tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 23, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
while essential to constrain funding environment, sector transit coordination can be challenging. in our 2012 report on citizens for transportation disadvantaged population, we found eight different programs and eight agencies provide transportation services related to education, employment, medical and other human services. we conclude that leadership in furthering collaboration efforts to improve the coordination of transportation services among state and local providers. fda has made progress in enhancing coordination. as a result of not 21, map-21, the draft program circular for a number of relevant programs. in addition, fda supports programs that play an important role in helping populations by providing funds to state and local grantees that in turn
offer services directly or through private or public transportation providers. chairman johnson, which number crapo, this concludes my statement. i'd be pleased to answer any questions at this time. >> thank you all for your testimony. as he began questions, i will ask the clerk to the five minutes on the clock for each member. mr. rogoff, last fall, as te asked for extensive input for the public transportation industry in asset management framework. the committee has heard from many providers that require safety in asset management should be closely to their size and deities should be allowed to assist world assist on. how was fte utilizing field work
from providers to ensure new safety in asset management remark will not take away from delivering tourists. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we share the concerns on the risk or the pitfall sql is tumbling into a regime where we are adding a pinch of the bed just distracts operators from their coronation that we are calling that montague and that his people. we have been carefully crafted a number of questions to solicit that industry input and we are currently digesting hundreds of comments we have gotten from all sectors of the industry. we are keenly aware that we gain nothing by creating a big paper tiger here that does not value. if we do this right, the transit operators at the local level
large and small will see the value that comes from reporting requirements and reflecting on safety profile. it is worth remembering that in the initial transit ap legislation that the obama administration submitted to this committee, we had planned to focus on rail exclusively at the beginning. that is still our focus. the committees went another way in terms of doing a broad rush approach that captures both the rail industry as well as the bus only operators. we certainly plan to taylor that to the capabilities of those operators. importantly, a lot of work in this area is guided by our safety advisory committee, which is a formal advisory committee set up by secretary of the memory firsters and it are legislation to congress. we are now going in the wake of
map-21 for more bus operators to advise us as we go forward. we are not going to do this in some document washington d.c. as someone who puts forward taxpayer dollars in large percentages come especially to the small and rural operators, we have absolutely no incentive to see those dollars distracted by bureaucracy and not service. >> a question for david wise and peter rogoff. gao has reported on the difficulty in coordinating transportation for transportation disadvantaged individuals in providing duplicated services. could you both offer thoughts on why coordination is such a problem and what are the next steps for improving coordination between federal programs, particularly with medicaid,
which is estimated to spend between one and $3 billion annually on non-emergency medical transportation. mr. wise, your thoughts first. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for that question. we definitely share the view that transportation coordination is a significant challenge. as we noted in her statement, we have two recommendations to the federal transit administration in this area. one of them is d.o.t. in the coordinating council set up to try to coordinate services spread among eight or nine federal agencies and 80 programs address this recommendation by issuing a strategic plan. that is happens we been able to close that recommend nation. we feel that there has been good-faith efforts in making progress in this area. it's a difficult problem to deal
with, especially in the rural states like south dakota and idaho because they are small populations over large areas. we have long discussions with both the native americans and not how difficult it is to try to arrange these kinds of things because the agencies as you mentioned in your opening statement are very underresourced, have only a couple of people working and not in the distances are vast. the weather conditions are harsh. the population is very impoverished. see a medical specialist might mean a trip of 120 miles. or similar challenges, which makes the issue of coordination onto more important all throughout the country. >> mr. rogoff. >> mr. chairman, it is a problem identified at the federal level
for some time and it is getting better. we certainly have room to improve. we have been successful in boosting all these people together and helps professionalize the effort at the local areas to ensure that we are getting the maximum value out of all of the taxpayer-funded and in fact charitably funded vehicles available. we still have the problem is stovepipe rules agency by agency. mr. wise is correct. medicaid is the big dog in the remnant terms of the dollars they put into it, but obviously they have strict rules to ensure the medicaid transportation dollar only goes for the hospital or medical visit and can be used for shopping or to church. we need to figure out a way to continue to improve on levels of coordination. if you ask why is this such a
problem? part is federal stovepipes, which we've done a good job of tearing away. for me to recognize there's local social service agencies, state action councils on aging. many multiple players here. different colors, different rules at many to stay is that come especially as the rural community becomes more elderly going forward to do a better job of tearing away the stovepipes. >> senator crapo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is evident you and i both have come from rural states because you just used up a couple of my questions. i will get into them in as little more detail though. mr. rogoff, the first question delta safety in asset management in the context of dealing with rural communities and small systems. i appreciated your answer with regard to the fact you are aware of the difficulties that could be placed on small systems and rural communities by one size
fit all regulation intended to be focused on a large system. i just want to be very clear. am i understanding you to say that as you move forward for final rules that there is the capacity for the distinction so that we won't face the fact that our small rural operations will have to face the same regulatory requirements in terms of scope that the larger operations will click >> you have my shine on that, sir. as i said, it would be foolish to do otherwise. he pointed out yourself we have operators that run with very few people have relatively few vehicles and matter as a result extremely efficient and the services they provide.
we definitely are coming up to confirm if it's not broken don't fix it approach. we look at this from how are we going to add value and were going to be at eyes at those very small and medium-sized operators to ensure why we started with an anp iran rather than a first draft of regulatory requirements because we need to gather the data on where they think we cannot value. >> thank you. you also bring your answers out into the issue of a sickly the decision-making on what priorities will be implemented first. he stated that rail would be exclusively focused on it at the outset, but that we were going to get into moving forward with the remainder of map-21
implementation. i guess my question is how do you prioritize the remainder of the implementation requirements and how and what order are you proceeding? >> that may be clear on what i was saying about the fee. because of the risk and want to take all of this, bring a risk used approach to all of our works, the administration put forward a bill to focused principally on braille because that's where the greatest risk is and while the legislation goes in a somewhat different direction involving safety plans from everybody, we will still be putting the majority of our focus on the risk and high-speed mail accidents. right away, worker fatalities in things like that. as it relates to prioritize and regulatory with large across all of map-21, we started with the regulatory rules that would apply to the ticket sums of money and the largest number of
passengers and what would be the most substantive policy changes. we did a lot of this to instructions on apportionment notice center guidance because in order to put the 2013 money to work under the new rules, we didn't have time to go through a long regulatory process. do things like or multibillion dollars a meal program for the entire country, we wanted to make sure those were not under the new map-21 rules. we've had dozens of webinars and complications of transit agencies so they know how to put this to work. some of the new authorities that will not apply to either large chunks of money or a large number of operators have had to wait so that we can come if you will, capture the most of the thrust of map-21 in the early. as we can. >> thank you. mr. wise, and the discussion with the chairman on the
coordination issues as we move forward, gao highlighted the fact total federal spending on services for transportation disadvantaged populations remains unknown because federal apartments did not strike spending for roughly two thirds of the programs is identified by gao. why is this a case and why is there such a problem attracting the spending? >> thank you, senator for the question. the problem lies in these agencies transportation is not really the major component of what they do. as a result, some cost get mixed in with other programs in their accounting systems aren't set up in a way you can extract these costs separately and get a good handle on what is transportation. as an example, the department of health and human services medicaid program will ramp or states that provide medicaid
with bus passes and transportation options to make logical services. it is not clearly delineated we are not able, but it is a significant amount. as mr. rogoff pointed out, so population continues to age, these things will become more important in terms of the budgetary impact. >> thank you heard mr. chairman, i do have more questions, but will submit for the record. >> senator reid. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. wise comella may commend you and your colleagues that are always thoughtful and careful analysis and this is no exception today. peter rogoff is someone i've had the privilege of working with on the appropriations committee and so much so secretary fox was named u.s. the act didn't undersecretary and he and a very
wise judgment and he's demonstrating his effective leadership already. commend the secretary also. two basic questions. can you give us some ideas of practical impacts if we do not live in a timely fashion to restore funding for mass transit account? when is it going to happen and what is going to happen? >> in recent years the appropriate balance that we need to maintain in the transit account of the trust fund is a billion dollars. on the highway side it's about $4 billion for the highly account. both the federal highway administration and the federal transit administration have plans on file and how would manage cash seeking below that level. it involves reimbursing a lower percentage on the dollar.
