tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 18, 2015 8:00pm-10:01pm EDT
tony mauro published by c-span in cooperation with congressional quarterly press. landmark cases is available for eight dollars and 95 cents plus shipping and handling. get your copy at c-span.org/ landmark cases. >> today the house voted along party lines to resettle funding for planned parenthood if it does not stop providing abortions while the house investigation continues. the vote, to an 41-187 in the house approved a bill that would enact protections for infants born alive or in abortion procedures. congressional lawmakers taking a few days off for the district work period. the house gavel stand thursday september 24 for an address by pope francis -- france's people watch the pope's address live or stay on c-span at 10:00 a.m. eastern.
u.s. defense officials after nine months of training and equipping syrian rebels to fight eyes as they have only four or five rebels on the battlefield with a few dozen more on the way. here the chair the of the senate armed services committee is john mccain, the ranking member zachary. >> the senate armed services committee meets to receive testimony on the united states strategy of military operations counter islamic state of iraq or isil. i want to thank the witnesses under secretary wormuth and general austin for appearing before us today and their continued service to our nation. it's been one year since president obama spoke to the nation about the threat posed by isil and increased to u.s.
military operations against us. many of us believe the goal of the present laid out quote to degrade and ultimately destroy isil is right. many of us agree the military strategy that seeks to empower local horses and i dashed to combat isil. with training equipment assistance in their power one year into this campaign seems impossible to assert that isil is losing and we are winning. if you are not winning in this warfare you are losing. stalemate is not success. it is accurate that we have conducted thousands of airstrikes against isil trucks and fighters bunkers and buildings. this conjures the illusion of progress but what effect does that have to wax some territory in the margin mainly the shiite and kurdish forces but isil was consolidating control of its territories and expanded control in syria. he continues to dominate sunni-arab areas in iraq and syria and maintains control of
key cities like mosul fallujah and ramonic at efforts to take take -- ramadi and efforts to retake those have stalled entirely. it is now operating in afghanistan, yemen, libya and egypt and other radical islamic groups like boko haram in nigeria and al-shabaab and somalia have pledged allegiance to isil. this appearance of success only enhances isil's ability to radicalize recruit and grow. published media reports suggest the cia's estimate of isil's manpower has remained constant despite u.s. airstrikes which did just either they were wrong to begin with or that isil is replacing in real-time. this committee is disturbed by recent whistleblower allegations that officials at central command skewed intelligence assessments to paint an overly
positive picture of conditions on the ground. we are currently investigating these allegations which we take with the utmost seriousness. the department of defense should as well and those responsible must be held accountable. ultimately it's not that we are doing nothing to counter isil. it is that there is no compelling reason to believe anything we are currently doing will be sufficient to achieve our strategic objective of degrading and ultimately destroying isil. the united states and our partners do not have the initiative. our enemies do. capitalizing on our inadequate policy to maintain and enhance initiative as they have for the past four years. indeed the situation on the ground is not taking it another dramatic turn for the worse as several recent events make clear. recent published reports state u.s. officials believe isil is using mustard gas and may even
be manufacturing these chemical weapons by themselves. whether isil is manufacturing chemical weapons themselves required -- acquired from former or current stocks by bashar al-assad this is a scenario for our partners in the middle east and for us. the same time the united states ever to train and equip syrian rebels to fight eyes of his clearly unfortunately failing. the goal was 3000 fighters in the first year this program has trained and equipped 54 fighters some of whom were killed or captured by al qaeda as soon as they return to syria. this program the administration promise would result in a viable indigenous ground force in syria has yet to produce any significant effects on the battlefield. they fixation with perfect setting in the congress and the administration is good shooting to this. far worse has been the administration's requirement
that this new syrian force could only fight isil not the assad regime which has killed far more serious than isil and the presidents refusal until weeks ago to authorize close air support another military assistance to ensure our syrian partners would beessful. unfortunately these contradictions were clear from the beginning and many members of this committee warned the administration to change course or their failure to do so has squandered a lot of time, money and worst of all credibility. this committee to continue supporting this program we need major changes. into this vacuum has stepped vladimir putin. as in ukraine and elsewhere he has cautioned weakness and is taking advantage according to media reports putin has deployed strike aircraft tanks howitzers personnel carriers marines and
housing for up to 1500 personnel and military bases in western syria. this is an expansion of russian power in the middle east that we have not seen for decades and it will allow putin to further prop up assad with this indiscriminate killing machine play kingmaker undermine u.s. goals policies and operations and ultimately prolong this horrific conflict. the main beneficiary will be isil. many of us have said from the beginning, from the beginning that the conflict in syria would not be contained and for four years we have seen evidence of that. the hundreds of thousands dead and the millions of displaced people the use of chemical weapons in the rise of the worst terrorist army in the world. now we are seeing the latest manifestation of this failed policy the flood of people pouring out of the middle east has led to the worst refugee crisis in europe since world war
ii. the administration is promised except 10,000 refugees in the coming years. that's a noble gesture but unless we address the cause of his crisis which is the continued conflict in syria the refugees will keep coming. isil will grow stronger in the middle east will descend further into chaos and u.s. national security interest will be put at greater risk. for four years we have been told that there is no military solution to this conflict as if anyone believes there is. and there are no good options. as if anybody believes there are better influence is limited as if that has not always been the case. we will not succeed overnight as if our problem is one of time and not policy and that we cannot solve every problem in the middle east as if that solves us of our responsibility to make the situation better where we can.
