tv Senate Armed Services on Afghanistan CSPAN October 4, 2017 3:13am-5:54am EDT
of annapolis. i think it's really important for somebody to understand art, history, literature and culture of the art you're looking at. it's really important because if you can understand history you can understand yourself and where you want to go in the future. >> voices from the states on c-span. defense secretary, james mattis and joints chief staff chair join together to talk about the president's strategy in afghanistan. and covers the role of other areas the iran nuclear agreement and defense department's role for relief efforts in puerto rico. this is 2 1/2 hours.
>> good morning. the u.s. senate armed services committee meets this morning to receive testimony on u.s. strategy in afghanistan and south asia. we welcome secretary mattis and chairman dunford back to the committee. we thank you both for your many years of distinguished service and leadership of our men and women in uniform. 16 years ago this week u.s. and coalition forces began combat operations in afghanistan to eliminate the al qaeda terrorists who attacked our nation and removed the taliban regime that gave them sanctuary. very few, few would have predicted that 16 years later we would still be fighting what has become america's longest war. to date, we have achieved our mission to prevent afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for
terrorists to attack america or our allies and partners. but that success has come at a tremendous price, more than 2,000 americans have given their lives in this war and over 20,000 have been wounded. i repeat, over 20,000 have been wounded. while we are still denying safe haven to terrorists in afghanistan, there is no escaping our present reality. as secretary mattis and general nicholson have already testified to this committee, america is losing the war in afghanistan. that is unacceptable. much of the responsibility for this failure rests with the prior administration more interested in leaving afghanistan than succeeding there. as a result, for most of the past eight years our commanders on the ground had to fight this
war with restricted authorities and rules of engagement, insufficient resources, political micromanagement, artificial dead lines for withdrawal and a lack of presidential leadership. our troops have fought bravely and honorably. too often it seemed as if they were doing so with one hand tied behind their back. this was a situation president trump inherited. it was not his doing but it is now his responsibility. when the president announced a new strategy for afghanistan in south asia on august 21st, it came after months of delay and indecision but it was encouraging in some respects. in particular, the president ended the foolish policy of arbitrary timetables for withdrawal and shifted to a conditions-based approach. this was a step in the right direction. same, in the six weeks since the
president made his announcement, this committee in the congress, more broadly, still does not know many of the crucial details of this strategy. this is totally unacceptable. i repeat, this is totally unacceptable. many members of this committee have been actively involved in the war in afghanistan since it started. a few have even served in the war on active duty. we expect indeed we require a regular flow of detailed information about this war. that is not because we want to inhibit our witnesses from doing their jobs, it's because we have to do ours. we have to provide our troops with the vital authorities and resources they need to perform their missions. that is our separate co-equal responsibility under the constitution. we take our duties as seriously as our witnesses take theirs,
though i must say it is bizarre for a hearing of such ) our witnesses failed to submit written testimony to this committee. we want to be your partners. but this committee will not be a rubber stamp for any policy or president. we must be well informed. we must be convinced of the merits of the administration's actions. unfortunately, we still have far more questions than answers about this new strategy. at the most basic level we still do not know how the president's new strategy will better enable us to achieve our stated objectives. in short, it remains unclear why we should be confident that this new strategy could turn the tide in afghanistan or bring us meaningfully closer to success
than its failed predecessors. the president said in his speech that quote conditions on the ground not arbitrary timetables will guide our strategy from now on. but what are those conditions? the president said our goal is still to quote have a political settlement that includes elements of the taliban unquote. but we still do not know what kind of settlement the administration seeks, on what timeline? what role the united states intends to play in bringing it about, or what role we expect other nations to play. the president said we will use quote strategically applied force to create the conditions for such a political settlement. we know 3,500 more u.s. troops are on their way to afghanistan, mostly to train and advise afghan forces and we know the military has been given more flexible authority to target our
enemies. we still do not know how these military gains will be translated into progress towards a political solution. we have yet to hear a compelling case why this modest increase in u.s. forces will produce battlefield results that can significantly offer a taliban's calculus and create the conditions for reconciliation when we could not bring about this goal with far more troops on the ground. the president has also said quite importantly that we would change the u.s. approach to pakistan that continues to harbor militants and terrorists who target u.s. service members and officials. we still do not know what specific steps the united states will take to convince or compel pakistan to change its behavior, or what costs we will impose if pakistan fails to do so.
indeed, it is unclear to me, if the administration believes any step or series of steps the united states might take, will lead pakistan for support and sanctuary for certain terrorist groups which has been a future of its national security policy for decades. secretary mattis, general dunford, this committee, the congress, the american people and our men and women in uniform all hold you in the highest regard. we have confidence in your leadership, your integrity and your judgment. in light of the experience of the last 16 years, what should give us confidence that this new strategy will be different? to answer that central question, this committee in particular deserves a lot more detailed information from the president and from you, not just at today's hearing but in the days, weeks and months ahead.
senator reid. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. senator reed. thank you for being with us to discuss this very important topic. on august 21st, the president of the united states said the united states would support the costs to insure extremist groups never again use afghanistan as a basis to attack the united states. in february, commander john nicholson, commander of u.s. forces testifieded the conflict reached a stalemate and needed several thousand more troops to carry out, train and advise and assist security forces and the ministry of defense and ministry of interior. while i support the increase of troops and additional authority, some suggested we have already
been down this path, a surge of 100,000 troops cannot bring this conflict to an end. gentleman, i will ask you in many different ways, what will be different about this effort that will bring about a change that didn't happen previous efforts with greater numbers and shorts. we're not trending in a positive direction. afghan security forces continue to have high incident rates of the insurgency and carrying out high profile attacks while maintaining ability to regenerate their losses. there are record amounts killed this year and setting amounts of opium will be produced this year providing a steady of funds to fuel the conflict. on the other hand, despite this, african forces repeatedly
demonstrated ability to withstand the taliban offenses and capture lost ground. they want to further increase their offensive capabilities. it has been a force multiplier for security forces and enabling greater offensive action. limited assistance, conduct target surveillance and after action, battleground assessments. additional u.s. support will finally tip the balance on the ground. ultimately this conflict will not be won on the battleground. and afghanistan will continue to set the conditions. a peace settlement between the government of afghanistan and taliban that protects u.s. interests and the president also stated the strategy would integrate all diplomatic power and military.
we have heard very little about the diplomatic economic aspect of the plan. i hope you give us a sense how our continuing involvement in afghanistan will help resolve political problems. if the program continues to be successful, in pakistan, they continue to provide the ability to train, rest, recruit, stage attacks without significant fear of interference. we heard the administration intends to change the relationship with pakistan in order to compel action that supports our efforts in afghanistan. i agree a change is needed and look forward to hearing the tools available to get pakistan to make more on these issues. in addition to pakistan there are a number of regional actors to play a role in their future.
countries such as russia, china, iran and india. each seeking to insure their own national interests are preserved in afghanistan many may be divergent in general interests. >> the subcommittee is eager to hear regarding theself military aspects and achievements of instate. thank you for appearing and i welcome your testimony. >> welcome, secretary mattis. >> chairman mccain, ranking member reed, distinguished members of the committee, i aappear to you and we're staying closely linked to the intelligence community to events. this committee is keenly aware our country faces today. russia continues to invest a full range of capabilities to
erect power, erode u.s. influence and undermine transatlantic alliance. china is weakening our pacific in the ento pacific region even as we work to finds common ground in actions. reflected by the two latest security council sanctions resolutions is focused on the destabilizing threat posed by nork and kim jong-un's nuclear capabilities. they remain focused on the defense of the united states and our allies. in the middle east, while we continue to make games against the terrorist enemy in syria, iraq and elsewhere.
in afghanistan we have faced a difficult 16 years. general nicholson, our nato and uggs field commander in 39 nations has blunted the terrorist offensive moved in afghanistan. afghan security forces and disarray among many groups in afghanistan have caused the taliban to restrain resources. and limit the taliban's ability to conduct major offenses. beginning last month for the first time in this long fight all six afghan military cores are engage in offensive operations. during these recent months there have been fewer civilian casualties as a result of coalition operations. regrettably, taliban high profile i tacks consider.
