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tv   Hearing on U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan  CSPAN  May 24, 2021 3:53am-6:02am EDT

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>> the senate armed services committee held a hearing on the us troop withdrawal from afghanistan . civilian and uniformed military officials testified. jack reed is chair of the committee . >> let me call the committee to order. the committee meets to examine the process of
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transitioning all the united states and coalition forces from afghanistan by mid-september . to understand the challenges our two witnesses, david healthy, acting assistant secretary of defense for indo pacific affairs and matthew g probably church, deputy director political military affairs for all the middle east from the g5. in general college or, let me congratulate you on your selection for promotion to major general . congratulations. i want to thank the witnesses for hearing today to give us a snapshot of what is happening at this time. however i want to know that i have repeatedly asked along with the ranking number four general scott miller, commander of nato's resolute mission to testify. this committee has not had an open hearing afghanistan with dod officials since 2017 and the last closed meeting was in december 2019. that is far too long to hear about mission that involves so many americans.
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understand general miller is now very distinct with the transition that is underway i will continue to press for his appearance at the appropriate time. last month president biden announced the withdrawal of all forces in afghanistan2021 . it must be noted none of the options available to the president were particularly powerful on. they could have left the force as agreed to by the previous administration were continued to press on with the united states longest war . here's the president concluded more troops might more time and more casualties but more time wasn't would not create a more effective afghanistangovernment . the president's decision to be seen as a transition not closure and should not be an our counterterrorism efforts. we must ensure afghanistan will not be a source of planning , plotting or projecting a terrorist attacks around the globe. including particularly against our homeland.
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despite great progress threats from al qaeda, isys and other terrorist groups still remain. the director of national intelligence stated in the 2021 annual assessment that isys and al qaeda leaning among and forwards the greatest terrorist threats to us interests overseas and that they seek to conduct attacks inside the united states although sustained us and allied counterterrorist pressure as broadly degraded their capabilities to do so. we must look to transition to a new counterterrorism architecture in the region to continue to degrade al qaeda, isys and other terrorist groups to grant their ability to attack the homeland. since, commander general mackenzie provided the committee some assurance that such a counterterrorism posture in the region was possible caution it would be reduced capability with longer ranges it would make more risk and require greater resources. i would be interested in hearing from the witnesses
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what progress has been made in instructing a follow along or over rising posture while the united states and coalition forces will physically transition from the country, international support for the afghan government including support to the afghan security forces will remain vital to security and stability there. ultimately the afghan government will find a way to govern in a way that earns the confidence of its people, especially beyond the limits of the cities by providing basic services to include security, education, healthcare and justice. it is broadly understood the afghan government will struggle to hold the town and they international support is withdrawn and it will be increasingly difficult for the international community to justify to continue to provide suchassistance without a functioning afghan government . the difficulty of providing such support to the afghan security forces is further compounded by the fact that the previous administration
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negotiated with the town and includes the departure of all security personnel, legislations andcontractors . when the united states transitions from the country the international presence that is the foundation of security systems is dramatically reduced if not entirely removed. we lightly understand what plans are in place to continue training to the afghan forces in light of these factors how will we balance that against the need to conduct the funding provided by theunited states and the international community . lastly we must do our part to aid those afghans who aided us. there are examples of how than plants to target those who have helped the united states. we must make sure we have the capacity to bring them to safety and that's why i joined my colleagues in signing the president aletter to president biden emphasizing our support for immigrants pieces . particularly faulty center shut he for leading this
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effort. it's an important effort and she is doing an extraordinary job. i asked the witnesses to share what perception the department sees as some such operations and if any additional power might be required for dod to assist other agencies waiting these efforts. i want to thank you both again for being here this morning i look forward to your testimony. before i turn it over to the ranking member i like to remind my colleague there will be an informal breathing which will include an appropriate dia representative following this session in sbc 217. moreover i would like to remind my colleagues and request their assistance. we will need to gather a quorum and the president's room at the noon to vote out the civilian nominations of michael michael mccourt and ronald mowbray. i asked everyone be helpful
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so no one has to wait too long and if you could assemble andbe prepared to do so i'd appreciate it very much . >> thank you mister chairman. first of all i have expressed myself several times about the full withdrawal of all troops september 11. the fact the president chose this date, 20th anniversary of the most horrific terrorist attacks in our nations history indicates this was a calendar base political decision. it was not based on conditions on the ground which is the strong bipartisan recommendation the congress has given toboth republicans and democrats over the last decade . it's just my interpretation and unnamed senior administration official told the washington post quote, the president has judged that
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a conditions-based approach is a recipe for staying in afghanistan forever. i'm troubled by that statement and it's been made over andover again . it pretends that there are only two options, unconditional us withdrawal and forever war. nobody wants to see the united states troops in afghanistan forever . we understand that. that's why i support the current option. maintaining a small troop presence until the conditions outlined in the february 2020 us, and agreements are fully implemented. there were questions to the witnesses so i know that agreement, the troops were supposed to be withdrawn as a man met us with our commitments and once progress was made in the intro, the
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bipartisan majority of the senate warned president from against doing this two years ago. president trump listened, president biden did not listen. the precipitous drawdown from afghanistan carries many risks. first there is the risk of severe chaos and violence and instability in afghanistan. as the taliban uses our withdrawal to escalate its attacks around the country and in kabul. as we saw after president obama's withdrawal from iraq in 2011 terrorist will exploit this instability 2 and a half years after the us troops (, isys captured mosul . and secondly, the complete withdrawal of us troops will make it much harder and more expensive to effectively support our afghan purity partners. over the horizon the
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counterterrorism does not work, generalmackenzie and , commander testified both that rages will be greater in the resources will begreater , the risks will be all be greater. third, the us drawdown puts at risk thousands of afghan and i think a lot of people realize this, this article that is written in the usa today very clear and it's kind of scary and we will be talking about that in the questions i have to ask. thank both of you for your testimony and i look forward to working with you in this endeavor . >> thank you senator and mister elway, >> good morning chairman read . renting number in half and members of this committee. thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on the list all of the running us
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forces fromafghanistan . i appreciate your this committee's continuedinterest in this matter . following a rigorous review as you know, the president determined that forward to american interests is by ending us military involvement in the war in afghanistan. accordingly, and directed by the president on april 14 the department of defense began a safe orderly and were needed withdrawal of us forces on may 1. i plan on us forces out of the country byseptember . this is the amount of time that we determine will be necessary to bring our forces was coalition partners home safely and to retrograde or dispose of equipment and other properties. as part of the interagency review of us policy in afghanistan the administration assessed the threat from violent extremist organizations against the united states now emanating from afghanistan and the address without a persistent us very residence in that
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country. at the same time, we will work closely with the afghan national defense and security forces for the nds allies and partners to maintain counterterrorism capabilities in the region sufficient to ensure afghanistan did not see for terrorists. threaten our security. in this context, and in coordination with our afghan international workers are working to reposition terry a limiting assets in the region to prevent reemergence of a terrorist to the us homeland from afghanistan and to hold it, to its commitments to ensure al qaeda does not once again gain a foothold there isys or any other terrorist group could use afghanistan as a base us or our allies. and will refine our counterterrorism strategy to monitor and disrupt terrorist threats to our homeland and our interest in a way that corresponds to the dispersed landscape weface today .
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mister chairman i like to thank congress this committee specifically for the continued support forthe afghan security forces funder . this is a mechanism through which the united states provides the majority of funding necessary to sustain the a and the sf , operations. while developing a and the sf into an effective and independent force capable of securing afghanistan protecting the afghan people and contributing to regional security . the secretary also has said will continue funding key capabilities such as the affect air force special mission way . and he paidsalaries for afghan . forces and continue delivering military supplies. where developing a mechanism to provide appropriate oversight for the use of these funds which will continue to be executed to dod contracts and we discuss with your staff this efficiency and accountability . although we are withdrawing us troops from afghanistan were standing squarely with our afghan partners and
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resulting our diplomatic efforts to achieve lasting peace . afghan forces are performing heroically against a relentless adversary. the afghan army takes the lost daily remain in the fight they are institution with the afghan people can be proud. mister chairman the department strongly supports the ongoing diplomatic efforts to achieve the negotiated political silence in afghanistan, on the afghan people endorse. we will continue working with our colleagues at the state department to ensure we care afghan to help us in the past few decades most notably afghan employees. we will continue providing support to the department of state to maintain the important diplomatic mission that will continue after the department of defense's departure . in closing i want to thank members of thiscommittee for your continued support for all those who have served . i thank youfor this opportunity to review and i look forward to your questions . >>. i believe general collins and
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i have a statement. >> that's correct, i do not. >> before i begin my questions let me remind my colleagues that because of the hybrid nature of this we will not be using the early rule, we will be going by seniority. also we will have find rounds and would ask everyone to use your microphone ifthey're not speaking . you very much. general hollinger, one of the critical aspects is maintaining that over the horizon capability to disrupt counterterrorism , and general mackenzie described it as feasible, but more demanding in terms of resources and other issues. has there been any change in general mackenzie's assessment? s.