this is not a question of our capacity or capabilities or options. we have options between doing nothing and evading -- invading iraq and syria. many members have suggested such options for years now and they're still relevant. we need to put an end to assad's ability to use airpower against his people especially the use of horrific barrel bombs, shoot down planes that dropped barrel bombs that slaughter innocent civilians. one of the leading killers of innocent civilians. we need to establish safe zones inside of syria where refugees and displaced people can be secure. we need forward air comptrollers to add precision and lethality to our air campaign. we need to make significant changes to improve and expand our iraqi forces and while no one believes that we need to invade iraq or syria but that is that we will likely need
additional u.s. special forces and military advisers to be successful. i hope our witnesses will not repeat her desired policy goals in the list of technical achievements and talk about quote nine lines of effort. we have heard all of that before. but we have yet to hear a theory of victory. i hope we hear one today. senator reid. >> thank you very much mr. chairman secretary wormuth and general austin welcome. this hearing continues -- to counter isil in the middle east africa and south asia. it takes extreme ideological and protect its including the use of chemical weapons. isil is gain control of syria and iraq erasing the border between these countries. this violent extremist group has enslaved women and girls in
carried out horrific attacks in and ethnic and religious minorities and broadcast its barbaric acts on social media. to escape the violence of isil the assad regime and multiple other elements millions have been displaced or fled outside of iraq and syria. the plane has added to the sensitive urgency to restoring restoring -- in a region. while the coalition pushes isil out of some territories including gains by the peshmerga in the north and iraqi security forces and the removal of isil along sections of the border with turkey the self-described islamic state continues to hold key cities including iraq a dan balz on iraq. there executed forces counter is to take back has struggled and brashear remains contested. the same time iranian backed shia militias have stalled their
operations near fallujah and despite it's -- isil is consolidating its control of the population in the areas that holds in syria and iraq. the recent agreement between a state and turkey expanding access to land and use of turkish airbases seeking an isil free zone on the syrian border is an important step forward how are the provocative deployment by additional military forces under the guise of assisting and encountering isil efforts appears to be an effort by putin to prop up the assad regime further complicating efforts to restore security in syria. these events have raised concerns of whether the current efforts against isil is sufficient. critical issue for the military isil strategies the progress of train and equip program. while the u.s.-led air campaign has had an effect integrating isil effective local forces can take full advantage of coalition
airpower siege ground from iceland hold it. in iraq operations require recruiting's to give numbers of sunnis into the iraqi security forces and equipping them to assist the isil thread. i am concerned sunni recruitment has fallen short of its target and the government of iraq has been slowing in arming sunni forces. we will be interested in your assessment. general i hope you'll address intensify military operations to counter the isil threat. for example would you support a more active role in the us military personnel in facilitating the engagement of sunni tribes are providing advisers in the ministry of defense or accompanying iraqi security forces on a limited basis with direct contact with the enemy is not anticipated. isil problem is not
geographically bound by syria and iraq and isil appeared in yemen afghanistan egypt libya nigeria the horn of africa and the caucasus and elsewhere. i'm interested in your assessment of the group's growth in the region and how centcom is pitcher batting to regional efforts to combat the group. ultimately the success of the counter isil has been nonmilitary at also. whether the international coalition including states in the region can effectively counter isil's propaganda financing and the spread of this extreme ideology and whether political solution can be found to the crisis in syria. these issues their primary responsibility of the department of defense but i assume our
witnesses agree these issues are integral to our conference of approach encountering isil threat. general austin i hope you also to the extent possible given the ongoing review by the inspector general to ask questions involving intelligence assessments with respect to isil. as importantly wait for the investigation before completed before making a judgment i've no doubt you'll take such allegations are serious was as we do in congress and we take them seriously. like senator mccain the committee will be kept apprised of this investigation and be active in terms of the recommendations. let me thank both witnesses further testimony this morning. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you chair and mccain and ranking member rate as well as members of the committee think given the opportunity opportunity to be here today to give an update on the military aspect of our kinds are isil campaign is a pleasure to be
here with general austin. we work closely together everyday on a range of issues so it's nice to be here with him today. as the chairman said it's been just over a year since united states and the coalition of nations began a military campaign against isil tailor made began that campaign about a year ago i saw was pushing into kurdish territory in northern iraq and pushing towards baghdad over the past 12 months isil has lost territory in both syria and iraq despite advances its maiden ramadi. progress has been slow but steady. there's definitely been setbacks in the past year. while not 10 feet tall i iso- remains an enemy that adapt to evolving positions on the battlefield. our train and equip programs in iraq and syria have faced challenges. iraq the pace of our program is moved more slowly than we would like and its area of the stringent criteria we are using at the outset of the program has contributed to smaller numbers than we had hoped for. as a military campaign continues
