tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 18, 2014 4:00am-6:01am EDT
limiting our ability to protect become -- the public? >> i'm confident that the incident we did not -- we saw did not cause the release of agents into the community or exposure to city staff. they are a tipping point and a recognition of the need to improve our laboratory safety. we are fully functional in terms of responding to an event. it is the step of -- i have issued a moratorium on. we will lifted as soon as we are confident we can do it safely. >> what i intend to do is to
bring an advisor and have them tell us every way -- >> what about the national science advisory board? >> that is not the current planned. -- that is not the current plan. they purged half their members from the board. i was inquisitive whether you knew about this. why the administration took this action. whether an ih consultant -- nih consulted. >> you will have to do for to them. >> that eliminates one question. in light of the anthrax incident they recently completed -- you think
inspections were sufficient? >> i do. >> the protocols were in place because of the primary cause of the incident, which was the the bacteria was not inactivated, it was transferred to a laboratory that would not this is early have to have a locked cabinet. when we provide a report on select agents, as indicated earlier, we report on those laboratories where the select agent went. in this case not deactivated. >> that concludes my questions. i yield back the balance of my
time. >> the speaker week -- recognizes mr. long. >> thank you. docrtor, are you familiar with this question -- picture? this vial is dated 17 months before i was born. apparently -- i can't even imagine a cooler running for 60 years. >> my understanding it was a walk-in cold room used for storage. >> someone walked in and discovered the smallpox? >> that laboratory was
transitioned from nih to fda many years ago. in the course of moving, it was doing a complete inventory. workers discovered a large box. i'm sorry, laboratory scientist 's. >> recently, there was a case of someone who wanted to remove information from the nsa. they got in a position to do that. with a 1500 dollars drive, he was able to take all kinds of severe secrets from the government. does it bother that it -- you that if people had cruelty and meanness in mind, they could get into a cooler and take a vial of
smallpox? >> we are concerned that small locks -- smallpox, which should not have been there, was there for years. we want to ensure on our campus -- and nih is looking at their campus -- there are not other examples of collections. this is a collection of organisms that are in places they should not be. this particular box was clearly created by a scientist who is very experienced. the materials were essentially freeze-dried. and then sealed in that object you held up the picture off. that was done before smallpox eradication was taken. it was not done with malicious intent. >> i understand. but the fact that this could lay around -- i cannot even conceive. let me take you to a press
conference now that we have moved from 61 years ago -- a press conference you indicated the cdc does research to figure out how better to treat people if they are exposed and prevented if they are exposed. you also stated the fact that anthrax continues to occur in nature it has been used as a weapon. my question is this. how many cdc laboratory workers received to the fda licensed vaccine prior to the incident last month? >> i would have to get back to you on the exact number. we offer anthrax vaccine to anyone for whom it is indicated. we don't require people to it vaccinated but we offer it to anyone who might be exposed. >> you think that is an active around -- program?
do you have any idea? >> i would have to get back to you. >> it is reported you told reuters on june the fact that anthrax exposure was even a concern is unacceptable. employees should never have to be concerned about the safety of preventable exposures. more than 12 million doses of the vaccine have been administered to more than 3 million individuals. if you can get back to me, i would appreciate it. >> i will. >> a yield back. >> thank you. we recognize -- >> thank you mr. chairman. this is a good discussion. i appreciate your candid responses. at this point, the most important thing we can all do is get to the bottom of it.
so these things do not happen again. i did want to clarify something. there was a question posed about the number of missing possible toxic substances. i know you it knowledge to overtime -- i know you ain't knowledged overtime -- how do you determine it was not stolen? if anyone on the panel would like to comment i would appreciate it. >> to giving example, there may have been a package sent from one location to the other. with a select agent in it. it not that she did not arrive at the second location. the fbi concluded in one
particular case the package had been inadvertently destroyed. it had not been stolen or lost. is there anything you would like to add? >> one thing i think is important. we take the notion of chain of custody seriously. we are trying to be mindful of where the agents are stored. we have eyes on them. somebody trusted to be with them. occasionally the doctor is correct. there could be an accounting issue where something has been destroyed and they did not complete the paperwork. we have to understand what happened. i have been a couple of incidences like that. >> thank you for clarifying that. getting back to some of the toxic substances that have been found in boxes that may not -- has stated what they are any
refrigerated walk-in storage or otherwise, when the nih ran across their most recent problem, they put in place with a colace -- what they call a clean sweep. you said there was a transition between nih and fda. were they already in the process? is that what the queen -- clean sleep is? >> my understanding is both nih and fda are doing complete inventory checks and follow-up. >> i guess my question for you is is the cdc doing the same? >> we will do a comer hence of inventory review -- a comprehensive inventory review at all our facilities. >> including the one that shut down? >> yes. >> thank you.
i have time if anyone wants to use it. i yield back. if no one else wants my time. >> i believe that concludes our first panel. i think all the witnesses for coming today. i will let you step away well he prepare the second panel. we will have some follow-up questions so please get back to us in quicktime. >> will you yield for one second. i would hope that we would have this panel back in the fall after dr. frieden completes his investigation and puts his controls in place. i think it is important for us to know what they are doing. i know they are working hard. >> i agree. we will bring them back.
>> has he checked and?in? >> i don't know. sleeping -- i may swear you in so you can get started on your testimony. you are aware the committee is holding a hearing. do you have any objections to the testimony under oath. did you have in a desire to be advised by counsel? raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony is nothing but the truth? >> i do. >> subject to the penalties of the u.s. code, you can now give a five-minute written summary --
summary of your written statement. let me begin by commending the cdc. during this very serious issue. i stand by my belief that when the -- someone does something wrong, you cannot forget what they had done right. cdc has an outstanding history. for over 10 years, i have been writing -- been providing biosafety. i have been -- i mowed -- there are three main challenges we face when doing scientific research. the agent, the people working with the agent, and the people
where the work is being done. the first chart -- challenge has been, for decades and can be appropriately mitigated three -- mitigates. it is important to recognize that no person can negate -- one person can negate all the controls in an incident -- human risk factors such as risk perception attitudes behavior, complacency, and perceived mastery must be addressed. we must accept and learn from human error. in other words, we must stop focusing on the who.
passing no judgment other than that we are all human. our final and greatest challenge is the safety culture. let me repeat myself. the greatest challenge we face is not the agent or worker. is the culture of the organization. the culture from its norms to be created and the area there deemed except the bolt or unacceptable. i'm disappointed by what i am hearing. it sounds like this is a systematic problem rather than of a laboratory director. i'm disappointed with the people
who made an unintentional error. it calls on the need for scientific protocols to be reviewed to make sure they work. if they are not consequences are immediately applied. this incident calls for more evidence-based research to determine what works in minimize risks associated with the challenges we face. which again are the agent, the people, and the organization. in the years i have been doing training, i have been forced to speak a common language around the world. no matter where you are in the u.s., or around the world people can relate to the concept of neighborhood, house, and family. i have used a home sweet home approach for establishing a healthy culture and my laboratory training. these consider this analogy. a laboratory is a home.
the scientists are a family. the scientific recalls or the house rules. if one member of the family breaks the house rules, it puts the whole family at risk. if breaking the rules is not addressed, the whole house is at risk. it begins to affect other houses in the neighborhood. let me clarify. the scientists do not follow their house rules, which impacts other houses in the neighborhood. cdc has hundreds of labs. if the neighborhood does not establish a set of ground rules for all the houses, each couch -- house begins to do their own thing and the neighborhood is at risk. building a culture of safety begins with a commitment to the residence or scientists. we don't banish scion -- family members for unintentional errors. we encourage them to come together to find solutions.