while while they plan to preserve the district centers, they have generally been forced of the use of improvised explosive devices. >> the rate of african security casualties has reduced from last year. i just returned last week from a trip to india and afghanistan. i can report general nicholson and the nato team are holding the line. the forecast of a group are unfulfilled. violence in afghanistan continues to co-exist. the uncertainty about the nato campaign is due to president trump's new south asia strategy. this strategy had been welcomed
almost uniformly by leaders in the south i than and the nato led campaign. we must always remember we are in afghanistan to make america safer and insure south africa cannot plot attacks against our homeland and partners or allies. >> it's a goal. a police settlement is only possible if taliban conduct support or conduct terrorism. based on ni analysis and own evaluation, i am convinced our new conditions-based approach has set the stage for regional and african change. our new strategy vigorously reviewed and approved by president trump is quote r 4
plus s unquote which stands for regionalized, realigned, reinforce, reconcile and sustain. the first r, regionlize, recognizes challenges exist beyond afghanistan. the strategy adopts a geographic framework with a holistic comprehensive view. india, pakistan, russia and china. were considered at the outset rather than focusing only on afghanistan and then introducing external variables late in our strategic design. my visit last week was to thank them for their continued support in afghanistan. we discussed collaboration to i long term regional stability and security. we will firmly address pakistans
role. nato's demands need to be heard and embraced. the second r, is for realign and signifies we're shifting our main effort to align more advisors who can provide training and advisory sport at the baaal yan and brigade level. the fighting will continue to be carried out by our afghan partners. but advisors will accompany tactical units to advise and assist and bring nato fire support to bear when needed. make no mistake, this is a combat duty. but the afghan forces remain in the lead to do the fighting. we have a approximately 11,000 troops in afghanistan along 6,800 from nato and coalition partners and 320,000 afghan national security forces. from these numbers alone you can see the of afghan forces remain
the main effort. we are supporting them not sur planting or substituting supports for theirs. the third r is reenforce. and that is seen in our addition of 3,000 u.s. troops arriving now and in the coming months to extend nato advisory effort to afghan troops that are currently without. nato secretary general and i together toured afghanistan last week. sending a message to the nato coalition unity. he is reaching out to allies to increase their troop levels. in light of our new strategy, 15 nations have signalled they will increase their support. again, certainty having replaced uncertainty we are looking to partners to provide for troop and financial support. the last r, reconcile. is the desired out come from our
military operation. convincing our foes the coalition is committed to a conditions based out come. we intend to drive fence sitters and who see we're not quitting the fight to reconcile with the afghan national government. our goal is stable afghanistan. achieved through afghan led, afghan owned peace process. war is principlely a matter of will. and the international community is making clear that it will stand alongside the afghans committed to this fight. as we have shifted to a conditions based strategy. not time based or troop number focussed, am bigty is removed. the elements of the strategy are a tangible demonstration of the resolve. all this will be carried out by, with and through the afghan partners and within the coalition frame work. ensuring this campaign is politically, fiscally and
militarily sustainable. our afghan partners who continue to take the lead fight most effectively will nato and partners are alongside them. as president said to the united nations general assembly in new york city, afghans are determined to fight no one should mistake our will to defend our country. i am hearthened and impressed by the international reception to the strategy. i am confident we will see heightened levels of support from our allies and partners in the months ahead. as nato secretary general said last week in kabul. this is about making sure afghanistan doesn't once again become a save haven for international terrorist. the best way is enable the afghans to have defense secretary forces put their strong enough to do that. we're already starting to see the psychological impact of the new strategy. militarily in the field as well
as through president gany and the afghan government commitment to reform. president gani recognizes that fighting corruption and accelerating constitutional reform across government are critical to success. the recently launched u.s. afghan compact out lining 200 measurable bench parks for reform demonstrate our shared emphasis on the goals. our south asia strategy reenforces to the taliban the only path to peace and political legitimacy is through a negotiated settlement. it is time for the taliban to recognize they cannot kill their way to power. nor can they provide refuge or support to transnational terrorists who intend to do us harm. i want to close by recognizing the need to maintain the closest possible dialogue with congress. and specifically with this committee. i pledge the department of
defense will be fully responsive to your requirement to be kept appraised. of current and planned operations. as my senate confirmed position get filled, we will have greater capacity to deal with the multiple worldwide security challenges while keeping you fully informed. i trust i'll have your support to ensure necessary civilian over sight of the military as we address today's complex and increaseingly volatile national security environment. thank you. >> thank you. general dunford. >> general mccain, thank you for the opportunity to join secretary mattis in providing an update on the south asia strategy. in recent months our commander in afghanistan described the current condition as a stalemate. secretary mattis testified we are not winning in members of this committee made similar statements. situation is developed since the nato mission in afghanistan
traps sigsed to an advisory effort. since january 2015 we have advised and i companied units at the tactical level. but advisory effort for conventional forces has been limited to the afghan core and institutional level. we reduced the aviation, artillery and support provided. this didn't provide afghan conventional forces with the support they needed to succeed in combat operations. my military assessment is we drew down the add vie ri effort and combat sport for afghan forces too far and too fast. as a result the taliban expanded territorial and population control and inflicted significant casualties on the afghan army and police. while the campaign lost momentum. last spring secretary mattis directed the department to conduct the detail failure analysis to identify the root cause for the lack of progress in afghanistan.
directed we provide targeted solutions. informed by the findings our commander developed and secretary mattis approved a new operational approach to break the stalemate. and bolster afghan capability. the new approach supports the president broader strategy expanding advisory effort to the tactical level. nrkding the combat support we provide to afghan partners and enhancing authority to commanders. we believe these adjustments will improve the ability to conduct offensive operations, defend critical terrain and reduce afghan casualties. the emphasis is on providing effective support to the over 300,000 afghans we have trained and equipped so they can secure their own current ri. going forward we will support president efforts to reorganize the afghan forces. which will expand special operations units while reducing less effective units. we'll continue our efforts to develop a capable and
sustainable afghan air force. finally enhance and expand counter terrorism operations in the region. nebs spring this approach will have the senior capable and experienced leaders advising at the decisive point in afghan operations. their efforts will be fully enabled by the support and authority needed for the afghans to take the fight to the enemy. as we implement the strike thatty we're tackling corruption. the single greatest roadblock to progress. our military objective for the new strategy are clear. and they are achievable. defeat isis and al qaeda in afghanistan and ensure other terrorist groups are unable to launch attacks against the homeland. u.s. citizens or allies. further develop afghan forces capable of managing violence with limited international support. support president gani effort to secure key population and economic centers. in providing enduring counter terrorism partnership with
afghanistan to protect our shared interests in south asia. secretary tillerson out lined this effort is intended to put pressure opt taliban and understand they will not win a battlefield victory so we'll enter an afghan led peace process to end the conflict. thanks again for the opportunity to join you today. i look forward to the questions. >> thank you very much. general. and thank you secretary. i thank you for your appearing today. as i mentioned in my opening statement accident 16 years ago, i think most of us would have been surprised to think that 16 years later, we would still be involved in a conflict in afghanistan. arguably militarily the strongest nation on earth. and that of course as we have mentioned earlier, the
tremendous price. 2,000 americans given their lives. 20,000 more have been wounded. and our commander in afghanistan testifies before this committee that we're in a quote stalemate. that's hard for most americans to understand. and some of that obviously i would as i mention, the failed strategy or lack of strategy by the previous administration. i have said that fairly often. i'd like to say again, you have been in office now since january. and so far we have not seen a details of a conditions based strategy that will bring about an end to the conflict in afghanistan. we have had as many as 100,000
troops in afghanistan at one time or another. and it didn't end the conflict. i'd like for you to tell me how the inclusion of 2,500 is going to change the battlefield equation. including fact that we have a classic west point text of a enemy that is based in a sanctuary. that has a sanctuary in pakistan. we know the street address of the net work. in -- we know where they are. what they're doing, we know what they're doing across the border. and yet we still have not with any effectiveness in the last 16 years, restricted their
activities. and have had any particular progress in eliminating their sanctuary status. i'd like to add one other point. general nick kol son said we are in a quote stalemate. after 16 years, should the taxpayers of america be satisfied that we are still in a quote stalemate? i don't think so. then i'd like to finally repeat again, we have had a lack of communication and a lack of information to this committee that to me is very disturbing. there's not two individuals that i admire more than sitting at the table face lg this committee. i want to tell you again, we
will not accept a lack of information, a lack of strategy, lack of coordination with this committee. and there are several methods thanks to the constitution that we have to try to force a change in that relationship. i have been told by both o you na we were having a new strategy. that we are now going to work closely together with the committee. that we are working with various allies. i'm glad to hear that. but if anyone on this committee feels that they have been fully briefed on what our strategy in afghanistan and iraq is, i would please raise your hand. so, constitution of the united states was something that every one of us raised our hand when we were sworn in as united states senators. one of the phrases support and defend the constitution.
of the united states. not support and defend the president of the united states. but support and defend the constitution of the united states. so, all i can say is with my deep admiration and respect for both of you, we're going to have to act to preserve and respect our constitutional responsibility. the hearing that you gave a week or so ago rkts i thought it was nice to hear. i thought it was a lot of interesting information. i certainly didn't think it was sufficient information for us to act on the defense authorizization bill. which provides the training, equipping, protection, and capabilities of the men and women who are serving that we represent that are serving in afghanistan, iraq, syria, etc.
so all i can say to you my friends, and you are my friends, there is a constitution, we are coequal branch. and we will expect -- i know there's been turmoil within the white house. etc. and number of other personnel issues. that does not relieve you of the responsibility to keep us informed. to seek our advise and consent, and which is also in the constitution. and if you don't, we have no choice but to exercise our responsibilities under the constitution which we have. i regret to say this, to two of the people that i admire and respect as much as anyone i have ever known in the my years of service. senator reed. >> thank you. i raise this question to mattis.
you raised it in your opening comment. that's the department of defense strongly supports secretary tillerson diplomatic efforts. vs. north korea. that doesn't seem to be translated to the president. since he has in several tweets suggested that secretary tillerson opening channels and preparing to discuss the issues. the direct and ip directly is essentially a waste of time. how do you respond to those types of one hand you strong and the secretary the president rather telling him to knock it off? >> senator reed, president trump oos guidance to secretary tillerson and me has been very clearly that we would pursue the diplomatic effort to include
with the various initiatives with china. and to ensure that we pushed on sanctions, economic sanctions. designed to keep this in the diplomatic frame work for moving forward. i believe secretary tillerson is accurately stating that we are probing for opportunities to talk. with the north. all we're doing is probing. we're not talking with them consistent with the president's dismay about not talking with them before the time is right. before they're willing to talk. so i do not see the divergence is strongly as some of interpreted it. at the same time the president i think has a responsibility to ensure that we go into this with our eyes wide open with numerous republican and democrat administrations in the past having been disappointed in this initiative. i think it is a dynamic balance as we try to go forward with a
solution. but at the same time ensure we have military options. >> just a final point. i don't want to dwell on this. in these situations, i think you agree we're the possibility of miscalculation, misinformation, misinterpretation, is very real. and communication even back channel communication to not negotiating but simply to be able to send messages is do you think that's vitally important? the president seems to be disparaging even those types of messaging channels. >> senator, i think the president dispatching secretary tillerson to bejing here within the last several days to carry messages and look at the way we can work with them is the most accurate answer to your
question. that in fact this is part of a whole government integrated effort. that we have under way right now. that's what tillerson was carrying forward for the president. >> thank you, mr. secretary. following the chairman's comments about the need to essentially describe in more detail the strategy. which conceptionally seems to be appropriate. but the devil is in the detail. specifically with respect to pakistan. the president called out pakistan rightfully so, but the question is what are we going to do? what are the options we're considering? >> the first thing is senator, we're working with the international community including secretary general stoelten burg of nato. to ensure we go in with a unified nato position. you're aware i stopped first in
new delly on my way to kabul last week. in order to further integrate what the indians are doing and in terms of development aid and diplomatic efforts to ensure south asia stability and peace are prioritized. not just by us. and afghanen stan. but across south asia. there will be a specific number of things that we deal with pakistan on. and those will be balanced with the appropriate levels of firmness. as we set a new relationship with pakistan. and we can go into great detail. i'd prefer to do so in your office. over what the specifics are. to ensure that our diplomats go in fully armed and have the initiative when the discussion is open here starting in a couple weeks. >> thank you, mr. secretary.