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>> i believe general mackenzie statement is still very much accurate. the geography is the same. we are working to develop the options to be able to provide the type of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance and other necessary elements to maintain an appropriate cd or counterterrorismcapability . those about planning and discussions are ongoing on how to do that . in the interim, i would note we do have significant capabilities that are residence in the persian gulf region in theeast . that obviously creates time and distance between their and any type of operation that we may need to undertake . and we're looking at options could be closer in within the region in those conversations and the plan for that is ongoing class general, any comments on the steps that have been taken most recently to mitigate therisk that general mackenzie spoke of ?
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>> mister chairman, i would only offer that as we approach this particular problem, there's a sense of urgency and earnest planning efforts ongoing so that we can maintain a seamless transition from that capability that resides in afghanistan but would be required to be elsewhere so that plan continues in earnest. >> with these activities be undertaken with ourcoalition partners ? are they fully integrated into the planning and execution and also with regional countries? >> we are in some discussions with certain coalition partners with respect to future ct architecture. and obviously if we have any new arrangements made for access pacing and overflight that would be taken in
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consultation with local partners . these are the types of negotiations that are underway now that we are supporting. ourstate department and intelligence colleagues are also playing a role in that . >> one of the specific articles in the agreement that the trump administration signed was the removal of all contractors and yet you indicated in your statement that we will be using contractors to pay, distribute and overview the distribution of resources? how do we reconcile it appears the complete withdrawal of contractors with contractors? >> mister chairman, i indicated there was a dod contract which may not necessarily involve dod contractors on the groundin afghanistan . so we are looking at ways we can provide the type of
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oversight for our security forces assistance from an over the rising posture and we're looking at options that we can continue doing internally. the key things that were focused on our things like a afghan salaries. a vast majority of the servicemembers that are paid have electronic bank accounts for example and so there are ways we can provide to the afghan ministry of finance without necessarily having somebody there but wedo , we are looking at provide the right type of oversight mechanisms so that we had confidence that the resources that we are providing are going to its intended recipient we want to make sure working closely congress to ensurethat congress is comfortablewith those mechanisms . >> general , one of my impressions is that they came contractors arethose mechanics that serve as their aircraft , those specialty
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trained individuals in the afghan after 20 years to our chagrin, we have not created those types of individuals, how can they effectively maintain aircraft and others sophisticated pieces of equipment. >> mister chairman, we continue to work with them and looking at the potential ways, or ways that we can get after continuing to support them to work on their aircraft in country and then looking at options whereby we can facilitate more extensive work on those airframes elsewhere area. >> final question, general hollinger. we missed a lot of signals in 2014 about the status of the iraqi army and suddenly they collapse for mosul and it was a rush to safety on their part, not tocontact the enemy .
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how can we avoid that same situation on the ground in afghanistan, at least knowing the strength and the fighting capabilities of the force on the ground. >> mister chairman as we execute retrograde, were going to continue to maintain contact with our own dss partners, do what we can from elsewhere from outside the country and maintain good situational awareness of their current capabilities and any areas where we, they may be challenged we may be able to help them. >> and you very much. >> thank you mister chairman. i know i sound like a broken record but i've only had to consistent concerns with the action inafghanistan . and i want to ask you each one a specific question about each of these things. one of course being what was supposed to have been done before we would have
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withdrawal and the other having to do with a concern for our coalition forces and their safety. and on the first one, i think you all are very familiar with the document of february 29, 2020 that was the us, an agreement established a conditions-based approach drawing down troops in afghanistan. according to this agreement, the taliban was supposed to take certain steps against terrorist groups and participate in intra-afghan dialogue. what i like to ask each one of you to briefly respond to in your assessment, what areas as this agreement come to orwhat's behind us now ? what successes have we had and which conditions have been met and which ones have not been met from the
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agreements in february 29, 2020 and we will start with you mister secretary. >> thank you for that question. i would say right up front that thailand's compliance with the agreement has been uneven over time. i think in terms of areas that we have seen a follow-through or success, they did comply with their agreement not to conduct attacks against the us or coalition forces prior to signing the agreement and that has largely held with some minorexceptions . in terms of the attacks against us and coalition forces, they complied with that. as i said publicly previously however, their violence against the afghan forces and afghan people remain high through this period.
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with respect to the entering into inter-afghan negotiations, they did dothat . last september they began discussions with the afghan government on future peace arrangements. those discussions have not been fruitful. but they did begin period trend points you. >> you generally agree with thecomments given by the secretary ? >> senator, i do agree and would just offer that as mister lv mentioned since that agreement was signed the caliban is not targeted the us or coalition forces. >> i think that's kind of a mixed answer. i understand and appreciate it but i don't think we've met the conditions that we talked about in specific to the administration. the secondary i've been concerned about or have long
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read about came from a number of articles and awareness that's out there that we see one of them was that i actually had talked about was found in the usa today. may 10. in this game they talk about what's going to happen? with our allies, people who stood by us and if we withdraw in a manner that they're talking about . it says things in the article where you will see the dead bodies in every street. and where he said he's already being tracked by the caliban area they will slaughter us. there's been such a backlog and it goes on and on and i do want to ask at this point in the record mister chairman could this be a part of the record . >> so i'd like to know from each one of you, what has
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happened, what are we doing now to try to assuming that these problemsare very real and i don't think anyone's going to deny that they are , that we can help our allies for the great job they have done for us and i'd like to have each of you respond. let's startwith you on this one general . what can we do to minimize that event? >> senator, we continue to coordinate closely with our coalition partners. we went into this together with we've adjusted over the years together and we are coming out together and we continue to work together to do our best to support the amd sf and the government of afghanistan. >> you say we're coming out together. >> that's correct. >> to me that makes that even worse. what do you think.
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>> thank you for that question and i agree. we have a moral obligation to help those that have helped us over the past 20 years of our presence in afghanistan. we are working closely with our state department and interagency colleagues to look at programs like the special visa program. however as you know program in and of itself is limited. we like to be able to work with congress to be able to increase the quotas and the resources for special immigrant visas, but there are certain categories of our partners that wouldn't meet the threshold for special immigrant visas so we need to look at other tools and mechanisms to help those that have helped us. whether that's significant public benefit or even attorney parole and other types of mechanisms we can use to facilitate this and we are working within the interagency to be able to identify those and get the proper resources attached. with respect to special immigrant visas we are
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working with state department to provide data that can provide the identities of those employees of the department of defense that will qualify . we're looking at biometric data which can provide information and insight on who may qualify for that type of -- >> my time is expired but i do get a lot of comfort those kinds of answers . thank youmister chairman . >> inhofe, senator mosul. >> i want to share the germans with the fact that we have not been able to hear from our general in afghanistan. it's difficult this committee to conduct its oversight responsibilities when we can't get theappropriate people in front of us . i hope you will take that back to the department and share that with them.
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general, there have been multiple reports over the last months since the february 2020 agreement that the caliban have not broken their ties with al qaeda. that al qaeda continues to operate with the caliban and isis is also operating in afghanistan. is that your understandingand is that the understanding of our military people on the ground ? >> senator, it's clear that the caliban compliance with the agreement has been uneven . but i would prefer to go into detail on that in our closed session. >> i appreciate that but people are going to know very soon once we pull out weather al qaeda and isis continue to operate in afghanistan. i appreciated your support for those afghans who have helped us during our 20 years in afghanistan.