we established consequences for those who choose to break neighborhood pools -- rules. we support each other when accidents occur. we talk about incidences so the neighborhood grows and learns. we recognize together, we are safer. this commitment is contagious and spreads to homes throughout the neighborhood. this includes laboratory throughout the organization. this is just the start of culture change. the seed we plan today is what we will reap five years from now. somewhere out there is an organization or scientist to find something unexpected or makes an unintentional error. a choice has to me made. do i report this or not. i ask this committee to facilitate a process that encourages organizations to report rather than punishing them for doing so.
cdc remains a national treasure. the u.s. of a remains a land of opportunity for research. placing untested mandates on scientists and research institutions may never only push scientists out of this research, but could shifted to other regions of the world. i asked this committee to take a leadership role while cousins during the application -- well considering the invocations. >> thank you. you are not a available so i will have to swear you. we take testimony under oath. you have an objection to testifying under oath? the chair will advise you. you will -- you are advice -- we please raise your right hand. the testimony is true and
nothing but the truth. you are now under oath and subject to the penalties under title 18 he. -- title 18. you may now give a verbal summary of your statement. >> mr. chairman, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the 2014 anthrax incident. i am board of governors for fetzer of chemistry at rutgers. laboratory director. i will discuss three topics. first, 2014 cdc anthrax incident. second broader while safety and bio security implications. also known as select agent laboratories. three, broader issues at more than 1000 other government academic and corporate select agent laboratories regulated by
the cdc. my assessments are based on information in published cdc and other agency documents. published press reports. and my knowledge he -- of standards. i turn first to the 2014 incident. the 2014 cdc anthrax incident did not involve one violation in one laboratory. it involved a series of violations. it involved multiple violations of biosafety and bio security recommendations in three laboratories. there were seven distinct violations total. had any of three violations in one laboratory not occurred, the incident would not have occurred. had any of four violations into other laboratories not occurred the impact would have been mitigated. the incident reprised nearly
exactly a 2004 incident where workers in frederick, maryland used an inappropriate procedure to -- to verify an activation. and sent it to oakland transit -- oakland children's hospital where eight persons were exposed. the cdc as the agency with regulatory responsibility investigated the 2004 oakland anthrax incident and issued a report. the 2005 report included revised biosafety and security recommendations for laboratories that prepare and provide the bacteria and laboratories that receive and use those. had the cdc implemented the recommendations in its own 2005 report, the 2014 incident could not have occurred.
but they did not implement the recommendations in the 2005 report. effect of the cdc in 2014 made exactly the same errors that have been made in the oakland incident shows they did not learn from that incident. i turn now to iowa safety and bio security. i submit is not an isolated incident but a pattern. last week's report listed multiple incidents. these previously undisclosed incidents are similar to the 2014 incident, in particularly -- in particular to previously undisclosed incident. they raise safety and security concerns.
audits have documented -- in 2008, 2009 and 2010 reported major violations. violations included failure to ensure is a goal safety. to -- to ensure physical safety. to acquire -- to provide training to workers. with training being unverifiable and one in three workers. they included unauthorized transfers to other individuals. the press reports from 2000 seven have documented further biosafety and bio security deficiencies. examples include inadequate provisions for backup power. failure to maintain pressure
areas. nonfunctioning door seals. failure to close entry doors. to latch entry doors. to do -- assign key codes. in one case, the discovery of taken together, the documents indicate that the cdc is not adequately ensuring biosafety in its own labs and are resistant with systematic violations of bio security in its own labs. i turn now to via security at cdc. >> can you summarize the rest of your statement? >> the cdc and usda have responsibility in the approximately 1000 other u.s. select agent labs. government academic, and corporate. there's no basis for confidence that bio security standards are higher or more stringent at cdc-regulated non-cdc labs.
there is no basis for confidence that bio security standards are higher or select agent inspections are more stringent than at cdc agent laboratories. deficiencies in standards at these other laboratories are amply documented in the oig audit. one final point. i know that the cdc and usda funds the work but also regulates biosafety and bio security for select agent work. this represents a clear conflict of interest. the systematic clear conflict of interest may at least partially account for the deficiencies mentioned. >> i think the two witnesses and i recognize myself for five minutes. mr. kaufman, you specialize in
behavior and behavioral change along those lines. we have heard from you that the culture of complacency is a concern. we have investigated problems with the veterans administration but we saw that there were cash incentives for people to cover things up, shred them, hide waiting lists. we have also heard from gm ceo mary barra. americans were outraged that it was discussed as a culture of complacency and now we see this in an area, if you're not a veteran or did not by the city -- chevy cars, you are not at risk. a pathogen is pretty indiscriminate. does this routine familiarity around pathogens tend to lead people to cut corners and just get complacent? >> i believe you know this. i believe that there is an
inherent risk in behavior in general. you over-behave and you run the risk of being complacent. if you under-behave you are not prepared. this is what, in essence professional training and assessments can be used for to keep the balance in check. we're talking about the anthrax incident in a laboratory. i do not believe this was a complacency issue or an incompetency issue. this is a time to that implemented a protocol from another laboratory where it was used for good purposes and i would love to share with those purposes are. there was no process to that that protocol. when it was adapted from one laboratory to another, it is a lot more with b.a. >> the way the doors were
handled and we heard about people being in an area and they were not authorized to be there and a key was left in a refrigerator. it seems to me there are several elements where rules are in place and they are just downright sloppy. >> chairman murphy, the things you are saying are downright true and they must be addressed and concerned but they need to the put in perspective. the key in a freezer i have a house and inside my house i have a gun and it has a door with locks and it also has a house alarm. upstairs inside that safe is a gun with a trigger lock that has a key in it. >> that's not the case here. if people can come into that area where they are all achy backing on each other's cards,
those are violations of rules. >> i will not argue the fact that it's a problem, because it is. i'm telling you i've seen those refrigerators. these refrigerators are places where you actually have to have access. i came in as a civilian. i've been to the laboratory. i've seen these freezers. >> the issue is how people behaved. that's the question i had before. there required to use the actual card. only certain persons can get and with the authorization and it records when they are in there. in some cases the deadly pathogens require two keys, two sets of eyes. i'm not clear on what you are saying and i want to be. are you making excuses for the persons saying there were is not enough protocol? >> no sir.
i'm saying there is a healthy respect for what is truly going on here. we need to look at the spec from. we cannot be arrogant and say this is just what happens in science. we cannot say we need to stop all research, minimize, cut things down to a certain number of laboratories as a result of what happens here. we need to take a balanced approach at what happened in the culture for which it happened. >> i disagree. >> can you please explain? >> these are problems of individuals acting in a context and the context has two components. one is the laboratory culture. we have heard several times about a culture of lax attitude toward safety and that's part of the problem. we have heard several times today about them becoming in nerd to working with this.
