it's not sufficient. we need to do it elsewhere and we are both following those developments closely and taking some action, some of which we can discuss here and i will turn it over to the chairman at that point. >> before your answer, is rodriguez right when he talks about the number of-- the 6000 number?
>> i agree with that assessment, senator. right now with regards to africa, conducting at-- in west africa, east africa and libya. a concept of operations for support of libyan forces in libyan government. we have as a result of his concept of operations reallocated resources. the secretary made the decision about a month ago to reallocate resources to africa to further develop intelligence needed to support operations in libya throughout africa and we are also working closely with the french in west africa and with a coalition east africa. >> in sub-saharan africa, all of the activity in nigeria? >> we also have partners in the ground in that area. >> thank you. >> thank you, chairman. secretary carter, before i get to a couple of different questions regarding isil and want to bring to your attention on him important issue facing
our national security the moment in terms of availability of domestic trusted supply of state-of-the-art microelectronics for military weapon systems platform, you may be aware there was a recent sale of ibm trust boundary, which had been dod sole-source supplier of leading edge technologies for over a decade now to a company based in abu dhabi and i think that raises serious concerns about the future stability of dod trusted microelectronic source between defense microelectronic activity and labs and the capable state-of-the-art industry suppliers here in the us we ought to be able to fill that void, but i wanted to urge you to take a hard look at that make sure we have a long-term strategy. >> we have and we do have a mitigation strategy and i would be happy to have someone come over and discuss it with you, but it is a important point,
that we need a trusted source of microcircuits especially for a very special essential functions. >> i look forward to that. to the issue of the day, for both you secretary and general dunford, we all recognize that we have a serious threat, but there have been some positive signs of progress since last year and according to media reports, new foreign fighters joining isil, those numbers are at a significantly lower rate this time and they were last year. news reports suggested that they are on the order of something like 200 a month from something close to 2000 month a year ago. i went to ask you, are those numbers we see in the media actually accurate? to what do you attribute this sharp decline in whether or not
cyber con which you mention is having a role within that overall as well? >> we do observe that trend. i think it's very hard to be precise about these numbers, but i think that trend is one that intelligence community does say is a very discernible-- at the same time from my point of view, and he is too many. so, we are not done until they're gone, but i'm told that the trend is observable in the numbers as well as we are able to discern those numbers seem accented her, i would attribute that reduction in time with the secretary in term of specific numbers, but i think the least-- reduction is for a couple of reasons and what is the assessed foreign fighters come from about 145 countries and a number of those countries have come together in a more meaningful way to come together and share intelligence.
is not what we would wanted to be, but it's better than a year ago and we have a specific organization established to bring this nation's together to change information and be proactive about foreign fighters. our invisibility on foreign fighters has increased. secondly, the turks have been helpful in that regard and i think the efforts they have taken on the border have reduced the number of foreign fighters that flow back and forth between turkey and syria, but again in both areas, both with regard to what the turks are doing and with regard to the information and intelligence exchanges we have where more work to do and we are not satisfied with the level, but it has proven to make an impact. >> we appreciate that you don't intend to let up until the job is done. have we had any success in any sort of cutting off the ability of isis to reach right into even suburban communities in the united states and create a demand for i think a number of us have had news reports where
kids in our own communities, teenagers, people in their 20s suddenly decide to buy a ticket and try to get to syria. how is that process going? are we able to cut off that sort of electronic foreign fighter source and are we having an impact in that area as well? >> our effort in iraq and syria is aimed at making it more difficult for them to operate out of those locations including by trying to lure americans into acts of violence. i do have to say that the law enforcement community and homeland security had enormous effort here. i don't want to speak for them, but they are working extremely hard on that and that's not in our area of responsibility, but it's essential, so they are working so to speak on the other end of the problem.
>> thank you both. general, did you want to add anything? >> i was going to say that one thing that is encouraging is that there was a recent poll that it talked about the appeal of isil in islamic youth and there has been a fair reduction in that and i would contribute up to our success against isil and their narrative of invincibility has been shattered. the less the appeal they have to be a global caliphate smacked thank you, very much. >> thank you, gentlemen. general dunford, as chairman mccain pointed out, most of the fatalities and civilian casualties in syria are caused by assad's attacks. do you agree that we have the capability to take out a solid air force? >> i do, senator. >> why have we not done so? >> we have not declared war on the regime, senator.
>> you are not saying it would take a congressional declaration of war to take that action? >> i think it would take the president directing us to do that, senator. >> so, i wonder why the president has not directed us to prevent these civilian tallies and partial by taking out a solid air force. >> the task he has given us militarily is against isil, senator. >> what would be a recommendation in that regard? >> specifically as to whether to attack the regime? >> to take out the air force that is causing the majority of the civilian the tallies and casualties. >> senator, i prefer not to give that recommendation and public. that's a policy recommendation that if i was going to provide that i would provide it to the president in private. >> secretary carter, you said assad cannot be part of the future.
is that the explicit view of the president of the united states? >> yes, it is and that's why secretary carry is working on a political transition to regime after assad hurt as the chairman just indicated we have been undertaking to change that regime by force now, for a number of years. we have not made that undertaking. our focus in syria as the department of defense is on fighting isil because of its threat, direct threat to americans, but with respect to the tragedy of the civil war in syria, we are working on the political transition, but it's a political transition our leadership has indicated necessarily involves assad removing himself from the scene because of exactly what everything he has done to his people, which you just cited. >> assad voluntarily removing himself?
>> no, i think-- here's where the russians would do well to make what they do correspond with what they say. and that is to move the political transition forward, use the leverage they have and they have gained by intervening on assad's side in the civil war and get assad to step aside while keeping some structure to the syrian government that can then mary and to moderate opposition whom we support and create a life in government for the people of that shattered country scenically certainly have not seen that out of the russian leadership. there were reports last december , an article in bloomberg saint obama no longer seems sure assad should go. i think what you are saying is that that is not accurate and so let me just make sure, is the
president ruling out somehow working with the assad regime against isis in the short-term? >> they-- we have not worked with them. they have no-- zero no inclination to act they, the administration? is there a debate within the administration? >> i have not heard that idea broached. >> mr. secretary, a number of european parliamentarian i have spoken with in recent months have told me in private that they wish europe had worked with us on syria back in 2013 and frankly, i wish congress had been wallace lutes. senator cotton was a voice in the wilderness at that time, but now that our nato allies face the chaos of an unprecedented migrant influx, do you believe nato could help in substantive
action against isil and how could they be helpful? >> i do believe they could be. i need to say more helpful because the nato countries i think without exception we mentioned turkey already and it's important contributions are working along with us on the same campaign plan. nato as nato has not been asked yet by the european countries. we favor that and there are reasons why nato as nato is more than the sum of the parts in them sure you appreciate that, so i think nato as nato could make a contribution discussed with the secretary-general right now. i will say with respect to the refugee crisis, the europeans have preference to use the european union and not nato as their chosen instrument for
addressing the refugee crisis. that is their choice. so, they have not asked for nato to be a big part of that effort. we did take a step to assist when i was in brussels a few months ago to bring that turks, greeks and germans together to work some naval operations aimed at deterring smugglers from using the aegean to bring people from turkey to greece and i has had some excess-- success. they wanted the european union, not nato to address the refugee situation. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary carter, thank you for being here and thank you for your hard work.