advance all of the float. the secretary's concern is not what will have been when we reach that point, but what happens in the months leading up to that point when it becomes quite clear we are heading in a place where we will not be able to guarantee full reimbursement and what does that mean for the state highway commissioner is what the transit agencies that make capital investment and what dampening effect will that have on keeping people to work, but he knew people to work can also make improvements -- why he is
sounding the alarm, making this information available on her website and starting a dialogue rather than waiting for spring and summer to have it. >> that's very appropriate. probably secondary and tertiary effects. service interruption as they try to cover the capital by cutting back operations. effects on bond ratings in terms of their ability to go to the market and fund projects in addition to the money you might provide. that's a really significant cascading effect. >> unquestionably, senator. it is important to know some people remember the days when our agency was called the urban mass transit administration and still somehow think of our program is an urban program. the reality is this, if we have
an interaction on our availability to reimburse transit agencies, the larger transit agency is coming to new york, philadelphia, chicago, miami, san francisco certainly will work a hardship, but they also have adequate funds from other sources to continue to maintain operations. look at the other side of the spectrum. or medium-sized general operators. federal dollars from 60% to 80% of the enterprise was on the capital side and the operating side. if were not able to reimburse them, that is where we are discussing services closed their close their doors. >> another reality we have to come to grips with is the essence of the highway trust fund is the gasoline tax. >> it has been, but it's covered less and less of the total bill over recent years. >> the good news is less than last because every car is very
efficient. pickup trucks are getting lots of mileage they didn't before. the funding mechanism safety. i think you would concur? >> most recently, have spoken about the opportunities to look at her way to reinvest in our infrastructure. recognizing umpired the tax returns less than last for each gallon purchase based on the information made that you are using less and less gasoline consist of an goal is to reduce dependence on oil. >> just a final point, when this program was launched under president eisenhower, and asserted a wink, wink, wink and a building highly transit systems supported by industry because it helps sell automobiles. it was supported by the petroleum industry because it helps sell gas, it better.
the president was wise enough to expand and we can't counter play america without the eisenhower and the productivity, our lifestyle. we are at a point now where if we don't move quickly and thoughtfully, we could just begin to slowly unravel our productivity, lifestyle, ability to function. >> thank you very much, gentlemen. >> senator johanns. >> thank you, mr. chairman. at thank you both for being here today. i come from rural state, to. mr. rogoff, not asking you to sit a policy position on a
preferable way to finance this area in the future, but i would eat curious to know in your mind what options might be available for congress to look at? again, i'm not asking that the state of preferred course. >> there's a wide universe of options, senator. as i mentioned earlier the opportunity corporate tax reform to joe was infrastructure challenge. i direct you into a lot of measures in the states basically, whether it's pennsylvania, wyoming, virginia, a variety of mixes of taxes, user fees, done on a bipartisan basis. in the case of pennsylvania, done by a republican state house senate and governor to restore their trust funds that includes a mix of fuel taxes taxing oil
at the rack, moving to excise taxes in lieu of per gallon tax they come into in a variety of measures that as well as other unique revenue options that may be specific to that state. there is a wide universe out there. clearly we need to do something soon considering the device were facing. >> let me if i might focus on a couple of issues that would be more rural in nature. i talked to transit people back in nebraska. these would be systems that are somewhat borough. but having said that, they exist also in the larger metropolitan areas in the state. they have some questions about the safety requirements of map-21 and fta.
the language suggests that each sub-recipient entity would be required to have a trained safety officer. according to people.com there's an indication the state department transportation would be required to employ state safety officers who would be responsible that drains money from other areas. this is a significant issue and it seems like there's some degree of overlap and duplication there. i am assuming they won't be additional funding, although if there is, i appreciate you telling me that. what is your thoughts on these requirements? i would like to your thoughts on any resources that might be available to folks back home to
deal with this burden. >> sure. a couple of thoughts, senator. first, we have not leveled the hard and fast requirement on anyway today. we have put up for noticing a comment by the public on that's to a amprm. we've taken those responses back. received money from rural areas and will be take this to heart as we move forward with the regulatory regime. i don't want to leave the impression there's any hard and fast requirement. indeed, there are resources available for some of this and that was one of the breakthroughs of the new safety regime passed by this committee that for at least the state safety organization is some $22 million to be allocated for those principally in the real area. even the state d.o.t.'s, i've spoken to the state transportation commissioners a number of times about this. they have the opportunity to
draw for administrative expenses a percentage that we send to this day. many do not drive down the maximum percentage. in some ways that is a good and because it puts more money into direct service at the local level. the flipside is that there is not adequate state oversight of the dollars, and then we are challenges in making sure that those dollars are spent according to law and regulation. we have something like that. i've encouraged a number of states to take a look at whether they should draw not us, but additional administrative dollars to do a better job at the state d.o.t. level. many of them tell me where the hiring freeze at the state level. the red hiring freezes sometimes impose without regard for there is federal dollars are state dollars, which hampers their ability to grow workforce on what their work is done. >> i'll circle back around.
if there's additional questions or concerns, can we reach out to you? >> absolutely. it's if it's helpful to have a conference call, would have to do it. let me say parenthetically commissary, you are rural state, but churros know a real producing state. we just wouldn't celebrate the arrival of the new washington metro car. one of the largest railcar purchases in the united states history on manufactured in lincoln, nebraska. >> thank you. >> senator warren. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to ask you about another part of map-21. as you know, it aims to bring transit assets. the equipment facilities and so on into a good state of repair. a lot requires that the fta create objective standards for measuring progress towards this
goal and once those standards are in place, the law requires the recipients of federal funds to develop plans for executing on those standards. the fta was supposed to issue objective standards by october 1st to 2013 and hasn't done so yet. the delay has had the massachusetts department of transportation in a tight spot. it's working on asset management plan, doing the responsible thing, but it's reluctant to do too much planning because it still doesn't know what the fta subject to standards will be. so mr. rogoff, when will the fta issue a final rule on asset management standards? >> as it relates to a final rule, i will get you the target date. it may well be here in my book, but let me speak more broadly to my observation. transit asset management was a new one welcomed addition to
map-21. as i said in my opening statement, we been hampered trying to figure out what priorities to put the staff on most urgently. transit asset management is high-profile we did just put out a amprm for them to comment on. we want to take industry comments for some rigid approach. we started with amprm to get the industry's input on this. i'll be honest, senator, i'm in fairly regular contact with rich davey and dr. beverly scotty was in town yesterday. we are working on friends. they did not voice that concern to me. obviously what were most critically interested in their is as you well know, governor patrick and the legislature have succeeded and now leveraging new
dollars for transportation investment in the commonwealth and want to make sure that they put into you to work on the most critical transit infrastructure needs of which there are many. to read mine especially that many others. will be working with them. as scott is a real leader in this industry, having been turned in rhode island, and atlanta, california. we will be looking to her to help inform our approach on how transit asset management can work for big legacy systems. >> i appreciate that and i appreciate your work on the safety standards. i only live a few blocks from the redline and we use it. i'm grateful for that, but i really do want to emphasize there's a deadline built-in is supposed to have been october 1st, which is a question about pulling in all of the outside.