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but i think we've got to be clearer about what we're doing to address that. currently there are estimated 18,000 afghan as ivy applicants currently in process . these applicants and their families as we know are in danger from the caliban. many of the delays in the fid program them from the difficulties that those applicants have in obtaining employment verification letters from former and often defunctemployers . and considering that many of those applicants have served in support of the military and directly with the department of defense , do we have a centralized database that could be used to verify the employment of those as ivy applicants ? >> is my understanding we are drawing from a centralized database to collect and provide biometric data to facilitate that identification. i don't have the scope for
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how long that biometric data has been collected so i think there are some gaps in that but since we began the collection in maintenance of that biometric data we've been able to use that. there are afghan individuals that have supported us prior to the collection of that biometric data we are looking ways to pull other resources of data to provide that type of information to the state department. >> can you share with me and with this committee is ethically what we're doing with that data? >> if i can provide that in writing just to provide -- >> i'd appreciate that. >> and in fiscal year 2014 required the secretary of defense designate a single senior coordinated official and i'm quoting with sufficient expertise, authority and resources to carry out the duties with regard to the issuance of sigs . as the official developing proposal to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. can you tell me if we have someone designated to do that , who that person is and if
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not we going toappoint someone to do that ? >> i will have to get back to you senator. i think the state department in the lead for this program and so let me find out who that, if there is such a special coordinator performing that function. >> i can tell you i don't believe there is so i would urge the department to take a look at . finally let me just ask you in the time that i have left about the status of women and girls in afghanistan. we know on may 8 there was a bus bombing that killed more than any 80 people. they were school girls. we've seen the violence against women in the media and women working in afghanistan over the last month and based on what we understand from the caliban we expect that to continue once the united states pulls out . so can you any steps that we
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are taking to try and support the women and girls in afghanistan and particularly in the context of the women piece insecurity act in 2017 which requires the department to incorporate gender lens decision-making into his policies and actions. are we doing anything to involve women as we're looking at what happens after we leave? >> senator, with respect to what we're doing today are using some of the funding within the afghan security forces funder to encourage and build in afghan women in particular into the afghan national defense and security forces so that is something we are doing. with respect to -- >> we've been doing that for some time now. >> that is something we have been doing in compliance with the law. in terms of where we need to go , i agree with you on hundred percent. we want to be able to maintain and see the game
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games that we've made over the past 20 years as her area this is something we are working with our state department , usaid colleagues and our coalition partnerswho are equally interested in this . i think mentally this is going to have to be something that the afghan government and caliban if they're able to sit and determine the arrangements with future afghanistan's to figure out how to get to that peaceful outcome. and to be able to preserve these gains for all afghans. and i think as with respect to what the caliban does in the future, is something that ambassador kalil and i talked about. at some point if they are in a position where they are exercising power, influence in afghanistan they're going to need to have international support and that does provide a degree of leverage the international community would have on the taliban in regards how it treats people and reporters.
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>> i appreciate that but we had a lot more leverage we had made that point to the townand when we were negotiating a peace agreement before we signed it . >> let me recognize five webex senator rounds. senator, we can't hear you. we still cannot hear you. >> staff, you have to turn up your volume in the committee room . >> you've got now? >> we can hear you now. >> thank you.
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thank you senator jell-o brand. let me begin by saying thank you very much your time in front of the committee. i don't think this is necessarily the type of a meeting you relished to come before the united states. i want to begin by acknowledging that there is no perfect answer to what should be done next in afghanistan. we been projected for almost 20 years. at least 2448 service members and dod have died. an additional 20,722 as members and dod have been wounded in action according to the current dodwebsite . the human cost has been won by our nato allies, afghan and national security forces and afghan people. we can never forget the 2900 and 97 people who were killed in 9/11. my question is this.
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is there a middle ground where we can continue or where we could continue to support the government of afghanistan. we recognize the lives or fight and hundreds of billions of dollars our citizens have invested in this and ever. one that provides the resources to afghanistan to prevent a return to being a haven for terrorists or the creation of a power vacuum which would benefit china, russia and our enemies. where the afghan government develops the unique capability that only we currently can provide area edelman . >> thank you for that question and if i may, that is the path that we are seeking to embark upon. while we are retrograde in the forces outof afghanistan , we are, we want to make sure the president has been clear you want to continue
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providing support and assistance to our afghan partners so to the extent that we can, we're looking at ways to continue providing the critical support to the amd sf. in terms of continued paying their salaries, continued providing assistance for contracted logistics and maintenance and providing support for the afghan air forces and special mission wing. >> let me just ask this. areyou talking about providing that until we are out of the country or providing that over an extended period of time ? >> we're talking about providing that after weleave . the challenge we face today is making sure we got the right type of oversight mechanisms that were working but the intent would be that we would maintain that support provided we continue to get the support from congress . we would maintain those resources and that assistance to the afghan government.
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>> i think you're answering my question but i do want to ask rather than asking you the same question or expecting you to respond, this will be a policy decision the administration will be making. i want to ask you this. would the us withdraw us forces by september? i want to question the ability of the afghan security forces to stand their ground against the caliban and our ability to conduct over the horizon counterterrorism operations. we touched on that a little bit but i want to ask it this way. in your professional military judgment, can we successfully and continually combat threats posed by the caliban, al qaeda and other violent extremist organizations via over the horizon up? >> i absolutely believe we can have the capabilities
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where fire. the monitor potential adversary, when condition. >> do we have a will to do that, is that the plan. >> plan right now would be to make a seamless transition from what we have afghanistan to other locations that would be able to meet our over arching objective of ensuring that have become a safe haven for terrorists the us answers, mister chairman. >> us and nato's departure,
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human rights groups on government organization tools andbusiness are trying to figure out and see black or female employees, for female students . should caliban return to power by force or through an agreement with the afghan government. considering the caliban is restricting the human rights of women in the territories they control, the us doing to ensure resulting in a deal that, only after this with. >> senator, to support the continued use of going retrograde that we continue to work on negotiation with
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chiro is such that women's rights, girls rights. >> over the last decade the united states has been more than hundred 80 to promote women's rights and gender equality inafghanistan the efforts result . what kind and amount of funding in thefuture . the implement in the security fall. women pointed by the united states actors keep factors to advance these and participation of the public sphere. what do. >> question that we have spent resources to rights of women and girls my would be
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requested or fired. but with respect to in response to the previous can have specific requirements for promoting women in the afghan security forces and our feet. we also continue working the partners in providing the type of diplomatic support and pressure on the taliban fundamentally the best way to the, girls and ladies have to negotiate to for part of years the caliban strength
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that i will ask the us embassy in kabul. the situation in afghanistan after the withdrawal affect the ability to control diplomatic and other operations? >> i think our diplomatic facilities in kabul remain secure. planning is ongoing currently to insure that remains the case as we continue our retrograde and any diplomatic security programs that remain , we want your have the appropriate security force to protect our diplomats. >> please know you requested to answer senator shaheen is a question in closed session
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but can you give us your general assessment like afghanistan pulling into town control and the central government only control of kabul and what effect on afghan people in our ability to fight terrorists. perhaps with a piece of power-sharing between the prevent a caliban take over. >> i will acknowledge the range of potential outcomes in the set forward. everything from calendar and seven the ability to govern and everything in between that i will say that the andsf is a capable force. they have capable ground, air
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forces and hear very recently that effectively both defendedagainst caliban attacks as well as on to disrupt caliban activities . >> you mister senator gillibrand, now let me senator ernst. >> 20 years ago our nation services deployed to deliver justice to the terrorists who carried out the deadly attacks on our homeland thousand islands have probably served in afghanistan, risking lives and i am hoping that i can sure the iowa families and the american people our homeland has been reduced and we have the measures in place to keep the day. so i know we have thought
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about any to project over the horizon. i understand that but mister healthy, what is your assessment of our adversaries ability to plan for conduct attacks from his in afghanistan after we have gone? let's talk about the reverse, what is their ability to plan, not ourability to respond what is their ability to plan attacks on us when we left ? >> their ability today is significantly degraded. in fact that degradation is due in large part to the presence that we had in that country . with respect to the specifics, i'd prefer to keep those specifics inthe closed session . i can say with confidence that the ability of international terrorist groups to plan, recruit, train, organize and execute tax in afghanistan has been significantly reduced.