last week an advocacy group called protect our defenders release date report detailing inaccurate and misleading information provided by the department to this committee during a hearing in 2013 and a follow-up letter about sexual assault cases, civilian prosecutors allegedly refused to prosecute and that the chain of command later insisted they be tried as opposed to simply proved on the recommendation of military tourneys. the report by protect our defenders and a follow-on in-depth investigation by the ap alleged the 93 cases that department highlighted to prove toughness and commanders and handling sexual assault cases were inaccurately described. untroubled by these allegations that the department and specifically the military provided misleading information to congress. with the intent of deceiving legislators and legislation we introduced to discourage sexual cell. these reports suggest an effort by the military to undermine this committee and converses
response ability to do oversight and term policy. if you look at this the testimony given by admiral winfield was reported for beta by several senators, so when you get testimony, senators listen to what is said and they will repeat it. if you are giving false information and senators are repeating false information, which is not in the interest of justice or legislating. they also turn to question a veracity of other testimony given by the military and defense officials in front of the committee, so have you looked into these allegations yet and if not do you plan to? >> thank you, senator. two things about that. first, it's absolutely essential that we give accurate information because it's important we use accurate information to defeat this scorch and i appreciate all you have done and your leadership in that. admiral when a failed is extremely honorable man i can imagine that he would ever give
information that was not accurate and complete to the best of his knowledge. in answer to your question i have asked my staff to confirm numbers that he gave and we will, of course, report that to you. if i can just say on a different note since he raised it, it is sexual assault prevention response month and later this afternoon i will be recognizing six tremendous sexual assault response coordinators from around the country. i just wanted to put in a word for them because they are super. you had something to do with creating that role and i appreciate it. i have asked my staff to come from those numbers and it's important we do so. >> it's more than just numbers to be aware. it's about the characterization
of what happened and what the ap did so effectively is when the military said these cases were declined by local das and were to be prosecuted and because commanders insisted they be done that they were done. what the ap uncovered by talking to these local das, one in four that was not the case to she did not kind to prosecute and said she would not have, but it was done collaboratively so they thought the best way was with the military to proceed, so it's not about numbers. it's about what happened with characterize and i also share your faith and admiral when a felled, but i would like to know if you are going investigate who gave them those numbers, how those numbers were compiled, how they were characterized and given to him in report form and who wrote those purple-- reports and who provided that? >> yes, we will. we will confirm or not from those facts and you are correct, it's that just numbers or characterization of each case
and i've asked my staff to look into those numbers. it's important we get it right. you are absolutely correct. >> what do you think is the line the department of military should draw when coming to lobby for or against legislation? >> our job does not to lobby. i think we are here to try to tell you the truth about what we are doing to the best of our ability and to explain the choices that are before the country, the resources that will be needed for things and our efforts. lobby is not a word i would like to use with respect to our response abilities. i think our responsibilities are to report to the truth the best we understand it. >> and when can i expect your investigation of this issue to be complete? >> as soon as it is complete, i promise you. >> thank you. >> on the have a chairman mccain
, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, what is the political and state that are efforts in syria are trying to achieve. >> our military efforts are in syria are intended to defeat isil and regain for local forces the territory now being tyrannized by isil and being used by as a platform to attack america. we also have a-- >> focused entirely on isil, not the chaos that is happened-- >> we have another effort which secretary kerry can't speak to aimed at the political transition as we were discussing earlier. >> do you believe that that efforts on the ground are favorable to the solution? >> may have had results so far
in the taking of as i mentioned earlier and other operations a foot that cannot speak of here and then ultimately the purpose and this is the reason why we are and the president has given us authority to increase our numbers there, our objective, of course, is to collapse isil's control over rocco. >> i assume you are referring to the deployment of another 250 troops to contribute to the call? >> correct. >> and if we have as immediate objective to recapture crock of him i correct in-- rocca and my correct in stating that. do you believe the deployment of these 250 soldiers will pacific-- specifically connect
us to that golden? >> let me talk to their purpose and the chairman ken pitching as well, but that is precisely their region-- reason we are deploying those forces and to identify and then enable forces that are local to the region and who want to expel isil from that territory and along the lines of what we have seen in should dotty with the syrian arab coalition, which enabled bios expelled isil from that important town and we would like to do that as well-- chairman, do you want to add? >> if i could clarify the point. are you talking about sunni forces in the area, cass-- >> yes. arab forces. >> and neither you mr. secretary or general, how many sunni
forces-- forces do you believe will be required for this operation to be successful and for us to reach this goal? >> senator, to wrap back on the purpose of the special operation forces on the granite syria is to did two things to your original question to grow to the size of our partners on the ground and increase their effectiveness. we assess now that there are about 6000 syrian arab coalition members and we perhaps have as many as twice that number in the vetting process as a result of our forces on the ground and we expect those of us to increase. with regard to forces that will attack, we think it will be combination of both syrian arab coalition, but supported by the kurdish forces we have been supporting over the past year. those numbers are almost 30,000 kurdish forces there, so, nation of those forces plus support we
provide from the coalition will be required. >> going past the numbers of the boots on the ground that are needed, are there obviously other capabilities that are going to be required for these courses to have for example what kind of a crime and do they are there any leadership or chain of command issues you believe need to be resolved before this will be effective correct answer is yes. there are issues and we are assisting them in the planning effort and providing logistical support which includes ammunition and in some select groups with the authorities we had with specific equipment weapons, vehicle and so forth as well as training and those are the four main areas we are required for them to be successful. >> are their leadership concerns, chain of command concerns within these forces especially when we have our troops embedded with them?