hubris is fundamentally part of the problem here. the sense of the scientist that he or she should be able to proceed without restriction and without management. these are all issues with the culture. you have an institutional structure, institutional management and then these are even bigger problems that are even more significantly responsible for the issues that i described. i mention the fact that cdc and usda regulate around biosafety and bio security. they perform the work and they fund the work, an inherent conflict of interest. until the responsibility is moved out of those two agencies and out of any that performs select agent research, i believe you can predict with high confidence the same types of
problems, the same patterns, the same cultures will remain in place in cdc labs, usda labs and the approximately 1000 other labs they regulate. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. kaufman, i have no doubt that these individuals have no ill motive. they are motivated to do their research. let me put this in context. i don't know if you were here when we gave opening statement. i've been on this committee since 1997. the reason why we are so concerned here is because this kind of practice keeps happening over and over again. it is not just one isolated incident. the memo that i put into the record said there were six
inspections. avis identified 29 observations of concern the facilities and equipment. 27 related to safety and security and 39 on documentation and record keeping. a lot of times what we're dealing with in this situation is very, very extreme bio agents that could kill a number of people. you are nodding your head so i assume you agree. like i say i think the people are trying to do the job and they are motivated. with all due respect, we are not overreacting here. this has to be solved. since you are here, did you hear ms. kingsbury's testimony where she said that we need to have one agency at least in charge of developing national standards? >> yes, i did. >> what did you think of that?
she admitted it would be difficult because of overlapping jurisdictions. would you agree that is worth an effort to try to do that? >> i know you like yes and no answers. i agree we should explore what we are doing today and what we should do in the future. >>dr dr. ebright? >> there should be a single agency that sets policy regulations, policies standards, advises on needs and how they should be met. there should also be a national entity that regulates and oversees the select agent. they need not be the same. >> let me just say that we've seen this in this subcommittee not just at cdc. we've also seen it in the lab. we saw it at loss alamosa -- los
alamos where some sensitive data disappeared because a researcher took it home to his house. you call it hubris or whatever. it's an assumption that there is important researcher going on and nothing bad will happen. >> correct. >> so what i think -- in fairness, i think what dr. frieden thinks, too is you need to put systems in place so it's not relying on somebody to have that kind of judgment where you should have a system. would you agree with that? >> absolutely. >> mr. kaufman? >> absolutely. >> mr. chairman, i don't have anything further. >> i now recognize ms. blackburn of tennessee. >> thank you. i think we are now on the same
path here with our questions. dr. ebright i want to come to you. let's go back to the cdc report from 2004 anthrax incident. it stated it should be cultured both at the preparing lab before shipment and at the research lab several days before use to ensure sterility. did cdc follow their own advice? go ahead. >> they did not. definitely not in 2006. definitely not and 2014. >> we have a continued pattern of refusing to learn. >> refusing to read their own report and follow their own recommendations. >> you are the director of a biomedical research lab. >> yes. >> you do some of the same work
with dangerous pathogens. how important is it to you that all personnel in your lab strictly follow your biosafety protocol? in order to follow those of biosafety protocol they have an understanding, that culture of safety that is lacking at cdc. >> it's critically important. for biosafety working with while hazardous organisms that any level, 1, 2, 3 or 4 the message of safety has to come first. the safety training has to come first. before any experiment has even begun, there has to be a process of risk assessment, risk-benefit assessment, in which they weigh the risk against the benefits, assesses that the risks are outweighed and that cost needs
to be reviewed by another set of eyes. >> do you follow this is standard operating procedure? >> we do for biohazard research. >> is a clearly understood from all of your personnel? do they see this as written best practices? do they understand that they are expected and required to follow? >> they understand they are expected and required to follow these practices. they are monitored. the message consistently is these agents require respect and they must be handled with respect and before any experiment the risk-benefit assessment must occur. >> and if one of your personnel failed to follow the protocols, what would you do to them? >> depending on the nature of the failure, they would face
consequences up to and including termination. >> we don't see that pattern taking place at cdc. >> we haven't seen evidence of it. >> do you think cdc is in n eed of a major correction? do you have advice on what that would be? >> many of the things we heard dr. frieden suggests our exactly the steps required. the question is whether this time will be different from the previous time and the time before that, and the time before that. >> and if they did not do that, according to what you said, you would terminate the whole bunch? [laughter] >> in this particular case personnel action won't be sufficient to resolve the issue. this issue is institutional and organizational. they cannot have the regulatory
authority to regulate themselves. it simply does not work. it does not work in many areas of human endeavor. >> mr. kaufman, anything to add? >> i continue to stand by my belief that -- and my conviction -- because over the last 10 years i have traveled several labs and i have asked scientists to please report laboratory accidents and incidents so we can learn from them. if we take this chance now and turn this into a punitive action against scientists that make intended injuries, it builds resentment, teaches no new behavior, and it hides true behavior. if we're going to make decisions to decrease risk in science we better consider how we address incidents and accidents before doing so. a punitive actions, in my opinion, are not the way to go.
certainly against a scientist makes a mistake. if they go against standard operating procedure, that's a completely different job issue than a scientist doing their job within a culture and does not go outside of the s.o.p. provided to them. >> thank you. mr. chair, i yield back. >> it builds resentment? you've got to be kidding me. you are telling me these people with phd's don't understand that anthrax is dangerous? are you kidding me? they need more training? you are making your statement that it was a result of a training failure. blah blah, blah. are you making excuses for these scientists? if they don't understand that anthrax is used for select --
used for a weapon and it can harm and kill people then they should not be working there. it sounds like you are saying they need more training. boo hoo. this is a bad situation and i don't think you understand the seriousness of this and it sounds like you're making excuses. " the washington post," today's cartoon. you think the employees of the cdc are proud of this? this is not funny. this could have been lethal for people. i hear you tell ms. blackburn that we are going to build resentment? i'm sorry. i don't buy that at all. >> may i comment? again, i'm not defending what's going on at the cdc. i've said i'm disappointed even as a former -- >> "disappointed" is not the right word.
you should find it abhorrent. we can make excuses -- mary barra from gm said it was wrong. dr. friedanen said it was wrong. there is no gray zone in this. i don't get it. i will let you respond. >> i appreciate that. i know the individual involved and when i say training is needed and it's a solution there are several phases. on the job specific training which includes s.o.p. verification is needed, which has been mentioned in previous panels. i'm not making light of the situation at all. i'm saying if we choose to punish people who come forward when they make a mistake-- >> that's different. >> that's what i'm saying. we want people to be willing to do that. i thought you were saying that they need more training.
when you put anthrax in a ziploc bag, you don't need training to know that. >> that is subjective. >> i guess my concern is what we have here is a series of reports that dr. ebright has brought out some of the questioning we've done earlier and we have a series of reports that dates back a good period of time to get the changes have not been made. a mistake is one thing. having a standard operating procedure, which is so flawed that you have repeated mistakes is something that i have to agree with the chairman on. that's the problem. i agree with you, mr. kaufman. you don't want to punish someone for making a mistake. but you have to stop them same mistake from happening over and
over again. dr. ebright had we make the reforms happen this time? how do we do that? the cdc has to protect the american public and our job is to do oversight to make sure they are doing their job. how do we make it happen? >> the two steps that congress and the administration could follow to reduce the probability that this happens again in cdc toss on labs and the labs that cdc and usda regulate, the two important steps are to reduce the number of select agent laboratories. the number of select agent personnel, the volume of select agent research increase by a factor of 20 to 40 over the last decade. that volume of activity needs to be rolled back" where it was at the beginning of that increase.