you've got to plan against a deadline, so i am hopefully get this done quickly. i know you are committed to improving the equipment and make sure we meet the highest safety standards. i know that's also true for the mbta. the thank you, but i'm really going to keep a thumb in your back on this. >> that's fine. i welcome it. i want to be careful in how i phrase this. we have a number of statutory deadlines. i'm not sure they're workable and reasonable in the first place. we take them a strong indications from the committee on the priority they put against this. as you heard, they want us to get industry and put before they start writing rules. we need to strike that balance. >> if i can, i want to ask you about one other thing. that is broadly speaking, congress can distribute highway and transit money in two ways. you can distribute through formula which spells out exactly how a particular state or local agency will receive money or it
can link the distribution of the money at the discretion of the department of transportation and provide grants to different state and local agencies based on a competitive process. historically and transportation, congress has distributed about 80% of the money through formula is and about 20% is a discretionary matter. but in map-21, the number went up to 92% through formula, leaving very little discretionary money. we saw a real move away from discretionary spend them. mr. rogoff, i have to ask you for because i'm running out of time here, do you think the decrease in discretionary funding has hurt the fta's ability to fund worthwhile projects? >> well, i think it's a little too early to tell that, but i can speak to the problems that have surfaced for the absence of discretionary dollars.
over three years, we were successful in competing the best discretionary dollars, but also larger systems are to bus and rail operations. we put out over a $2.5 billion it was done without earmarks. it was done strictly on pay system and we felt like we did a very good job. the reduction in the bus operator side. the last of discretionary dollars, not all of those dollars has been a source of considerable concern that the bus only operators who took a financial hit in their view through map-21. the loss of the discretionary money has meant that when they have large single investment, like it's time to replace a sizable part of their bus fleet for a new maintenance facility,
they do not get a sufficient flow of formula dollars to cobble enough together to make a significant sizable investment and that's what the discretionary program is for. that is something the committee wants to look at as they do reauthorization. we want to see the money spent in the most effect way. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i want to thank both numbers for the testimony today. the broad aspect i want to mention it, too. when it comes to this safety plan, the key is making sure we don't have a one-size-fits-all and making sure you are getting input from earl transit systems.
all i need is a commitment for you to continue to do that. >> absolutely. that's good enough. i want to talk about tribal transit programs. you mention this in your testimony. i think congress has made some significant investment in tribal transit through map-21. they build transportation infrastructure and is very important whether its help carry education, economic opportunity, whatever it might be. beyond the investments made in map-21 comments critical tribes receive technical assistance and support from the fta to grow and establish transit systems. you tend to not reach on fta this fall and i look forward to learning about future efforts. i just need to have you show your disk on your thoughts on the success of the fta's
outreach. so far and what the fta intends to do to continue to build on success. >> mr. tester, the tribal program was doubled under map-21. however, is sort of follows up on what senator warned the same. remove from a discretionary program to a $30 million program in which 25 is by formula and only five was discretionary. this left us with regards of a formula that we could put on the tribes. most of the outreach has been around building that formula and informing them what amount of money they could expect. capacity building in tribal transit is absolutely critical. we spent a great deal of time trying to work with the tribes to make them to be eligible grantees to spend the dollars the right way, especially the
critical mobility needs it is absolutely a lifeline to the opportunities for employment for these tribes. we are doing more and would expect to do more in the future once we started nail down the funding stream with this formula. we are concerned, quite frankly, but one of the outputs of the formula is the payments that spread out from the formula are quite low. so while the tribes they given a guaranteed level of assistant, it may not be a sufficient sum to do something meaningful and ongoing basis which is something the committee will look at going forward. i think we will have a new challenge. when they had all these dollars on a discretionary basis, frankly we could make a judgment call as to whether an individual
tribe was ready to receive and put these funds to good use. now that we distribute them by fermion,, we will work to ensure that is the case, but we must put that money gives them because they're entitled by formula while we work to get them to that place and that's not a challenge. >> thank you. you ask for a second question, so want to thank you very much. the travelogue that structure structure is critically important. quality is rampant in rural tribes to figure out ways to get them out of poverty and the infrastructure is part of it. you according to senator reid were up for undersecretary for policy. >> i will be moved at the end of next week to be at team policy. >> i do want you to think this is a confirmation hearing in this regard. what toll roads are playing in the future of the highway
administration. >> that's an unconstitutional question. >> i'm only here to help. >> senator, i feel comfortable answering that says the federal transit administrator because it has been an important source of funding for a number of transit expansions. there is a rich debate that we are going to need to have as a nation over the issue of the cons that the toll payers have paid at one argument. the other argument being that the maintenance and upkeep of that toll road requires more continued investment, which the toll payers probably have not covered over the life of the structure. i think importantly, you know, tolls are part of the next and
somewhat consistent with the answer i gave to senator johanns. we need to look at every available revenue opportunity and look at both the fairness issues, but also what revenues they may present to us. in terms of the trust fund problem. >> i think for that answer i will let it go for a second. it's important being part of the legislative branch in this business that we have to debate before you enact a policy. i think it's really important. >> well, in terms of what is permissible. >> i got you. i'll just how you this so you know. i think of the department gets out in front in advocating, that's a problem. but for us in this committee, that's a good idea, too. >> i hear you, senator. there are federal statutory rules that limit the
department's discretion in this area. it is not a bad dramatic on the tolling front. obviously we would need to have a dialogue with congress, which we would have anyway, even if we had the authority. >> senator manchin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your appearance today at testimony. i come from rural state of west virginia and we depend as transit and bus transportation. we do have some train transportation, or eastern panhandle, which we are very much concerned about. hopefully you all would be attended to that. with that being said, the distribution and grant dollars has slowed down significantly. it's taking more than a year now. can you identify any specific causes for the increase of delay and may be on the verge of having our first budget might help relieve that?
>> senator, i'd like to understand which parts of money they are referring to because it is perplexing to me. i am not familiar with that dynamic other than the fact you just decided. >> we have to obviously a weight 82,004 final appropriation. >> in the past they've been telling me, we chat with everybody before it came to a hearing and getting any grant monies whatsoever. >> we would get with you, sir after this. >> the issue here may be there've been years when we've gotten acr for a longer period of time. some of it stretched into march and april in the most recent year. therefore there's a partial oppression and offense. we would be getting a budget in january and looks like we will
be. we will be getting an apportionment quickly. there's a larger problem i like to know about it. >> thank you. also, naturally 53% of public transportation is by bus. but only 10% of the money goes towards bus transportation. do you think that is a proportionate property tax? >> with a look at that issue come you have to be cognizant of where the costs are. they were considerably lower cost to operate a bus system verse is a rail system. both good rail. >> it doesn't seem proportionate number than 53% of the people in america. >> i.t. cube point. i've often reminded people as they did just yesterday the
transportation research and that is more than half of the transit trips in america -- >> maybe we can have those, the future time if it might be more helpful to us in rural states. if i can't go into this on the transportation field. i have often said talk in a national government association, we were looking at different ways to maximize their fuel-efficient date and taken advantage of what we have in our country with the abundance of natural gas coming on in our state and country right now. i thought you all could really lead the charge of giving us the incentive to change towards natural gas powered vehicles. the uptick to that is going from diesel to natural gas is a little bit expensive and they're just kind of staying where they are unless they get the incentive. here's the thing it would lead to. if we follow up with their school transportation, every
street can transfer what we call commercial traffic away from petroleum or micro to the schoolchildren to follow right up with our state vehicles. it doesn't have to transform every utility or every infrastructure is first gas station in my state or the country. those are all bulk stations. many of the companies will convert those of any contract. no cost of conversion. the only cost we have is that first uptick with a natural gas power. if you could look at that differently, it would help us. we can reduce by 20% to 25%. i am told is petroleum. >> the agency has historically been far forward to try to promote the development of
natural gas buses. if you look across this bit research dollars, we been on the cutting edge. >> now onto the next generation in terms of trying natural gas prices are very much embedded in the fleet now. i believe every best now operating in the system in los angeles is a natural gas best. you are right there is an added investment costs going in, but it clearly pays itself back of the talkers of the natural life of the bus, including the cost of the fueling infrastructure. you've mentioned other ideas on what we should do with school buses. the federal government setting the tone if we all start looking at our mass i will assure you that state if they do that and i
50 states around our dependency and basically all of these county by county you can fill up a natural gas commercial vehicle. they're running under stations. it's the most doable thing we can remove about 25% of our dependence be. >> we've had percentage incentives in order to go with the cleaner school bus. i'm not sure that what is the strongest and most effective impetus to make it happen. part of this is whether we as a matter of federal policy are going to dictate those local decisions. that is something the committee should debate.