>> that has been the purpose over the last few months and that's why we felt confident increasing the number of us forces because we believe the force protection concern has been mitigated and we think the relationship we have with these forces is sufficient for us to put additional forces there. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator donley. >> i'm going to yield my time. >> thank you, senator donley. thank all of you for your service and i would like to direct this first of all to general dunford. as both of you are where the defense department is forced to make hard choices in today's budget constraint we understand that. recently it was announced we are spending-- sending to enter 50 special operations into syrian and costs approximately understand one to one and a half million dollars to train one special operator.
equaling to roughly 375 million to train those 250. on tuesday this committee held a hearing to discuss the f35 program, which is estimating the cost about 108 million per unit. on tuesday i asked general bogdan if he thinks we're spending our money wisely with the f1 35 and i understand we are on track to purchase twice for hundred 43 aircraft. knowing the type of flight we are expecting-- fight we are expecting you to fight and defend our country, conceptually if we traded 10, just 10f35's, we could increase the size farce about cooperation forces by over 74-- 700. in the world you see today, i guess our we could certainly are sacrificing short-term needs for long-term security strategy and with 10 less f35, would it make that much of a difference down
the road as it would make the difference today with 700 troops on the ground? >> you bring up the important issue we struggle with as we put the f-117 budget together and that is we confront a wide range of challenges from russia, iran, north korea, china as well as violent extremism and the kind of choices you outlined are exactly the choices we made. we did reduce the numbers of f35 this year to balance another area and other capability areas to make sure with the money we had, the top line we had that we did the best we could to make sure we could deal with those challenges, so we had done exactly as you outlined, sir. >> i guess i would ask event i talk to the general when he was here and i asked him basically on troop strength and i think we're scheduled-- are scheduled to go to 980,000? >> yes. >> what would it take to defend the threats we have and he did not hesitate and he said 12,
220,000 troops short. i don't want to go back to them to west virginia and tell them we were a little bit short on this one, so we are looking at ways knowing we are working under constraints and so we are actually-- asking for direction that gives you the job and wherewithal to do the best job you can do. >> i will-- >> 220,000 short. >> no, our numbers 980,000 and that is the end strength number when the army are a being-- amy four, 450,000 active. >> i know what you're aiming at, sir. i'm asking what does it take to do the job. the general believes it's 1.2. >> that is the number we are shooting, 980,000. i think the general and the armies acting secretary of the
army priorities are, in fact, readiness. that is the principal thing that general millie and i and general dunford have focused on in the army more than and strength. we are adding resources this year to full spectrum training and bringing the total army back to levels of readiness necessary. if i can loop back to your special forces point also, senator, we have more than 300 special forces. we are sending them their. we have tens of thousands of special forces, excellent people it's not like we don't have them to apply to syria. we are applying them in the number and manner that makes sense at this moment. let me ask if the chairman has anything to add. >> the only thing i would say is that right now at least in this budget year i was a lot more
concerned with the capability of the four spend the capacity. in other words, i was not satisfied with the structure we currently have we had sufficient training and equipment and that was the priority that she was focus on the capability and forces that we have as opposed to the structure. >> i'm just concerned that basically in the way you are explaining it, sir, i understand where you're coming from but it doesn't make sense in my way of trying to analyze this because general millie was clear and did not hesitate because i asked him what it would take for us to be able to defend this great nation and faced imminent threats we have and he felt we were woefully short 980,000. he truly did, so if there is a difference maybe we can talk a more secure briefing on this. >> we can, but you are thinking absolutely right and this is a question of balancing investments in structure, readiness, modernization as the chairman is said and that a
balance we all struck including general millie and the leadership of the army and i just repeat that the principal strategic issue that we are trying to address in the army budget is less not for structure , it is readiness. general millie and my principle concerning the army and i know he testified that. >> my time has expired, but basically the dysfunction we have including the discourse we have in this body and on capitol hill shows you that we must come together for the sake of our country and put our country first in the defense of this country versus politics and it's a shame we don't get a good budget that doesn't have to make these difficult choices. it's really a shame and i'm sorry to that. >> thank you john for your appearance before the committee.
secretary carter, i want to talk about our policy has been made and i want to start in the south china sea. you just returned from a trip to the philippines where you announced several initiatives and unfortunately we have seen reports china has begun reclamation activities on the scarborough sure which is a hundred.miles west. is it a case that if china were to reclaim and militarize they could overwatch all flights out of the northern facility-- philippines with missile systems? >> is precisely because of those concerns that i was working with the philippines. they are a treaty ally and we take that seriously have a very seriously that's why we are establishing new installations from which we can operate, so we strengthen our own posture there and then that's why we are doing
rebalance in general, which is not just working with the increasing number of allies and partners who are coming to us saying we are concerned about china, so we are getting more and more of that including places like vietnam, but it's also where setting her best to come into the asia-pacific-- >> i understand. mr. secretary, it's also why last week i gather there were at least three flights conducted in the vicinity by us aircraft? >> i would rather-- i would prefer to discuss that and have you briefed in private, senator. there is no question about it, we will continue as i say fly, sale and operate wherever international law permits. we do that around of the world that we will not stop. >> media reports indicate the flights occurred, but not within 12 miles of that feature, which would have been a more assertive action in contesting china's claims.
now i went to leave the south china sea-- >> could i interrupt, senator? this is the second time senator carter you have refused to confirm what is well-known in the media. that's not fair to this committee. it's all been reported that there were flights into the area around those islands and why you would refuse to confirm that when it's already been in the media is, i think, not the proper deference this committee is owed. >> i'm only refusing because i believe it's classified information, senator. .. diminishes its effectiveness. the way things get done indicate reluctance, often
in the right place but a day late and a dollar short. the image that president obama is being dragged kicking and screaming to each new page. it has becomeit has become so instrumental -- incremental of the message is lost and makes them look reluctant. secretary panetta, i think what i have seen in the last four years is cautiousness and overcorrection which makes this hesitant which i think is a message of weakness. so both in the south china sea where we may or may not be flying these missions are going inside the 12-mile territorial ring, but we are going to deploy troops to syria but almost 250 troops. what do you comment on the position on how policies being made? >> i cannot obviously speak for them.