in both countries would expect there will continue to be challenges clearing and holding territory. but we have also seen progress in the past year. you are all familiar with the successful operations to take back kurdish territory in iraq to defeat iceland kobani and until recently retake to create as well as other successful engagements. on the political front prime minister of body continues to demonstrate the resolve necessary to confront isil and it's driving to manage what is a very difficult political landscape in baghdad. in syria we have seen opportunities emerge that we didn't envision a year ago particularly in the northern part of the country were syrian kurds working with syrian arabs have successfully pressured isil along the turkish border. over a year ago the president outlined a whole of government strategy to degrade into the isil and he emphasized it would be a multiyear campaign. but secretary carter was here in july he outlined the nine
alliance efforts the compressor strategy so i won't go over them again in detail but i would emphasize it will take more than the military campaign to be successful. we also need to dry up isil's finances. and to stop the flow of foreign fighters into iraq and syria in particular and protect the united states from potential attacks from isil provide humanitarian assistance in areas that we are taking back from isil and find a way to more effectively counter isil's very successful messaging campaign. as secretary carter said to the committee in july of the administration believes we have the right strategy in place. we are now focused on implementing the strategy as effectively as possible or this is very much an interagency effort with increasingly better synchronization against -- across all departments and agencies involved and the tax secretary carter and secretary kerry have been meeting together with their senior staff to monitor and identify issues in the campaign and they are
meeting tomorrow to focus in particular on foreign fighters. dod as you know is possible for two of the alliance of effort inside the strategy denying isil safe haven in building partner capacity so i would like to speak briefly in those those areas and general austin while celebrity. causing campaign is decorated isil's military capacity has removed some of its key leaders enabled local forces in iraq interpreted as such has regained control of tikrit from isil earlier this year and syrian kurds and sunni are partners have taken the key border town in syria which severed one of isil's key lines of communication and put isil on the defensive and also put more pressure on a stronghold in syria. these examples demonstrate how when we have credible ground forces and we support them with our airpower isil can suffer. we are also working hard to build the capacity of partner forces on the ground prison to
begin efforts with trina to put more than six brigades and provided training to more than 14,000 iraqi personnel army kurdish peshmerga and counterterrorism personnel and they have more in the pipeline. as secretary carter said in july training for the iraqi army has been slowed by lack of trainees coming into the training sites. over the last several weeks we have had better participation from iraqi units of the training sites and iraq expanded the pool of units eligible for training. our forces on the ground at al-assad and their bases are involved in advising and training sunni tribal fighters and anbar province. both are providing direct training and also training the
training assistant with the iraqi cignetti forces and in terms of equipping the sunni tribal fighters we have recently delivered a battalion's worth of equipment to iraqi officials working on the two airbases to distribute the equipment. we are also overseeing the distribution of the government of iraq equipment to the sunni tribal fighters from these bases. through these efforts we now have more than 4000 sunni tribal fighters and anbar province. we are also still in the early stages of our train and equip program in syria. this effort it's important to highlight is one element of what we are trying to do in a larger campaign in syria which includes an increasing number of airstrikes as well a supporting partner forces on the ground like the syrian kurds are sunni arabs and other local forces such as turtlemound to put pressure on iso- in northeastern syria. these efforts have rolled isil back in the area and have had
significant impact on isil's freedom of movement and supply lines. as of september 15 hour train and equip program the specific program we are currently training more than 100 fighters who may have additional recruits in the pipeline. this number is smaller than me help for in part because the chairman and others have noted they put our trainees through a very rigorous screening process to meet standards that are appropriately laid out in u.s. law. we closely align their efforts in these areas with their 62 country coalition and is an example of how we are doing that turkey's recent decision to provide us access have enabled us to expand the fight and strengthening the collation of our efforts in syria. before turning to general austin i want to address russia's involvement in syria. we are closely tracking russia's recent efforts to deploy additional military equipment and personnel to syria and then close touch with allies and
partners about these developments. both russia and iran have continued to support politically and militarily the assad regime which has systematically murdered its own people and created conditions of the current conflict in the rise of isil. what we need it in syria is a political solution to the complex through a transition away from assad and any actions that empower the regime to ask away the complex are unwelcome and would be destabilizing and counterproductive. this is clearly a very difficult challenge that we face. we are not going to solve it quickly that we have the right components in place to advance our objectives and dynamically adjusting our campaign to radically -- battlefield. achieving continued commitment strong leadership from us and the global coalition as well as commitment and sacrifice from local forces in iraq and syria. thank you. >> good morning chairman mccain, senator reid
distinguished members of the committee i want to thank you for the opportunity to appear here to provide a current update on the progress achieved over the past year in support of the ongoing campaign to counter i sold in iraq and syria. i'm pleased to appear here this morning alongside ms. christine wormuth. miss warm-up is widely respected that the department of defense and we are grateful to her for her continued and strong support of our efforts at centcom. i will join christine and making a few brief comments and we are prepared to answer questions. before providing a brief update on the counter as the campaign i did want to quickly address an important issue. as the chairman mentioned there is an ongoing dod ig investigation looking into allegations concerning the processing of intelligence information by centcom's intelligence director. because the allegations are currently under investigation it would be premature and