you're giving us x amount of dollars to buy a diesel bus. let's say that the same incentive you give us to buy a natural gas best. let's make the decision. >> the vast majority of the bus dollars per purchase are done by formula. we have had a separate discretionary -- it is converted to what is called the low to no admission status -- a bus program. but here we've had a clean fuels program or we've got a lot of natural gas buses as well as the earliest generation buses we've advanced the race made those vehicles they build those advised to the manufacturers go into that space. they hunt in west virginia
wanted to buy a natural gas bus and used a formula dollars for that receives a diesel bus, and we do not link either way. >> them way over time, but i'd like to work with you. we can make the charge here. >> is also an opportunity to say that the energy department at the same time we do that for the issues we talked about. conversion stations. >> conversions will be done. or the sector will do it at no cost to the taxpayers. none. they will have a 10 year return now. that's fine. >> on the bus route we look for a 12 year return. >> we can mirror those two out. >> look forward to it. >> i am told senator schumer is on its way. so senator menendez, take your time. >> okay, happy to hear that, mr. chairman. i ask that the statement i have been included in the record.
administrator, first let me say what my colleague for west virginia's interest in mass transit. we need more advocates as someone who is one of the leaders of the fight here on mass transit and iterations. that's why appreciate hearing it because it's constantly a challenge to understand the importance of mass transit in our finance formula as they worked hard last year and map-21, but we're still nowhere near where we should be for the demands, whether they be as light rail or bus or whatever. i just want to compliment you, administrator for a very, i think, good job in the midst of a lot of challenges and i appreciate your approach to the whole effort nationally on mass transit. in that regard, let me say that on map-21 i were to create a new transit oriented development
pilot program for communities to create nick's use developments in federally supported transit lines. seven of my colleagues including three on this committee, senator warner, and hate in asking to be expedited. today, the fta has not made an announcement offense for the program authorizes 10 million in fy 13 and 14. in the short time frame of map-21, with results sooner rather than later. raise the fta not yet announced the funding for this program and what time might you have for making this announcement? >> senator, we are well aware the program and cognizant of the committee members interested most notably yours as a champion for the program. we quite frankly in our prioritization scheme, i was
asked earlier by senator crapo what we were going to prioritize or not the new requirement of map-21. as i said in my opening statement, map-21 was like seven years of policy in a two-year bill and we had to prioritize what we were going to take on in what order. as it relates to the development program, it's not just from our own selfish admin station responsibilities, but also are the opportunities for the communities to conmen to get two years of money and compete two years of money. you'll have a competition for the full $20 million rather than can one year and 10 the next. we thought it would be efficient to conmen at a more meaningful money. our goal is to start the process and get notices at the door in the spring and summer. i apologize for the delay in getting to this. it is stacked to two new map 21
requirements, most notably the requirements we very much welcome changes to the formula, which we put on very rapidly. >> i realized that we didn't map-21 because working at the said committee chair, we put a lot of things in there. to the extent we have a pilot program dedicated for it, when atc is the pilot program doesn't never get to fruition. >> that's not going to happen. >> next is fta recently announced the next round of sandy recovery transit spending $3 billion for resiliency efforts. according to your announcement, defending is intended to protect public transportation to that has been prepared or rebuilt after hurricanes and he at risk of being damaged or destroyed for future national disaster. you may consider geographic
diversity between transit nodes in making these awards. my question is how high will fta place on those hit by hurricane c&d and how would you balance the consideration of geographic and model diversity versus protecting the areas most devastated by hurricane c&d? >> well, i said before this table in fact, but in other venues that our highest priority in allocating the suns is protecting the existing transit infrastructure that serves millions of passengers each day. those systems, those existing rail lines have in many cases voted multiple times. as you know, some of the infrastructure that flooded under hurricane c&d had floated just one year earlier under hurricane iran and the president had requested the resiliency fun name made clear that he puts a
strong priority and requesting funding on ensuring taxpayers going forward have to pay to restore the infrastructure second, third or fourth time. that's going to be our priority is to look at it. we are working carefully and we have conferences set up with all of the likely applicants. and how they're going to protect the most honorable elements of the system and look at it from the perspective of a system, which is to say we are not interested in an investment that will ensure we are protect it to one portion of the rail line if in fact we're just going to have some other portion of the rail line that is also serving 80% of the same traffic washed out. that is not going to maintain mobility in the face of the next disaster. those will be our priorities going in. it is hard for me to say now
until we get all the applications and how some of the other factors of geographic diversity another things will play out. we have put out a good notice that takes into account all the critical factors we need to look at them when we get the applications and, we'll have to rack and stack them and make sure the investments are crossed and official. capture the most critical infrastructure on both sides of the river and also make sure we are fulfilling the president's commitment to ensure we don't pay sackett and third imports and to restore it. >> i appreciate that as someone who alone with senator schumer led the fight particularly to make sure the transportation elements were part of it, i certainly believe the consequences of systems that in large of americans and who have a history of constant challenges
due to flooding and weather related issues make a highest priority use, just simply on another people service and the reality we've had repetitive loss. i want to maximize the number of americans using the transit system. so while there's obviously a whole host of challenges, i look forward at keeping reality. mr. wise, with reference to rapid transit projects, how do you see the role of the prt plane in the future of u.s. transit services as these projects are often appealing as a lower-cost more flexible transit option, but they lack some service or your estate and economic development potential of others. [inaudible] >> yester both of those, senator. thank you. >> in the work we did actually for the committee several years
ago on bart, the results of that are promising, but there are constraints as you mentioned, airbus is not a train and some people view it that way. that said, given the funding environment we are in right now and will be in for the foreseeable future, a lot of areas the prt is a good alternative and one that is much more feasible to implement and rail, which tends to be as noted in my statement much more expensive. that said, there are characteristics be implemented that make it stand apart from regular buses. you will see in seattle, eugene, a few other places will be nicer, newer, more brightly painted buses. the best that will be above the ground. not putting money or card into the machine. whether they will buy tickets before him.
there are similarities to rail travel. the very sophisticated prt, for example, the poster child for the best system in the world is in bogotá, colombia, where it looks very much like a train. you have to look closely to see the difference. though quite nice rail stations. you don't see that here in the dedicated guideways are a mixed bag. there are some where they have more dedicated guideways and others in some of that is caused. i recall when we visited the system in eugene springfield that there was a couple of areas impossible to give a dedicated guideways to the system because of the complicated intersection trying to navigate. we've seen some mixed results. as i've noted, most of the people we talked to in different systems see problems with substitute. it's much less expensive and
quicker to implement in the same economic development. the one in cleveland, ohio, where the officials they are so basic $45 billion along the downtown but to the cleveland clinic area. a rather depressed area not too far from downtown kansas city has brought him development and some additional grants to help spur development in that area. go see a flood of development going on here to implement a fairly extensive bus transit. a lot of jurisdictions are seen real problems in the bus transit. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator schumer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ..