i can speak from my own experience as chairman. to do the same, i am forthright, as i told you i would be, be, when you confirm me as secretary of defense and giving the president my best advice. i am also absolutely committed to making sure that he gets professional military advice. that is where the chairman comes in. i have never failed to have a hearing for my views. their numbers and mission and what i announced last week was precisely what the chairman and i recommend it.
i'm giving you those as examples. >> secretary gates and panetta the hesitating exercise of american power to the large size of the president's national security staff and micromanagement. can you comment on the roles with national security staff? >> senator, what i would focus on, is my relationship
and access to the president. i have had the opportunity to provide military advice. with regard to the national security staff, i did not deal with the national security staff in my previous assignment and was specifically described from doing that by the secretary of defense, which i think is appropriate. in my current role, i do not deal with the national security staff accept national security advisor and the principal deputy advisors on a routine basis, and my access is unfettered in that regard. >> i do not want to belabor the. it should be magnified.
asserting our respect and adherence to international law. something that is confusing and the following. while we want to classify. >> the fair peemack, and point, and i will look in to the aspects of these operations that are classified. i am just respectful of the process. there is no question that we -- and i have said it many, many times -- and i will say it again today. we exercise where permitted. it is a fair question why or what parts are classified. i will go back and look into it. i am careful about disclosing classified information or information i believe is classified, not
to this committee, because you have access to it in the right setting, but not in this setting. the fact that something is in the newspaper does not make it unclassified, as we all know. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for just a few minutes, mr. secretary, i want to look a little bit beyond iraq and syria and discuss the fight is extremism globally. when you we have us to another other witnesses to talk about a strategy on isis, we often get a response detailing new line lines of effort that have been detailed by the president. is it your understanding those nine lines inhabit the entirety of the strategy command exists solely for isis or global terrorism? >> there is a lot of good sense in the nine lines formulation that was 1st made two years ago. while they are all still
valid, they basically name the parts of the campaign, political, economic, military, the need to be taken. we have moved beyond that conceptual framework now and have a more operational framework. in syria and iraq ii have described but it still remains true, there are things like interrupting the financing of isil. we are still doing that, working with people to do that. foreign fighter flows, we flows, we have a role in that, but other countries and parts of the government do also. it is still a good taxonomy of the total number, but we have moved beyond that in specificity. >> is that the primary framework for the global fight against terrorism?
>> a good, broad framework. we have gotten much more operational in our approach, including an individual locations in addition to syria. >> let me ask you information that just came out today. it was reported that the truce with the russians is on the verge of collapse. senior administration officials quoted, no clear path ahead and syria. situation on the ground is murky. there have been airstrikes that destroyed a hospital killing at least 14 patients 14 patients and staff. the syrian air force and russians have stepped up raids in that area. rebel factions -- it talks about catastrophic deterioration over the last few days. it seems we are further away from a workable plan in syria than in a very long time. exactly what are we going to do to try to move this forward to headed in the
other direction? >> that is precisely what secretary kerry is working on. and discussing with all the parties, and i cannot speak overnight -- speak to overnight developments, but he is both working on the cessation of hostilities itself and, most importantly, go order discussing earlier on the political resolution of the syrian civil war. i will leave it to him to comment on that. >> i was in a rack about one month ago right before they took a city. they were working with the tribal leaders there. do there. do you see that continuing to move in the right direction? are we leaving people behind?
the governance in those towns, once they took them back. >> a very good question, and it is important that destabilization take place after the recapture of the cities. that has been going on in ramani. i will ask the question -- asked the chairman if he wants to get back to that. clearing the ied's which these really evil isil people wire into people's homes and so forth when they come back. that is essential. we have worked on that in t 15 and elsewhere. when i was talking about the necessary political and economic comments, we can do all we are militarily and am confident we are on the right track there. but that victory cannot be sustained unless the local
people have the wherewithal to resettle, and with the political situation in a rack and the economic situation owing particularly to oil prices -- >> i am about out of time. i just want to mention that in syria, as we are trying to move isis out of raqqa, trying to accomplish that at the same time things deteriorate elsewhere, whatever secretary kerry is working on, the state actually seems to be getting -- heading in the other direction instead of moving forward. finally, as an aside, we still hope you can make it. we know how busy you are, but in syria most recent developments seem to be heading more against our goals than for our goals.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i want to begin with a complement, mr. secretary, to you for the quality of the generals you are nominating and asking to lead our military. they have all come to this committee and are very impressive. general dunford, on march 17 there was a marine corps staff sergeant who was killed in iraq, was he killed in action, killed in combat? >> he was coming center. in january the staff sergeant was killed in afghanistan, combat. >> when our troops conduct ct missions in that part of the world, are they conducting combat operations? >> we are, senator.
on bombing missions in iraq and syria they are conducting combat missions. >> mr. secretary, my question is simple. the president, his white house spokesman, this past week whenever they talked about troops in the middle east, they go to great lengths, they will not involve american combat troops fighting on foreign soil. our troops are not in a combat role. why does the administration go to these crazy somersaults that the entire country knows is not correct to say our troops are not in combat when they are. the chairman of the joint chiefs just stated that pretty much everybody in the middle east is in combat. so why does the president not level with the american people? why does the white house spokesman continue to say that they are not in combat?
i think it diminishes the sacrifice our troops and our -- our troops and their families make. we know they are in combat. why can't we level with the american people and say that? >> i will associate myself with the chairman. these people are in combat, senator, and i think that we need to say that clearly. i do not know the statements you are quoting, but i can well imagine that the point being made is to describe the strategy that i described earlier, which is not to try to substitute for local forces but to go back to the senators point, to try to get them powerful enough that they can expel isil with our support.