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>> significantly reduced because we are there and we are enabling efforts on the part of the afghan national. >> our presence has had significant impact on that. i would add that the nation, the nature of the terrorist threat over the past 20 years has become much more diffuse. we know we've got field terrorist groupsoperating in the middle africa . it's not the nature of the threat has changed over the past 20 years but the threat emanating from afghanistan to the united states and our allies has been greatly degraded. >> please don't mistake me. i do believe at some point we have to bring this war toan end . absolutely we have to do that . however, not leaving a
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remnant or a small number of troops within afghanistan and intelligence officials in afghanistan, we are leaving a void and i do worry while the threats have been diminished and will reconstitute in afghanistan . so just worries there and i hope everything goes smoothly and that the impact to stability are minimal. i do also share the concerns raised by senator shaheen and gillibrand. we were to visit a number of training facilities where afghan women were being trained in various secretary and clerical positions but also as women warriors and very concerned about what will happen. what will happen to girls at
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the intended schools now working in businesses so i want to that. senator shaheen is writing a letter to our president for those special immigrant visas . it is something we are very concerned about. in the new iowa we have to an afghan interpreter in iowa and is request has been denied. just received a letter the other day can also work with the state just stress to them as we are stressing to them how important it is that as we are withdrawing we're also making sure we are protecting those who have enabled our forces in afghanistan. it is extremely important and it's not just the men that have served as interpreters but women and girls that have stepped up as well. i know this is a very important hearing and you can
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hear the level of frustration in all of our voices as we're going through this. i do believe that again we need to withdraw our forces. i think that's important but we need to do it in a smart and meaningful way and i sincerely hope that this is the right plan because if not, we will see a significant threat increase to our homeland, to our allies but most certainly to the people we are leaving behind. you mister chair. >> i'll recognize senator kane. >> thank you rankingmember and thank you to our public servants for their testimony . every concern expressed by everyone on this committee on this issue is legitimate . i don't think there's a completely clear answer but i want to say quickly as i have before i support president biden's decision with respect to the removal of us troops. we've been in afghanistan 20 years come this september.
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it took us 10 years to find and kill osama bin laden, the perpetrator and mastermind of the 9/11 attack and for 10 years we've done our best to build up and train an afghan security apparatus that was essentially nonexistent when we began the war in 2001 . the civil war in afghanistan had degraded the afghan military and national security forces and police to such a degree that we have to start from scratch. 20 years in, i think i'm right although i will certainly accept correction from the experts. the afghan army is now about 180,000. that's by my quick analysis. the afghan air force is 700,000 aircraft area the afghan national police is 116,000. all of these security components have been funded , built, carefully trained over
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these 2 decades by the united states and other allies. the taliban is estimated to be at about 55,000 to85,000 . so the combined afghan national security apparatus if i'm correct and this is over 300,000 and caliban a formidable friday force is 80,000. the commitment of these witnesses is that the united states will continue to provide massive support toour partner and ally afghanistan . the literary support including the payment of salaries of afghan security forces, diplomatic support and unitarian support, economic support but we will remove 3500 us troops. when president biden made his announcement in april at that point the official count of us troops in afghanistan was 2500. there were other recordings suggesting that possibly involved in special operations or additional missions, the total may have
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been3500 . is 3500 us troops the difference between success and failure in afghanistan after 20 years? i don't believe that it is. i don't leave the 3500 us troops because no one in this committee as far as i'm aware is proposing to increase the number of us troops. i don't leave 3500 us troops after 25 years is the difference between the success or failure in afghanistan when there is a national afghan security apparatus of 30,000 matched up against the taliban. what is the ingredient that will determine success or failure going forward? it's the afghan people. the afghan people who have experienced a significant increase in life expectancy and an increase in education of their young includingyoung women . a dramatic improvement in
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public health infrastructure and other elements of civil government. the afghan people will have to decide is it worth fighting for? and it can be worth moreto us than it is to them . that's kind of a painful thing to say. it's kind of a cold tough thing to say but success in afghanistan can't mean more to the united states that it means to the afghans and at the end of the day i believe it will be more to this than the afghans. the afghans having seen the benefits of improved quality of life will decide i want to keep that rather than to go backwards and experience what they were during the time when the taliban were engaged in a massive civil war but if the afghans choose at the end of the day that thatdoesn't matter , there's no amount of us troops. no amount of us troopsthat will make a difference .i think this is a painful decision and the comments of
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my colleagues who feel differently i completely get. every legitimate concern they have and it's a very legitimate to the. >> thank you 13 percent or greater . >> thank you to both of you for being here. a question that came up on some things i heard. committed to supporting should fall into all or and if so, what with that commitment include?
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>> thank you for that question. we've committed to continue the afghan government. we have a bilateral agreement with the afghan government to continue to seek funding to provide support to, to support the andsf through the mechanisms we specified in terms of advising and assisting, contractor logistics and assistance so we have committed to supporting our again and through this negotiation period, we have continued supporting our afghan partners as they've been fighting the caliban. >> obviously a cost-benefit analysis would include the cost of preventing all out civil war versus having to come back and try to clean it up.
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i can associate myself with every comment that's been made by my colleagues, even the ones that conflict . i think it was might have been in response to a question from the chairman but i'm going to maybe get more specific. i think you've mentioned about isr capabilities, what type of unmanned or spaceborne capabilities do we need to maintain or even an hands to minimize the possibility of global threats ? do you have a sense of that? >> with respect to afghanistan, i think the best way to characterize how we need to look at it is based on three concentric circles. >> ..
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back to provide the type of access and over site that would allow us to have the type of presence. then there is this broader, global framework where it includes, not only, national, technical news but also the types of capabilities that may not be resident within the region that we could flow into the region on an as-needed basis. i would also note that over the past 20 years we've had a lot of different changes in how we, as a government, and as a society had been combating international terrorist organizations. you can't get on a commercial aircraft or open a new bank account without understanding how we have changed in ways that help us to better understand and
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illuminate the type of terrorist threats that would seek to do us and our allies harm. i think all of these things have to be working in concert in order to be able to maintain the type of broader threat picture, if you will, or the types of terrorist threats that we may need to face smacked general, maybe you could answer the same question in more substance as it relates to the region. weather assets be unmanned or space. is there more we can be doing to shore up this new way of providing some security? >> senator, certainly the capability that we currently have and use to achieve our objectives, we want to continue to utilize and make the technological advances that we are able to to better enable us
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but in terms of specificity i can't offer you that right now. >> very good. thank you both. thank you, mr. chairman. [screaming] thank you. by web x let me recognize senator manchin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of you for your service and for being here today. i want to pre- congratulate. >> senator, we will have to raise your volume so if you could hold for a minute. we okay? >> can you hear me now? >> a little better. okay, i will talk louder. i want to thank everyone for their service and i want to congratulate general colander for his advancement in a very proud of that. first, let me say i support the afghanistan withdrawal and we have to shift our focus to power threats in the future of
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afghanistan impacts the rest of whether government can prevail by security their country in their constitution. between 209 and 2020 we increased and decreased strength at least five times and these shifts and end range from a few hundred two is much as 23000 personnel. additionally, weeks. the major and operational delays in 2012 with insider attacks and in 2013 with president temporarily suspending u.s. talks. more recently the taliban continues to refuse to negotiate efforts until all foreign forces are out of afghanistan. so, one question i would have two general trollinger, how we withdrawal from afghanistan impacts other combatant commands. >> senator, if i understand your question correctly it is as we
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withdrawal from afghanistan how will that impact other combatant commands and the only thing i can offer is that it is not in any way adversely impacting others. >> thank you. mr. helvey, one of my fears about our withdrawal from afghanistan is that we will become a power vacuum in a terrorist organizations train and operate from it with nearly no assets on the ground we are going to have to rely on regional partners to work with us to stay ahead and on top of efforts. are you confident in our regional partners and their capacity and commitment to driving terrorism out of the region? >> thank you, senator. we will have to work with our local and regional partners and we want to continue developing those capabilities and those partnerships to be able to ensure that we got the right type of confidence in the right type of framework to address our ct threats. that is one of the things that we as the department in concert with our interagency colleagues are doing today is to make sure
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that we've got the right type of arrangements, relationships and frameworks so that we can ensure that afghanistan becomes a safe haven. >> could you outline your assessment of pakistan, specifically the pakistani and intelligent service and the role used by him to plan our future? >> pakistan has played an important role in afghanistan. i may have supported the afghan peace process. pakistan, as you know, also has allowed us to have overflight and access to support our military presence in afghanistan. we will continue our conversations with pakistan because they are supporting their contribution to the future of afghanistan and a piece of afghanistan will be critical. >> general trollinger, the amount of assets we became related in afghanistan has to be significantly, specifically we have provided the afghan forces
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with blackhawk helicopters, a 29 super planes, armored vehicles, and control capacity and large generators. what assets are you planning to leave behind for the afghan forces, what assets will be withdrawn and what will be destroyed? >> senator, as we conduct the retrograde we will be transferring facilities and some vehicles and other equipment that the afghan national defense forces can utilize in their ongoing efforts to secure the country and we will be retrograde in that equipment that we are able to bring back to bases and stations in the continental united states as well as elsewhere and then we will be disposing of equipment that essentially is either obsolete or inoperable or,
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legally we are not able to transfer to afghanistan. >> what i would say is for the asset that you will lead with with the afghan people and what guarantees to the america people have tell a man won't get on in use it against them? >> senator, i don't think there are any guarantees again. i would acknowledge the range of possible outcomes over the coming months from the dire, certainly, to the positive so i couldn't offer any guarantees on that smacked thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman smacked thank you, senator manchin. let me know right and i senator blackburn. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary, yes or no, do you expect the tele- ban will take over afghanistan when we leave? >> senator,.