inappropriate for me to discuss this matter. what i will say is i welcome the dod ig oversight and once the investigation is complete based upon the findings you can be assured that i will take appropriate actions. again i cannot speak to the specifics of the allegations however would like to take this opportunity to provide clarity with respect to how we use intelligence products in the critical work that we do. because of the nature of our mission at centcom we do have and rely on a robust intelligence enterprise to support the plan. they're over 1200 seasoned intelligence professionals that make up that enterprise and they do exceptional work great as the commander i greatly value and seek their input and insight. i used the assessments they provide me together with the inputs that i have received from a variety of sources that include my commanders on the ground who i talk to almost every single day and i consider
this broad range of inputs when making my decisions. there is then put a lot of speculation about the allegations made to the dod ig in one particular believe should be addressed and corrected for the record. some of express concern centcom intelligence reports were sent direct to the president. this is not accurate. as the office of the director of national intelligence put out to the media last week in that quote none of the combatant commands are permitted to engage directly in it to president's daily briefing process. rather reports were produced by the combatant commands funneled through the dia to can -- and should also send collaborations and conjugations are properly coordinated end of quote. again i cannot comment on a specific allegation. we will need to wait for the dod ig to complete its investigation but i did want to provide this additional clarification. ladies and gentlemen with perspective the ongoing operations in iraq and syria
today despite some slow movement at the tactical level we continue to make progress across the battle space in support of a government strategy to degrade and defeat isil. key to the enduring success of the military campaign to sustain pressure on isil from the air and on the ground and the approach that we adopted relies on the indigenous forces to create and sustain this pressure while curbing the flow of foreign fighters and cutting off the enemy's ability to resource itself. in recent months iraq's security forces have experienced some setbacks. this is to be expected in early stages of the fight as complex as this one. overall coalition airstrikes in art by us and assist in building partner capacity at first the iraqis continue to make progress. in northern iraq the peshmerga have performed exceptionally well and the kurdish arab coalition in northeast area is
achieving substantial effects. in fact over the past several months they retaken more than 17,000 square kilometers of terrain from the enemy and the effects that they have achieved create significant opportunities that his pursuit could prove devastating for the enemy. the intent of the military campaign is to degrade and ultimately defeat the enemy there on actions and by enabling and supporting the efforts of our coalition forces and again progress is being made in this is evidenced by what we see happening in the air and on the ground in both countries. i would also point out that the progress reflects in large part the many contributions made by our coalition partners. 60-plus nation coalition represents the strength of this campaign and we remain grateful for their strong support for its success in this campaign will require the continued support of our coalition partners along with the support of other elements of the u.s. government
and the international community. more importantly it will require the iraqis do what is necessary to address their political challenges. the national reconciliation is absolutely essential to the success in the counter iso- campaign. we said at the outset the military campaign to counter iso- will take time and it will take time and we should expect there'll be occasional occasional setbacks along the way particularly in the early stages. ..
important and lasting contributions to the overall effort. >> well, thank you. i have been a member of this committee for nearly 30 years and have never heard testimony like this ever. on september 91 week ago the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said the fight against isil was tactically stalemated with no gains on either side. obviously you and the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff have a very different view of what the situation is. and so the progress you are citing, how long do you think it will take for us to defeat isil and restore
stability in iraq and syria? >> years. if i may comment on the chairman's comments, as i spoke to the chairman yesterday, i went back and looked at what he said. the future of isil is increasingly dim. tactically stalemated isil will move at the speed of its governance, not its military capability. there have not been any dramatic gains on either side. >> dramatic, that's different from tactically stalemated, please general? the exact same thing was
said, so they're is clearly a disconnect between your view and that of our outgoing and incoming chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. in your view everything should remain as it is. do you think that we should have a no-fly zone and syria? >> that is a policy decision. i would not recommend it. >> would you recommend setting up a buffer zone in syria where the refugees might be able to come and be protected from the attacks and slaughter? >> it would take a ground force. >> would you support a buffer zone? >> i don't see the force available.
>> we would not be able to shoot down his aircraft as they bomb and slaughter innocent men and women, is that correct? >> we clearly have the capability, yes. >> but you would not recommend such action? >> i would not. >> basically what you are telling us is everything is fine, as we see hundreds of thousands of refugees, now 250,000 syrians slaughtered, as you see more and more iranian control of the shia militia, the only ones that are really doing the fighting besides the pitch murder. as i say, i have never seen a hearing that is as divorced from the reality of every outside expert than what you are saying.
does it have an effect on what you think we should be doing? >> i want to be clear that i think this is a horrible tragedy and it is something the entire and a national community will have to continue to work together on. we hope that these refugees continue to be disadvantaged that we see more countries joining in to assist. >> so you would not support a policy that would help protect these refugees from being slaughtered with barrel bombs? >> it is always in our best interest to help protect civilians. again, i would not recommend a buffer zone at this point in time.