>> senator inhofe. >> this is an observation of one member here. the one of the major improvements that i have seen is the i congratulate the defense department. in the administration for saying they'll no longer comment on exact troop numbers and imposing public deadlines. that's a major change from the previous administration that is very helpful. secretary mattis, and your opening statement you gave a long answer that to to the question that we get confronted with quite often. and let me ask for a short answer. we understand the problem for a safe haven for terrorist and afghanistan and all the other things. can you reiterate for the american people just why they should in a very brief way. they should care about the future of afghanistan and why we should continue to expand
resources and risk american lives. what's the short answer? >> why should we continue i sir, is make sure americans can live safely and when i advise the president on sending troops in a position where they can die, i have to know in my analysis that this is going to sufficiently contribute to the well being of the american people. to put those troops lives at risk. >> it's a good brief answer. thank you. on the february 21st. senator round and four other members sat down and spent time with president gani and general nickelson. we made a list of eight things they are looking at for the future. i'd like to pick out three of these and ask you for a either one of you for a current status of where we are. you would agree with the eight points they brought up.
first of the three would be the need for more coalition forces to train and assist afghan military. second is the strength and commitment of the afghan people who want to take their country back. the status of that. and third, shifting the focus to winning vs. not losing. start with the first one the need for more coalition forces to train and assist the afghan military. what's the status in the of that? >> the afghan forces special forces command that have trainers. they have won every time they fought the enemy. those without have not won. right now we're adding more troops for that very purpose. we're bringing in nato coalition partners. and trying to bring in more of their trips for advise and assist. we intend to get this down to every core is going to have a brigade that will have the trainers and the advisors with them. and within that brigade since when they do offensive ops
there's one or two, they will also now have trainers. they have not had them in the past several years. that means they were not able to get swift access to nato air support fire support. >> that's very good. now the level of commitment of the afghan people. what's the status of that? >> there's a constant polling done in afghanistan. the most recent came out and said 87% of the afghan people reject what the taliban represent. more than 75% of the people had confidence in trusted afghan security forces. so i think that is actually moving in the right direction. >> it wasn't that way last february. that's an improvement. obvious one. >> it's a slight improvement from last february. but certainly a significant improvement from 2011, 2012. >> that's right. the third one. the shifting the focus to winning versus not losing.
>> senator, that's exactly what the strategy that we have just out lined is designed to do and certainly from a military per sperktive what mattis made clear we needed measurable objectives. objectives again to ensure the afghan security forces are capable of providing security with a minimal amount of support. that's one element. making sure isis and al qaeda in the region are defeated. that's a second element. keeping other groups from conducting attacks against the united states. our allies. that's a third element. and reenforcing the efforts for the peace process is a fourth element. >> very good. the chairman is opening statement talked about the quote in fact he quoted. conditions on the ground are arbitrary timetables will guide the strategy from now on. does either one want to take a stab at further defining conditions? >> senator, first of all, the population centers and the bulk of the afghan people are
protected from the depp dagss of the terrorist. and that denies them the very platform they need if they want to conduct attacks against us. our allies that sort of thing. further more we're going to have to see a country that is able to provide government services. there's been pretty much a wholesale swap out of many of the old leaders. in various ministries. to include the military leaders today across the board from the commander of the army on down. leader post 9 eleven people. we're getting people in now who are not colored with the old ways of doipg business. that have bedevilled us for so long. further we're going to see in terms of the afghan military we're going to see more effective operations in the field. such as we're seeing now. for the first time in the war. with all the cores on offensive
strikes going against taliban and the other terrorists and the country. this will drive them towards the reconciliation afghan led, afghan owned reconciliation that will end the war. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> senator shaheen? >> thank you for being here. i guess i'm still not clear based on chairman mccains questions that he raised. that i understand how this strategy is going to succeed where our past efforts have not. so, can you give me a very succinct response to that. in the way you gave senator inhofe the response to why it matters? >> senator shaheen, what we have right now is the ability to make the afghan military which has been through very tough times,
make them more effective in the field. in other words when they go into the fight, no longer will they worry about the high ground. having fought in mountainous country. it's on pleasant the enemy above you. nato air strikes over head denies the enemy ever having the high ground in terms of the dominating terrain. that is a tactical effect that will make the afghan army bolder, and will give them more opportunities militarily to take the fight to the enemy. and that would be the way is as we take the fight to the enemy we convince the taliban you're not going to be able to win this by killing. >> did -- what was the strategy behind dropping the mop bomb? last april? was it successful? >> ma'am, that was not strategy. that was a tactical event in the field. it was to collapse tunnels that troops did not want to go into
for obvious reasons. they wanted to make it an unfair fight. >> was it successful? >> for the immediate tactical effect, yes it was. but it was not a strategic act. it was a tactical decision by a commander in the field. who didn't want to put his troops into a position that a bomb could take care of. >> you have said and others have as well that this war will not be won on the battlefield. it will be won because there is a peaceful -- this is my analysis based on what that means. that it will be determined by a peaceful agreement. between the taliban and the afghans and i assume other players in the region would need to be part of that. so i know that going after
proactively going after the taliban is designed to try and bring them to the table. but, again, given do we think that just because there's now air cover for the troops the afghan army that that's going to be enough to bring them to the table? and i guess the second part of that question is why -- i assume that the united states would be part of any agreement. and why given what libya and ukraine and other countries have seen with respect to our changing our commitments around their weapons. why would the taliban think that they can negotiate with the u.s. at the table in a way that would provide certainty about what the
future might hold? >> if i could take the first part of the question. for many years to incloud the years that i was in afghanistan there was a decidedly short term view and one thing that was really evident to me fts hedging behavior but the afghan people. by the taliban, by regional actors. there have a sense the united states was going to pull out in 12 months. and in fact the afghanistan it was known as the y 2 k effect. the expectation was afghanistan was going to be confronted with an enemy with no support. taliban frankly fed that message to the fighters and that's how they motivated people year after year. one more year and we'll defeat the coalition. they'll leave afghanistan. i think one of the more significant things about the conditions based approach here is that the taliban -- we have started to see this in the intelligence. taliban no longer have a short terp horizon to motivate their people chl the impact has been
fairly significant. will that be sufficient to bring them to the table? i don't know. we have not to this point presented the taliban with a conditions based approach that extend the horizon out for the commitment. makes an enduring commitment and causes taliban leadership now to approach their subordinates with that context. >> very quickly, senator, the polling the chairman indicated shows that the bulk of the afghan people don't buy the taliban's out come. they don't agree with it. they don't agree girls don't go to school. they don't agree everyone has act in a certain way. and based on that and having seen the afghan forces put up with very severe casualties, fortunately going down now. and still holding the line. we now see a regenerated sense that they can push the taliban this into a position where they can have no hope of winning.
so it goes back to what has been established long ago as where they have to -- where this military campaign has to lead to. they stop killing people, they live by the constitution, and they break with international terrorist. that's a pretty low bar. and we intend to peel off a fair number as they see they have no hope of military victory. >> my time is up. thank you. >> senator fisher. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary mattis, when general nickelson testified in february, he and i discussed the fact that the boots on the ground limitation forced hip to hire contractors to maintain helicopters. because u.s. personnel would have counted against the troop cap. it hurt yount readiness and cost government tens of millions of dollars in his estimate. under the new approach are we fixing issues like this? will we be adding u.s. personnel in way that allows us to reduce
the reliance on the contractors and also help us save money? >> it will, senator fisher, the challenge is how do we get the right balance on this. i agree with how general characterized the problem. to you in his testimony. it is one of the reasons that i decided to add the reenforcement. although the bulk of them will go to advise and assist. some will fill in the gaps. we actually had wsh we not have a wise allocation of unit strength as we broke it apart to send it in for the troop cap reasons. it's something we have to address and i believe i have the ability to do so now. >> when you say you believe you have the ability. >> i have to look at it. and make certain what we know we can solve a lot of it. we know that much. i have to look at the tentacles
of some of the policy decision that's been in place a long time. but i'm very much aligned with nickelson's. what he said was accurate and your concern i share. >> are we still locking at a boots on the ground limitation in afghanistan? did the president raise the cap? or do away with it? >> the president gave me more -- flexibility to deal with this issue. and he has shown himself open when i go in to talk with him. to my recommendations as you know this was rather hard fought effort as the president challenged every assumption to address some of the concerns brought up already this morning. so he is open to me going back in. right now i think i have what i
need going in to carry out the strategy as it's out lined. if not i'll go back in. >> okay. over the last few years we have seen a decrease in our combat air operations in afghanistan. from 2010 to 2015, we saw the total conducted against enemy targets decrease by 84%. in a span of only five years. during the previous administration this was coupled when i felt restrictive rule of engagement. that focussed on returning fire rather than allowing commanders to proactively attack those taliban targets. in contrast the air campaign against isis has reached record levels with over 21,000 flown in 2016. the use of american air power helped stem further by isis. and i think it was used successfully in locations such as sin jar. are we looking at something
similar this aggressive action and new power as a new strategy in afghanistan? >> it's imbedded in the revised strategy. absolutely. 2017 as you know we have had more air strikes than any year since 2012. so already you see some of the results of releasing our military from for example a proximity requirement. how close was the enemy to the afghan or the u.s. advise special forces. that is no longer the case for example. so these kind of restrictions that did not allows to employ the air power fully have been removed. yes. that said, we will never fight at any time especially in the wars among innocent people without doing everything humanly possible to protect the innocent that the enemy purposely
jeopardizes by fighting amongst them. that's something we'll always take as a absolute in terms of how we conduct our tactical events on the battlefield. >> general dunford, do you spoke in your opening comments about implementing strategy. and you spoke about support for president gani and to improve the afghan air force. do you see a mission of the afghan air force to work in conjunction with our air force but also in the future being able to take on those capabilities on their own without us? >> senator, absolutely. right now both afghan capability, u.s. capability have been employed in support of afghans in an integrated way. long term and that's about 6 or 7 years from now. we'll completelye transformed the afghan air force. a key piece is the transition from mi 17 helicopters to uh 60. which include an attack variant. we have over the past two years
fielded the fixed wing. and smaller helicopter providing the attack. the afghan special operations mission wing is probably indicative of what we believe the air force can go. that is proven to be a very effective capability supporting afghan special operation forces and we expect similar progress to be made in the afghan air force. it's come a long way ore the past two years. and again over the next six or seven years we expect the afghan air force to provide the support afghans need. >> my time is up. thank you for your service. >> thank you both for being here. thank you for your service. i want to associate my remarks with that of chairman mccain. in terms of the afghanistan strategy. we know from president trump that he has an unspecified increase of 3,000 more troops. most that we know really has come from remarks and statements
by afghan president rather than our leader. i'm concerned that the american people cannot make good decisions about our continued investment in the 16 year conflict when there are not told full extent of the commitment and nurl of service members we're sending. do i have your commitment to be honest with the american people about the number of people we're sending over and what the missions will be. >> no, ma'am. if it involves telling the enemy something that will help them. yes, ma'am, yes senator in any terms of honesty with the committee in private at any time in closed hearing we will get a specific to as you wish, no reservations at all. in private. in talking with the american people we will tell them. we are adding the troops. we'll give approximate numbers chlts. we're not hiding this.