that would represent taking the current more than 1000 select agent labs in the u.s. and reducing it to 50. >> high containment select agents, are those interchangeable? >> they're very close. most select agent research particularly much of consequence, is done at level 3. >> so you want 50 instead of 1000? >> i would recommend we roll back. 1000 divided by 20 is 50. that is the single easiest single fastest, and most economical approach. independent entity that carries out the regulation and oversight of biosafety and bio security, not an agency that performs the
work, not an agency that funds it. >> you said we need to scale back. why has there been an expansion and the phrasing that i have is high containment laboratories, why has there been a great expansion? >> in large measure it was a response to the 2001 anthrax mailings. at the time, it was understandable because it was expected here, and elsewhere that the u.s. was under attack with a biological weapon from a foreign source. it was expected biology would be put on a mobilization footing to address the threat. we expanded by a factor of 20 to 40. more than a decade later when it was made clear that the anthrax mailings was not a foreign source and after it was cleared the investigation believes it came from within the u.s. bio
defense establishment, we have the strength situation that we have expanded the establishment by a factor of 20 to 40 without reason or without reassessment. >> and the risks are self-evident? >> it follows mathematically. when you increase the number personnel by a factor of 20 to 40 and you incurred -- and you recruit people without experience new to the field, you increase risk. you increase those risks by a factor of 20 to 40 or more. >> are you in agreement we need to scale back? >> i am not. i agree with the gao. there's not enough information to make a decision to back off or go up. high containment laboratories, the capacity, is not built for the threats we see today. they are built for the threats
we don't see coming around the corner tomorrow. >> let me switch gears and ask about the research implications of reengineering pathogens such as the university of wisconsin generating a virus similar to the 1918 influenza outbreak that killed tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, worldwide, and other ways to waitmake h5n1 more contagious. is that part of the expansion? >> it is funded as i/o defense research and it's a prime example of the culture of hubris . it is work that should not be performed -- flat out should not be performed. when the research information could be obtained in no other way, then this work should only be performed in a very limited number of institutions, perhaps
one or two nationally, and only after extensive review of risk-benefit and only under the most stringent safety and security measures. >> i appreciate both of you being here. i would like the opportunity to learn and i have learned a great deal from this hearing. >> i thank the gentleman and i would encourage some of the members of the committee to go visit the labs around the country, particularly the cdc headquarters, to see how this works. for members of the cdc, i hope you understand the seriousness of what congress views today on this. i ask unanimous consent that the opening statement he introduced to the record. i also asked animus consent to put the document binder in the record subject to redact meant by staff. in conclusion, i want to thank all who have participated in today's meeting. you have 10 business days to submit for the record and i ask
afghanistan war commander general joseph dunford during his confirmation hearing thursday he said military leaders did not recommend that the white house announce a troop pullout by 2017 the would have preferred more ambiguous numbers. this is a little more than two hours. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning everybody. the committee meets to consider the nomination of general joseph dunford to be the 36th commandant of the marine corps. general dunford welcome to the senate armed services committee and thank you for the many years of extraordinary extraordinary service that you have provided to our nation.
also for your willingness to continue to serve and please also extend our thanks to your family, part of them is here today, for their dedication and support which is so critical as we all know to your success and the success of all those who serve an important and pressured positions for a nation. please feel free to introduce any family members or other people who are with the here today. general dunford has an exemplary record of service is highly qualified for the position to which he has been nominated. he has commanded marines from the platoon level to the marine expeditionary force. he has served as the assistant commandant of the marine corps. he is currently the commander international security assistance force isaf and commander united states forces afghanistan. in afghanistan general dunford
has commanded u.s. coalition forces with great distinction. he is the latest in a line of distinguished commanders in that position. he has overseen a critical transition from u.s. and coalition led combat operations to afghan-led operations throughout afghanistan. under general dunford's leadership a drawdown of u.s. forces in the shift to a train advise-and-assist mission is being carried out with considerable effectiveness. general dunford has demonstrated remarkable skills as both a military leader and a diplomat in his interactions with the afghan leadership which have been essential to keeping the transition in afghanistan on track. ..
>> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for the great job you have done during the consequential timeframe with our afghan partners who are making important gains against the taliban and and progress in building the capacity of the afghan security forces. despite this i am so concerned about the future of afghanistan's recent agreement to perform a complete audit and
i hope that works out. you and i have talked about this before and the afghan people are going to have to believe that the results of this thing has been so important so hopefully we can make that happen. i remain very troubled to drawdown of forces based on arbitrary timeline and facts on the ground and so we can't afford to repeat that same mistake in afghanistan. so we are taking command of this as it is being challenged by rising mobile threats and a budgetary crises at home and the budget cuts are enforcing this in the and so these budget cuts mean that we will have fewer forces arriving later with more
american casualties and i will ask you some questions with your agreement on that. so i am glad that you are the man at the helm. we appreciate your commitment. >> thank you. general? >> chairman, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i'm honored to be nominated and joining me today as my wife ellen, i am so were said to have her love and for she has been wonderful and has served as a tireless advocate for military families. i always refer to her as the most valuable player of the family and she has certainly earned that title during the last 18 months of my deployment to afghanistan. i'm also joined by my needs and my son was unable to be with us. but i would like to begin by thanking the committee for the
support and those serving now in afghanistan. duty her leadership i have no doubt that we have been trained and the strength of performance and testimony to that support is crucial. i would like to recognize the 1817 americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in afghanistan and the 20000 who have been wounded. each day the men and women of the united states work to bring meaning to their sacrifice. i know this committee and the american people have high expectations the united states marine corps. you expect them to serve as an expeditionary force that is most ready when the nation is least ready. you expect them to be deployed in forward engaged, responding to crises and enabling our nation to respond. you expect them to fight and win in any condition and you expect
the marines to be physically and mentally tough. you expect him to demonstrate courage and honor and commitment and a lot of your variance and you should. if confirmed, i will ensure that the marines continue to meet your expectations on the expectations of the american people. i will also ensure the well-being of armory in and sailors, wounded warriors, and their families come over the past decade plus of war, they have done all and more and it would be a tremendous honor to be with them. i thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, general. we have started with the standard set of questions that we ask all of our nominees. and these questions are asked to the we can exercise our legislative and oversight responsibilities. have you adhered to the laws and regulations governing conflicts
of interest when excrement i have met you agree when asked to give your personal view even from differences when excrement ideas. >> can you undertake any actions which would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation process? sumac i have not mr. chairman sumac will you ensure that your staff complies with deadlines that must for requested communications including the record and hearings? >> i will, mr. chairman. >> leu operate with providing us with a congressional request? i well. >> will the witnesses be protected from the testimony? >> estimate it will. >> if confirmed to appear before this committee do you agree to provide documents including copies of electronic forms of communication when requested by a duly constituted committee or to consolidate committee regarding the basis for any delay in providing such documents? >> i do, mr. chairman.