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>> yes or no. >> do not expect the tele- ban to take over afghanistan after we leave. >> so why does the ic's annual threat assessment say that caliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield and the afghan government will struggle to hold that caliban if the coalition withdraws support. >> senator, i don't believe there is any inconsistency. >> i would say there is an inconsistency. yes or no. have we seen a steady stream and violence out of the taliban over the last year? >> yes, senator. >> yes, it has risen 169%. they are getting really aggressive but yes or no, have a taliban previously mistreated a propensity for human rights abuses, cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing efforts? >> historically, yes. >> yes, they have and we have thousands of undocumented cases
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and we know that the u.s. still needs a presence in afghanistan to resist iran's malign interest in their plots and if we thought failed to recognize the opportunity afghanistan presents to put the india sites as rogue regimes and revision powers we are kidding ourselves. general trollinger, yes or no for you, do you agree with the ics annual threat assessment that and i am quoting, iran will hedge its bets in afghanistan threatening instability and worried about a long-term u.s. presence in afghanistan and, as a result, building with the government interval and taliban so it can take advantage of any political outcome, yes or no? do you agree? >> i would agree. >> okay, thank you. to you again, general trollinger, yes or no peer has iran provided support to a taliban at this point in time? >> not to my knowledge.
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>> not to your knowledge, okay. as a middle east subject matter experts of the joint staff do you assess that iran is intent on taking advantage of a u.s. withdrawal in afghanistan and what does that look like? >> i would assess that they would be opportunist and looking for every opportunity to gain a advantage, decisive advantage, slight advantage and any opportunity they might perceive that they have, they would look to take advantage of that. >> to believe iran is prepared both politically and militarily to compete on two fronts? >> i can't answer that question. >> could you answer that in closed session? >> i could talk to you more about that enclosed lesson. >> excellent. within 48 hours of the announced afghanistan withdrawal "the washington post" wrote and i'm
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quoting, beijing should use as leverage with pakistan to keep the taliban true to the februard encouraging a cease-fire among fighting police in afghanistan. china has some incentive to do this less afghanistan become a source of instability, particularly within. secretary helvey, to assess iran will inject themselves into the affairs of a post- u.s. occupied afghanistan and what form do you see that taking? >> senator, do agree that i think china will become more involved and they are involved in afghanistan is be back to you think beijing looks at afghanistan as an investment opportunity? >> yes, senator they are primarily looking at it for economic purposes but also they do have concerns about counterterrorism and extreme his thoughts. >> rare earth minerals?
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>> that would fall within that opportunity. >> thank you. knowing what you know about china's belt and wrote initiative specifically their overland route, are they predicated on the access to central asia? >> a significant part of one belt, one row does transit through central asia and pakistan. >> from an exclusively geographic standpoint, if china has unfettered access to afghanistan, knowing that they share that border, would there be anything standing between them and their land-based bri route? >> i would have to look into that a little bit more in detail. i'm aware of the investments through central asia and pakistan and there is also maritime routes to iran as well but that, i would submit that is not the objective.
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>> i would appreciate getting that in writing because i think if we give them that unfettered access the ability to build that route. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator blackburn. i would like to recognize senator king. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think my first question, mr. halsey, is the trump administration entered into an agreement in february 2020 that all u.s. troops would be out of afghanistan by may 1 of 2021. the taliban has indicated that if did not occur they would begin attacking the u.s. troops which they have not done during the time leading up to that. my specific question is have there been attacks on u.s. troops subsequent to may 1 or has the taliban tacitly accepted the fact that the timetable has been extended to september.
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>> senator, there have been no taliban attacks against u.s. oh correlation forces since may 1. i can't speak to what the tele- man is thinking or what if there has been a tacit internal acceptance of that there have been no attacks between u.s. and coalition forces. >> but the taliban has grained ground and the last several months, have they not? >> senator, yes the taliban has gained some ground in afghanistan and it continued, you know, positioning themselves within afghanistan. >> a question for both of you. this is the definition of a difficult decision. were we to decide it's an vital national interest to preserve the existing civil government and to protect women, women's
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rights and otherwise stifle the power of the taliban and what would it take in terms of a commitment by this country, in terms of troops, money, airpower and are we back to 100 thousand troops and a surge such has occurred some years ago, general, your thoughts. what would it take? >> senator, i can't answer that question specifically. i won't presuppose a decision or a possible outcome and can't speak to what it might take. >> but if the president said to you i want to stabilize and get afghanistan back to her it was five years ago, your military advice would be we would need a lot more troops, mr. president, and isr, airpower and greater investment, isn't that true?
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you will not do it with 2500, 4000 troops, isn't that correct? >> i would guess that if that guidance and direction was given and the objectives were changed then yes, we would love to have sniffing any more capability. >> for an indefinite time that is what is very difficult about this. we been there 20 years and here we are with somewhat same situation that we were in when we entered the country. not only is it a question of investment but a question of persistent investment over, as i say, and indefinite. wouldn't you agree? you probably don't want to but i'm asking you. >> again, i think, if, i don't want to presuppose and certainly in alcon or direction that we are given in terms of a be our objective changing, what it is
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we need to do based on a potential outcome. >> mr. halsey, we've invested a huge amount in afghanistan in terms of dollars, lives, tens of thousands of people wounded and yet here we are on the brink of it is debatable and we will know in a year or so the taliban retaking the country and we are right back where we are in 2001. my question is -- why couldn't the afghan government succeed, given the level of support that they have had? they have had airpower and they fed isr and they have had economic support and they have read in for structure support and yet, we see this terrorist group taking over in rural areas and approaching kabul.