i would rather not say the specific capability or the specific numbers or location on a battlefield. going out of the confidentially. >> i didn't ask about any of those details. i asked about the troop numbers and our mission. >> we will keep this committee fully informed. as we have in closed hearings right down to specifics of troop numbers. i think it's better in public we stay in general terms. we have said it over 3,000. so it's not that we're hiding the trend that we're going in. the specifics are best shared with you alone. >> general dunford. >> i soesh myself with the comments the secretary. >> i'd like to talk about the iran deal. addressed to the president trump said the iran deal was one of the worst and one sided transactions united states ever entered into. it's no secret the administration considering not
recertifying to congress on october 15 despite the administration twice certifying iran is in compliance with the agreement. and having reported eight times iran is in compliance. in your recent renomination hearing you responded to a question about the possible intention to walk away from the nuclear agreement saying it would have a impact -- may have a clear they believe iran is in compliance and they wouldn't support efforts to renegotiate the agreement. this includes the closest european allies. france and germany. as well as countries we need to work with. russia and china. one of the reasons i support the jcpoa i believe the transparent si. we know where their mind are, their mills, all the production capability. and sourcing. so i thought that intelligence was very important in both the military leader at the time and intelligence leader at the time said that was so.
my view is without the agreement we will lose that transparent si. what is your view on the assessment? >> senator, the agreement right now i want to testify to last week was iran is not in material breech of the agreement. i do belief the afwreemt to date has delayed the development of a nuclear capability by iran. >> how might the end of the agreement impact the insight into iran activity? >> i didn't hear that. >> how would either a premature ending of the agreement or a u.s. unilateral withdraw impact our insight into irans activities? >> senator, as i understand it right now, and i have been dealing with the president and the secretary of state on this. it is right now being considered in terms of the security of the
united states by it i mean we're talking about the law that is passed up here where we have to certify plus the agreement. the these are two separate. you can talk about the condition under one of those. and not walk away from the other one of those. they're two different pieces. and that is under consideration right now about how we deal both the legal requirement from the congress. as well as the international agreement. >> general dunford, you said that we should focus leveraging our partners that were part of the agreement to deal with the challenges that we know iran possesses whether it the terrorist threat or. so forth. secretary mattis do you agree with that? >> in general terms i do. the amount of misconduct i would call it internationally whether it be with ballistic missiles,
r rhetoric, support to terrorists. threats to our friend. arab and israel in the region but iran. are areas where they are open to a great deal i think of. by the international community. and we are not naive about their agreement on the nuclear issue. and we are being a very alert to any cheating on that right now. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator reed. general dunford, we have heard it said that america is losing the war in afghanistan. is that true? >> what we have said is we're not winning. and it's at a stalemate. that's my assessment of where we are now. we're not at a point where we can bring a successful political solution to the war. >> if the american leadership
inclouding people in this room including the pentagon and the executive branch, if we decide to win this conflict in afghanistan, is there any reason why we shouldn't be able to do so? >> at the end of the day it will require the afghan people to actually develop the peace process that will bring an end to the war. what i believe the united states can do in conjunction with the coalition partner ss provide the afghan government in the afghan security forces the support they need to bring an end to the war. >> is there any reason we can't provide that support? >> i don't believe there is any reason why we can't provide the sport. the new strategy this morning provide the afghan government and afghan security forces with that level of support. to bring this to a successful completion. >> okay. and this has been eluded to. you mention the afghan people. is there any lack of resolve on
the part of the afghan people including their hearts and mind to that would be a stumbling block to us being successful in the new strategy? >> i don't believe so. it's very clear to me from personal experience and polling that the afghan people want a better life for themselves. they reject the ideas of taliban. from an individual soldier perspective, i think the one thing we can say is that the afghan forces have been incredibly resilient and demonstrated the will to fight. under the most extraordinary conditions. >> they have always demonstrated a willingness to fight. are we viewed as an invading force? >> senator, i think anything but an inviding force. consistently the afghan people have requested us to be there.
our presence is favorable across the country in polling. typically between 70 and 80% of the people want support of the international committee led by the united states. we have made it clear that our objectives are to support in afghan led peace process. to support afghan security forces. bringing security to the country. so i don't think there's very few people who would consider us an invading force inside of afghanistan. the vast majority are happy we're there helping bring peace and security. >> in regard to the new strategy the new plan, and the new emphasis on america doing its part to get the job done, how do our troops feel about that? >> senator, if you speak to any young man and woman who has sefbed inside of afghanistan, they want to get the mission done. they want to accomplish the mission.
we certainly all they want to know is what is the mission and want to have the where with all to accomplish the mission. that's what we're trying to provide. >> i'm not surprised by your answer. let me ask you briefly about nato. you met with secretary general stoelten berg recently. nato allies made contributions. how are we doing with upping the involvement of nato. are you satisfied with the progress so far? >> i need to get to nato now that we have got the strategy in hand. now that secretary and i have gone to afghanistan and sat down with counter parts. i'll do that in november. we're already in contact with them. i believe from 15 nato nation ts or partner nations fighting under natos flag.
example australia. i believe we'll see from 15 nations right now additional troops put in their. there could be more than that. those are the ones i have indications right now they're going to up their game. >> what's their stake in all this? >> if anything, they are even more vulnerable than the united states is in terms of transnational terrorist operating out of afghanistan. against the european continent. >> they have a lot at stake here. i think all the nations from south asia, india, certainly china has a stake in in this. europe does. this is a transnational problem. >> thank you. let me just tell both of you i appreciate your work. and i for one support you and i just want you to tell us what you need. and we'll try to get it for you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. on behalf of chairman mccain.
>> senator king. >> secretary mattis. very quick short answer question. do you believe it it's in the national security interest the to remain in the jcpoa? >> yes or no question. >> yes, senator. i do. >> thank you. i was talking to chairman mccain as he was leaving. i'm also on the intelligence committee. i hear varying analysis of the status of afghanistan. from the military and from the civilian intelligence agency. in september of 1963 president kennedy sent a famous mission to vietnam. crew lack was marine. general was with the foreign service. they came back and gave wildly different account of what was going on. crew lack was optimistic at the
progress. kennedy famous comment was did you visit the same country. i believe it would be important in helpful to the committee. because the facts are so important when we're talking about american lives and treasure to have a closed briefing. i suggested this to the chairman. with dia, cia, nsa all the intelligence community. to get a real status of what's really happening on the ground to be sure that we're in fact that it's winnable. i guess. that we we have the ability to make progress. we have lost afghan government has lost 15% of the territory in the last year. and i'm just people in main say is this winnable. i know of no one who knows more about afghanistan than you do. is it winnable? what's winning look like? >> senator, if you define winning as making sure we don't
have another attack on the homeland from the terrorist organizations that operate in south asia of the 90 of the we recognize. 18 to 20 operate in south asia. if winning includes keeping them from attacking us we can do that. if winning include getting the afghan forces to the point that can provide security for the country. with minimal international support. we can do that. if winning includes meeting president gani goal for security of the population and key economic areas, web do that. we can do that. if winning includes convincing the taliban they can't win in the battlefield in the going to have to enter an afghan led peace process, we can do that. that would be my elements of what winning looks like. >> good answer. i appreciate that. is there any evidence the taliban is interested in a political settlement? are there contacts, feeler, discussions that indicate that -- i'm having trouble
understanding why they would want to settle now when they seem to be gaining ground and we have 8,000 people there and used to have 100,000. why would they now say i guess it's time to negotiate? >> there's small groups of individuals interested in reconciliation. i think the frame work has been the idea that you would bring in the entire organization. not peel off smaller units. number one i think president gani has taken a different approach to the taliban. he's already had some success in peeling some groups off. the other issue is the taliban and what the horizon frs. the taliban have thought international community would lose the will to fight. this will be the clash of wills. they assume the international coalition would quit. that would allow them to be successful in the battled field. the most important thing from nato and u.s. perspective. the most important thing is this will be conditions based. there is no time horizon for
this. and i think that will change the calculus of the taliban. begin to peel off elements of the taliban over time who realize actually achieving their political objectives on the battlefield is fruitless. >> i agree the calendar to conditions based was important. i think that's of critical importance. final question. i get this in maine. the safe haven argument. isn't that an all purpose argument that. we have got parts of syria that are uncontrolled parts of iraq. nort africa, all kind of places that are safe hachbs. my concern is the save haven argument is the domino theory argument of the our generation. that is a kind of all purpose argument that would injustify intervention in practically in place in the world. secretary mattis? >> senator, i think that the
problems that grow out of ungoverned spaces dmot remain in ungoverned spaces. that opens the door for the very point. so our approach to this is by, with and through allies. not to take all this on ourselves. i can show you in private how we look at if we add this many american forces what's the ratio for the others. if it's anything below one to 70. in some cases one to 250. one american troop gets 250 from coalition or host nation depending on the situation. then i'd be reluctant to go that way. there's a way to lead without be carrying the full burden on the american taxpayer. the american armed forces. >> i understand that. i appreciate that's exactly the strategy you are following. >> thank you, sir.
gentlemen. let me begin thank youg for your service. we have a great deal of respect for you. and we appreciate the opportunity to ask some specific questions. i think senator king started this out by asking for a yes or no answer. from secretary mattis. i'd like to go a step further. with regard to the jcpoa, there is a logic that you have used to determine that it's appropriate to stay within it. could you share with us the logic that you use in determining the jcpoa is in our -- to us to stay there at this time. could you share that with the american public. >> thank you. the point i would make is if we can confirm that iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interest, then clearly we should stay with it.