it's made for it has a little over a million people. it's not large enough for a subway system, but bus rapid transit. it's made for it. fits to a t. i helped them get a cdta grant plan there brt. they have been working the offices in new york. they're poised to apply for an admissions to the small start program. they are already working well on this. they have a redline already from downtown to one to go troy and one of u of albany. it's great. are you familiar with the plan in albany at all? >> i am. i have spoke within people. we were pleased to help give them that planning grant. you're right. they're well along in the development. i think the good news here,
really, as it relates to this project and the interested new entrants to the new start and small start program is the conference agreement currently pending on the floor. >> right. >> you will recall last year the combination of the continuing resolution and the sequester below that left funding for the new start and small start program in a place where we could not even fulfill our existing obligations that we had already signed up. the appropriations bill currently pending before you is through the combination of an unobligation gets us to the request level. which means business back in the business of looking at new folks -- >> can i have your commitment you'll work personally with cdta and do everything you can to see it's admitted to the small start. >> sure. when they make the request, we see no show stoppers right now to them coming in and have a successful project. >> right.
second is buffalo. similar. buffalo experimented with different kinds of transit, particularly the main street project which was a flop. we're helping them undo that right now 30 years later. they, too, are made for this type of system. again, similar size. about a -- little more than a million and a half people in the metro metropolitan area. they. they want to study an an extension of the -- where the university of buffalo is and university of buffalo is in the medical corridor. it's a perfect situation, again, can i have your commitment to help them get to the small start program. >> sure. yeah. we will look at the applications as they come in. i think it's fair to say they have taken time to figure out what it is they want to do. >> yep. >> i think, you know, he pointed out some of the benefits we can really see when we do bus rapid transit the right way.
>> yeah. >> which is to say you do the unique stations and vehicles, level boarding, signal priority, which means they almost always get a green light when they hit a signal. you can move a number of people at the affordable cost compared to rail. we welcome -- >> any barriers in the way there? >> well, there are, as you pointed out, you know, there are some hurdle you can't always overcome. but there are also great opportunities. i think whenever you connect large employers like the university and the health center, those are the kind of segments we see great success in. >> right. next i would like to go gateway. as you know, new starts has been really helpful for both the second avenue subway and east side access. the largest programs in the country we have supported. there's another being developed on the western end. the mirror image. amtrak's gateway program.
i'm sure bob is interested as well. to build two new tunnels under the hudson river. the current are 100 years old, not flood proof, in full capacity. it's not just a passenger rail project but a critical project. it runs two-thirds of the trains bringing workers from new jersey to manhattan. we had to fight with governor christie over that. i had federal funding. now we're going back at it. the need for tunnels is crucial. so i had three questions on the getway program. first, you agree it's a critical passenger rail and transit project. second, do you believe it could be a new start program. and third, do you need legislative authority to admit it to the new starts program? let me take them in order. we had a painful history in trying to get the necessary tunneling capacity under the
hudson and the tunnels that are currently serving an extraordinary number of passengers both on the amtrak side and the new jersey transit side. >> that's diplomatic, mr. chairman. painful history. >> the tunnels are over 100 years old. do i agree it's an essential investment? we absolutely must do something about those. i believe we are approaching 110-year-old tunnels. they not only constrain capacity but at the certain point they will become a safety risk. and think about the upheaval that will result if we lose the capacity all of a sudden. could it be a candidate for the new starts program? yes, it could. what we would need is a local project sponsor to come forward and dot development work. and most importantly, come up with the necessary local match. and your final question. do i need special legislation to help make that happen?
we'll take a turn on that. but i don't think so. i think, i mean, obviously the entire program expires at the end of the year. but i think the question you may be alluding to is how go we deal with a new start project for which amtrak is a participant? i don't know i need new legislation for that. >> can you check and get back to us? >> i can. we've had amtrak do necessary investments even as part of east side access. they are responsible for the harrold interlocking which is a large portion of the project. so there may be a way of doing this without special legislation. it needed we'll call it to your -- >> you adopt think so? >> i don't think so on the face. >> can you get back to me. >> sure. >> the tunnel, as you know we have an interest in restoring the tunnel. give me a status report how it's going. the repair is going. >> my understanding is things are going along well. this is one of the benefits that
you get from closing the entire facility. you not have to worry about the safety risk posed by the workers. you have the ability to put all kinds of equipment in the tunnel because you don't have to move trains through at the same time. i've heard nothing to the effect they are off schedule or over budget. indeed, in some of the tument -- tunnels we are making the local resiliency funding some investment to move the utility to the roof of the tunnel. should we have flooding again, we won't lose all the signaling capacity and exabling and stuff. yes, sir? [inaudible] >> i want to thank our witnesses for your testimony today. this hearing is adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
>> i think it's time republicans no longer accept listening to the democrats talk about a war on women. because the fact is -- [applause] the republicans don't have a war on women. they a war for women. for them to be empowered to be something other than victims of their gender. women i know are outraged that the democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures, whose only goal in life is to have the government provide birth control medication. women i know are smart, educate, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. that's not a war on them. it's a war for them. if the democrats want to insult the women of america by making them believe they are helpless without uncle sugar coming in
and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their will libido without the health of the government. so be it. let us take that discussion all across america because women are far more than the democrats have played them to be and women across america need to stand up and say enough of that nonsense! i think it's time we lead that discussion. [applause] at today's white house briefing press secretary was asked about the comments from mike huckabee. here is the question. followed by jay's brief response. >> reporter: jay, not that long ago at the rnc winter meeting, here in washington, mike huckabee said that the democrats' message to women is they are -- i'm reading from the report here. they're helpless without uncle sugar coming in and providing a prescription for each month for birth control because they
cannot control their libido. is that the president's message. >> i haven't seen the report. whoever said it sounds offensive to me and women. you can see the white house briefing as well as the rnc annual intermeeting later in our schedule. or any time on our video library at c-span.org. did i feel prepared? yes. i did. first of all, i wasn't elected. it didn't make that much. i did notice though, the difference between being the vice president's wife and the president's wife is huge because the vice president's wife can say anything. nobody cares. the minute you say one thing as president's wife, have made the news. that was a lesson i had to learn. pretty quickly. watch our program on first lady barbara wush at c-span.org/first lady. or see it saturday.
monday our series continues with first lady hillary clinton. unfortunately many americans -- some because of their poverty and some because of their color. all too many because of both. our past is to help replace their despair with opportunity. and this administration to today here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in america.
that's all leading up to president barack obama's 2014 state of the union address live tuesday on c-span, c-span raid -- radio, and c-span.org. talked to reporters at the pentagon by video conference earlier today. about the situation in afghanistan as the u.s. looking toward drawing down troops in the region. his remarks come as several media outlets report that the pentagon is proposing that as many as 10,000 troops remain in afghanistan after the combat mission officially ends. this briefing is 40 minutes. [inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> thank you for that introduction. can you hear me. over. >> we can hear you, sir. >> okay.
let me just say hello to the folks in the room. some of them i know. i'm disappointed with the patriots as the rest of the folks in the red sox nation were, but you'll get past that, tom. hang in there. and for all, what i want to talk to you about, obviously, is afghanistan. i'm the commander in third corp., and ijc. we're getting ready to be near the end of our mission. we have less than a month left we'll be replaced -- [inaudible] will be coming in here shortly. i've had several tours over here and i think i can provide you sort of with a little bit of perspective when we get to the questions if you want to have some of that as well. and i can talk 0 to you a little bit about the summer fighting season. i can talk to you give you an assessment where i think we are and where we're heading here in the war.