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is this something in the nature of the afghan polity that central government is going to succeed or is it the people in this government, why are we where we are given the level of investment we have made? >> senator, that's a complicated question. in part, i think you've hit on a number of points and i think, the central government in afghanistan has not been strong. it is been over a course of afghans history and it has not been pronounced by strong, central government. in fact, is largely been week and distributed. we have seen and what we have tried to promote is a greater, you know, central government bringing all afghans to the table and being part of a
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governing system that can ensure security for the country in economic development that has been difficult and that is not yet complete. i think in terms of why we were there, senator, i think it is important that we were there because of the attacks against this country. >> there was a counterterrorism mission. >> yes, that's why we were authorized forces to go there. >> and then it succeeded for 20 years. >> it has largely succeeded but we brought the perpetrators of the 911 attacks, you no, to justice and we have cynically reduced the threat of international terrorist from afghanistan and the president's decision reflects his determination that american interests can best be served by completing and ending the u.s. military involvement in
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afghanistan and that doesn't mean that the u.s. involvement in afghanistan concludes. we will continue to work with the afghan government and we will continue to maintain a double medic presence and we will continue providing support to our afghan partners because we do have interests still in afghanistan but the president's determination is our interest can best be served without military presence in that country. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator king. let me recognize senator turberville. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here today. today 41% of our veterans serve in our wars in iraq and afghanistan and it's our largest groups of veterans ever, 7.8 million and we've they have paid the ultimate price and as a nation in discussion on withdrawal needs to better the sacrifices and mine are afghan veterans will be listening closely today and where would
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our nearest base. >> guest: afghanistan after we pull out? where were our nearest base be after we pull out of afghanistan? >> after we pull out of afghanistan our nearest base will be in the arabian gulf region. >> thank you. in your experiences has the u.s. been successful in the counterterrorism efforts in the past? i went through vietnam and i was 18 years old and they stop the draft and i did not go and i had a lot of buddies that went and some did not come back but one of my worst memories is that helicopter over our emissary when we left out and we left behind millions of people that supported us and a lot of them were slaughtered. i hope to heck we did not do that here but sooner or later we will have to understand why we get into these wars. we get into when them in our american people deserve to know that we are spending trillions
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of dollars. secretary, the u.s. embassy in afghanistan is already known is a veritable military bunker. do you believe that we will maintain that? >> senator, yes. we are working today with our state department u.s. embassy, kabul, joint staff, central command, counterparts to determine what specifically the requirements would be to maintain that embassy and how to resource that. it is also something or undertaking in concert with our coalition partners as well. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator turberville. i will not recognize senator peters please. >> thank you, mr. chairman for gentlemen, thank you for being here today and thank you for your testimony and thank you for your service. i will start with statement because i know he been asked this question many times here this morning regarding special
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immigrant visa program and i just wanted to add my two cents worth of i appreciate your willingness as you have committed to working on that and clearly folks who have been helping us over many years and serves this country and to make sure that they are taking care of in a way that doesn't bring harm to themselves or their family so i appreciate your commitment that you made here and i hope that that will, indeed, occur. my question to you first, mr. helvey, the absence of taliban attacks on u.s. and nato personnel is since may 1 indicates a capacity it appears to adhere to an agreement that were made with us but the peace process is ultimately between the taliban and the afghan government. the question to you is how do we remain optimistic when over 400 pro-government forces and afghan civilians were killed just in the first two weeks of may?
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>> senator, i would not say i'm optimistic. i would say that work still remains to be done and the best future for afghanistan will arrive through a negotiated peace settlement and that is something that we, as a department, and as a government are continuing and committed to supporting. this is critically important work but fundamentally the best path to a safe, secure and more prosperous future in of guinness and will be people themselves sitting down and determining their future. >> indeed, a challenge. general, the joint doctrine of stability lists for fundamentals of stabilization which i am sure you're very familiar with. unity of effort, conflict transformation and host nation ownership and capacity.
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by the measure of the joint doctrine verse stability is afghanistan clearly stable and if not, how would that relate to the four fundamentals of stabilization? >> senator, i think afghanistan is clearly very challenged right now in those different areas given that the pressure that the taliban are exerting in different areas of the country and the challenges that the government and afghanistan has faced with their efforts to get after a negotiating peace settlement. >> mr. helvey, in addition to funding capabilities and pain salary the department of defense continues institutional capacity building such as the military
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and advisor program going forward? >> senator, i think those capabilities or those programs will have to be adjusted. i think the principle vehicles that we will be looking at to support is the salaries, support for the afghan air force and special mission wing and in the logistics and supplies. now, how we do that type of training and mentoring can be adjusted. we are looking at different mechanisms and ways to be able to do that. some of that can be done over [inaudible] and we would also look to maintain some type of security cooperation, you know, presence which is typical and traditional through an embassy that will allow us to maintain those connections at the ministry level. >> very good. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses for
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being here and your services and mr. helvey, let me serve with you. could you give me your assessment of whether our withdrawal and afghanistan will allow the department to focus more resources and attention on our theater and the end of pacific and china in particular. >> i think the intent would be that yes, as we withdrawal our forces and reduce our commitment in afghanistan while maintaining the ability to monitor afghanistan for counterterrorism threats that resources that we would be able to, you know, proof would distribute to our other areas, including in the pacific where we face the challenge. >> i assume just on that point when you talk about distribute resources elsewhere i assume pay, and the china challenge, in particular, would be at the top of the list in terms of receiving any resources that were freed up. is that fair to say? >> senator, i cannot speak to the secretary's decision on that but we spoken about looking to
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redistributing resources to our challenge. >> very good. general mckenzie said last month mr. helvey that he's concerned about the ability of the afghan military to hold on after we leave and that is a quote from him. knowing that if the afghan military collapses the afghan government probably would to so with that in mind is that apartment currently developing plans for achieving our counterterrorism objectives into the afghan government collapse? >> senator, yes we are. we are looking at developing mechanisms or implants for doing over the horizon counterterrorism capabilities but also we are looking at ways of providing continued support and assistance for our afghan partners, even after we conclude our [inaudible] >> let me ask about some of those partners. are they considering reconstituting the northern alliance or finding other ways to work with local partners in afghanistan to achieve our objectives? >> senator, our principal focus is working with the government in kabul and how we would do that and those plans are still
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being developed and i would be happy to talk in more detail in a closed session. >> fair enough. he said last week that the same funding for the afghan severity forces is going to be critical for achieving our ct objectives in afghanistan. let me just ask you, given, i would say the notable lack of success we've had thus far with the afghan secured he forces in terms of standing them up, achieving the high level of for 60 and output, under what conditions are we willing to say or would you say that the afghan scaredy forces are no longer effective with u.s. funding for them ought to be reduced or eliminated? >> senator, i would say we have had some tremendous success in working with the afghan forces, the afghan air force and special mission in particular. afghan special forces have been very close partners for us through our ct missions. to your point though, there will be a time and this has to be how
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we look at what criteria would be four, you know, adjusting our security forces assistant planning and that is part of the work we're doing today in concert with the united states central command joint staff and our presence in kabul. we need to look at what the different, you know, criteria would be or indicators would be to adjust how we provide that type of assistance and to whom. >> has the department developed criteria then for adjusting or terminating the forces on the afghan severity forces front? >> no decisions have been made yet but we are looking at in doing prudent planning right now to look at how we would provide that and how we may look to change it in terms of as the security conditions change's connect decisions have been made but you have developed criteria for assessing our continued support and what we might do going forward in terms of continuing work terminating the
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funds, is that right? >> i think that work is still being developed and i understand from general mckenzie as he intends to provide a lot of recommendations to the secretary by the end of this month so i would like to let the process, you know, continue. >> i'm asking because we spend to the tune of $4 billion a year on this objective and that is not in the insignificant chunk of change but in fact, about what we spend each year on the initiative and if i am not mistaken has the apartment done an analysis of whether we can achieve counterterrorism objectives in afghanistan and if the afghan scaredy forces are no longer viable and if they collapse. >> in the absence of a capable and willing partner our ability to do our ct objectives in afghanistan becomes a cynic and the harder and as the general indicated you know, based on historic precedent we have been able to conduct counterterrorism operations exclusively from over the rise during however, having,
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as i said, a willing and capable partner in afghanistan is a critical piece of our ct capability and if that goes away it becomes much harder and greater risk and will be more costly. >> last question, the partner may be the scaredy forces or may be the northern alliance or other allies and partners and it doesn't have to be a security forces, is that right? >> history would indicate it doesn't have to be this great forces. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator hawley. senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service and your testimony here today. mr. helvey, in your answer to the ranking member questions concerning the special immigrant visa program you may mention of the need for legislative changes and i think we are very unified
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on this committee and our resolve that we provide this access to people who have put their lives and their families seriously at risk and i am wondering what legislative changes you have in mind that you would recommend we do and would you be willing to provide this with a specific proposal for those changes that you envision? >> senator, it is my understanding that the national defense authorization act has historically been the vehicle through which we have received additional quotas or increased numbers for those that could participate in the special immigrant visa program. >> that's right. they have numbers but i understood your answer to be including also proposals for
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reforming perhaps the criteria and the procedure or other aspects. >> my statement, senator, was speaking specifically to the numbers and the resources that are necessary to be able to execute the special immigrant visa program spivak so, you would recommend more resources? >> yes, senator. there's a resource requirement. >> let me ask both of you. i know there's been a lot of talk so far this morning about kinetic efforts, antiterrorist efforts after our withdrawal in afghanistan. how want to focus on the non- kinetic efforts such as limitations on international travel, fundraising, financing transfers and what can be done to mobilize both our resources and multilateral organizations efforts?