>> thank you. >> we will have a seven and a first-round and my view afghanistan has made remarkable progress over the past decade. it has improved the rise of the afghan people. this includes and increases many times over with a number of schools come in the number of students and teachers including female students and teachers, greater access to health facilities and afghan life expectancy, expanded connections to electricity water, cell phones and growing income. can you briefly address the extent of the changes in afghanistan over the past decade that the united states has been involved with, and give us a sense of the significance of those changes to the afghan people future of the country? sumac chairman, thank you for the question, and probably the first thing, which is one of the most significant outcomes of our time has been that we have put
pressure on the terrorist networks and al qaeda in preventing another 9/11 and we have also developed a credible afghan forces in 2002 and there were no effective afghan security forces. an army and police force of over 352,000 as well as another 30,000 afghan local police are capable of providing security to the afghan people. and we also have enabled this forces the afghan people the opportunity to determine their own future with the success in elections on the fifth of april from a security perspective and while we still have some political issues to work through for those elections, there's no question that the afghan security forces afforded the afghan people the opportunity to vote and we ask today with over 8 million children in school 2 million of those are young girls, and yes then you mentioned some of the other advances in health care and
communications with airports and so forth that will set the conditions for a secure and stable afghanistan in the future. and i would say that the most profound thing that exists in afghanistan today that didn't exist in 2001 is the afghan people have actually helped with what didn't exist with the taliban in 2001. >> thank you, general. >> is the afghan army performing well in your judgment? >> mr. chairman, yes, they are performing well. since what we described is a milestone last june when they assumed responsibility across the country, the only unilateral operation that the coalition forces had been for our own security with and we deployment operations. just highlighting one statistic
that is indicative. in 2012 we had over 100 or a thousand coalition forces on the ground that included 100,000 americans. today there are 40,000 coalition forces of which 30000 are americans and in those two years the security environment has actually slightly improved since 2012. the big difference is that the security forces are now responsible for security. so i feel very confident about the trajectory that the security forces are on at this time. >> thank you. the president called for drawing down u.s. forces to 9800. by the end of this year reducing downforce by approximately half by the end of 2015 and transitioning to an embassy pleased military presence by the end of 2016. and still in your answers to these questions you say that you support the president's decision on the size of the two presents
post-2014. is that correct? >> yes, mr. chairman, i do support the numbers of forces that were beyond the ground in 2015 to both conduct counterterrorism and advise and assist. >> also in your answers, you said that you support the case of reductions outlined by the president with an understanding that we should continue to valley they the assumptions and assessed the conditions on the ground as the drawdown takes place. so is one of your assumptions that the full 9000 personnel force will be available through the entire 15 fighting seasons? >> yes, it is one of the assumptions i made. >> and then the reductions would occur only at the end of next year. >> that is correct.
>> can you share with us any other major assumptions he may have made reign. >> i can't. i think the political assumptions that continue to be validated as we move forward our first and foremost the counterterrorism capabilities and the will of afghanistan, the nature of the threat, the counterterrorism capacity and the will of pakistan, also it needs to be considered. the quality of political transition and we are in the midst of has to be considered as well and also the international community support both fiscally and the nato mission, i think all of those variables have to be considered when determining the adequacy of the four cells in the future. and there is also an assumption in your answers and in your statements that a bilateral security agreement will be signed in a timely manner. >> that is correct mr. chairman. >> relative to the size of the
u.s. counterterrorism mission in afghanistan, after 2014 what is your recommendation about the size of that mission in counterterrorism? >> of the 9800 u.s. forces and it's important to highlight that the expectation is that it be approximately 4000 nato forces in addition. but in the 9800 u.s. horses, proximally 1000 would be dedicated solely to the counterterrorism mission and there would be a total of 2000 special operations forces that are there, some of them working with the afghan special operations forces that would also be participating in counterterrorism operations. >> changing the subject slightly to the question of the russian and 17 helicopters. he wrote me general regarding a provision in the defense authorization bill which this
committee, if it marked up it would prohibit this with the russian corporation that exports the and 117 helicopter. you indicated that this prohibition could be catastrophic. can you explain why? >> thank you for that question yes, the afghan air force will consist of over 80 and my 17th i have been purchased and the final delivery will be in september or october of this year. they provide the afghan forces with the operational reach to provide security and stability for the afghan people as well as conducting effective counterterrorism operations. thirty of the 80 are what we call a special mission which would be the afghan special operations capability forces and without the operational reach of this, the afghan forces will not be successful in providing security and stability in
afghanistan and will not be an effective counterterrorism partner. one of the second order effects which is why use this word is that we will also have an adverse impact on our force protection for 2015. among the assumptions i make in 2015 is the afghan security forces will contribute to the coalition forces in 2015 and their ability to do that would be sick efficiently great degraded. >> as the spare parts, as i understand it, the sustainment that is prohibited by that same language which is so important? >> there are two issues, one of the issues is to have spare parts and uses in its fleet and the other is the russian company owns the plans and blueprints if you will of this. so there's the safety of flight issues with subsequent modifications that would require doing either directly with the
subcontractor. >> senator? >> thank you mr. chairman. i was going to bring that up and that is probably a contentious issue. i agree with the chairman on this but it seems like pretty extreme with these courageous statements made. but the special inspector general for the afghan reconstruction in june of 2013 they reported this as entitled the afghan special mission wing with the dod moving forward with 771 million-dollar purchase. that the aircraft and the afghans cannot operate and not maintain this area so is there any way that this can be changed and moderated a little bit to the you could still use the spare part of existing vehicles undersell their comment paid
for, in existence, and still start toward something like another purchase. heavy thought of any kind of combination were we could not lose the value of those that are there and trained fighters as far as spare parts are concerned? >> senator, we have looked very hard and we have done a global search to see if it will be possible to sit in this we would have directly dealing with one of the subcontractors. assessment is that that would not be possible. >> okay. recently there has been and let me see if i can get this as i quote it now the speech that was made before the brookings institute when the general says it breaks my heart, referring to the fall of this province in iraq which the marines won in
2010. he noted that 852 were killed and another 8500 injured in iraq, then i know that with all the work he did in afghanistan and i'm sure you are observant as would happen are, to have a young man's who works for me and he actually had two deployments in falluja. by coincidence i didn't know who he was at that time, but i was there as were many of these guys when they had the fingerprints and all of that. and so i think looking at it that could be considered to be the most violent door-to-door type of activity. so when i called him and told him that we had lost it after they had been there i mean, he talked about the blood sweat and
tears and i just think about that taking place. my concern for bringing this up is that we don't want the same thing to happen in afghanistan. and i know that sends you are the marine and you saw the mission that took place at you agree with me already. so what has been done, in your opinion, to make sure that does not become a repeat for that tragedy to take place in iraq. >> take you, senator. yes, i was one of the thousands that was there and i feel the same way that he does. senator, i think the biggest difference is that we have an opportunity to do a transition in afghanistan, a proper one that will allow us to achieve this. anorak we withdrew with the associated consequences that is the most significant change. we knew when we left iraq that there was work remaining to be
done to develop sustainable iraqi security forces as well as to ensure political stability existed such that security and stability would continue in afghanistan we have the chance to get that right and my argument is for a responsible transition from afghanistan as opposed to withdrawal. >> i appreciate that and i just think that we need to get it on the record. >> it's so important. including those like this. there's been so much discussion as we drop that number down to 33. and i have a letter and i want to make it part of the record at this point in the record that it is one that you have read and each member of your has read from the 20 generals signing on, saying that absolutely necessary and are there any comments that
you want to make on that? >> senator, on a daily basis the combatant commander greatly exceeds the inventory in this and i think that we are close to 50, that was the quantity and the chief secretary navy a few years ago concluded that 38 was the requirement and we are now at the point where we have 33 and a fiscally constrained environment and so i want to support anything that would allow us to maintain an effective inventory. >> do agree with the letter? >> senator, i am not in the letter. >> okay. that is fine. and lastly, on the elections that a lot of this is partly responsible for the fact that there's going to be a real effort about this given to make sure that not just justice is
done and the right turnout is resulted but also that people of afghanistan accept this as a fair and honest election and do you have any thoughts? i know that you're going into a different job now on what needs to be done to make sure that that can happen? >> i do, senator, and i expect that we will be there throughout the process. we began yesterday and i'm glad to report that we began the balance in the accordance of the agreement that was made, 100% of the ballots will be brought back with significant international community oversight as well as canada and oversight in the process of counting those ballots and i think that that will give both candidates in the afghan people high confidence that all that can be done is being done to eliminate fraudulent.and the most encouraging thing, nano some numbers recently spoke to both
candidates. both candidates are very responsible. they know the consequences of the political transition process and they have agreed to accept the outcome of the ballot with certain parameters and those are now in place. so i'm optimistic that at the end of this process some weeks from now, there will be a winner and a loser and the loser will accept the results of the election as will the afghan people. >> i appreciate that so much. i think that we all know how works with the election. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i want to thank my colleagues for his extraordinary service to the marine corps and to the nation and to thank your family for serving with you. knowing a little bit, i would like to tell you that this is such a part of our success and that of your predecessors.