i believe at this point in time absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with. there is another requirement we certify it's in our best interest and goes into a broader definition of national security. broaden beyond the issue the treaty or not the treaty but the agreement itself. means the president has to consider broadly things that rightly fall under his portfolio of looking forty american people. in areas that go beyond the specific letters of the jcpoa. and that regard i support the rigorous review that he has got going on right now. >> thank you i sir. let me talk about pakistan for a second. president trump is stated pakistan is a large part of new afghan strategy. the past our relationship with pakistan was transactional in
nature. right now how would you categorize pakistan. ally against terrorism, supporter of our efforts in afghanistan, or indifferent business partner? >> senator, pakistan has a convoluted history with terrorism. there can be little doubt there have been terrorist fwrup groups that used pakistan as a haven. not just towards afghanistan. we have seen the attacks on india as well. at the same time. probably few nations perhaps none have lost as many troops fighting terrorists as they have. so you have this dichotomy there. i believe that my working with the regional and partners we have and working with our international partners there's a way to bring a whole government approach to this to
deal firmly with this, to try to move it back into a positive direction between the nato allies and pakistan and remove the safe havens. >> general dunford, with regard to the strategies being used in afghanistan today, the chairman made it clear that there needs to be a dialogue here with regard to strategies. could you share a little bit any concerns that you may have as to how you share the strategies, the limitations that you feel are placed upon you with regard to sharing strategies versus simply telling the world what our plans are and allowing our adversaries an advantage in doing so. would you share your thoughts with regards to what you can share, what you can't, and how you're going to deal with that? >> senator, i can. i think that's a fair question. i think first of all we should be able to communicate clearly the ends of the strategy. if you they've a strategy as ends, ways, and means, what we
want to do, how we want to do it, and then the means necessary to do it. so if those are the three elements of strategy we need to be very clear up and front with the american people in public about what the ends of ow strategy are are. of that there's no doubt. in terms of the means necessary in the aggregate i think we should be very up front in terms of how much money it's going to cost. and generally speaking what are the resource capabilities required to be successful. i think it's in the middle which is how we plan to implement the strategy where many of the things we would want to do would be best left classified and discussed in a closed hearing so that the congress can provide oversight but our adversaries don't find us to be predictable. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> on behalf of chairman mccain senator peters, please. >> thank you, senator reid. and thank you for your testimony today. and thank you to both of you for your incredible service to our country. we all appreciate that. before i ask a question related -- a couple questions related to afghanistan i'd like to follow up on a question that
was asked by senator reid and i think it's particularly important considering last week general dunford, when asked about the principal threats to our country from a national security perspective you put the threat from north korea as number one, at least in the short term. we talked about longer-term challenges that we will have as a country but at least in the immediate term north korea's something we need to be focused on. and that's why i'd like to go back to these tweets made by the president which i will read directly. they came out just sunday. "i told rex tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man." and then he followed that up with "save your energy, rex. we'll do what has to be done." which is a striking statement. in fact, i think most folks who saw those tweets, particularly folks in the foreign policy community, thought that basically the president was pulling the rug out from underneath secretary tillerson. and he is our chief diplomat.
somebody who's entrusted to find diplomatic solutions to difficult situations. general mattis, i have incredible respect for you as a student of history. you have followed developments throughout our history and have analyzed those and thought very carefully about those. have you ever seen another time in history or is there another example you can think of where a president would actually pull the rug out from under their secretary of state as they are about to embark on some very delicate negotiations or perhaps diplomatic efforts to deal with a situation as important as nuclear weapons? >> senator, i think that president trump dispatching secretary tillerson to beijing to deal with prc, with china on this issue shows the level of
attention and his intent to work with other nations diplomatically, by dispatching, i agree, our top diplomat to beijing to do that very thing. i believe that secretary tillerson's remarks about probing north korea to see if they're ready to talk is what the president was referring to, not the diplomatic effort writ large. >> so the tweet that says "save your energy, rex. we'll do what has to be done." is that something you agree with? >> i believe, again, what he was saying was the press had characterized it that secretary tillerson was looking to talk right now. secretary tillerson said he is not, he is probing to see if they're ready to talk productively. and i think it's that nuance that was lost there, senator. >> general dunford, you in your hearing last week, you mentioned
from a long-term security concern would be the rise of china as one that we have to be focused on and thinking very carefully how we deal with that. secretary mattis, you talked about the trap and how we need to avoid that as well in our relations with china going forward. my question related to afghanistan is we're well awart one belt one road strategy seeks to secure china's control over both the continental and the maritime interest in their eventual hope i think of dominating eurasia and exploiting natural resources there, sings that are certainly at odds with u.s. policy. so my question to both of you is what role do you see china playing in afghanistan and particularly related to their one belt one road strategy, things we should be looking at in terms of our dealings in afghanistan? >> senator, regarding one belt one road, i think in a globalized world there's many belts and many roads and no one
nation should put themselves in a position -- put itself into a position of dictating one belt one road. that said, the one belt one road also goes through disputed territory and i think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate. as far as afghanistan goes, in some areas we work with china, on dprk, for example, terrorism. i think there are areas where we can work, find common ground with china when it comes to counterterrorism. and we should exercise those areas pretty fully. but we should be under no illusions. there are areas where strategically we need to confront china where we think it's unproductive the direction we're going in. >> senator, i also believe there's many areas of divergence certainly between us and china but there are some areas of convergence and i think
afghanistan is one in potential. china is threatened by a specific terrorist organization that operates out of afghanistan. they have worked to develop a relationship with the afghan government. the afghan government welcomes any support that the chinese might provide. i view that we can isolate some of the broader areas where we have divergence and find china potentially a helpful partner in afghanistan. particularly with the development funds that are going to be necessary and the united states certainly is not going to be in a position to find those funds by itself. thank you. >> thank you for being here today. and for your continued communication with congress on the complicated issue of afghanistan and many, many other issues facing our nation. a collaborative effort is absolutely necessary to guarantee both policy and posture, properly supporting our national defense.
and gentlemen, i appreciate you working with us to get both of these right for the american people. i commend you on that. secretary mattis, some have criticized the administration's strategy as one that defers the responsibility of congress to the pentagon and leaves the american people in the dark.and sir, to that i disagree. i think it keeps the enemy in the dark. and i will agree with senator mccain on this point, that it does require congress to exercise our responsibility to represent our constituents. so mr. secretary, what is your plan to keep congress informed as we move through the new strategy in afghanistan? we want to make sure that we are able to inform the american people as representatives of our
state. but what would your plan be and what would that look like moving forward? >> well, senator, first i fully endorse the closest possible collaboration and the absolute openness. sometimes it will have to be in closed hearing because it will be that sensitive in terms of its details. but i fully endorse it. the plan would be to maintain constant collaboration and have people up here on the hill whether they be in your offices briefing you or in hearings or in any other venue you that think most fruitful. and i've been committed to this since i was confirmed. i have had a few challenges in filling my jobs in the pentagon which have impacted my ability to send up the high-ranking people who can address things at the level that you would expect. but as those jobs get filled, i think this will get even easier, but until then it's my
responsibility to keep you fully informed, and i'll do so. >> thank you. i appreciate that. and thank you for making that distinction too. and we need to understand in the senate there are many positions that still need to be filled. so thank you for that gentle reminder. furthermore, do we have your commitment that you will give our counsel its due regard as you evaluate the success of your strategy? >> not only give it due regard, senator. i need it. this is not a job that can be done by any one person, least of all in our form of government. but your input, especially this committee's input, is welcome. >> well, thank you. and we must exercise our oversight. but i agree 100% with you, secretary, that the details of the plans should not be open to public and for public dissemination. thank you for that. i am, however, excited about the new strategy. you mentioned different ways,
general dunford, in which we'll execute this new strategy. a couple of those things, train, advise, and assist at the tactical level rather than of the conventional forces rather than at the higher level. i think that's really great. it's worked for the special operations forces in afghanistan. good to see that. and then also leveraging partners is exceptional. one thing wefl not fully utilized in the past. last week i met with 21 afghan generals. from the afghan national security force. and they too were expressing unanimous support of the new strategy and they have a lot of confidence in this new administration. and in addition to the u.s.-led security opposite we agreed that an international effort must be utilize utilized through nato and other stakeholders like india. and knowing that india needs to be leveraged in the future as
well. so mr. secretary, i know you were in india. can you explain to us what their role and how we can leverage them moving forward and the whole of government support. what does that look like? what do you envision? >> senator ernst, the afghan people have come to have a deep in abiding affection for the indian people. there's a collaboration there. based on a very generous and enduring indian government support for development. for hospitals, schools, for roads. for all the sinews that pull a society together. especially when it's been shattered the way that one has been. the afghan society has been since the soviet invasion. they are going to continue. i met with prime minister modi, his minister of defense and his national security adviser. they are committed to continuing and even broadening their development support and their
support of the afghan defense forces in terms of repairing their equipment, training their officers and ncos and their indian military schools and training the medical doctors and the medics for the afghan army to take care of battlefield casualties. so i believe that president -- or prime minister modi's efforts will actually be enhanced in the months and years ahead based on the sense that we are fully committed. he can now commit more himself to the stability and prosperity of south asia. it's in all their best interests. >> i appreciate that very much. and i do believe that this is up for regional partners to contribute as well. i'm glad our administration is engaging them. thank you, gentlemen, very much for being here today. thank you, mr. chair. >> on behalf of chairman mccain, senator kane. >> thank you, mr. chair. thanks to the witnesses for your services. secretary mattis, in your opening testimony you talked
about the 4r plus s. i was scribbling. i think the fourth r was reconciliation. one of the things we've read recently is the administration trying to make a decision about the taliban office that's open in qatar that was open with support from the u.s. and afghan government to provide some channel for discussion. and there's a decision i guess being made within the administration about whether that office should be closed. i understand no decision has been announced on that. i'm kind of in the fight and talk camp and i know there's a fight then talk camp. but can you talk a little bit about at least when you think a decision might be made on that or what the sort of equities are that the administration is grappling with on that question with the fourth r? >> i can, senator. i think the decision will be made shortly. the equities is exactly the point. do we have the right people in that office right now? as you know, the enemy under the increasing pressure they've been under and the loss of some of
their leadership has become increasingly fractious. so in some ways that's good. it means they're now doing more decentralized ops because they can't mount combined offenses. but politically it makes it more problematic to try to find who actually speaks for the taliban. secretary tillerson and i have been in contact on this issue three times in the last ten days. he is looking to make certain we have the right people. so it's just not an office in existence, an office that we can actually deal with. that's what's going on right now. no decision has been made. i anticipate one would be made soon but we need to get certainly information so we make the right decision. >> one of the issues that i think has not been raised during the hearing today is this question of heroine production in afghanistan, which is a pillar to the economy and it's been a source of financing for the taliban. what are we making progress in that? i know it's very difficult. heroin doesn't have to be
refrigerated and doesn't rot. poppies don't and other agricultural products have that problem. so it's hard to switch folks over to it. but as long as heroin's raised and it's a source for the taliban and other miscreants i know it creates challenges for you. could you share progress on that front? >> the poppy's a very hardy crop, and it doesn't take a lot of tending. so in that growing season they have, in that terrain it's a strong crop. in our counterfinance effort, which is very multifas elioted, the counter drug problem has got to be accounted for. in that regard we are looking much more at going after the refining locations, the transportation hubs, the transporters, the people who make the money off it. because that's where the tal bhan dun them. that's where they get their taxation income from. that is where we will go after -- in a more targeted way
as part of the counterfinance campaign overall, which also includes countercorruption. because as you know, the money out of the poppy also fuels some of the corruption. so we'll try to make this an integrated effort against the heroin production, sir. >> and i know there have been a couple of questions about pakistan asked when i was out of the room. i was actually at the foreign relations hearing with the nominee to be ambassador to india ken juster who is before the foreign relations committee right now. and we were talking about u.s.-india strong mill to mill cooperation. your visit you testified to. two questions about pakistan. how does it sit with the pakistanis, the level indian investment in afghanistan on the development projects you mentioned? and second, a separate question on pakistan. are you seeing the level of cooperation from the pakistani military and government in battling terrorism along the border with afghanistan? is it a safe haven for people to run over from afghanistan or is