when we provide the support, we put people in harms way asking them to conduct combat actions. a pilot flying over iraq driving bombs is certainly in that circumstance. >> i think it would be useful to may be pass on from your two perspectives to the white house, to the president, to the spokespeople, even people in the press -- last week forces going to the middle east but are not in combat roles? well, that is not true. past that message onto the president and his spokespeople in the white house. i think that would be useful. >> can i think you, by the way, for what you said about the unbelievable officers we have. aa whole bunch of them. the country is blessed. >> i would like to turn to follow up on senator cottons
line of questioning. i'm going to hand out a document give it shows little bit more detail what is going on in the south china sea, as you are well aware. there is a lot of concern that there is important strategic significance with regard to what some people are calling a strategic triangle in the south china sea. the chinese have established two legs of the triangle. the fighters and radar are part of that radius that you see around the scarborough sure. what is the strategic significance, if the chinese do start to build up the military capability on that island, particularly being so close to the philippines, and what are our plans if they do begin that kind of militarization or build up of the island, and do we
have a plan to respond to the un tribunal ruling that is expected in june? with regard to china's excessive maritime claims? there is a lot going on there. i would appreciate an answer to those questions. >> i shouldi should thank you for your role in leadership in this part of the world. it is a critical one. this is the region where half of humankind lives and half of the world economy. your math is absolutely accurate. and the -- to get to your various questions, the united states is reacting. that is what our rebalance is all about. there are many things we work with china on, but there are certain acts --
aspects of chinese behavior that are disturbing to us and countries in the region, which is having them all come to us and having the effect of causing self isolation by china. we are reacting ourselves and we are being increasingly invited to work with countries, long-standing allies and strong allies like the philippines, where the sites you see and correctly have on the map here come in, but also new partners like vietnam. i was in india we can half ago, many are concerned about chinese behavior, and -- >> mr. sec., i am sorry to cut you off. the strategic significance of the scarborough sure and what is going on. you were just there. can you comment? >> it is a piece of disputed territory that, like other
disputes in that region, has the potential to lead to military conflict. that conflict. that is particularly concerning to us given its proximity to the philippines, but we have the same view of all of these disputes. by the way, even though china is by far and away in recent times the greatest reclaim her in militarization of disputed futures, other countries are doing it as well. i diplomatic position to get back to what you said about the tribunal is that these disputes ought to be settled peacefully, and one of the ways of doing that is through the tribunal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> we risk -- we support lifting of provisions. >> we have discussed this in the past, and i appreciate your leadership in that regard. >> senator. >> i hope -- i'm sorry.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. >> the funding for the united states forces, korea, and the rebalance of the pacific is in the base budget? >> it is. >> i support the reassurance initiative. i was just there and talked to many of the important military commanders and leaders. i supported, but let's be clear, the only reason it is in a co is because of the budget caps, correct? >> well, i think it was put into oco originally because -- >> you reference this last year when you said, it is in oco. >> the willie sutton. >> yes. >> there something to that. i was not aa round at the time, but when the thing 1st came up and crimea, urgent money was required
and some was moved within oco which was easier to do than the base. the years go on and you say, why is this money in eri? >> there is no difference to the rebalance of the pacific and the european reassurance initiative, correct? >> i'm afraid you're right. >> the only difference -- [inaudible conversations] -- let me be clear, the only reason they are into different budgets is an artificial put on by congress to try to pretend to the american people we are balancing something. you don't have to comment on that. i just want that on the record. powerball being honest with the american people of what we are doing with the base budget in the military. we want to support the military. we're shoving these things in oco that do not belong.
the reason they are doing it is because they can pretend they are paying for it and balancing something. >> do you feel better? >> i do, and i know you relate. >> i do. >> can i get in this, to? i feel better, also. >> i think the chairman totally agrees. the more people to quit being hypocrites and be honest about what it takes to be fiscally responsible as it relates to our budget and military. sinai peninsula, general dunford, i know you were just -- i am worried about the international peacekeeping initiative on the sinai that is there. enforcing the agreements back in the late 70s between israel and egypt, and there have been incidents, american sort. tell me what you can about
your sense of egypt being capable of continuing to sustain and protect its peacekeeping mission? >> first, i have looked at this closely. and while absolutely committed to remaining in the the sinai peninsula to enforce the camp david accords, we are concerned about the protection of our forces and if taken a number of steps, including providing additional equipment and adjusting their posture to increase their force protection level. i am at -- i am not satisfied we are where we need to be right now. i am working to take steps to further enhance force protection. if i am not satisfied we can properly address our force protection, which includes adjusting are part -- adjusting her posture as well as addressing the terrorists in that environment and making sure
we have an effective counterterrorism plan in the sinai in conjunction with the egyptians, if those two conditions are not met i will have recommendations going forward. i would like to talk privately about my conversation with the egyptians over the weekend and the number of conversations with the egyptians and the israelis over the last couple of months, but we are working closely, because it is a trilateral issue, to address those two issues. number one, the media posture of our force, and most importantly to be satisfied the 2nd piece is to have a 2nd plan to deal with the terrorists in the region. there is clearly strong presence of the islamic state in the sinai, as well as an insurgency that has been going on for quite some time in the sinai. >> thank you. i look forward to learning more.
i don't think people realize , 1.4 million refugees are in jordan. 13 percent of the population. the closed the border last year because of the imbalance. i have the opportunity to be there a few weeks ago. i visited with our military leaders and the jordanians. i am worried about the 15,000 people sitting along the border not allowed to come into jordan. as you focus on northern syria, i am wondering what, if anything, you can tell me in this setting -- and maybe this is also for close setting -- about the drifting of isis and isil to the southern region along this border where we have 15,000 people just on the other side of the border from jordan? >> i willi will say a few
things, and we can talk more in a close setting. first off, thank you for going there. you are right, on a per capita basis they have absorbed this enormous refugee situation, and, yes, we were talking a lot about the northern parts of both iraq and syria, but we are very mindful of both southern iraq and southern syria. the possibility that as we apply pressure to the north in mosul and raqqa that isil will, as the expression goes, scored south. we have talked about that with many entities. we do have up to five operations we are facilitating with a rack in the direction to the southwest
even as we help them move up the tigris valley to the north. chairman, anything to add? >> jordan is one of our more important partners in the region, and we have a strong military to military relationship. the 1209 program we spoke about earlier is designed to allow us to grow effective indigenous ground forces to take the fight to the enemy in this case from jordan and syria. we also have an active 1209 program down in the jordan jordan/syrian border area that i think you were briefed on. >> you are correct. thank you both, and we are proud of you. i will do everything i can to get in the base budget it belongs. >> thank you for your passion, senator mccaskill. i totally agree with your
dissatisfaction, and i agree with you, we are assuming the american people, and that is not good. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you both for appearing again in front of this committee to discuss the department of defense middle east policy. thank you also for the brave young amendment -- young men and women you represent. this debate in our committee is a difficult one because many of our concerns have to do with broad strategic decisions. made outside the department of defense. however, until the administration reforms a strategy to acknowledge the unpleasant realities of the middle east and recognize that america security interests are and what exactly the united states strategies are and are not in these conflicts, i think congress needs to be very
cautious as we contemplate any further funding requests from the department of defense or any other national security agency. general dunford, as president obama reiterated in these meetings with european leaders these weeks, the united states counter isis strategy relies on the peaceful transfer of power in syria from the regime of assad to an inclusive one. while admirable, it is far from realistic, as middle east journalists wrote in the new york times two weeks ago, one of the most important states in the arab world, syria, has cracked up , and no piece settlement can put it back together. in your professional opinion, teeseven, what
opinion, general dunford, what do you think the chances are that the sort of reconciliation and political unity sought by the obama administration can han syria, just given the amount of violence we have seen over the last five years, competing outside interests and sectarian conflicts? what is the intelligence that we are collecting indicate about the possible willingness of these groups to come together to form some sort of government? ..