>> so everything is really going well. >> no, sir. that's not -- >> if things are not going well and we have had setbacks and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said the tactics have stalemated and pursuing the strategy and tactics on the ground i respectfully and fundamentally disagree. the refugees are results of it. you were there at the meeting. he would agree to keep a residual force. we never gave him the forces to leave behind, the departure of us completely from iniraq and set the table for the catastrophe that we are seeing. as i say, i have not
attended a hearing that is so grossly distorted, terrible and tragic situation as i have seen from the witnesses. by the way, senator graham and i predicted everything that was happening now. i predict unless we do something different it will remain stalemated, which means tragedy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. secretary and general, about a year or more there was real concern that isil was virtually unstoppable. has that been approved? >> greatly one of the fundamental issues related to the comment un general
dempsey have made is, who will have the advantage going forward, isil or iraqi forces supported by the united states? >> clearly it is the iraqi forces supported by not only the united states that the 60 plus nation coalition. >> one of the things that has been suggested and recommended strongly to the iraqi government, the national guard units, sunni as well as others that formally allied with the government, and that legislation is bogged down. we could do more if the iraqis were willing to make changes in terms of their
policy. they could contemplate the use of advises with the national guard, iraqi national guard units to distribute equipment as well as tactical advice. >> is it something you would consider? >> yes, sir. it is. >> a scathing report about the leadership or lack thereof suggesting that not every state could be trusted. leading up to this crisis over many years. >> sir, what we saw from the former prime minister was increasingly sectarian behavior and a number of bad decisions that led to the
atrophy of the security forces. >> according to this report they attribute most of the blame of the disintegration at malik's doorstep. >> it is primarily his responsibility. those who he appointed in key leadership positions as well. >> in terms of your campaign plan, you have tried to exploit the area where we have the most centrist against isil while maintaining as much pressure as possible. i don't think anyone has seen the progress they've
would like to see. is that accurate? >> it is, sir. government, of course we had access to things that could enable us to get the work, shaping operations in syria as we get increasing resources we are able to increase the tempo and syria , and so i think we will have greater affect going forward. >> finally, general comments because one of the recent developments is they seem to be much more cooperative in
an operational cents. what do you expect in the next six months that will translate to on the ground? >> it will translate to more pressure on key areas in syria like the city of rocker which has long been a isil stronghold. because of that we will have the ability to increase and focus on key places in syria. that will certainly shape things in iraq. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. when senator carter was here before this committee he testified that there were only about 60 syrian fighters that had been trained in our train and equip program. we have heard reports about the attacks on those individuals when they were
reinserted back into syria. can you tell us what the total number of trained fighters remains? >> it is a small number. the ones that are in the fight, we are talking four or five. >> a new york times report on september 6 indicated that among the lessons learned from that experience was that these fighters should be returned to syria in larger numbers, obviously larger than the 45 that are there. do you agree? >> i agree. whenever that is possible it is in our best interest to make sure that we have an element that can protect itself and also go in and combine efforts with other elements on the ground.
>> how do you plan to achieve that? increase the number of fighters on we are looking at the really tough security screening processes that are in place now. how will be achieved that? how long will that take? you mentioned earlier about increasing resources. i took that to mean increasing the number of fighters that you would place in syria and the effect that they would have. what is the time period we are looking at, and how will you do it? >> and i certainly agree that the knew syrian force program has gotten off to a slow start, but it is important to remember that this element is designed to be a complement to all of the other things that we are doing. we are going to use and are using every tool we have available in our inventory. our approach is to utilize
indigenous forces to complement our work from the air on the ground. >> if i could interrupt you on that point, and i would like to get back to your answer. when you said complementing the work on the ground with airstrikes, did i just to you say that? >> they have to work in tandem. >> there is a new article out today. are we going to change strategy? i think it is in foreign policy today that it says the united states is drawing up a new plan that is going to send trained fighters into syria that will help direct airstrikes. is that report correct? >> i would just say that we will continue to look at the best ways -- the best means to employ these forces going forward, and capitalize on
lessons learned. again, it is really about the full complement of indigenous forces that we have available to work with. as we mentioned earlier, the why pg, syrian kurds, and some have done tremendous work in northern syria pushing isil back the border, currently somewhere around 40 kilometers or so north of the capitol city of isil and will continue to pressure isil. the knew syrian force is additive to that effort. >> is it still the goal to have about 12,000 they're? what is the expectation? >> at the pace we are going will not reach the goal we had initially established for ourselves.