there cooperation there that enhances our efforts on dpns? how would you grade that level cooperation? >> on the indian investment, sir, i think the pakistanis look at it with a degree of skepticism if not distrust. however, in most cases they can see it's going to roads, into hospitals. so it's hard to dispute is the facts on the ground. a point i would make about our south asia strategy here is it is not an exclusive strategy. it is inclusive for anyone who wants to stop killing of innocents, of terrorism, and restore prosperity and stability. pakistan need not feel like this is an anti-pakistan strategy nor is our relationship with afghanistan or india an anti-pakistan collaboration. so it's not exclusive. as far as collaboration on the border, we know the pakistan
army has taken some pretty severe losses in those attacks. but let me ask the chairman to say a few words about actually how the cross-border counterterrorism campaign is going. >> senator, they have done a lot in the border area. and as secretary mattis has mentioned they've suffered significant casualties. in my judgment what we need is an effective bilateral relationship between afghanistan and pakistan to manage the border area. we've had a broad framework on that for about three or four years. and i don't think satisfactory progress has been made. we were encouraged just this week with general bajwa's visit to afghanistan. he was in kabul the day before yesterday. he had very good meetings with afghan leadership. our leadership was engaged in those meetings as well. there's at least a commitment now to address those issues and do better coordination along the border area. when we were actually doing that we had a better degree of cooperation along the border and
better visibility. as we drew down the force that wasn't replaced with effective afghan-pakistan cooperation. but i think as you correctly point out, senator, that has to be one of the key elements of our success moving forward. and again, i think the pressure we want to put on pakistan is to move in that direction the first few days, way too early to tell. but the first few days, particularly the recent visit by general bajwa to kabul is encouraging. >> thanks very much. >> on behalf of senator mccain, chairman perdue, please. >> how would you define victory now? and first of all, i applaud the regional strategy that the administration and you guys are authoring right now. i've espoused that for years, having some background in pakistan. the relationship between india, pakistan, afghanistan, russia, china is critical to the solution in afghanistan, obviously. but how would you now define for the american people after 16 years, what is our current view of what victory looks like in
afghanistan? >> senator, i think it's probably four components. the first is that we would defeat isis and al qaeda. those specific terrorist groups. and then prevent the other 18 groups that operate from south asia from conducting attack against the united states. the american people. or our partners. i think the second component would be the afghan security forces with a minimal amount of international support can provide security inside of afghanistan. i think the third component would be supporting president ghani's initiative to secure 80% of the population in the key economic centers within the next four years. he's outlined a plan to do that. and i think the fourth element is supporting the reconciliation process and specifically an afghan-led peace process that allows people to solve their problems through that process as opposed to on the battlefield. that would be the four components that i believe particularly as you look at it through the military dimension are necessary for us to be
successful. >> including the taliban in those negotiations. is that correct? >> that's correct, senator. it would be an afghan-led process but include the taliban so they no longer dress any grievances on the battlefield but they're part of an afghan peace process. >> so from an expectation point of view we've had soldiers, men and women in japan, germany, for 70 years. the question is is it reasonable to expect -- the first definition of victory about isis and the other 18 potential terrorist threats out there. is this a static point in time or is this a dynamic thing that we have to ensure over the future, really? >> senator, i believe we have enduring interests in south asia. and those enduring interests are going to require over time a diplomatic presence, an economic presence, and a military presence. i think the nature of that diplomatic, economic, and military commitment will change over time. so in that perspective the military commitment that we have right now is a moment in time. i expect that contribution, the
military contribution will decrease over time as the afghan forces have stood up. as i mentioned in my opening statement, i think we just pulled off our advisory effort prematurely before the afghans were capable of taking the fight on their own. in my judgment it will be a few years, but in my judgment the afghans will get to the point where the much lower level of support they'll be capable of actually securing afghanistan. >> thank you. secretary mattis, i was just over in afghanistan and pakistan, spent the day with general bashwa, we went up to the border area, so forth. he intimated he was willing to cooperate in joint efforts. and i notice that he's there just this week. met president ghani, who also was supportive of that idea. that was back in july. i think time is of the essence. i'd love to see more of that cross-border cooperation, particularly the alcani network. general nicholson said both on that trip and in public russia's
lent overt legitimacy to the taliban by claiming the taliban is fighting isis. so it looks like we have a joint foe there. the question i have is russia, china and pakistan just held a conference in december of 2016 on afghanistan without inviting the afghans or india. advocating for reconciliation with the taliban including the delisting of taliban leaders as terrorists. what is russia's end game in afghanistan today and how do we counter it in the long-term strategy? >> senator, i'm concerned that russia's not operating in its own best interest with what it's doing down in south asia. secretary tillerson is engaged with his counterpart in moscow on this issue. and will try to bring some strategic thought into this situation. but i can tell you that we have concerns about what russia's doing. it may be no deeper than just if there's an opportunity to poke
us in the eye they'll do it. even if it's against their own interest. but it defies logic that they would see any benefit to engaging the way they have with these other two countries in light of the apparent support. i can't define that support right now. we're trying to get the intel on it and figure out why russia's going this way. as far as the other two, i think what we're seeing is russia trying to be a player in terms of the south asia outcomes. and i think it's much better we work together on this rather than exclusively. >> thank you. >> on behalf of chairman mccain, senator mccaskill, please. >> thank you very much. thank you both so much for your hard work. and i think you've got both incredible responsibilities and are handling it well. i was concerned about cigars,
high-risk report in january for afghanistan. and i know it won't surprise either of you to know based on my history with this committee that i was particularly concerned with the contract management identification. we have more contractors on the ground in afghanistan than we have active military as you all are aware. we are never going back to a time where we are not incredibly reliant on contractors. so i have been like a broken record. we've got to get this contract oversight right. now, this report came out before the report we learned about the $50 million that went to new century consulting to buy porsches, alpha reamio, a bentley, anot aston martin, land rover, prohibited weapons as well as questionable, unallowable expenses and $420,000 in salaries for spouses or significant others of the cfo and the ceo.
so i need to know what your sense is about this. and i need to know who was supposed to be overseeing that contract. and what is happening to that person. is that a c.o.r. overseeing this contract? is it someone higher in the command that was overseeing this contract? with this kind of contract money going out the door it just -- after all the years we've worked on this with the contracting command and i know we've made progress, gentlemen, i know we have. but when i see this after all the work we've done on more time contracting and cleaning it up it just makes me depressed. so can either of you shed any light on how we would have had an incident that to me shows a real backsliding in terms of contract oversight? >> senator, i have to look into the specifics that you're bringing up. but that said, we have made very
clear that the contracting that's going on in afghanistan must be focused on the combat capability we are bringing there that we are going to be working with the international donors to address other aspects of the development in the country. and i want a review board that is actively, perhaps with its own i.g., going to be looking at each of these. and i want continuity of efforts on contracts so people, once they sign a contract, are held accountable for the life of that contract. and right now i cannot assure you that i've got that. but that's the direction that we're taking this. >> senator, if i could just follow up on the resources, we have worked very closely with the cigar and i think one of the positive changes that's taken place over the last couple years is opposed to just providing a report we have been looking at lessons learned in trying to incorporate those. we tried a few years ago to move much of the money we were providing to the afghans on
budget. that didn't work out. and we've significantly reduced the amount of money on budget meaning that we now are disbursing those funds and we have direct oversight. kret mattis mentioned in his opening statement the compact that has been now signed between the embassy and president ghani as well. which has given us visibility into the afghan organizations as well. one of the things we did when we did a failure analysis for secretary mattis moving forward so we could answer the hard questions which are the right questions. we did failure analysis and the corruption we have seen the contracting we have seen and the lack of visibility and transparency in resources were clearly an issue. in fact, i had the cigar over in my office as we were doing the failure in my office and it was part of our tome that put together failure analysis for the secretary. with your emphasis on the cigar over time and the cigar's corporate memory i think we have done the best we can now moving
forward to incorporate those lessons learned, particularly in those areas where we're talking about a significant amount of money in taxpayer dollars. >> you know in the culture in the military is that when there is a screw-up somebody's held accountable. and who's held accountable is a big deal as to whether or not that screw-up occurs again. so i would really like a follow-up from both of you or from you, general dunford, maybe directly, as to who is -- whose you know what is on the line for this contract and the excessive abuse that occurred in this particular contract because picking out somebody to make an example of in this area makes a difference. when we first started on this road they were just handing a clipboard to somebody, low man on the totem pole that says oh, you're supposed to be overseeing contracts, and it was a joke as you know in iraq in the early years in terms of contract oversight. i need to know that somebody's held accountable for the alfa
romeos, the bentleys being bought in afghanistan. >> senator, i'm not familiar with the details of that contract, but we will certainly get it to you right away. >> on behalf of chairman mccain senator tillis, please. >> thank you, senator reid. and gentlemen, thank you for being here and your continued service. secretary mattis, i was here for your opening comments. i like the way you framed it around the four rs. and i think regionalized, realign and reinforce, they all make sense. i'm more concerned with something that's foundational to ultimately being successful, and that's reconcile. there seems to be two pieces of that that i'd like for us to drill down on. and general dunford, you as well. the -- when i was in afghanistan last, there was a lot of optimism around some of the economic development that was going on in the country. they had a lot of work to do but they were getting partners investing money there. and it was helping their
underlying economy. there was optimism on the part of president ghani in terms of infrastructure projects. so i'd like to kind of get a status update on how those underpinnings are working. that's one piece. i'd riek to know what if any insights we have into popular opinion about the four rs strategy and whether or not we're seeing trending in the right direction among the afghan people. and then finally i'd like to talk about what does the taliban look like in a reconciled country? do they have a political role to play? and the political process. what do you all envision as the steps toward successful reconciliation which would actually have to deal with that? >> senator tillis, on the reconciliation effort, obviously it's a fight and talk effort. but the underpinnings you accurately point out are what give people hope. i think that progress and violence co-existing right now, what we need to do is expand the
security envelope behind which much of this development progress for which we have a large amount of international support especially now that we see we're going to stay the course. that will be coming in. as far as the popular opinion, we track it through polls, not only our own polls. they involve polls taken by international organizations, unaffiliated with us. we also have our own. i would note that in the last several weeks one of the things we look at is property values in kabul. and we got the readout and the property values have started going up since we announced this strategy. in other words, there's a certain amount of commitment now when it's something we can't control. that's why we look at it. this is an objective data. this is not subject to subjective evaluation. as we look at this process going forward we see the development
funds coming in largely from the international donors that's going to help keep president ghani's optimism fueled with startup kind of money. we also have opportunities in the extraction industries that if we can get the security right in certain areas that that can start creating income for the government. but overall there appears to be a psychological impact already of what we've done by implementing the strategy. too early to say it's because of military success. although like i mentioned, senator, for the first time in 16 years we have all six afghan corps on the offensive at the same time. >> general dunford, anything to add? >> the only thing i'd say is on the third question, which is really an important question, what does reconciliation look like? at the end of the day what we're hoping to do is set the conditions where the taliban
believe they're going to have to come to the peace table in order to move forward. and i think that question is uniquely capable of being answered by the afghan people. i don't think we can actually impose that. this is something that the taliban in the context of an afghan-led peace process are going to have to figure out. how do they incorporate into the political system inside of afghanistan and how do they move beyond seeking their political objectives by using violence. >> thank you. and general mattis, i won't ask you to -- or i should say secretary mattis. i won't ask you to cover it now in my remaining time. but i would be interested in any information that gives me a sense of the popular opinion trending, what we've seen maybe before we announce the strategy afterwards. and that's something that i think gives -- it's a really good indicator for how well we're doing because we only succeed if we win the hearts and minds, reconciliation only succeeds if we continue to make positive progress at the same time we're fighting. thank you very much.
