tv Washington Journal Andrew de Grandpre Discusses U.S. Efforts to Defeat ISIS CSPAN May 20, 2017 8:00am-8:31am EDT
and we need to get behind the president. we have proved absolutely nothing at this point. there's nothing that has proved that donald trump has done anything wrong. the democrats should be mad. two weeks before the election ended, he opened that investigation back up. that is what slammed hillary against the wall, not that she should have been there anyway, but we just need to get behind our president. he is our president. ok.- host: we will discuss the pentagon's report on the islamic state with andrew degrandpre, pentagon bureau chief at the military times. rush holt joins us to
talk about the role that federal -- the federal science advisory board is playing in the trump administration. we will be right back. ♪ >> whether you are going to be a dentist or a lawyer or a teacher or accountant, let your guiding principles be truth and service. >> success is not an entitlement . it has to be earned and earned every day through the lens of humility. >> the greatest passions in life often face challenges that seem insurmountable. you can conquer these challenges and they will shape and strengthen your character. >> tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern, 2017 commencement speeches. speakers include senator kamala harris at howard university,
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the pentagon progress report on the fight against the islamic state in iraq and syria. caller: thank you for having -- guest: thank you for having me. host: let's talk about what we learned yesterday at the pentagon briefing with general test and dunford. i think what you saw yesterday was a rebranding effort, or at least an attempt to come out and state the war against the islamic state has made progress. a lot of statistics were thrown about, but i think one of the key takeaways from yesterday was --mattis,athis saying the focus hatch shifted to and not -- has shifted to annihilation. looking at the foreign flyers in both countries and doing the best to and circle them and take them out. host: your report in the
military times says that by total annihilation, the pentagon's approach to defeating the islamic state is now defined as a merciless annihilation. has become ahat more aggressive effort in syria, , to prevent the foreign fighters specifically from escaping the stronghold once local allies have been cornered. foreign fighters are the strategic threat, should they return home to tunis, to kuala lumpur, paris, detroit, wherever , by taking the time to surround an attack, we carry out the annihilation campaign so we do not simply transplant this problem from one location to another. , do we see an actual plan on fighting isis formulated and if not yet, when do we expect that? guest: i think this is sort of
the communication of the plan. the pentagon, certainly under the trump administration, has become a little more tightly controlled in terms of the information they divulge to the public and through the media. we have been told that more or and, what secretary mattis dunford spoke about yesterday, is how the pentagon is defining its approach to fighting isis. for all intents and purposes, the plan is as you just read, encircle, annihilate. host: we are speaking with andrew degrandpre, pentagon bureau chief and senior editor at the military times about the latest update to fight isis by the pentagon. democrats can call (202) 748-8000. republicans, (202) 748-8001, and .ndependents, (202) 748-8002
mattis talked about two significant changes. what are they and what do they mean? guest: number one is they are delegating more authority to lower-level commanders to make tactical decisions in as close to real time as possible. one of the complaints that came out of the pentagon during the obama era was that sometimes there was so much attention to detail, so much focus on avoiding collateral damage that sometimes decisions were not made quickly enough and bad guys got away. that is number one. the second piece of this is, as i said, more of a rebranding effort than anything else. , the u.s. led coalition in iraq and syria is very focused right now on giving forces on the ground the time to completely enveloped whatever stronghold they are going after.
i think we are seeing that play out right now in the city of raqqa in syria, the islamic state's de facto capital. that operation has been underway for many weeks and slowly but surely, forces that are assembled are sealing off escape routes and once that happens completely, i think you will see an offense if start to move it just offensive -- offensive start to move into the city. host: yesterday, james madison talked about how the -- mattis -- >> president trump directed the department of defense in a comprehensive review of the campaign. we submitted that report and then he ordered an accelerated operation against isis. what does that mean? two significant changes resulted from president trump's review. first, he delegated authority to
the right level, to aggressively and in a timely manner move against enemy vulnerabilities. secondly, he directed a tactical shift from shoving isis out of seized locations in an attrition fight, to surrounding the enemy and their strongholds so we can annihilate isis. the intent is to prevent the return home of escaped foreign fighters. host: can you talk a little bit more about why these changes are important, at least in the view of secretary mattis? guest: an important question is how significant are the changes? if you look at the previous administration, there was a deep desire to prevent a large number of u.s. forces returning to these areas. we are still seeing that as the case. more and more, what you are hearing coming out of the pentagon is a strategy defined as by, with, and through our
allies. that was kind of true in the obama years as well, but you will see that enforced more. discourse, you are starting to see a few more people go in. it is not a return to the height of the iraq war where there were well over 100,000 people in that country, but we are closing in now on close to 10,000 between what is authorized to be there, and the use of temporary deployments to augment forces. principally, that is what i see. host: we are talking to andrew , the pentagon bureau chief and senior editor at the military times. jack is calling from irvine, kentucky, on our republican line. caller: good morning. my thought is, we need to get on isis immediately. we need to forget about obama's