the overall goal is to make sure we have enough to get worked on the ground, whether it is why pg elements or other elements, we can and are achieving the same effect. it is not aspirational. we are doing this today. >> and is the strategy changing for the work on the ground? >> we continue to look at the best means to employ them, and we will do what you would expect us to do and make adjustments as opportunities present themselves. >> thank you. >> just to follow-up, there is a foreign policy, anxious to avoid another damaging setback. looking at attaching small numbers of fighters to larger, established forces.
can you confirm or deny that that option is being looked at? >> center, we are reviewing the way forward. >> i am asking if the option is being considered. >> we are looking at a range of options. >> i ami'm not asking you to come before this committee and obfuscate. i am asking you a direct question. yes or no? >> we are looking at that option as well as others. >> thank you very much. >> general, it is my understanding that general dempsey recently said if the us seized control of the campaign against isil we could speed up the defeat but that it would come at a great cost to our service members and that another group with another name
would just be back in a couple of years. isn't that what you understand general dempsey to have said and reaffirmed here today? >> yes, ityes, it is. it is important that the people in the country in the region take ownership and work to put in place lasting solutions. if we do not do that back in another two to three years. >> and because of that campaign, it must be one by our coalition partners and the iraqis, not just us. >> that is correct, sir. >> would you care to read that statement again for clarity in your response to the chairman's question that general dempsey had said in its full context?
>> yes, sir. what the chairman said was, the future of isil is increasingly dim is more nations join the anti- isil effort. further stated that although the fight right now is tactically stalemated the node dramatic gains on either side, they will move at the speed of governance and not the speed of its military capability. i would like to reassert this for general dempsey with your permission.
they will include the assessments. >> of course. >> general, give us your assessment that russia is building up the military base and sending soldiers and weapons into syria to prop up a side under the guise of fighting isis? >> we are witnessing a buildup of forces in syria by russia. as you know, they have been there all along but are increasing the footprint. with a stated as they want to focus on helping to counter isil, as i understand it.
that is left to be seen, and as you know, russia is not transparent. we don't know what their true intentions are. the interaction, potential interaction of additional capability and operations, utilizing that capability could increase the friction in that battle space significantly. >> general, the senate defense authorization bill calls for a 30 percent reduction in headquarters staff and cost at the department of defense starting with the seven and a half percent cut in fiscal year 2016. what impact will that have on your ability to conduct operations, and what is sent, if you want to submit for the record, planning to do to make that cut?
>> if you take a look at what is going on in our region currently from pakistan, afghanistan, to yemen, to iraq and syria syria and to increase the tensions and other places throughout the region, it is clear we have an active region. so in order to manage the things that we need to manage and work with our partner nations in the region we need appropriate staff to be able to do that. the reduction of the line on the budget. we have to do what we can then need to do. it makes it increasingly difficult to get things done.
>> i want to thank you for being here today. are we providing support and weapons of the syrian kurds? as i heard your testimony we only have four or five us train syrian fighters. what are we doing to support the syrian kurds if they are effectively pushing back isil on the ground? >> we are providing them aa tremendous amount of air support which is what they wanted. this is the element, a portion of the element with the folks that hung on at combined valiantly. it was doubtful as to
whether or not they would be up to survive in that environment and continue to do things. they continued on an increase the size and activity and made a significant difference in the northeast part of the country. they have asked is sustained airpower strikes, and they have benefited from the strikes. becausebecause of their aggressiveness they have made a tremendous difference in the northeast. >> they have not asked for arms? how does turkey -- how is turkey acting on the ground here in terms of obviously what they have given them. how you view turkey's role in all of this. forty-five us train fighters , that is a joke.
what more can we do to help? >> up to this point they have asked us for arms, but that does not mean that they want. of course you know, as we go forward there are things that we can do to continue to help as they try to get supplies into northern syria , work with the kurds in northern iraq to help ensure we have lines of communication that facilitate that. they need to partner with syrian arabs i think it is a combination of all these forces that is going to make a difference going forward. we expect a footprint to grow over time. ..
what that we will mean, i don't know. >> perhaps if they had more cash and money they would like to provide more support to the regime. >> my assumption would be that that would be the case. >> i wanted to ask, issues with the train fighters, are we going to provide, if they are under attack, what are we going to do to support
her protect them. we will provide overwatch. >> i am worried like the rest of my colleagues. there have been a number of questions about the train and equip mission. the good news is if you give them aa job to figure out a way to get it done. the bad news is, they are not willing to say what it is not going to work. at what point in time do you envision us admitting that while all good intentions and on paper all the work was done, finding willing
fighters it can be screened appropriately when you have the vast majority that feel victimized by the current situation are running for the exits. at what point in time and what is the discussion ongoing about the money you are requesting for next year? that seems very unrealistic. if we have successfully completed, and i believe you said the last information was 100. what is the number? >> senator mccaskill, it is between 10120. >> we are counting on our fingers and toes at this point. we had envisioned 5400 by the end of the year. i am worried that this is one of those instances where
the good news about our military is dominating. we can do this, and the practical realities are not being fully embraced. >> thank you, senator. i absolutely agree. we have the finest troops in the world, and they will figure out a way to get the job done one way or the other. again,again, what our special operations forces have done in northern syria is, they did not wait for the knew syrian force program or train and equip program to fully develop. at the outset they began to engage elements like the why pg and enable those elements and are making a difference on the battlefield. and there are tens of thousands out there right now fighting isil.