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>> well senator, as i indicated we have learned a lot over the past, you know, 20 years in terms of how to go after and defeat international terrorist groups. there is work or things that we have done, you know, domestically and there are things that we are already doing internationally with our partners. i think to the extent that we continue to identify, you know, ways and those tools that we can use unilaterally or in concert with allies and partners to better illuminate terrorist threat networks and then prosecute them, i think that is necessary and important. whether it is things like, you know, financial action task force work to go after terrorist funding and fundraising or trying to harmonize our work for, you know, air travel or these types of ways to be able to, you know, close a
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vulnerability that we may have in identifying potential terrorist and preventing them from being able to travel, fundraiser, recruit, train, plan, execute plans against us. >> how well are our allies doing in cooperating with us and trying to stop the transfer of money and financing? >> yeah, senator i think the department of treasury would be best positioned to answer those types of questions. they are the lead in the terrorist financing. >> in what areas are you the lead? >> sir, i advised the secretary of defense on matters of defense policy and strategy. and so, with respect to our defense policy, strategy, our operations, resources that we have in supporting our afghan defense and scrapers partners cooperation with allies and partners in counterterrorism policy that is where my --
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>> patella banner part of the earn $200 million or more from drugs, illegal amber, pistachios, tax imposed on taxes imposed on the local population. and there are revenue streams from funding sources and all of it going to support military operations. a satisfied are you that we are using every tool that we have to combat that funding? >> senator, i think, you know, i think you've highlighted, you know, one of the key challenges in afghanistan has been trying to reduce patella bands access to resources and part of the south asia strategy was, you know, focused on looking at better ways of going after, in
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particular, the drug network within afghanistan to be able to prevent the taliban and from gaining access to those resources and this has been a very difficult problem that has persisted over the past 20 years and i think there is more work that can be done and that will be much more difficult, obviously, if we are not there so we will be reliant on working with the afghan government to address that and to be able to maintain the law enforcement and the counter narcotics work within their own country. >> thank you. think it was determined. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. let me know recognize by webex senator warren. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you mr. helvey and general and one for being here. the u.s. first sent troops to afghanistan to root out al qaeda and the taliban hosts and prevent them from using afghanistan as a haven to launch another 911 type attack.
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that was 20 years ago and we a compass that limited objective rather quickly. within our military took her more and more response billy from building an entire afghan national army from scratch to stemming the drug trade and to fighting afghan government corruption. general trollinger, we have been training the afghan security forces for more than a decade now and then providing the best equipment, hands-on training and enabling their operations with american air power. so, at the tell and the associated militant groups have access to that level of assistance? >> senator, i don't believe, if i understand your question correctly that they have not, to my knowledge, had any access to that sort of -- >> right. okay. so here we are that we have
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given all this assistance to the afghan army, the taliban has not had that kind of help and yet the tele- fan prevented us from achieving anything close to the security conditions that we have been seeking or else we would have left long ago. does that suggest that it's bigger than just the military problem but let me ask you, mr. helvey, does corruption remain an endemic problem in the end cap -- afghan government? >> senator, corruption is a problem in afghanistan. >> okay. does the government still lacked the public support necessary for it to govern effectively across the country? >> the afghan government does maintain, you know, popular support. i think that support though is not evenly disturbing did across the country.
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>> i take the answer to the question doesn't have public support necessary for it to govern effectively across the country and i to get your answer then is no, they do not? >> the senator the presence of insurgency intel event indicates of the afghan government does not have control or popular support everywhere in the country but they do maintain, you know, large support within the major populations centers and in large parts of the country but. >> alright, so they have partial support. the afghan government's inability to govern effectively inspire support amongst the population and give the tele- fan space to grow and build support? in other words the taliban has done well and it is part of the reason for that because the afghan government has not been able to govern effectively and inspire support among the population across the country.
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>> i think there's a lot of different factors that influence the taliban's ability to maintain its presence and support locally. part of that has to do with, you know, this is within the afghan government but part of it also has to do with historical, cultural, tribal, affiliations and relationships. but to your point, i think the fact that the government has had challenges in maintaining popular support across the country has created a space for the taliban to continue to grow and operate and present challenges to the government. >> but look at what you are saying. the root of afghanistan's problem our political and cultural. the united states military is the most powerful in the world but our military alone is not responsible nor designed for solving political problems. it has been said before but it bears repeating again that the condition -based withdrawal is a
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recipe for stained forever and i'm glad the president biden recognized this and has made the long overdue decision to end our military involvement in afghanistan. thank you, mr. chairman. >> to give her much senator warren. let me recognize by webex senator hirono. >> secretary helvey, i know that you've been asked by a number of my colleagues that there are concerns about afghan he women children but i want to reiterate my concern and add to that of my colleagues. earlier this week, i joined a letter with my colleague senator shaheen and asking him to appoint an ambassador at large for global women's issues to serve as a senior administration's official responsible for coordinating
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u.s. government efforts for the protection of women's rights in afghanistan. so my question is what is your assessment of the afghan again government and security forces ability to protect girls education. let's focus on education in the country. >> senator, thank you for the question and thank you for your support for afghan women and girls. you know, i think we been able to cease in a vacant progress in afghanistan since 2001 in advancing human rights and opportunities, specifically for women and girls and education is important part of that. the contribution that women have made in afghanistan and the progress that those contributions have enabled across the society as a whole are remarkable. you know, we continue to work using the tools that we have as
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a department of defense to try to continue to promote the role of women in peace and security and the role of women in the afghan national defense security forces. you know, i know the state department and the u.s. agency for the national development are looking at this through their resources, tools, mechanisms and authorities. i can't really speak to, you know, the afghan government ability to provide for education but i can say that in terms of what we have been doing with the afghan national defense and scaredy forces has been to increasingly promote the role of women. it part of the amd sf. >> i'm sorry, mr. secretary, but you say the afghan scaredy forces in the afghan government has as a priority the rights of women and girls in afghanistan? is that a priority for them? >> senator, it is a priority built into their constitution and is part of the development
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of the amd sf which is just something that president -- has highlighted and it is something that i think we, as part of the international community have also impressed upon the taliban that we will be paying very careful attention to how the taliban treats women, girls and minorities in afghanistan. that is an important part of you know, our diplomacy in this space. >> i don't know what way we have to change how the taliban treats women and girls because their track record is terrible and the reality is that should they come back into power, which to me as a matter of when, not if, then i think that the rights and protections for women and girls in afghanistan will go down the drain. i really think that is a realistic assessment of what will happen.
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at the least shouldn't we be appointing a single ambassador at large which remains a vacant position to serve as administration's point person, especially for those of us who want to very much be focused on what will happen to afghan women and girls after we leave. >> senator, i'm not familiar with your specific proposal for an investor at large but that is something that i believe the state department would be looking at in concert with the white house's? so, my colleagues, senator warren talked about what exactly is happening in afghanistan and what the future looks like because the tribal chiefs and for the first time i went to afghanistan was back in 2006 or 2007 or so when at that point we were told that the afghan he secreted forces were being trained and going to be able to
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take care of the security needs et cetera of their country and senator warren pointed out that it remains not so. and so, afghanistan certainly has never had a central government. we have all these tribal chiefs and they are not about to listen to whatever is emanating from the central government because that would mean they would be giving up their powers. you know, the political and cultural aspects of afghanistan something that i don't think our country really appreciated or understood very well. these are issues that arrive anytime we go into a poorer country where we do not necessarily assess accurately the cultural and political dynamics going on in that country and we certainly can try to change that needs to be
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sustained militarily and i'm sure they've done is best but here we are. i don't know if my time is up, mr. chairman. >> yes, it is, senator. >> okay. thank you. >> thanks very much, senator hormonal. let me recognize senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you for your testimony and it's a difficult topic but i think the bottom line is as this is being planned out we need to plan for the worst, for the worst case scenario and i think the worst case scenario, from my perspective, reading the intel it does not sound like it's an unlikely scenario is that the government collapses and the tele- man or some group related will be in charge or that we see a civil war within the next several months.