policy, who said on television, he said, we have no policy to deal with isis. that is dead wrong. they have a policy to deal with us, they want to kill us. it is that simple. i think we need to turn donald trump loose and keep him from democrats.l of the the democrats is fighting the republicans, the republicans is fighting the democrats, and the russians are doing what the heck they want. i think it is dead wrong on our part to let this happen. stop isis dead. thank you. host: your response? guest: i think you raised some interesting points. i would say the trump administration, in terms of its rhetoric, shares that point of view. interestingly enough i think what you are seeing is some extent, the generals and the
pentagon, the admirals, and secretary mattis elevating the discourse, using sharper language like we are going to annihilate isis. if you zoom back and take the 40,000 foot view, we are not seeing a massive surge of troops and to these countries and that is designed for a very good reason, at least as the pentagon would see it. they do not want to put american troops at risk or raise the risk of causing civilian casualties. host: on the issue of troop levels at yesterday's briefing, said hesecretary mattis had not made a recommendation on the troop levels in afghanistan for president trump. but during the briefing, general joseph dunford talked about the possibility of a troop increase in afghanistan. let's take a look. nor do inot able to,
seek to get commitments for additional forces because that will be met by heads of state -- made by heads of state and their forces. president trump will be in brussels and will meet with his counterparts. that is when you see commitments. my focus was to say that if political decision-makers decide on the 25th of may to increase the forces in afghanistan, we should be prepared to provide those as quickly as possible. the other point i discussed with my counterparts was that we actually have some unfulfilled, as general consent -- nicholson has spoken about, some unfulfilled requirements outstanding today. i encourage them to meet those requirements. the commitment i received as they would all go back and look within her capability to do more in afghanistan. i was encouraged by the tone in brussels. around the room, i think it is fair to say that 28 of the 28
nations were all committed to an enduring presence in afghanistan, to support the president's plan for security. host: the trump administration was mulling sending between 3000 and 5000 more troops to afghanistan. what do you expect to see in terms of an increase of troops and when? guest: that is a great question. the pentagon is being very cagey about those details. there's a big nato summit in a few days. i think the hope was that there would be some sort of decision made ahead of time, but what we are hearing is that president iump and secretary mattis, think they want to have a strong dialogue with their counterpart in europe to see what they are thinking, to get their pulse. but correct, 3000 to 5000, is something that has been bandied about for many weeks.
there is also talk of a match from nato. ultimately all told, you could be looking at a force totaling somewhere between 10000 and perhaps 13,000. host: jack is calling in from bloomfield, new jersey on our democrat line. caller: good morning. let a just say this, the veteran iraq, i saw what it looked like when there was not a clear strategy to win. wea current reservist, if are going to win this time and use the word "annihilate," because we are talking about war, if we cannot get behind destroying something as severe as islamic state, i break ranks with my party for a minute. i am in support of taking isis off this planet and i do not care if donald trump gets the reaction from it -- credit or not. this is the biggest menace that
threatens the entire western way of life. european who lives under the constant threat of terrorism exported by this mess. liberals nothing more il on this planet than what is going on with islamic state, so if it is about annihilation, it is about time. it is a great thing to see the overall strategy ends with the this groupilate." needs to be militarily extricated off the planet, they have no right to exist, and it is not wrong for us to admit that. we win, they lose. call me up, let's go. host: go ahead, andy. guest: i would say the caller said things that are repeated frequently inside the pentagon. the press briefing yesterday was perhaps a little, you know, less exercised but at the same time
you definitely see an increase in the rhetoric. "gain, words like "annihilate were not used during the previous administration and i isnk that secretary mattis calling to bear his experience as a military commander, 40 plus years in the marine corps with experience in afghanistan and iraq, endeavoring to send a very strong message to those who would do us harm, that pain and destruction is coming. host: according to the new york times, the defense secretary said that the fight against isis is not raising civilian risks. the united states began intensifying its campaign against the islamic state in january but it was not putting civilians in war zones at greater risk. decision to trump's
delegate more authority to commanders has put greater pressure on militants in yemen, syria, and somalia. can you talk a little bit more about that? guest: what he said yesterday is there has been no change to the rules of engagement. for many years, there has been an emphasis on protecting the civilians in these conflicts owns. -- conflict zones. what has taken place over the last several months, there's no question it has been a more aggressive approach in terms of bringing greater firepower to some of these areas were isis is mosenched, particularly in urban raqqa, very dense areas with lots of people. there were about 200,000 citizens still trapped in mosul, and that fight is starting to coalesce around the old part of the city. there is big-time concern that
as that battle plays out over the next couple of weeks, that isis could step up its use of human shields, which they have been known to do. i assure you that people at the pentagon and on capitol hill are looking very closely at how that plays out to make sure that no lives are needlessly put at risk by american forces and the entities they are supporting. host: kathy on the democratic line from port townsend, washington. caller: thank you for taking my call. people thatunch of donald trump has gotten in to office, from the very beginning, everything has been in turmoil. i know we have a lot of problems and we have to fight them, but this whole administration, to me , has represented nothing but war and more war.