i'm afraid that is the reality we are dealing with. i believe the un has 4 million refugee, 7 million displaced person. it is obvious to me this is a humanitarian catastrophe. we need to to deal with it in an honest way. the most effective and honest way is to keep people as close to home as possible. if they they can't stay in their home because of violence and war than they ought to be as close to home as possible. i talked to a senior official recently and he told me on this refugee crisis is the greatest threat to europe since world war ii. i don't see any plan to make it better. we have have to consider creating safe zones within syria. i understand there some places within syria that refugees can
stay. we can't have millions of people walking into europe. it's hardly worth discussing. i am really worried about this. i wish we could have done much about it. i been so slow to act initially this is what resulted, now the situation is more grim than it should be in my opinion. i do tend to agree with general austen the defeat of eisele is not the end of the problems in the middle east. we have extremism that may be going on for 50 years. would you agree with that? >> i absolutely agree. >> one victory here it doesn't mean there is a total victory. total victory. there will be of problem somewhere else as long as this
ideology is out there. we need a strategy. and understood strategy, bipartisan. with our eye allies around the world to confront this long-term, multi- decade threat can and try to help protect people in the middle east from this disaster. i want to ask you do we have a strategy of that kind that our allies in the united states, congress, all agree on? >> we have a strategy to defeat isil ultimately in the middle east. it's largely in the middle east but it is spreading other areas. there are other dynamics in the middle east that are part of this. there's the broader conflict that has gone on for decades. the fact that many governments in that region are not very
representative and have internal policies that don't give much freedom to their people so that is part of what is part of what is creating a problem. a big part of our strategy is working with these people. >> well set in one sense. does that mean we don't support the king of jordan? >> i'm asking rhetorically. we have to have a more realistic policy than that. i was just reading a book on order and last night hit the part about george and the containment strategy that maintained western unity, free world against the communist total talent terry them. it went on for almost 50 years. this is the way it was
expressed. southern expansionism was real and in harwich, the conflict was inherent in the two ideologies. it is incompatible to constitutional democracy. he said, it could be quote contained by a diligent application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points. i don't sense that we have any such strategy. i'm sorry we don't. i think radical islam is essential component. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you both for being here. since senator commented about communism and segues into my
first question why do you believe four years into this conflict that russia is deploying material and increase shipments to the outside regime and really setting up shop in syria and away they have it it in the last four years? >> russia has been a supported of the asad regime for some time. putin has spoken more publicly russia has played today. part of what may be happening, part of putin's calculus is a shots regime has been under greater threat in the last several months and is so has advanced in some other areas. patent may be nervous about the stability of the a shod regime and may be trying to shored up. >> given that, how do we assess the possibility the a shod regime might fall?
>> at this point the assessments i have read and the regime has considerable strength in terms of military forces. it is still most powerful military force on the ground. the support it receives from iran and russia remain significant. there have certainly been battlefield losses that have been concerning, we are looking at how to deal with, we we are planning and thinking about how to deal with it. right now with the assumption is the asad regime is not an imminent danger of failing. >> are we concerned they will threaten our coalition aircraft? >> if they are trying to operate in the same space then that possibility is clearly there.
>> how are we thinking of responding to that? >> for either of you. >> we are still in the early stages of what russia is doing. at the diplomatic level we are making very clear that deployments that are going to shore up the regime and draw out the conflict are counterproductive and destabilizing. if this is about russia trying to join the fight against i cell we did expect military capabilities to be consistent with that. >> how are we making it clear to russia? >> their number of channels, secretary kerry speaks to his counterpart regularly and has been making that point very clear. on the military side and i'm sure general can elaborate on
this, if in fact it gets to the point where we see russia aircraft operating in that area, we would need to set up some d confliction mechanism so we can continue our counter is so campaign. >> we know how to do that. my utmost concern is protection of our troops. we are going to make sure we have the ability to protect ourselves at all times. on occasion, searing aircraft are flying into spaces that are not too distant from where we are operating. we are able to make sure number one, we maintainigilance and number two, we keep battle space, we work with a battle space in such a way that we avoid conflict and encounter if at all possible. >> i appreciate that has been our policy today.
given the total failure of our ability to influence the outcome of the syrian civil war, are we assessing whether we should take a different response with respect to a side? >> and engaging with the syrian troops? >> we continue to look and believe what would be the best solution is to get a political transition and get asad out of the government while retaining the government structures so you have a situation of chaos on the ground. russia with its relationship with the regime could contribute with helping to find that solution. that would be a valuable contribution from russia. >> there would be but there is no incentive for russia to do that. >> what is the incentive?