what will become of the weapons and the equipment that we provided to these rebel groups if a peaceful resolution of this conflict remains out of reach and really simply have dumped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment and weapons and into an already volatile situation? >> i will answer the general question then we can go to more specifics but i can't answer the general ãin
everything we do there as elsewhere we always think ahead when we are providing weaponry to a group about what's the future, what's the next step so we certainly thought about that in that region as well. so to your bigger question which is what is the role of i think what you said is we would call the moderate opposition, in the future of syria? our strategy, political strategy and the one that secretary kerry is pursuing is that assad leads. the structures of the government remain in place but without assad and that the moderate opposition becomes part of the government and there is a government that can give the syrian people what they deserve which is a country that runs and a country that is moderate and a country that treats his people and we are long way from that but that is the vision for syria. so these people have a role
is the point. >> do you think that's a realistic vision question mark on that we could realistically achieve within the time? >> i think it's a necessary one to achieve because i think assad can't be part of the future of that country. >> but what if he doesn't go? what if he doesn't leave? >> this is why it's so important that the russians keep their commitment which is too political transition there. they are the ones that have the most rebel edge over assad right now. it is very important they do that because as the chairman indicated, there is no resolution of the syrian civil war until that occurs area. >> thank you. >> thank you both for being here.
secretary carter and general dunford and for your service and dealing with what is a very big challenge for this country and for most of the civilized world. i want to follow up on senator mccaskill'scomments about jordan and the number of refugees they have taken in . lebanon is another country in the middle east that has taken a significant number of refugees, i think a quarter of their population now are refugees and i noticed there was a story in this morning's news about the lebanese army killing and isis leader who was operating out of lebanon along the border with syria. can you talk about the importance of the military contribution that some of our partners in the middle east are making to the fight against isis? >> i can. you mentioned the jordanians, the jordanians are great partners in every respect and
the lebanese armed forces as well. we had a long-standing role in supporting them and i believe general dunford knows that much better than i do and perhaps you could that. i can't speak to overnight developments in that regard but let me ask the chairman about that, our support for the lebanese armed forces over time. >> senator, we've had for years and i was a component commander in the air force working with the lebanese armed forces. we had for years a strong military relationship with the lebanese armed forces and i think particularly today it's important we continue that and i have been partners in the fight against isil right now and it's important we continue to support them. >> thank you. i would also like to point out something that as we are talking about refugees and the humanitarian situation, we had an interesting hearing
before the foreign operations subcommittee of the appropriations committee with bono who connected humanitarian aid to our national security and i think that's an important connection that we too often don't recognize that if our supporting refugees who are in jordan or lebanon and we can keep them in the middle east so they can go home to syria once the fighting ends, it's a lot better for us and it's better for them than not supporting those efforts and continuing to support the conflict. let me ask you, i know there's been some discussion about what russia is doing and of course they had a very well-publicized announcement about their withdrawal from syria last month but there remains a significant russian ground and air force in syria. do weknow what they are doing? can you tell us , are there any indications that they intend to depart anytime
soon? >> we do watch them. we do what know what they are doing. you are right that it was or from a complete withdrawal despite how it was ballyhooed initially and with respect to the significant operations we obviously clue keep a close eye on that and know extremely well. i'll see if the chair wants to add anything to that. >> the only thing i would say is i have not seen a significant reduction in forces by the russians nor have i seen less support for the regime than there was before they announced that reduction so as i look at it, despite some rotational forces and so forth it seems to me pretty much status quo today relative to before the announcement. >> and given the cease-fire really ending in syria andthe increased conflict , is there any reason to believe that we
can work with russia to try and get people back to the negotiating table to try and get back to a real cease-fire again? and to make any progress on a transition in syria? >> that's the aim and the path that secretary kerry is on. he's the authority on that and has been managing that but that's precisely what he's trying to accomplish. >> i appreciate that he's managing that but obviously one of the significant factors in encouraging syria to do that is the success of the military efforts there and assad being able to say that he doesn't have a path to continue staying in power. >> i'll just repeat what i said before. that's why when russia,
that's why there's such a difference between russia said it was going to do and what they did. they said they were going to contribute to the ending of the syrian civil war and that propping up assad it militarily is not doing that and has not done that. and they also said they were going to fight isil but they were mostly propping up assad, no doubt about it. >> thank you both. >> thank you all. secretary carter, have you ever heard of the ty d? >> i have. >> who are they? >> they are a kurdish group, one of a number. >> have you heard of the p why pg. >> i have heard of them also. >> who are they? >> another kurdish group. >> our data military wing of the ty d? >> they are, yes. >> they are leftist syrian kurdish political party founded in 2003.
reports indicate they are aligned or at least have substantial ties to the pkk, is that true? >> yes, >> is the pkk a terrorist organization in the eyes of the turkish government? >> the pkk is a terrorist organization not only in the eyes of the turkish government but in the eyes of the us government as well senator. >> is a surprising to you that the turks may be upset with us by arming the why pg in syria since they are so closely aligned with the pkk. >> know it's not at all. we have, let me just say that and the germans been involved in this as well. we have extensive consultations with the turks. >> so turkey is okay with this. >> they are not okay with this.