any rule has been critical. a year ago, i don't think anyone could say that we would have relatively peaceful elections, two of them, in that country until again, that is one significant aspect in such a contribution of your personal command. so we thank you and can you talk with me, as we go forward, can you talk with me about the decision points and the flexibility that we have to make adjustments with respect to our presence in afghanistan? assuming that this agreement will be signed? >> yes, senator. as we discussed earlier, there will be 9000 u.s. forces in afghanistan and the planet we have right now cannot draw the forces down until the end of the findings these and in 2015. so the first opportunity to change and make adjustments as
you describe them would be in the fall of 2015 or you could effect change in the projected numbers in 2016. and then whatever number you have in 2016, a similar concert would probably be in place are the numbers that you would want to have in 2017 could be determined in the summer 2006 into effect change. but typically they're supposed fighting season pattern in terms of effecting change, which is not to say that you couldn't add forces on the ground. >> not only forces on the ground but facilities that may be occupied as well because the conditions in the country. >> senator, that is absolutely one of the drivers. we try to make sure that the infrastructure doesn't driver ability to provide this in a bad way.
so we've tried to maintain this. the infrastructure is absolutely one of the drivers. >> one principle mention is that of the afghan national security force and the other is the counterterrorism operations until you will view this and terms of both those missions. is that correct? >> absolutely. and from my position they are inextricably linked. >> okay, so you're comfortable with this going forward because of the built-in flexibility and you see no constraints going forward, and the review that would be done at the end of next year would be based upon the conditions on the ground, the two missions that we outlined and the facts, as the commander talked about at that time. >> yes, sir, i am confident that the specific assumptions and pass that has to be accomplished that jeweler recommendations for 2015 all is available to my
successor and he will have the opportunity to go back in 2015 to revalidate those assumptions and to assess the conditions. the important conditions to be to talk about this in 2013. >> invariably between the situation in iraq and afghanistan, president bush signed a formal agreement to withdraw all forces at the end of 2011. that is not going to be the policy in afghanistan as you understand it and we would instead have the flexibility for our own interest to change this with the mix going forward and that is a key difference? >> yes, it is a key difference and one of the key differences that the afghan people want us to be in afghanistan in overwhelming numbers and i have
recently spoken to both presidential candidates and i can assure you that both of the candidates also support the u.s. presence after 2014. >> one of the key factors which you have acknowledged is the role of pakistan. and one of the interesting developments which i think you appreciate very keenly and i wonder how much our colleagues in pakistan under. as we draw down a forces and depend less and less on the lines of communication, we have a lot of relative leverage. is that a fair estimate in terms of getting cooperation and help? >> yes, i think that our footprint has made us reliant upon the grand brown lines of communication. we have an opportunity to reframe our relationship with them. >> right now they are conducting operations probably not as effectively as they would want.
>> senator they are conducting operations and we have wanted to the view that, see them do that for some years. they've had some success in the i am you type situation. so it is at this situation that they have all been forced to live out of the sanctuary. >> changing quickly because the new job as the commandant of the marine corps touches upon some issues of budget and potential sequestration effects and i'm sure that you have thought about that, but maybe not in detail. but going forward can you give us your view of what challenges the core faces today? >> sir, thank you. as i look at the future of the
marine corps, our leadership the biggest challenge that we will have is to balance readiness and crisis response capability do you expect from the dream corps with the ability to modernize this and sustain infrastructure and maintain proper levels of training for those units and so forth. balancing all of those is going to be very difficult. another general has prioritized readiness and he's been forced to make some decisions that create such challenges in the future for modernization. so i think bouncing those things will be difficult. >> thank you. >> we thank the senators. senator mccain remark. >> thank you senators. thank you gentlemen. >> this is a joke and i had to explain all of this.
and it's the only appropriate mark of respect that i have gotten from my colleagues and i think the general thank you for your outstanding service. we have had the opportunity over the past 12 and 13, 14 years and i appreciate your service elmont. i am really reluctant to get back into this. but people keep trying to say that 2008 we said that we'd have everyone out, that we really wanted this day in iraq and the fact is that the president of the united states, there was never any public statement that said he would want to use day in iraq. the fact is that the senator and i were there and we know full well that if we really wanted to we could have kept the residual force to build her we were on the ground there in these places
and we agreed. so in the word of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, we have cascaded down to 3500 troops, which was absolutely ridiculous. so we will be fighting this for years to come. but facts are stubborn things and we could've left a residual force if we had wanted to do so. and in fact today your predecessor said that i have a hard time believing what had we done to and work with the government i don't think we'd be in the same shape that we are today. so those are just facts. but the general, did you or any other senior military winner personally recommend the policy of everybody by 2017 no matter what we matter. >> no, senator. >> no military, no ranking
military officer recommended a hard date for anyone out of afghanistan remount. >> not that i know a. and i think that we still plan to have, as you know some presence after 2017, but no one recommended zero. >> did anyone recommend that we have a conditions-based decision about what kind of residual force we should leave behind? >> i think that you appreciate that every military leader wants to have the conditions on the ground and the assumptions be revalidated as it takes place. >> isn't it true that right now the way the counterterrorism capability of the afghans are today, that we cannot abandon that and if you had to make the decision today with the lack of counterterrorism capabilities we would have to leave that kind of force behind the lease for the counterterrorism mission?
>> senator, there is no doubt that the afghan forces today would not be capable of conducting the operations that we are putting their. >> nor do you envision them having that capability. >> not if you project the threat including recent rocket attacks on the airport that showed it televangelists still pretty resilient. and isn't it a fact that as long as the taliban and has basically a sanctuary in pakistan that this situation will remain extremely complex and dangerous. >> senator absolutely. the resiliency of the movement is driven by the sanctuary impact. >> izzard any doubt in your mind that the announcement of a complete withdrawal by 2017 has had an effect on the morale of the afghan army? >> senator, i think all of us would have for food --
>> they said that you are abandoning us, that is what they told me and senator graham and i don't think that they would have any reason to tell us otherwise. so very quickly, the fact is that we need a can mission space decisions because of right now we are not confident that the afghans can take up the complete burden of their own security. and so very quickly sequestration, right now, as i understand that the marine captains, the army captains who are in the field fighting as we speak, they are receiving notices that they are going to be involuntarily separated from the united states army and marine corps. is that true?