thank you, senator reid. >> thank you. on behalf of the chairman, senator donnelley, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you both for your service, for everything you've done for our country. going back to fngs. and i apologize if this has been asked. has it ever changed if pakistan does not end safe havens? does it ever change? we can continue to put more people in, have less people there, do this, do that. does it ever stabilize if that step doesn't occur? >> i think it would be highly difficult to sustain any stabilization in south asia. not just in afghanistan but certainly anywhere around pakistan, india, unless safe havens are removed.
>> let me follow up with this, then, general. or mr. secretary. we've tried for a long time, had meeting after meeting with the pakistani government. and i'd like both of you to answer this. what does change their mind in regards to the safe haven policy? how do you ever move that ball? >> i think being very clear and firm in what we expect and using all aspects of the government to bring about that change, working internationally. we started with a regional strategy, we didn't start with afghanistan, and then worked outwardly, was to make certain we began with a recognition of the role of india, of russia, of china, of pakistan. >> what carrot or stick, for want of a better term, moves the pakistan government to change? >> well, there are a number of
lines of effort being put together now in the secretary of treasury's office, secretary of state's office, my own office, the intel agencies. we're also working with secretary-general stoltenberg to ensure that nato's equities are brought to bear. certainly india has a role to play as a neighbor and potentially a very strong economic benefit to pakistan if pakistan can find a way to carry out its international responsibilities and end any kind of safe haven inside the country. so there's a great deal that pakistan can benefit economically, diplomatically, financially for its government. economically for its people by finally sensing that the tide has shifted against this. >> general dunford, is it your sense that the i.s.i. is still helping the taliban? >> senator, i think it's clear
to me that the i.s.i. has connections with terrorist groups. if i could just follow up on something secretary mattis said, i think over the last several years we've had a bilateral approach to trying to effect a change in pakistan's behavior. and if you think of the coalition, we still have 39 nation that's are part of the coalition in afghanistan and many other interested nations. and so in answer to your question, what one thing might change, pakistan, i don't think there is one thing that would change pakistan but i find it hard to imagine that we can't get more cooperation if we can fully leverage the multilateral approach with 39 nations that are part of the coalition in afghanistan with the other nations now to include china and india that are not in the coalition but clearly have vital natural interests inside of south asia. if we can have a diplomatic and economic effort that harnesses all of that potential multilaterally, it seems to me we have a much better thans than we have had to date with a
bilateral approach. >> if i could switch to north korea for a minute, and this is obviously speculation, but what do you think gets kim jong un to put a halt? what do you think is what he is looking for in terms of either a decision to make a halt because he feels threatened and/or a decision to halt because he feels maybe there's a path forward here? >> senator, if you walk back and you say what is he doing and why, i think the intel community assesses, and i agree, that kim jong un is on the path he's on right now because he believes that's necessary to enhance the survival of his regime. so he views the possession of ballistic missiles and nuclear capability as inextricably linked to regime survival. what i think kim jong un needs to realize is he cannot survive
with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons because the international community will not allow him to survive. and i think if there was one area that has been identified by many people as maybe being the one that would most profoundly change his behavior, it would be the loss of oil. and we've seen in the past when he's had -- when the oil has been cut off there's been a change in kim jong un's behavior. the fact is he needs economic resources external to the country to survive. when he starts off the risk calculation of the path he's on and actually the regime surviving because of economic resources necessary for it to survive, that's the best potential, which is why i think we should support secretary tillerson's current path of diplomatic and economic pressure, to convince him that being part of the international community and a key component of secretary tillerson's plan has been the prospect of north korea entering back into the community of nations and addressing their
economic challenges. when he views the chances of doing that are more important than the path he's on, i think there's the potential for change. and again, we're prepared with a military option should that fail. but i think we're all at this point doing what we can to make sure the economic and diplomatic pressure campaign gets a full opportunity to succeed. >> i want to thank you both for your service to the country. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. on behalf of chairman mccain. >> thank you, chairman. and thank you for the testimony. i want to thank towhat a number of my colleagues have mentioned, i think it gives the american people a lot of comfort to see the two of you leading our military and department of defense efforts, and i just want to applaud you for all you're doing. and the focus you're giving to some of these really important national security issues. and what are clearly challenging times. one area where i don't think you've gotten enough, you know,
compliments for what you've done is the isis strategy. came in, new strategy. syria strategy. started to implement it. and we're not there yet, but it's -- i think it's clearly working. it's clearly reversing what had been a losing battle and maybe i can ask you to just initially comment on that because i think the american people aren't fully aware that they are completely on the defensive now, in my view in large measure to your leadership, your strategy, and of course to the troops who are executing that. secretary mattis, care to comment on that? >> the troops have done a yeoman's job out there in enlisting other forces to work alongside us. it's been a very complex battlefield, as you know. but right now isis is seeing its
fund-raising and its recruiting dry up because of what we've done to them on the battlefield. that said, they remain a threat and we're taking no sense of complacency here and it's still a full-fledged fight. >> let me ask next -- now you've put together another strategy. i think a lot of us view it in a very -- in a similarly positive manner. you talk a lot about the regional strategy. i think that's actually really important with regard to afghanistan and your focus which i think is actually critically important on india matters not only to afghanistan but to other challenges that we're seeing throughout the country. i think they can be an incredibly important strategic partner of ours. we share similar values. oldest, largest democracies in the world. working together. can you give me a sense, mr.
secretary, on your recent trip not only with regard to the importance that india could play with regard to our afghanistan policy but other challenges, say, china's aggressive actions in the south china sea and the rise of china and maybe looking at india where our interests align. >> your point of where our interests align very indicative of the current situation we find ourselves in. what we have right now, senator, it's a strategic convergence. generational opportunity between the two largest democracies in the world to work together. based on those shared interests of peace, of prosperity in the region. and india's coming into its own. it's going to be a global player. and i think this is quite right as prime minister modi takes them forward. economically to a much higher
level of living for his people to a bigger role in the world. and that role from our perspective is a wholly positive one right now. and i think we are natural partners, india and the united states, and we recognize each other's sovereignty. we have respect for each other, but we also see the opportunity we're presented with right now. >> so it's safe to say your meetings went well in india recently? >> the meetings could not have gone better, senator. >> let me turn to north korea like a number of my colleagues. a lot of concern on that. i for one very much appreciate your regular briefings you've had with this committee. i think they've been constructive. i think they're helping bring both members, democrats and republicans, in to try to help with regard to that policy strategy, a very challenging national security issue as we all know. the main effort then continues
to be diplomacy. i know you've been asked this a number of times. but i just want to reit rate that. simple yes or no answer on that. >> diplomatically led, senator birks secretary tillerson. there are economic sanctions that you've seen demonstrated by the unanimous u.n. security council resolutions. how often do we find russia, china, the united states, france, others all voting as one? it shows the degree of acceptance that this is an international threat and people are working together imperfectly but working together to try to address it. and we will continue to maintain a department of defense that looks toward the defense of our people and the defense of our allies with military options on the table. >> thank you. and mr. chairman, if i may, just one quick question on the part of our strategy. it's become apparent that the president and the two of you and
others have been talking about how critical missile defense is as a key element of our strategy, not just dealing with north korea but rogue nations like iran. as you know, in the ndaa we had a number of provisions to advance our nation's missile defense. i know that the administration's looking at additional measures. could you describe those, general, or mr. secretary, both in terms of what you want to do? i think one of the breakthroughs you saw on the ndaa, missile defense is no longer a partisan issue. it's being viewed very much as a bipartisan issue. and i think that's important. i think you'll get a lot of support for what you want to be doing on missile defense. we just need to know exactly what you want to be doing to advance it in the near term. which i think we need to do more to advance it in the near term. >> senator, we've enjoyed bipartisan support here on the hill. you'll notice that the budget for this has increased in the out years, in the years ahead.
we're optimistic we'll get a budget by december that will help. but also the reprogramming approved by the senate and the house here allowed us basically 440 million more in fy17 dollars to reprogram to get more -- buy more of the ground-based interseptemberors, increase the number of centers, and the emphasis in the near term is exactly where you indicated and you'll see it reflected in the budgets we submitted. >> on beof half of chairman mccain senator blumenthal, please. >> thank you very much, senator reid. thank you both for your service. you've been thanked many times by this committee and you certainly deserve those thanks and much more. i know you've been asked about russian activity in afghanistan, mr. secretary, and you observed that they are act iing against
their own self-interest. and i know also that when you visited afghanistan last week you criticized both russia and iran. could you talk a bit about iran's activity in fngs, which seems as malevolent and potentially pernicious as russia's? >> iran has over many years played a very complex role and at times one that is hard to figure out. they've had their own diplomats killed by taliban in the past. and yet they've also supported the taliban at times with small amounts of money dribbled in or weapons and this sort of thing. the bottom line is i think iran thrives where there is chaos pl and you'll see that in syria. you'll see it in lebanon. you see it what they've tried to
do in the eastern province of saudi arabia. you see it in yemen. and the only consistent theme i can see on iran is they seem to go where they can create trouble and destabilize countries in their riej. it's not in their best interests. we all can see that. i think an objective appraisal would say that's not in iran's best interests but for some reason they insist on doing it. >> why do you think it's not in their best interest? >> because if you're looking out for the best interests of your people as a nation state and if you're not just acting like a revolutionary cause in order to stay in power, then you want peace because you're not going to have the kind of economic advantages for your people. you're not going to have the kind of diplomatic engagements with your people that represents their best interests. but i think that those in power right now holding the real power in tehran, they want to play the
role of a revolutionary power to stay in power. >> thank you for that answer, mr. secretary. i want to shift to puerto rico, if i may. i want to begin by expressing my thanks to the men and women under your command who are providing essential assistance in puerto rico. there are about 6,400 american military members there now including members of the connecticut national guard, whom i saw off just a few days ago. they are deployed in relief efforts that impose considerable hardship on them and some risk as well. so i think they are to be thanked. and my hope is that there will be more of them because more are needed. as well as logistical support, helicopters and other kinds of equipment there.