and for the folks back home in texas, some of the corp., as you know, is already arrived back home. we're proud of their service. quick opening remarking here on the summer fighting season. the taliban, about a year ago right now, they come out with their campaign plan and sent out a set of objectives they wanted to accomplish in the summer of 2013. and the ansf had a set of objectives in their campaign plan they wanted to accomplish. i would tell you on balance, the taliban lost the fight in the summer of 2013. and the ansf acquitted themselves extraordinarily well. throughout the summer, there was a tough fight in the afghans stood up and fought very well across the board throughout all the provinces and the districts.
and so on. i can provide you during q & a if you want data and statistics and so on and so forth to discuss that a little bit further. in my professional assessment after 35 years and multiple tours here in afghanistan, i can tell you that the afghan security forces. tactically overmatching anything that the taliban could throw at them and they performed extraordinarily well. they didn't do that with a whole lot of international help. they had some, we provided that over the summer. but for the most part, the afghans carried the heavy load throughout the summer. i think that's enormously significant. it was this past summer, as you know, that a fundamental condition changed in the war. it was the afghan security forces in the lead. that is not just a talking point. that's not spin, it's not smoke. that's for real. they paid for being in the lead
in their blood. they sacrificed a lot. and yet they never broke at any time. so the afghan security force were in good shape coming out of the summer fighting season. they were confident. they remained coherent and cohesive, and in general, across the board, the afghan security forces accomplished the objective they set out for themselves and the taliban, al qaeda, and the rest of them did not. and we can talk about that in a little bit, if you want to do that. ooze you know, we shifted gears. it you look back in time when i first come to the country. there were no afghan security forces or police. they were together in small unit and at the beginning of the campaign, at the beginning of the war, 13 years ago, it was the united states with some selected allies that were fighting a counterinsurgency
fight and counter terrorist fight. we come at the country at the beginning following the slaughter of 3,000 americans and other people from other countries on 9/11 and we come in to this country in order to prevent this country from ever begin being a platform to carry terrorism to the shores of the united states or any other vital national interest. that fundamental purpose why we're here has not changed. it is not changed. we choose to do that through stabilizing this country establishing security forces and the means and those security forces have gone from zero when i first showed up to almost 350,000 today. mix of police, army, special operations forces, that force, today, did very well over the past summer. and you know that transition several times over time in the
last 13 years, and we went from -- we were in the lead doing most of the fighting to partnered operations and the slogan of the day they are in the lead. and as we go forward, you're well aware that 31, december, 2014 is the end of the nato mandate, and at that point, we will hand over complete respondent for the defense of afghanistan to the afghan national security forces and the right to a sovereign nation of the government of afghanistan. so we've got about 11 months left to continue to build this army, to build this police force, so lid fie them, and some point nato announced we will have a followup mission. and what that mission consistencies of and what it is composed of. what the numbers are are unknown at this time. courses of action have been developed they're in a decision
making process. we'll get the orders and instructions in due time. but we are confident right now in the afghan security forces and we're confident that we are going continue to train, advise, and assist them and support them in the coming months. we are confidence that we will do that as well beyond 2014. with that i would like to say that extraordinarily proud of the soldiers and the sailor, airmen, a marines and all of the forces from the nato allies and the after began soldiers and police that are fighting the fight over here, and with that i'll go ahead and take whatever questions you may have. [inaudible] associated press. you made a reference to the uncertainty of the followup mission for the u.s. and nato beyond this year. you made a point of your confidence in the afghan security forces at this stage. i'm wondering what your
assessment would be if, at this time this year, there are no u.s. forces there. how would that effect the ability of the afghan forces to contain the insurgency? >> bob, thank you for the question. right now we have a base plan and we're proceeding with the base plan through the campaign through 2014. frankly, as you all know, there's a variety of options out there. i think that the decision making process at nato and in the united states those decision makers are going to be allowed to work through the various course of action and look at the cost and consequences, et. cetera. the real key here is going to be with the president karzai and the government of the afghanistan. the nato nation and the united states have offered support in
2015 and beyond, and that is being deliberated right now in the capital kabul with president scar i did. i hate to give you a wait and see. i don't want to speculate. we have to wait and see what the political leaders of the various countries decided. over. >> tom. general tom with npr. you mentioned that the afghan forces sacrificed a lot this past fighting season. could you give us a rough sense of the casualty rate for the afghans. how many did they lose per month during the fighting season? maybe compare it to last year. since you said the taliban lost the fight this past fighting season, and the afghan were attached overmatch for the taliban, a lot of people would listen to that americans and maybe some people in this government and say why are the u.s. forces doing that in the first place. why can't they leave now?
>> yeah. question, tom. thanks. on the casualty, the afghans security forces suffered more casualty this summer. the casualties increased depending on the unit anywhere between 50 and 70%. it's in that range. precise numbers i prefer not to give out precise numbers of the afghan casualties. but i can tell you that there was probably somewhere in the range of 3 to 4 sthowrks fire fight in the past fighting season, if you will. and all of those several thousand fire fight, the afghan security forces probably lost somewhere defeat 100 and 150, maybe. so bottom line is in 95 plus percent of the tactical engagement that the afghan security forces fought in, they
clearly held their ground, and defeated the attacks from the enemy. there was probably about 150 or so where the afghan security forces did not prevail. each one of those was mostly in rural areas low level of population, and they were not areas of tactical and or operational strategic consequence. but nevertheless, there were some minor tactical victories by the enemy. but for the overwhelming majority of the fighting that occurred this past year, that clearly went in the favor of the ansf, they set out for a campaign plan and said that kabul and kandahar were decisive terrain. and highway one the ring road you're familiar with along with
highway 7 and 4 and the main lines of communication. they described those as key terrain. if the point of a counterinsurgency to protect the population roughly speaking about 70 to 80% of the 30 million people that are in afghanistan live in those urban areas and/or within 25 miles was main line of communication. at no time did the afghan security forces during the past summer lose any urban area, any population center, not a single district center was overrun. that's quite a change from a few years ago. and colt highway 1 was interdicted and you saw news story about it and over areas along highway one, you have to put that in context. 12,000 miles or so around i'm
sorry 1200 miles around. if you look at the areas that interdicted by the enemy for short period of time, you are looking at probably somewhere around 100 miles of road and the most significant of which was south of kabul. and the enemy it was able to interdict that periodically for temporary period of time consistently for probably about four to six weeks. then they replaced the minister of interior with minister -- minister of interior. within a shot period of time he energid the forces. the ana piled on with a campaign a multibrigade operation conducted. and they resecured highway 1 south of kabul. so bottom line is the key terrain, the roads, and the
decisive terrain, the main city of kabul, kandahar, but also jill bad and others. those are well within control. from are areas tested to be sure. if you look at the areas -- [inaudible] areas to the west of kandahar. if you look at gazi city. that contested. it was fairly contested. this past summer [inaudible] and part of some part down around -- if you added up all of that geographic mas, you are talking about roughly speaking about 20 percent of the land mass of afghanistan was fairly contested. if you look at the denty of population, you're probably talking somewhere about 15% or
so of the population that was in those areas of significant level of violence over the summer. put that in the reverse about 80% or more of the land mass and 80% of the people were actually secured during this last summer fighting season with the ansf. there's another key point, i think, that came out of this past summer. if you're an insurgent all war is about politics. and insurgency guerrilla war, revolutionary war, call it what you will. that is more political than most. you have to have some degree of political support if you're going to prevail. the taliban and the allies their strategic goal is to political power and cover. that's what their aim is. that's what they're trying to do. to do that, you have to have some sort of political base, and
it was clear throughout this summer because of the murdering and the suicide bombing and the terrorism that the taliban conducted, their popularity, if you will, declined. on average across the cub, you're looking at someone between a 10 and 15% support rate through a variety of polling and intelligence sources that were used. on thely. -- on the flip side you're looking -- in term of the ansf. you look at the anp according to the data we have, the police forces the people have confidence to the tune of 23eu8%. that's pretty significant. for the army it's even more. 92% of the people of afghanistan have confidence and support in the afghan national army. it's somewhere around the 70 to 75% support the government. those are pretty significant
number. those are facts coming out of the past summer, and if you're the regime and you're trying to preserve power, that is in your favor. if you're the insurgent and trying to seize power and overthrow the regime, those numbers are not favorable to you. so the combat power and insurgency is more than the number of battles. that's probably the least important. but the credibility of the force, the credibility of the government, the credibility of the insurgent matter a lot. and the taliban have very, very little credibility throughout the country from a political standpoint. over. >> in term of the second question, you know, if things are going so well. why can't the americans just leave? >> well, yeah, let me.