>> my understanding is that is what they have been forced to do in the army as a result of the drawdown. >> obviously that has to have an effect on morale of our officer corps. >> it does senator. >> a serious blow, i would think. >> absolutely, probably more importantly than just the officer corps is the message it sends to those whose commander is forced redeploy as a result of the reduction of force. >> isn't it true from your time in the military and remembering wars times it takes a long time to resort the morale of the military when you take out involuntarily some of the best and the brightest that we have had. haven't we seen that before in her early the early part of your cruise. >> yes, i have. in the late 1970s, it took us
some years probably 1983 1984 from the effects of the post-vietnam drawdown. >> would you agree that perhaps one of the greatest responsibility is that congress had in the military has today is to review this sequestration and its effects that it is having long-term on our ability to it defend this nation? >> yes, i would agree with that senator. >> i look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of this podium to make that one of our highest priorities and otherwise i think i it is the unanimous opinion of every military leader that i have ever met that continued sequestration on the path that we are on could have devastating effects on our ability to defend this nation. >> i would agree with that senator. >> senator king?
>> thank you, mr. chair. the general chairman covered the issue, but i just think it's really important to have your unequivocal view that this would be catastrophic if we cut off spare parts that would in effect around the afghan air force. is that true? >> yes, in reason i use this word, which i don't think it's hyperbole, because we inability of the afghans to have the situation represented, it will seriously deteriorate the ability with the enemy. but the more important reason is that their inability to take this will actually put young americans in harm's way and 2015 and beyond your thank you, general. you have discussed this and looking now at the lessons of
iraq, what did we learn from that that can avoid that future in afghanistan? as you know, there are those who are not as optimistic as the military about afghanistan's future after our withdrawal. so how do we learn from iraq to avoid that fate? >> i think the key thing that we have in afghanistan, that we are in the process of his an effective political transition and the continuing sustainability of the afghan security forces. i'm very confident about their ability to provide security on a day-to-day basis. i'm not confident that if we leave at the end of 2014 that those forces would be sustainable. there are some significant gaps there in order for them to be able to do things that we have been doing for them. there is a degree of capability substitution and many of those
areas, things that we take for granted, delivery of a fuel systems, pay systems that the army would need, the key lesson is that after all of the sacrifice and accomplishments over the past 13 years, what we need to do is ensure that the transition results in the afghan forces being sustainable without our presence at some point in the future. >> what is the ethnic makeup of the afghan army? one of the problems appears to be the unequal distribution ethnically or sectarian way, if that is the word, in iraq the ethnic tribal makeup of iraq and afghanistan security forces, representative of the country so that security forces will have a broad support. >> that is an important question and i thank you for it. in the afghan army it's about 40%.
the core is about the same, the forces are about the same and that the slight overrepresentation in the sense that the population represents more than this and carrying out those statistics, telling you that there hasn't been a consensus that are in a the wild. but in general terms we have the foundation of a national army in afghanistan that has represented not only the various ethnic groups, but geographically as well. >> is this representation integrated throughout the force? that is, our individual battalions or units are they balanced ethnically? >> yes, they are balanced, there is a slight overrepresentation of forces from the northern west part of the country, but the demographics and each unit
represents the nation as a whole as opposed to specific units so on and so forth. so the assignment of people is not based on geographics and most all serve away from home. >> we tend to focus around your arm here on problems we'll talk about that not our job. but my sense is that secretary john kerry, what happened last weekend, it was a big deal and the avoidance of what could've been a disaster situation. could you share some thoughts about the importance of the uniform recount and also the power i understand order the kind of power-sharing coalition government agreement of whatever the outcome? because this could've been a disaster for us if it had gone the wrong way this past week. >> yes, last week there was a
lot of discussion in afghanistan about one of the candidates establishing the government with the potential for civil war. and i would assess that risk as having been significant. i don't think either one of the candidates wanted to do that but there was a strong sentiment by large numbers of people that were so outraged at the father took place they were willing to take extreme measures. so i think what happened this weekend was very encouraging in that both candidates have agreed to a framework process that will deliver the queen is still possible. and the candidates also agreed on a political track as well as a technical track and that will be power-sharing arrangement so that there is an inclusive government and they believe that that is most suitable for afghanistan at this particular time. so while the devil is in the details and work remains to be done particularly in the political framework, the discussion is not about civil war in security, but a political
deal in order to govern effectively in the future and i think that that is surely significant. >> i have always felt that god is in the details, but that's a different topic. okay pakistan. he mentioned them you had to deal with them. whose side are they on and are they -- are they trying to express these terrorist organizations, or are they working with them? i find pakistan ever so puzzling. and i don't know how to characterize it. >> senator in my time in afghanistan, i have met individuals and also i've had the opportunity to see him travel to meet with both men and our type of situation and the numbers of hours, the discussions, i'm convinced of a couple of things in intelligence and in the engagements. first and foremost i believe that the pakistani army
recognizes the extremism is an existential threat to the state of pakistan. and i think they are determined to do something about that threat. unless confident that today they have the capability to do all that needs to be done to deal with that inside of afghanistan, which is why i think the sedum focus on the most pressing threat reflecting in inability to deal more broadly with extremism. but this is a reason that it's important that we develop this effective relationship and i think the united states can play a unique role in facilitating that relationship because the way that we will get after this problem is by having a common definition of extremism and then also having agreed upon framework within afghanistan and pakistan can deal with this threat of extremism as well as a real political channel but it's between the two states. >> as we draw down it's more important than ever to establish
this with pakistan. >> and effective relationship between afghanistan and pakistan is critical to our long-term success. >> thank you senator and thank you, general's for your extraordinary service. >> no matter where you been coming out of afghanistan, near the next in line of a number of great service leader commandants. as we look forward to your continued service there. and there is no long-term solution in afghanistan without some sort of cooperation. is that a fair statement? >> that is absolutely fair statement. >> we are beginning this with the military relationships and i couldn't agree more.
>> i wanted to ask you about the detainees and many of them are released and 10 of themd beuse i know that the serious nature of the alleged incidents that these prisoners were accused of we have 391 afghans. can we address why these other 12 were released and whathe deal is? >> yes release those individuals but turn them over at the u.s. state department to get assurances that they would be properly handled in accordance with what the nature of the crimes they committed. we have 38 in a similar state
department from which these individuals come and the deputy secretary of defense will find in opposition for them to be released after notifying congress. the challenges that our authority hold these individuals and that hold will expire in december 2014. sawyer working hard to ensure that we transition these individuals who place where they can be held accountable for the acts they have committed. >> you have confidence that the afghans will treat them in a way that they should be treated because of the acts they have committed? >> senator, we are not planning at this time to turn them over draft in. plan to turn them over to the countries in which they originated. if we were to turn them over to afghanistan today, i can guarantee you that they would be properly handled.