>> they are not okay with this. they think this is the dumbest idea in the world and i agree with them. how many of the syrian democratic forces or whatever we are talking about our kurds versus arabs general dunford?>> there's about 6000 arabs senator. >> what percentage of forces that? >> that's about 20 percent. >> okay. so if you are wondering why turkey is a little upset, we are arming people inside of syria aligned with a terrorist group that fighting the turkish government. turkey could do more but i think this whole concept is quite frankly absurd. i just gotback from saudi arabia . they believe that they are not going into syria as long as they think assad is going to win and damascus will be controlled by the iranians. have they ever expressed to you their displeasure with our policies toward assad? >> i'll take that but i want
toget back to the turks though.thanks for going there, thanks to talking to them. they are a nato ally, it's really important . and we do discuss with them our efforts to, which is an important effort and one that's important to protect. >> secretary carter about two minutes left. i'm notasking you to tell me what they told me. i know what they told me. they may have told you something different.>> let me go on with the saudi's . >> they have a real problem with our policy toward assad. >> i think the saudi's, having been there last week have the same problem we which is that assad is still there. >> is it fair to say that the saudi's in every gulf arab state believe that assad is firmly entrenched because of the russian iranian backing? >> again, that's an observation that we would make, we did make with the saudi's. we agree with that.>> did they ever suggest, our goal is to destroy isil and
replace assad. on the assad side, he's more firmly in power than ever. january 20, 2017, president obama will leave office. it is is it likely that assad will be in power? >> i hope not. >> okay. i think it's likely he will be because is not a strategy. plan b. secretary kerry says there's a plan b if the cease-fire falls apart during let the russians know we are going to try at night but if the cease-fire falls apart there's a plan b. do you have a plan b for assad? >> i'm going to let secretary kerry that. >> he has the state department, the state department is not going to go take assad out. is there a military component to plan b? >> i think what. >> for his plan b just bs? >> i'm sure it's not bs. >> have you talked to the secretary of state.
>> of course and without speaking for him, senator i think what he's saying is. >> my question is have you had a discussion with the secretary of state about the change in military strategy if the cease-fire falls apart regarding assad in russia, have you had that discussion. >> we have had many discussions about strategy. >> is there a plan b? >> i wouldn't call it a plan b but i'm going to let him speak. >> outline the change in military strategy. >> we have discussed alternative strategies. >> what are they? >> with respect to syria. some of them i'm prepared to discuss it here, some of them i'm not. [overlapping conversation] as you well know, the entirety of what goes on in syria is not something we can discuss here. >> i don't want to put you on, i like you. general dunford. is this, the dunford plan to destroy isil or is this the plan that general dunford came up with given the
constraints put on him by the white house? >> senator when i came in last october there was a strategy.we made some recommendations last october to accelerate our progress against isil. those recommendations were accepted by the president and i would say i'm in my job at seven months so i own it. >> i just wanted the whole country to know this that the president's goal is to destroy isil. i share that goal, i know you do too. military strategy we embarked on is the best way to destroy isil. and it's what you recommended. or is it limited by conditions put on you by the white house. >> senator, to clarify so if i say. >> would you do more if you could? >> i would do more if i could but little limitation is not just a political limitation. part of it is our partners on the ground but i want to clarify, if you what you are saying is the strategy meaning of by, with and through indigenous partners
on the ground being the methodology for securing territory and defeating isil, i support that. >> you think the why pg are going to liberate an 80 percent kurdish ground force is going to take isil, raqqa away from isil. >> they had secured a predominantly kurdish area. >> are they able to take raqqa away from isil and hold it? >> they will not in and of themselves. >> on behalf of the general let me recognize secretary keen. could i defy this senator king and trade places question mark. >> absolutely, senator keen please. >> several observations based on this excellent hearing. number one, i want to associate myself with the chairman comments about afghanistan. the concern is that the decision has to be made in the next several months. i don't think we are going to learn anything in the next month that we don't now because the drawdown, the schedule drawdown is going to have to start late this
summer, early fall to make the january deadline.i sincerely hope that given where we are, given the level of violence, given the really i think surprising or shouldn't say surprising but the effectiveness of the afghan forces we ought to provide the support necessary including the authorities to maintain what we've gained there which has been considerable. that's number one. number two a lot of talk today about and strength. i've learned from talking to senior military officials particularly in the army that readiness is as important as industry. you can have a big number but if you got 50 percent readiness or 30 percent or 60 percent, that's really important so i think that's an important consideration. finally on the law of the sea, i'm sorry on china and the chart we saw, it would really help in my view if we were members of the law of the sea treaty we could be at the tribunal ismaking these decisions . onthe last point mister secretary do you agree ? >> i do, yes.
i mean, along line of defense officials who, and maybe officers who have supported that agreement were not party to it but we do respect its provision. >> not in our national interest to not be at the table it seems to me. >> again, people have sat in his chair and testified for many years in favor of that treatybut that has not carried the day . >> secretary carter, the most disturbing thing you said today in my view is, and you sort of touched on it and then we went by in the hearing and never got back to it. you suggested there's been a rise of no secretary and is a in baghdad . if that's the case, number one, that's a disaster because that was what the malachi policy is what laid the groundwork for what happened with isil. number two, what can we do about it and are we trying to
do something about it and i'm not talking about just job owning. are we talking about specific, direct pressure if you will on the iraqi government because if baghdad isn't inclusive then this whole enterprise is not going to be successful. >> what i was referring to is the turbulence in baghdad just over the last couple weeks. in which the prime minister and has been contending with a variety of the opposition parties. that's a serious concern to us because the integrity of the iraqi state is an important part of the interstate, our strategy seeks. we support the prime minister abadi in his overall approach which is a multi-sectarian as he says. >> is the backsliding? in several hearings i've been told he's doing the right thing, he wants to do the right thing. are we losing ground i had a
conversation a week and half ago and we are completely aligned on what we are trying to do. there with respect to our campaign but it's also true that he is contending with a very complicated mix there and with your respect your question what are we doing about it, in addition to providing political support i want to reiterate the importance of the economic support and that's not just by the united states but my others as well so when i was with the president in riyadh last month we wereurging the gulf states, that's a place they could contribute . don't see baghdad to iran. get in the game. support a multi-sectarian approach. that's what abadi is trying to stand for and that's what melody didn't stand for and it's important to support him both politically and economically and the economic situation is particularly important today in view of the low oil prices. >> concern about the mosul dam.