as i said, they did very well tactically. we are transitioning right now from combat advising to functional advising. what does that mean? it's our assessment that the afghan they do not need with few exceptions tactical advisers with them on combat operations on day in and day out basis. we know that the afghan buy talon and companies can fight. they can shoot, move, communicate, they can conduct combined arms operations. we know that all of the maneuver brigade and all 24 of them are either partially capable, capable, or fully capable. we know that the corp. can conduct, coordinate, sink nice, and execute combined operation. that's important. tactic and army do not meet.
they have to be more than that. you have to have, in order to sustain yourself over time, you have to have institutional systems that are in place where they can, in fact, replenish their forces. they can do personnel management, budget, intelligence operations and view all type of -- they can train pilot and conduct fixed wing operation. they have to be able to sustain themselves logistically. they have to get spare part and run an entire distribution system. at the tact call level within we are pretty much satisfied that the afghan army can fight.
there are a couple of areas where we're working hard on right now. a couple of functional areas. we want to improve the medical system. we think we can do that. shore that up before the end of the year. we want to significantly improve their ability to counter ied. we know one out of every two suffered comes from ied. we want to significantly improve the tactic, technique, procedure, and the ied. we want to improve the fire. we anticipate it will be some years before they have a full-fledged capability for counterinsurgency in wing aircraft. through the use of indirect fire, and mortar. they made a lot of progress on that the past year. sustainment and logistics, we think they did okay this year. they were able to, you know, feed themselves in the field. provide water, provide ammunition, et. cetera. but we have to make sure that the flow from kabul, the
international community, and the donors coming through kabul down to the field in combat units we have to improve that. the last area we want to make sure that in order for an army to sustain itself they have to train themselves. i believe that the army itself -- the operational fielded force. the combat battalion brigade are pretty well trained. they have to learn how to train over time. they're doing very well on things like basic training and small unit tackics. we have to also work with them to support and build a training management system that works over time without foreign help. so the big one is aviation, minister of development, special ops, intelligence, medical, cid fires, those peace parts. systems the functions, we want to shore up here in the next year or so. some of them may take longer than a year. i think most of the medical counter id fires we'll be able to get that progressed pretty
well during the year. over. >> general jim with nbc news. you said that president karzai is the key to any kind of follow on operation, yet he's still refused to sign on to the bilateral security agreement. one gets a sense there's a political deadline and operational deadline. what is the drop dead deadline for the u.s. and international forces before -- they'll have to pick up and go home. can the kick down the road indefinitely? >> jim, thanks. great to hear your voice. frankly, i think it would be inappropriate for me to put out deadlines and that sort of thing. i think there's a decision making process, and that's
ongoing. i think it's more appropriate for the government of the united states and the member states of nato to talk any deadlines with respect that. operationally we'll execute whatever directed execute whenever directed executed. we have a redeployment schedule. we'll hit 34,000, as you know, here on february 34,000 troops on 1, february. we have closed, you know, a lot of bases over the last year or two or three. if you go back a couple of years we had 800 or so and bases and now we're down about 89. we'll close a transfer to the afghans more of those in the coming months. we have a large amount of vehicles and equipment and, as you know, personnel. we are on glide path to continue to reduce the force to whatever
the number the national leadership of the various nations decide is appropriate. over. >> confidence an agreement will be reached? >> i didn't pick up the question. >> general, are you personally confident that an agreement will be reached? >> well, i would tell you we have a base plan, and everything we have planned is built upon and assumption that an agreement will be reached. that's what nato has instructed us. that's what our plans are. on less districted otherwise we'll proceed down there. i don't know all the politics of it, to tell you the truth, jim. i don't deal with the palace personally. that's the purview of general dun ford, ambassador cunningham.
other nato leaders. we have a representative of nato. those are the guys that deal with that. we proceed on the operational level and below. so our planning that we've done makes base assumption that agreements will be met and we'll execute base plans. over. >> thank you, general. "the guardian." go back to tackics for a second. the language you used, the ansf held their ground they withstood attacks on the enemies suggested most of the initiative during the summer fighting season was with the insurgency. is that the case or did the ansf take territory contested back? if not, do you anticipate that being a feature of the coming year or is it going to be more of an effort around sustaining the institutions and the other effect of combat arms that you mentioned. >> well, i think the question of
initiative -- i have to look at that from a couple of different levels. in an insurgency, typically the tactical initiative, the microtactical initiative -- who fires the shot, et. cetera, typically is with the insurgent. it's not always the case. typically it is. they pick the time and place typically of the engagement. quickly, in this case with the nsf -- not only repulsed the national blast but then quickly overwhelmed the enemy. operationally, though, i would argue and strategically i would argue the initiative which is far more important to the outcome of a war is starting with the government of afghanistan. and i say that because the afghan security forces advance so far in their confidence and confidence and capability, the significantly over the past
summer and i think the enemy -- you can never be sure. based on all the intelligence have and and analysis and et. cetera, i think the enemy struggled this summer. they had a difficult time around kandahar. which was one of the area -- a strong area for the enemy. they struggled even in albon which was a heart land. in the east you see about 50% or so, roughly speaking, of all the violent contacts occur in the east, and in the east, you have -- [inaudible] both of them did very well. then they were able to retain the key decisive terrain. they were able to maintain government control in most of the areas under their -- in their areas of responsibility. so at the operational level, i think the initiative was with
the government. at the strategic level, i would argue the initiative was with the government. in their proceeding not only did we do security transition, which was a major milestone, a major objective for this past summer, when we had the 18 ceremony which was just representative of the transition to the afghan security forces and lead security. now we are in the mist of political transition and about to start the campaign season for the upcoming election. they have completed voter registration. roughly speaking about somewhere between 18 and 20 million people registered to vote out of a population of 30 million plus. 76% of them said they are very likely or likely to vote in the upcoming election. i think it was clear from the -- where you got the all the elders
from the various tripes and areas and regions and districts together. i thought the overwhelming message coming out of that was a rejection of the taliban agenda. i can tell you from polls and intelligence, from things, from people registered to vote, et. cetera. that the people of afghanistan reject the taliban. they know what the taliban is about. they lived under taliban rule for some time. they went through 30 years of uninterrupted civil war with the soviet. and a postcivil war. and now going through the last decade or so of the fight they're in. and most people in afghanistan would tell you they're better off today than the last 40 years. if you look at everything from the progress made in health, education, telecommunications,
connectivity to the outside world, and a whole wide variety of other societal factors. the taliban come up on the short end of the stick here. that's because they are widely known and widely recognized they did only destroy. they can kill, intimidate, blow up a lebanese restaurant, commit suicide bombings, assassinated selected people. they can't build. they can't create education. they can't health care. on the taliban rule hardly anybody had access to health care. today everybody is within an hour or two of a hospital with doctors, nurses, and wide variety of other medical capability. under the taliban hardly anybody went to school. today there's 10 million people going to school. there's almost 200,000 students. the people of afghanistan recognize that. so strategically, the tide of the war is not with the taliban and their fellow travelers.