>> again i want to talk about something that the general asked her. we talked about continuing operations in afghanistan and with the drawdown to the 9800 this year going down again next year, please give me your view as to the long-term situation as you understand it right now as we head into the end of 2014 through 2015 and 2016. so what is your understanding of how this will work reign. >> with regard to sustainable afghans security forces, it could result in afghan forces being sustainable. uncomfortable that a regional approach in 2015 where we helped to mature the
institutions and systems that allow these organizations to support this the work that needs to be done can be done in 2015 and am also confident that there's some work that well hire a longer. lack of time but much of the work can be done inside the ministry. the issue that i really can't talk to you about with the degree of confidence is what the threat to the homeland might be after 2000 didn't read it's an area in the assumptions that informed her criticism, it would have to be evaluated over time. >> in that respect if you had to rate the possibility of either al qaeda or al qaeda affiliated operators inside of afghanistan are migrating to afghanistan as we drawdown, and resuming training operations much like we saw before 9/11, what degree
would you rate the possibility of that taking place? >> i can assure you that what we see on a day-to-day basis for those who are determined to replicate this like 9/11 and the pressure that we have placed as a we haven't been able to execute this. so i would say that the risks without continued pressure has been regenerating this and it would be significant. >> is the how connie networks still enemy number one? >> well, senator, i would view them as enemy number one, but they are certainly the most great risk him the other and the other thing that is significant is that they actually provide the network that allows al qaeda
in the region to have sanctuary to continue to resource itself and they certainly, if not the most important group in the sustainability they have one of the most significant groups that allows them to sustain them out with the region. >> talk about the morale and what is your call. >> senator, and i mean this sincerely, i am extraordinarily honored to have the opportunity to lead these men and women in a letter sent today and after 13 teams we have never exceeded anyone's expectations over time and they are focused on what they are doing and they believe in what they are doing in a custom elves and they know that they are well-trained and well at web than they trust their leadership. and it's something we can all be proud of.
>> we are talking about a sickly be a part of this. and i trust that they are doing well. >> senator, they are, the job we gave them to do is one of the more difficult jobs that needs to be done over this next year and it's a piece of infrastructure that we want to close and it is a challenging task and they have taken that on with enthusiasm and they are doing a superb job. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you for your leadership. >> thank you, senator. senator hagan? >> thank you mr. chairman. and thank you, general. welcome. i also know that your wife has played a very big role in your success, and so we welcome alan and your needs.
just know that so many people hold the marine corps in the highest regard and so he thank you for doing that and you have some issues to fill what has led the marine corps in a very good leadership position. i did want to talk about the afghan national security worse you have seen the withdrawing of 20,000 troops in an unsigned bilateral security agreement by fraud and so can you tell me how prepared how it is to take over especially in light of what we have seen with the incapability of what is taking place in iraq?
>> thank you for the question senator. rather than giving you my personal assessment, we will talk about with the afghan forces have done and we had over 300 campaign event involving thousands of people, some as large as 20,000 they secured all of those campaign events. there was a new year festival back in march and 100,000 people came and they secured that event. there was another event that involved people from all over the region to attend a number of significant threats and those were disrupted and the afghan forces were able to provide security. probably most definitely what took place on the fifth of april in the 14th of june is indicative of the capabilities of the afghan security forces and on both of those occasions millions of people have the courage to go out and vote and that courage was drawn in my
assessment from the confidence of the afghan people have. so while i am very aware of the challenges with the capability gaps that continue to remain i am equally confident that the afghan forces today are capable of providing security for the afghan people and they have done after the pastor and they are in a tough fight this summer. we had over 100,000 forces on the ground when i arrived 40,000 is where we stand right now and we provide very little support on a day-to-day basis and yet they are still able to be successful. >> could you talk about the participation of women in the afghan forces? >> yes ken and it's not a particularly good news story. there's a goal in the afghan army and the police forces. we have about 1% in both the
army and the police force right now, we have right spot and we have a couple of senior-level officers that have taken us on as an area of personal interest and we have an aggressive recruiting plan. we have recently received from croatia a brigadier general that has no ability to assist us with this in the afghan security forces and so from a leadership perspective i think there is an emphasis. but i would not understate the real cultural challenges that will make this very slow and very deliberate and quite frankly, continued with our continued presence after 2014 as will some of the support that we have provided to make progress in this particular
area. >> how many women and the marine corps are serving? >> 's i don't know, we actually don't keep track of things i got. >> okay. >> moving to the water contamination issue one of the priorities has been held get answers for those individuals that have been affected by this in as many civilians that were stationed until the 80s they were exposed to harmful chemicals and it has been such a long quest to get answers and we are finally beginning to get resolved studies that have shed light on this tragedy. i know that you two have served during this time and i hope that you make this issue a personal priority. when you are confirmed will you
work with congress to overcome these hurdles? i feel good that we are still working in some of these areas to overcome these areas for the affected marines and their families? >> obsolete, senator. all within the marine families and frankly at the end of the day, we want to do the right thing. >> thank you. then tuition assistance, i believe that's a powerful program that allows our service members to pursue education and i think it enhances the professionalism and helps us to prepare them for the civilian workforce when they transition out. congress sent a very clear message and by restoring it and then restricting the programming of that in their budget request
originally included a proposal to cut this tuition assistance by close to two thirds and also includes a 25% posture by the individual marines. that is a grant that i have supported and defended and i'm pleased to see that the marine corps are quickly changed course and found that this tuition assistance for fiscal year 2015. if confirmed will you show strong support for the tuition assistance that the? ..
we are not anywhere near our requirements bear. let me ask specifically about the lpd-17 program. it was originally planned for 12 warships reduced to 11 vessels. this committee restored that 12 lpd. it's my understanding that the senate appropriations committee has found the funds for that 12 lpd and that is authorized in the house version of the national defense authorization act. do we need that 12 lpd? >> we do, senator. >> and what is your risk? what's your assessment of your risk the marine corps and their troops ability to execute
objectives around the world and particularly the asia-pacific if we do not get that number right? >> senator we are both shorts -- short to meet the combatant commanders day today as well as to aggregate marines to conduct an amphibious assault so i believe that 12 apd will help mitigate the risk and not completely closed the gap but mitigate the risk we have in both of those areas. >> would. >> would it help you as the next commandant if we would go ahead and get these bills on the president's desk for his signature before the end of the fiscal year? where problems does it cause when we left the fiscal year expired and we haven't given you and national defense authorization act and we don't have our defense department funded with natural appropriation bills but rather the continuing resolution? >> thank senator and i know from my previous experience as
assistant commandant but that breakaway requires us to do is to break programs. his actually a very inefficient way to do business. if you don't have a bill passed by the end of the fiscal year. >> well you know we have reported out of this committee carl levin defense authorization act and i know that he would like nothing better than to get it on the floor this month. i would join my colleagues in that. let me also follow-up. >> about the correct that. i really wanted to get this on the floor last month. >> but that was yesterday and yesterday is gone. we need to get it done. i think u.n. members of this committee are on the same page. i'm for the leadership of this congress to do whatever is necessary to get these bills on the president's desk in a timely manner. let me follow-up with the question of the pace of our job down. right now we have 30000 u.s.
troops in afghanistan. is that correct? >> that's correct senator. >> and another 10,000 from coalition allies for a total of 40,000? >> that's correct. >> at what pace are we going to get a 9800? what will it look like at the end of this calendar year? >> it will be at 9800 by the end of this calendar year senator. >> is going to be a rapid drawdown. >> this is a way was planned so we could keep the maximum number of forces on the ground throughout the election period as well as throughout the fighting season in the summer but as we discussed a while ago the infrastructure piece is one of the key drivers. we have been simultaneously working the infrastructure of a reduction in transition plan throughout the last year so i'm not at all concerned about the pace of the drawdown. we have a good plan in place place and we'll get there. >> we will be at 98800 through most of