are you satisfied that the italian contractor and the arrangement that's been made by the government in iraq is sufficient and is going to be timely? it would be an absolute catastrophe if that dam went out x it is. it is the best practice outfit to do grouting at the dam. and with respect to the timing, that is the concern we all have, to get that routing done as soon as possible to mitigate the risk of that, there are failures in thedam before the grouting is complete and the stand can be shored up . >> one more quick question general dunford. we talked about how isil has been degraded and that seems to be the consensus i am hearing in the last few weeks in terms of briefings in various settings. are they being degraded in terms of equipment as well as finances, manpower, foreign
fighters?where are they getting their equipment? >> senators, as you can imagine in iraq in particular there's no lack of ak-47s and weapons that have been left behind as a result of years at war and i think primarily they got them from the former iraqi soldiers brought their weapons with them in large ammunition stores that they seized in the early days of the war. you will recall they have significant progress two years ago in grabbing ground and territory and part of that ground was ammunition depots and weapons storage areas and so forth from the iraqis. >> are they being squeezed now on that front? >> very much so senator. i would say their freedom of movement has been reduced. their ability to resupply with foreign fighters and have been reduced in addition to the resources you spoke about so i would say that their military capability has been degraded to include their equipment. >> do we have any information that they are more our is declining? >> we do and that's an
important port. my observations on my recent trip and over the last few months, i think one of the more significant things i see is the relative morale of the iraqi security forces and peshmerga versus isil and we see an intelligence and anecdotally from our commanders that the morale and spirit of isil has eroded over time as a result of their battlefield losses and a result of the fact that their pay has been cut significantly because of the resources constraints the leadership has . >> always a negative effect on morale. >> a negative effect on morale. >> thank you very much gentleman asked senator tillis please. >> thank you senator reid. secretary carter, general dunford, thank you for being here. i went on a code held during the recess and was in israel, egypt, saudi arabia and turkey. one of the feelings i got in speaking with a number of the leaders there was a sense
that i think everyone recognizes at some point if we take advantage of maybe some of the degraded status of isis in that region, that ultimately once we take ground we are going to have to hold it and for us to hold it we are going to have to have a present there that are hopefully not men and women in american uniforms and it's going to come from the coalition, the partners in the middle east but the sense i got is, they want to be prepared to do it but they are not necessarily prepared to take the kind of fight and have the kind of presence in syria we are going to need. do you agree with that assessment general dunford or secretary carter and what specific actions are we taking to prepare the saudi's for example to be able to break play a role in that along with the iraqis and the other partners in the region? i'll start off. just being in saudi arabia i can the saudi's and askedthe chairman to jump in . i think i will won't speak
for them but from our conversation they have some of the same view we do which is in the end, it can't be them or us. it has to be local people. but they want to join the campaign and play a role. the only thing i'd say is we always have to remember this is a two-way street so the people who you think you are helping have to welcome your help. that can be an issue. that's why it's so important to navigate the complex shoals of baghdad politics we were discussing earlier because we do everything with the permission and through the iraqi government. and in syria there obviously is no government with which we can cooperate but we still need local forces who live there and want to live there. that's why to get back to senator graham's point, he's absolutely right.kurds are not the right people to take and government raqqa.
we know that. we are looking to identify and enable syrian arab forces that would be the appropriate people to take and govern raqqa because the people have to accept their liberators and you can't just come in and say you're the liberator. they have to believe that or you will get the kind of violent backlash. some of the saudi's and others in the region understand that dynamic. we are looking for their help finally. not only in terms of military health but this is where their economic and stabilization assistance can be so important. so if the goal states would help the sunni lands being taken back by the iraqi security forces that would be, that would help the state of iraq as i mentioned earlier as a counterweight to what is clearly iranian influence in iraq and we
think iraq want to be a multi-sectarian place, not entering in place.>> your response let's meet maybe further refine the question. what i'm more concerned with general , is you as a fighter is the level of capability and we'll use the saudi's as an example since i was there. they seem to have very good capabilities in the air. not really that good capabilities by our standards on the ground so to put them in a situation where they are partners with iraq or put them in a situation where when we finally gain the momentum to try and eradicate isis from syria, i'm wondering if their level of readiness is approaching anything that would make it possible with a key partner and iraq for that matter? >> senator, i think each of our partners in the gulf states have certain capabilities that could be employed to good effect in syria were they to have the will.
>> i guess the final question is in my time in egypt, i was aware of the presence of isis or as they prefer to call them daesh and sinai is growing and kind of as a hub in that area, it seems to me a part of the mission that we have to conclude successfully in syria is to make sure they are captured or killed in syria and do not regroup and re-fortify somewhere else. i assume that's a part of the strategy. is there anything specifically you can talk about here? it is an let me ask the chairman specifically, talking about sinai because he's been working so intently on that but your point is absolutely right about the gulf states in the sense that their capabilities to operate particularly against asymmetric threats in the region is an area where we think they could improve and we want to help them. that is one of the themes the
president had. now i understand that's what you are getting at. that's absolutely right. >> i agree with your assessment and i assist in the sinai. it is a critical node and it has to be part of our strategy and is a part of our strategy. i just came back from a visit to cairo over the weekend to talk to our egyptian partners about improving our cooperation in dealing with isis not only in the sinai but across north africa. >> thank you and mister chair, you were here when i started.i want to thank you for your leadership on the veterans bill. i had to step out for a press conference for veterans affairs but chair is trying to take care of you all serving now and everybody who served in the past, i thank you for your leadership. >> thank you senator tillis. vicepresident kane . a vice president of your fan club. and i'm sure there's a lot of competition for that role. let me thank the witnesses for your testimony and i also want to just complement you on some tactical successes
that you've described in the earlier testimony, the battlefieldof isil is drinking but it creates new challenges because it revealed that they want to do things that are more asymmetric to maintain relevance so that's going to pose all kind of challenges for us. while i do applaud you for tactical successes i'm going to repeat or refrain what the announcement of the escalation of troop presence in syria. i am deeply concerned about the legal basis for this war, both domestic and international legal basis. on the domestic side i am in a minority in this body in congress. in believing that the 2001 authorization does not provide a legal justification for this war and i think there is a domestic legal justification until we do an authorization for military force. general matus, former head of satcom last friday at the center for strategic and international studies and was harshly critical of congress for not passing on
authorization and he said quote, worth more than 10 battleships or five armored divisions is a sense of american political resolve . i just worry that we haven't sent that sense and on congresses shoulders we had set that sense. general done bark you testified as the commandant in the marine corps for this committee and i asked about an authorization and what it might do and you said, this is almost a direct quote on our men and women need and it's virtually all they need is a sense that what they're doing has meaning, has value and has the support of the american public. i don't think we've given than that. i don't think we sent a message of political resolve as the political leadership, as the decision-makers contemplated in article 1 of the constitution. we cannot the message will result for our troops, not sent that message to our allies, not sent that message to our adversaries continue to believe the domestic legal authorization for this war is highly problematic. going to turn my attention to a second l i
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