i know everybody is talking about, they give the president tons of credit every time a bomb goes off, anytime anything happens like that. and they is, hurray, do not think about the people dying. all the reconstruction of body parts that people have to go through in these countries, and we don't care. obviously, and i listen to c-span -- and it is wonderful because i get all the different people all over the united states -- unfortunately, and i'm sorry to say this, but i hear a rhetoric thatuth i heard when i was a child. i am hearing it all over again, and i was a child of the 1960's. very disappointing what i hear. all i hear right now is war, war, kill, kill. host: let's give andy a chance
to respond. guest: i think inside the pentagon, people are cognizant of what is taking place in these very difficult campaigns. what we in the press have been of the that despite sort drama that is taking place in washington with the administration, the pentagon is working overtime to remain apolitical and not get bogged down or persuaded by what is playing out in the press about the administration. point about the president, i guess getting credit for bombings and so on and so forth, i would say that the media is also scrutinizing the military pretty closely as well, and has been, not only for
the last four months since the president took office but well before that, during the obama era as well. has been a lot of attention paid to civilian casualties and questions raised about whether or not under the new administration, perhaps there has been more of a aggressive approach. of course, all the pentagon can really do is step out and endeavor to set the record straight. host: so the president, we have discussed, is in saudi arabia as part of his first overseas trip and is poised to announce more than $100 billion arms deal with saudi arabia during that trip. it has also been reported by the new york times that adviser jared kushner played a role in helping negotiate part of that arms deal, making a call to a chief executive at lockheed
martin, which makes a radar system, to ask whether she could cut the price. could you talk about his arms deal and the role jared kushner played? guest: i wish i could. i am not super up on that aspect of what is going on with the war campaign and the effort to draw in the coalition and build up our allies. one of the things i did see recently that is of interest, the state department budget is sort of under fire and a part of that as reported by my colleagues, foreign military financing could stand to be sla shed significantly. the administration might create a loan program instead of providing outright grants to purcha american weaponry. if that comes to pass, i would say look for a heated discussion
to take place both here and abroad. host: john is on our line from vero beach, florida, republican mind. caller: i believe you should take the head off the snake and that the snake. .- gut the snake that is what donald trump wants to do to help the united states. host: richard from hazleton, pennsylvania on our democrat line. caller: thank you for taking my call. i would like to ask the panelist, how many of the top positions in the pentagon are unfilled? thank you for taking my call. guest: the answer is still several. i do not have the latest tally but it is still several. we have seen in the last couple of days is a flurry to nominate people to take over those positions, but it is a wonderful point. i think most important, you have
got no army secretary and no navy secretary, which would oversee the marine corps and the and another secretary was just confirmed this week. having these positions sit vacant has to some degree but the pentagon at a disadvantage, and secretary mattis at a disadvantage as he does not have people to delegate tasks to. there are people filling those positions on a temporary basis, and i think what the secretary would say is he is eager to get those positions filled. host: another item that emerged from yesterday's briefing at the pentagon, according to the washington post, the pentagon is expected to communicate more with russia. the pentagon has stepped up communication with russia over
syria as the trump administration lays plans for operations likely to thrust u.s. forces closer to syrian troops. the joint chiefs of staff said the united states had open a new channel between senior u.s. and russian military officials to discuss what pentagon officials onflictiono as the dec of this area. can you talk more about if that is affected by the russian probe? guest: it is a fascinating dynamic playing out in syria. obviously you have russian military forces there, backing the embattled president bush are all assigned. al-assad. it is all taking time at the peak tensions between washington and moscow.
what happens in syria is quite interesting. as the post story notes, they have established what are called zones, and that can apply to time and space so was not always hard terrain being protected. it could be that the u.s. wants to conduct some sort of operation in the airspace over a certain city or town. , andhappens if someone then the united states military will counter -- contact a counterpart in the russian military. where this is coming to head is a couple of areas in syria, , and muchof raqqa further south by the iraq and jordan border. there are regime forces there in both areas, pushing to lay claim or reassert government influence
and at the same time, the u.s. has pretty significant interest in dealing with isis in those areas. and so what general dunford said yesterday is the plan is being developed, i think to enhance communication on both sides, so that the u.s. can proceed unimpeded as it looks to snuff out isis. host: frank is calling on the republican line from ohio. caller: thank you for my call. taking my call, i am sorry. we are the most powerful country in the world. republican, democrat, independent, we all should stand behind the president to matter what. there is always going to be times when we need more. we need to pray for the president. mike calling in from ohio was well on our independent line. there. how is andrew
doing today? how much money have we spent in afghanistan? i understand there is no record of how much money has been lost, there. have been turned into spearheads for corporate international fascism. they are guarding the opie and fields in afghanistan -- the opium fields in afghanistan and now we have this epidemic in our country. i think back to the iran contra e froml, trading cocain machine guns in south america. we have the savings alone scandal and -- saving some alone scandal.- solone can you explain this nonsense as far as i have commented on?
what i feel good commenting on is the expense of the afghanistan war. that is something i have covered closely for years. hasorganization has -- deployed reporters going back to the search a number of times. a financial toll is in the hundreds of billions of dollars -- the financial toll is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. you and others are asking has it all been worth it? what you are going to see on capitol hill is pretty intense and heated discussion about whether or not it makes sense to continue to invest so heavily in ,erms of military commitment deploying troops into harm's way and the sizable investment. right now in