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would you agree that is the worst case scenario right now? how likely do you think that is, general? >> i acknowledge the range of possible outcomes to include that that you have just described. >> mr. helvey. >> senator, i would be happy to discuss in more detail in the classified setting these intelligent assessments but i thank you described a range of outcomes as the general indicated that we are looking at. >> it seems to me, let's assume worst case scenario. civil war or tele- man or, god forbid al qaeda in charge again of that country a terrorist potential safe haven so general, how far along are we and i know it's already been discussed but
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the ct presidents capability because i think everyone here agrees that having this country and afghanistan as a safe haven for major violent extremist organizations, particularly i called a i isis or the tele- man is not in the interest of the united states at all so how far along are we dealing with capability to address that primarily either and over horizon the ct capability or a ct capability from a neighboring country? >> senator, that planning and coordination is ongoing and i can't characterize how far along we are other than to say that the intent is to maintain seamless capability and what we have currently in afghanistan and as we transition at other places in the region to again ensure that we are able to meet
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our overarching objectives of preventing al qaeda or other terrorist organizations from forcing in afghanistan. >> let me turn to another element given the worst case scenario and that is, i know, it's already been discussed but i think it's an important one and want to highlight, mr. chairman, an op-ed written by your senate colleague in mind, senator sheldon whitehouse of rhode island who wrote an opinion piece, as the u.s. withdrawals from afghanistan what is our plan for the aftermath? >> would you like that included in the record? >> yes, sir. >> without objection. >> so i will ask both of you when general mckenzie was testifying here a couple of weeks ago i asked him the question if he thought countries had honor.
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does the united states have honor? he said, yes. i would agree with that. i do think that if we are looking at a worst case scenario, you know, in vietnam all told, 123,000 south vietnamese civilians and military personnel ended up in u.s. custody for processing as refugees. i think if a year or two from now anybody who cooperated with our military forces in afghanistan is being hunted down or killed, this will be a horrible thing, of course, and if we have the ability to prevent that, kind of the way we try to in vietnam on a big scale i think it is in the interest of our nation to do that. it goes to the honor of our country and these are people who
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sacrificed, risk their lives to help us when we were there and if they are going to be at risk we should try to do something to help them. general, mr. helvey, do you agree with that and do we have plans to do that as a large-scale the way we did in vietnam? >> senator, i do agree. we do have a moral obligation to help those that helped us over the past 20 years and we are working intensely with our interagency colleagues to identify, you know, those mechanisms and the resources required to provide that type of assistance. we have talked about the special immigrant visa program and there are other authorities that we can use with respect to assisting those afghans and provide sniffing and public benefits or humanitarian purposes. so yes, this is important and this is an important thing that
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we should do and if the security conditions deteriorate and if we are given in order to take other means and other mechanisms we would have the ability to do that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. let me know or let me know recognized by webex, senator duckworth spivak thank you, mr. chairman. i want to second senator sullivan's last comment and it is imperative that we do not leave those who risk their lives and lives of the family numbers in time. it was not just in vietnam that we helped reach out and those who helped american troops. president clinton said that or sent in aircraft and said many kurds were being hunted by saddam hussein in the early '90s after the persian gulf war and brought those kurds to safety. senator sullivan, if you would do any work on this, i would be happy to join you in this effort.
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along those lines with not leaving folks behind i do want to bring up a discussion on the matter of uttermost importance in illinois and that is safe return of my constituent. he's in illinois and a navy veteran and lived in kabul for years working as a civilian contractor before he was kidnapped on january 31 in 2020 and with that i will [inaudible] we rely more and more on contractors and these americans were there as contractors on there are there on the behalf of us but they lack the protection. the information that we have right now indicates that the tele- man or if the soviets are holding him in afghanistan and he was kidnapped on generate 31 of 2020. we believe at the moment that he remains in okay physical health, whatever that means. his family is terrified by his ongoing and have advocated
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tirelessly for his safe return. it is deeply disappointed that the trump administration failed to use february 29, 2020 deal with the taliban to secure his release and the recent announcement that we will be withdrawing has heightened their fears. they question whether we will have any leverage to secure his return once we no longer have a military presence in afghanistan. i repeatedly raised his case with members of this administration and in letters to my colleagues, senator durbin, in briefings with cabinet officials and with president biden himself. everyone has assured me that they are aware of this and are raising his [inaudible] i hope that consistent with precedent as the late ambassador using the accord as leverage to secure the
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kidnapped american i hope that the biden administration will prioritize every avenue available. gentlemen, we cannot fail at this mission and we certainly cannot abandon an american citizen behind in afghanistan. we must pursue every path available to make sure that mark is safely returned to his family in illinois. osd has is a long relationship with pakistan and secretary austin just spoke on april 28 if they advocate and there is a good chance that it's in pakistan right now and we should be leveraging our relationship with pakistan to secure his concern and i discussed this and we agreed to take the message back to islam about. if duty presley has an opportunity to use senior leader engagement and other infractions with the pakistan military to
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secure its return. mr. helvey, i note this was a long preamble but it's important to mark and his family. as acting assistant secretary you are the principal adviser to top dod leadership related to pakistan. will you commit to pursuing opportunities to advocate for mr. frerichs and seek his return throughout the corporation with pakistan military? >> senator, absolutely spivak thank you. withdrawing troops would be an abject failure of the united states to rescue an american citizen, a navy veteran because the dod decided to use more contractors and in illinois and who serve this country, as i said, in uniform. ...
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>> thank you chair, appreciated. this is really important hearing and thank you to the witnesses. i want to start by expressing my gratitude and my respect and hundreds of thousands of u.s. troops to bravely serve in afghanistan including members of my own team in the right men and women of the nevada national guard. in particular thinking about 2,020,000, over 20000 troops who bear the scars of the battle be prepared for the memorial day, over 2400 u.s. military civilians personnel. they did not come home and their families for their loss every day. we have to talk a little bit about the continuing support for
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the afghans president biden's withdrawal announcement stated that were going to reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities in the absence of the regions to prevent the reemergence of the threat to her homeland from over the horizon. i will continue to support the government in afghanistan and keep providing assistance to the afghan national security forces . some general gen. matthew trollinger, what is the plan for a very counterterrorist strategy that will be able to address and influence the violent extremist organizations which directly support influences stability and afghan government. another way establish the buildup this to continue counterterrorism operations. >> senator, that planning and coronation is ongoing currently. in the intent is to maintain a
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seamless transition from the capabilities that we currently have in afghanistan. two other areas and locations in the region so that we can continue to meet our objectives there. >> i appreciate that. what will the u.s. assistance to afghanistan look like after a withdrawal. were talking about looking ahead, we establish agreements to acquire assets from laboring under neighboring countries like and others to provide possible air support that they may need. >> thank you for the question. in terms of support to afghan forces, we are looking at ways to be able to adjust that over the horizon type of soap supporting that does not require large scale presence and that country, the military presence and with respect to access facing overflight, those
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negotiations are ongoing within the region. to be able to provide this type of arrangements that can enable us to do that from within the region. it is i'd indicated in response to a previous question, we do already have a significant capability resident within the persian gulf region. that can provide, it is further away but we would certainly augment that and look to that with arrangements that would be within the region closer to afghanistan. >> thank you and i think another important thing that we have to think about is the counterattack because the decisions to withdrawal and negotiating with the taliban, withdrawal from afghanistan raises concerns about the vulnerability. and that danger to freedom and women's rights in society and of
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course taliban increasingly territorial rage. so what we think, can you please talk to us about iran, russia and china. have they are coming. and rated by our departure and with the applications might have for us. >> i think it is clear there are a number of different countries that do have the interest and potential to exercise influence in afghanistan. part of what we want to be able to do is in working with our afghan partners to be able to ensure the afghan government has the ability to provide for security and economic development. and to be able to mitigate the escalations that other actors would influence more that country. i think that china does have an interest in afghanistan and we talked about before, there was economic interest that they do
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have concern about extremist groups operating in afghanistan. but to the extent that china influence could be used to undermine stability instead of reinforced ability or support system for stability obviously as that they're concerned about. and i run as well. iran will likely seek to exercise influence in negative ways in afghanistan although i think it's largely potentially complicating our withdrawal i think that is something that we need to maintain persistent vigilance as we are executing this. >> appreciated i look forward to discussing these issues and will look forward to working with all of you going forward. thank you predict. >> thank you senator rosen. with that we are complaining the open session of this hearing and i would ask the witnesses to move to room 217 so that we can
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conduct classified portion of this. let me think the witnesses for their expert testimonies enemy ask my colleagues to assemble in the presidents room. he is before us to mouth as quickly as possible so that we can put out the nominations of .without thank you . testimonie. >> and i will adjourned. [inaudible]. [inaudible].
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