the taliban recognized that. they know they are -- [inaudible] on the edge of strategic defeat. they intend to try to disprupt the selection, prevent the -- they have to do that. if they are going to have any relevance in the future. come together next 120 days and beyond, if a bsa an election happens and generally acceptable to the people of afghanistan, the taliban have taken a mortal blow and they know that. if the event happen, they know that. so the afghan security forces know that this upcoming election period is critical to the future of afghanistan and the people of afghanistan know that. so i think the strategic tide -- i know the operational tide
clearly went with the ansf. i would argue that the strategic momentum, the strategic initiative is with the government at this time. over. [inaudible conversations] if the nsf took it away from the taliban this summer and decided -- [inaudible] >> yeah. depending that they already had. they most of it. there were some areas of the government, i mean. they had some areas in rural areas with the taliban had some advances then the ansf went in and conducted operations and cleared those areas. if you look up in the valley, for example, on 6th june. ansf without hardly any coalition or nato support, no nato forces on the ground. they went in to the -- [inaudible]
continuing mission. they are doing it steadily. june, july, august, september. all the way through. they took that ground, for sure. there's an area that was contested considerably. launched an offensive area. if you look at the area in the outskirt of kandahar. heavily -- has gone by. the 205th core launched an offensive on the last couple of months there, and pretty soundly defeated the enemy in that area. they sent order to the people to go to ground, withdraw. the pressure was too much. so it was clear to us that the afghan security forces held their ground. but they already had.
in some areas heavily contested they made some good progress. over. general ab andrew with military times. i would like to ask you about force protection. as you all draw down over the course of this year, and those numbers get lower and lower, is that going to raise any new concerns in term of force protection. fair to say there's a relationship numbers get low -- force production concerns go up? yeah. absolutely force protection is on our mind every day. it's on the mind of every commander and leader in afghanistan. we are in a war zone. we recognize that. and force protection is the top priority of every commander. no doubt about it. and we take all the appropriate measures. the basic ttp that we use is layered security.
in and around all of our compounds, and that includes ansf, army, police, nds. we have a robust intelligence capability here for early warning. and we have very, very capable reaction forces as well. but force protection is definitely high on our priority list every day day in, day out 24/7. >> how will that change? >> over. i'm sorry. say that -- >> to draw down. will those concerns increase? well, we've been steadily drawing down. as we draw down, we take appropriation measures. we have gone from 800 pieces down to 89 today. they have delivered him tear operations.
yes, it's always a concern. and force protection is the first thing on our mind all the time. any time we do anything. the bottom line is it going to increase or decrease. it's relative to where you are, and we measure all of that appropriately. so. that's all about i want to say about it. i don't want to give you a risk-assessment thing in public. over. >> i think we have time for one more and closing remarks. >> general, -- [inaudible] ruthers. you mentioned the attack on the restaurant in kabul. do you see that attack as a shifted tactics by the taliban? are you expecting as foreign military forces with -- increase attack on civilian targets or perhaps western civilian targets. and do you believe that the afghan government and the afghan security forces are equipped and able to prevent such attacks and keep workers and other
civilians, afghans themselves. the 21 murdered civilians at that restaurant attack, both afghan and international to include three americans heart felt condolences and thought and prayer. it was a terrible attack. it was vicious, brutal, unprecedented. it was the most area attack on innocent civilians, foreign nationals in kabul in a long time. is it a shift in tactics? i think the enemy tactic is the aim, way achieving aims. like terrorists do. the whole purpose is to create a perception, an atmosphere, a fear. i would expect additional attacks like that. they've been doing it all
summer. years ago, they were capable of conducting what would be perhaps guerrilla war. they were able to mask combat power in 200 man elements and able to execute operations in a more coordinated way. this past summer they weren't able to do that. they were -- suicide bombers. murders, assassinations, and ied attacks. and the short answer is yes, i would expect more suicide-type high profile spectacular attacks. i would expect those would be aimed at afghan security forces. afghan official. diswels innocent civilians. the taliban murder all an awful lot of civilians in this country every day and every week and
every month. their own policy is to kill and maim at murder in order to instill fear. are they having that effect, though? are they able to achieve the perception of insecurity? if it is correct, if the intelligence is correct, they are not having that effect on the people of afghanistan. what they're having on the people of afghanistan is they're hardining the people of afghanistan against the taliban. not in favor of the purpose or the aim. >> sir, we have time for you to quickly wrap up. >> i'm sorry. i couldn't hear you. >> we have time for a quick closing remarks.
closing remarking. okay. first of all, thank you for the opportunity. here is my basic kind of message. basic observation from me over here from what i've seen over the years. what i saw this past summer, and we lost soldiers. the united states lost schooled jeers, nato lost soldiers. we lost half as many in '13 as we did in '12. those soldiers sacrificed. the afghans stepped up to the fight. there a lot of people, a year ago, two years ago, said that wasn't going happen. it did happen. the afghan people and the afghan security forces fought the fight. was it perfect. no. pretty? no. war is not a pretty thing. but they did it. they fought, fought hard. they achieved their strategic and operational objectives. of began security forces and murder from the past summer.
very competent and capable and confident in air own ability. leadership improved. cohesion was maintained. the skills were demonstrated. but there's more work to get done here. we center got to continue to build the institutions to ensure that this security force can continue to stand on their own. that security force provides the shield to buy the time and space for the rest of society to develop and health and education and develop and economics and so on and so forth. that's the fundamental premise in order to stabilize the place and prevent it from becoming a haven for terrorists to attack the united united states. i think it can work. i think it is working, i think it can work. i think it relies significantly on the commitment of the united states. the commitment of nato. i can tell you that with uncertainty the soldiers over
here of all the nations are absolutely committed to the mission, and they are doing a great job at it. and i look forward to seeing the afghan security forces in the coming months. have a election and have a peaceful and credible transition of power from one administration to the over in the first time in afghan history. it will be a huge turning point and reinforce the digital strategic momentum, and strategic initiative with the government of afghanistan and i think they'll be in good shape. i'll stake any questions. it not i'll sign off from here. >> thank you, sir. have a good evening. another defense briefing now from earlier today. one includes admiral samuel. commander of the u.s. pacific command. he spoke to reporters about u.s.
policy toward asia and other related issues. this is a half hour. [inaudible] >> okay. alohoa. i'm sorry i'm a couple of minutes late. i appreciate you standing by. it's great to have an opportunity and sit down to talk with you about what is going on in the pacific in the asia-pacific. my particular area of responsibility. it's been awhile since i've been here in washington, and a lot has happened during that time. we assisted the philippine government as they dealt with the aftermath of a super typhoon.
the operation and the joint task force. they did an excellent job. it was a multinational operation. there was a quick transition in that operation to the armed forces of the philippine and ultimately to the government of the philippine to be able to continue that recovery. but the effort was, i think, successful. it demonstrates the overall value of working together on hadr-related training and initiatives so we can respond more quickly and effectively and these type of things. and i think it paid big dividends to the thing we've been doing in the aor. as you know, about -- about 80% total of all natural disasters happen within that area of responsibility that i look at every day. so being able to respond in that way was a good sign, i think, of
our alliance, our partnership, and the multilateral training we're doing together. also, traveled to thailand and vietnam. we've been seeing the political unrest in thailand. it's important, i think, to highlight that the military has responded favorably in support of their government, a democracy. that is working through the challenges. my time talking with both the government and the military leadership highlighted their efforts to maintain that peaceful democratic processes, and we hope them all the best. ..
in fact, this i can pay, spencer disaster management center opened in vietnam is traveling in the country, which is indicative of the rings we are doing together. finally, before i take your questions come at night to make remarks to the navy service warrior convention that i spoke at last week. as you may or may not know, i am the service warrior as well. i have many years of it. and i must every location around the globe. so it is important me that forms such as not that i addressed the navy's future service warrior leaders coming here them and