the military essentially is the only potential resource and asset in puerto rico that can provide the transportation and restoration of power and so forth. i met yesterday with members of the department of defense along with fema at the fema headquarters. a number of my colleagues and i went there at the invitation of the administrator of fema. and what impressed me is the very bluntly need for additional troops and resources there from the department of defense in order to fill the gap and the disconnect between the supplies that are in the ports and the airports and the people in the cities and interior that need those food, medicine, water, and other essential supplies. so i think there is an opportunity and obligation for greater department of defense involvement.
general dunford, you may recall when i asked you about this topic, you said, i'm quoting, if there is more that needs to be done i can assure you that secretary mattis has placed puerto rico as a priority for all of us. and general robinson is in constant contact with fema as well as with officials in puerto rico to make sure the department is leaning forward and providing all the support they need, end quote. i hope that commitment is continuing. and i hope the department of defense will have a plan going forward because as of yesterday when i met with fema officials they could not assure me there is a plan for the department of defense involvement and for longer-term recovery on the island. so i thank you for the contribution that has been made so far, and i hope that there will be a plan and a commitment of resources going forward. >> senator, i assure you this is
all hands on deck. there is no delay. when a request comes in, it's approved the moment it hits the pentagon. we have over 10,000 troops there. we had two ships prepositioned. there's now six ships. "comfort" will arrive today or tomorrow. we had to reopen the airports themselves, which is part of the restraint on how many aircraft we could get in. there was a logistics effort simply to open the door for them to get in. so you bring in a few people, get things opened up, and keep expanding. but there is no lack of resources, sir. we are ready to go. even to the point that it's going to impact the deployments perhaps of some of these troops overseas next year because we've interrupted their preparation. that's okay. when it's helping fellow americans especially, although we also help some of the other small countries that were hard hit, when it comes to helping americans it's all hands on deck
and we don't have a problem from volunteers from the various national guards and certainly every unit, every ship is leaning forward for a mission like this. >> i have no question, sir, about your commitment and general dunford's. what concerns me is that waiting for requests from the local leadership without a larger plan from the department of defense may create gaps or disconnects and i hope that the president when he's visiting today will ask for a plan as a result of this trip. and i know that you have a commitment to develop one. >> we're in support of fema, sir. and that's why we prepositioned ships and troops with so -- even before they asked for it. they were ready. it wasn't a matter of calling up some people. we've continued calling up some. but we had people ready to go as
fast as they were asked for. >> thank you. >> senator, one changes that's taken place since we spoke last week is lieutenant general buchanan, who is the component commander for the army forces in northern command, arrived on the ground with a very capable staff. and when we spoke last, the secretary alluded to it, it was about opening the ports and opening the airfields. the focus now is on distribution. that's what you spoke about. it's the large stockpiles of supplies and so forth that are getting to the country. but not necessarily out to where the people are. and i can assure you that today general robinson's command but more particularly general buchanan, who's on the ground in puerto rico, they do have a plan to support the distribution of those supplies and that is their focus. and then when the secretary spoke about the comfort arriving, that will be over 200 more hospital beds that will be available to the people of puerto rico tomorrow. >> thank you very much. thanks, mr. chairman. >> on behalf of chairman mccain, senator hunter, please. >> i just want to thank both of
you for your attention on puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. it was clear early on with the radars down in particular at all those airfields there were certain things d.o.d. does particularly well and needed to do in order to get those bottlenecks out of the way. so we very much appreciate that focus. i want to go back to iran and the line of questioning that senator king had and start with just asking if iran maintains its compliance with the jcpoa but congress votes to reimpose sanctions anyway, would we as the u.s. be in violation of our obligations under the jcop -- jcpoa under that scenario? >> senator, i don't know. i'd have to look at what the conditions specifically would call for und jer the jcpoa and what in particular we would not be willing to do.
congress has a role to play in this that is -- we see it as distinct but integral. in other words, we look at this problem set as having two distinct aspects. the jcpoa itself and the congressional action. and i'd have to compare the details on that, senator. >> one of the reasons why i ask is because the scenario i'm worried about is if we unilaterally withdraw from the jcpoa i'm concerned about a scenario where iran gets to keep its sanctions relief but where we lose key enforcement and intelligence advantages. is there a scenario where those things come to pass that could possibly be in our national security interest? if we're not careful we could end up with the worst of both worlds, right? >> if it's mishandled, yes,
senator, that could happen. as you know, it is still under consideration in the executive branch. and i -- and a decision has not been made. >> i would just urge you to consider that because if we end up in a situation where we're not able to reinstate the sanctions that were multilateral but we also lose our ability to effectively enforce the nuclear agreement we've sort of lost on both sides of the ledger. and that would be a very unfortunate outcome for our national security. i want to go back to afghanistan for a moment. i think it's clear that a very concise, clear strategy is essential, both for a positive end state in afghanistan but also absolutely key for our troop morale. and i think it's been challenging with a conflict that's gone on for 16 years and
a positive end state in many ways still over the horizon to maintain troop morale. how do you describe troop morale in afghanistan at the moment? >> senator, i was just there a couple days ago. and i got on board the aircraft after our last stop with secretary-general stoltenberg. and here's an outside observer looking at the -- probably a dozen different forces, nation's forces, our own being dominant of course of the groups that he saw. and he said, you know, i'm amazed at how high the morale is, that they have such a strong sense of purpose and i think it humbles all of us to think after 16 years, i personal will i landed in afghanistan in november of 2001. >> i remember. >> and after 16 years it reminds us we have a national treasure in the u.s. military that these young patriots, young people, anyone who thinks we've got a problem with the younger
generation hasn't seen these lads and lasses in action. they're phenomenal. they look past the hot political rhetoric, say give me the job, give me the authority, let me go at it, and give me what i need. and there's a commitment out there that humbles me to this day. >> i couldn't agree more with your sentiment with regard to the quality of people serving in our military today, and that's certainly been my experience both here and overseas in places like afghanistan. and other places as well. i want to ask what is the current price tag for security in afghanistan? with r. we still roughly spending about 5 billion a year? general dunford. >> senator, we're spending about $12.5 billion -- >> 12.5. >> and 1.1 is the cost of the uplift that we've just proposed.
>> what is -- i think it was general nicholson that testified at one point that roughly 10% of our total allocations were for security were picked up by the afghan government. is there -- should we expect to be paying that in perpetuity? is there any end in sight? what is the limit of our involvement? >> there's about $500 billion a year is what it takes to sustain the afghan forces. and the international community coalition has paid about 5 billion for the afghan forces specifically. the 12 billion was the cost of the entire operation that i spoke about earlier. the afghan forces specifically is 5 billion. but 1 billion is paid by our international partners, members of nato and so forth, and 500 million is paid for by the afghan government. we would expect that that figure lin crease over time and the afghans will become more self-sufficient.
right now the afghans have commitments from the international community and the united states as a result of a nato summit until 2020. after that there's going to have to be a plan for sustaining the afghan security forces. >> thank you very -- thank you both. >> on behalf of the chairman, senator nelson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, gentlemen. and i certainly want toquo it took the united states military getting into puerto rico and you all are doing the job. if you could for me, just clarify the numbers. we called the pentagon last night. they said 1,100 in puerto rico. we called the national guard last night. they said 3,300. and you have just said 10,000. so some clarification on the numbers would be most appreciated. but the fact is that you're
doing the job and it's too bad that it took until late last week to get general buchanan in place because once he got in place things started to improve. so thank you very much for that. just at your convenience, general dunford, give us some clarity on the numbers. if you have them now, fine. otherwise -- >> senator, we do. secretary mattis and i both have the numbers. we do have over 10,000 on the ground right now. that's about just short of 4,000 the active component and almost 7,000 members of the national guards. and that includes all the troops that are currently supporting both operations in the virgin islands and puerto rico. as you know, because of the multiple storms happening in sequence, we don't have forces specifically assigned, but they're providing support throughout the area. >> okay. that's clearly a step in the right direction.
i give you all the accolades that you are due because that's what it took to get the distribution out into the interior of the island. since the purpose of this hearing is afghanistan, i wanted to ask you, pakistan is sometimes friendly and sometimes it's not when it comes to afghanistan. and the president has said he was going to put significant new pressure on pakistan. can you explain that to the committee, what he meant? >> i can. senator nelson, the pressure will be -- let's put it in optimistic terms. so that they can see where their interests converge with the international community at stopping terrorism. and again, they have lost probably more troops than any
other single country in the fight against terrorism. at the same time we have seen havens left to the terrorists' own devices. we have seen the government of pakistan come down on terrorism while i.s.i. appears to run its own foreign policy. so what we're going to do is working with the international community and the south asia neighboring nations plus china, russia looking for common ground with all of these nations and the 39 troop-contributing nations that include nato plus nato's partners. we're going to work to have a very firm list of what has got to change. and then using diplomatic and economic means, having venues where we share with each other, we're going to try to get this to a productive outcome. right now based on a very recent visit by the chief of army staff
from pakistan, there is actually optimism in kabul that his visit presages a new chapter. i'm in the wheel c mode. but we intend to bring all the effort we can in a whole government international framed way to islamabad and show them how to get out of the situation they're currently in. >> thank you. >> on behalf of the chairman, senator warren, please. >> thank you, ranking member reid. and thank you, secretary mat sxis general dunford for your work and for being here. in august the president released his new afghan strategy and a key part of it seems to be the idea that the military will use all of its tools -- i'm sorry, that the u.s. will use all of its tools, military, economic, and diplomatic, to get the taliban to the negotiating table. in fact, the pentagon's release says, and i want to quote it,
"we will bolster the fighting strength of government forces to convince the taliban they cannot win on the battlefield. this will set conditions for the ultimate goal of our strategy, a peace settlement between the government of afghanistan and the taliban that protects our interests." now, for some of us this strategy seems like deja vu all over again. i just have a straightforward question on this. secretary mattis, can you explain to me how you will, quote, convince the taliban they cannot win on the battlefield when 16 years of evidence suggests otherwise? >> well, the point we're making is, ma'am, that the change to a conditions base means we set the conditions, we bolster -- they used the word that you just quoted there. we bolster the afghan fighting
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