>> they want more than anything a more stable syria. they're quite fearful of isil as well. they are just as concerned as we are. so i think russia does have an interest in having a more stable syria and constructively for them to engage in work with us in other countries who would like to see a transition there. to come up with a diplomatic way to make that transition happened. >> i think that would be a positive outcome, it's not clear to me that we have seen any action in the last four and half years to suggest russia will play more positive role. thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> general austin thank you for your service in both syria and
iraq we have misplaced individuals that are part of the discussion. individuals moving into europe. in terms of numbers right now, this would be a question for either of you to we have an update on the total number of individuals displace between syria and iraq that you can share with us this morning question mark. >> i believe it is around four million. it is a very large number. >> that would be from syria question mark. >> that would be from syria and iraq. there are more than 1 million refugees in turkey right now. hundreds of thousands if not 1 million refugees in jordan. the neighboring countries are already hosting large numbers of
and if there be a concern of military and our desire not to do more harm than good and what we provide. at the same time our expectation is weird doing operations throughout the area. we don't want to get into areas where we will cause more damage. right now we are challenged because you do not have the observers that would make it more efficient than what it is today. can you share what you are doing to try to improve that situation and how you would like to see that handled?
>> we routinely use our intelligence, surveillance, assets, manned aircraft to make sure we understand what is going on the ground before we employ weapons. we are diligent in our efforts there. not overly cautious to the point where we can't take advantage of opportunities to engage the enemy. we are mindful of the possibility of committing civilian casualties. >> is it fair to say were were not using any of our observers at all. we don't have any forward air observers on the ground. >> that is correct. our j tax are operating in the command centers. what that does is it allows the
j tax to have visibility over what is going on in the target area and enables them to gain visibility of where the friendly troops are. this is the biggest challenge we encounter throughout this battle space. in many cases the people we are trying to help don't have a handle on where their people are. it slows down our ability to engage. >> when you are training individuals in iraq and those who want to fight back and syria, we understand and i don't think there's anyone who doesn't think were not on schedule that's a fair assessment right. in terms of the number we want have trained for iraq you nationals and syrian nationals? >> i'm struggling with my sign. we would like to see a lot more
forces available to be trained and we are encouraging the government of iraq to recruit those forces and bring them on board. what we have discovered, is that those forces that have been trained by us are doing pretty well on the battlefield. >> is it fair to say one of the problems is that in our ability to discern which ones we can use and which ones we can't based on our review of their background, if they want to go in and fight aside it's eliminating them from being part of our team. >> that is correct sir. we are focused on encountering isil. >> thank you mr. chairman. both of you have testified that the process has resulted in far fewer fighters for us to train.
does this mean we are turning away thousands of potential fighters? >> i would say two things. one because the the authority we have focuses our program on fighting isil, there are a number of individuals who might like to receive training or equipment from the united states but they want to fight the regime. that is that is not the focus of our program. the other way the standards affect the recruiting pool is we want to make sure we have confidence in the people we bring into the program and we can give them equipment to trust them to use that appropriately, trust them to fight on the battlefield that is consistent with the arms conflict. in many cases people don't meet those standards or are younger or under the age of 18 for
example. or or otherwise not medically qualified. >> is one of the assessments you are doing to review whether or not we are being unrealistic regarding the kinds of factors we want you to take into consideration before they trained in individual? is that an individual you're looking at. >> we are looking at our recruiting and screening process all of the time. even before the first class was reinserted we were looking at how to speed up our recruiting process. we are looking at the criteria we have in place, our view is that right now or criteria is consistent with the requirements that congress gave us. if we were to loosen them we would absolutely have to come back to you all.
>> that is my question is if you are seriously considering asking us to reevaluate the criteria that congress established. we are talking about what is going on the ground, i'm concern - and you mention this in your testimony that you're looking at effective ways to counter icicles effective campaign. there are concerns of isil ability to move without having direct contact with isil. so taking action in our country and elsewhere, what are some of the effective ways you are countering isil messaging strategy? >> we are taking steps that are effective but we need to do more. we have been working closely with the number of countries in the coalition to identify
communicators inside communities who have credibility with muslim populations. who will be able to lay out a compelling reasons why isil theology is completely bankrupt. we have been working with governments to counter extremism, working to get our message is out about military successes. a lot is working with the private sector and civil society to get the right kinds of messengers to speak to these kinds of groups. it is a very challenging part of our effort and we need to do more there. >> i completely agree with that. i think the lone wolf phenomenon and the problem is one that we don't have a good handle on. i think you mentioned that you thought there were signs that iran would like to be more active in supporting syria and possibly because of the
agreement and getting their hands on more money as sanctions get lifted. what are the signs that you have seen? >> we know iran is already supporting syria, are you expecting they are going to put billions more into their support of a side? >> they are already supporting syria. you are exactly right. as things become more dynamic and syria and the regime is increasingly challenged, it is my assessment that iran will on to continue to shore them up in a greater way. >> it's not as though our country will stand by idly while iran proceeds with that kind of program.
were not kind of program. were not just going to sit there. >> absolutely not we were focused on looking - we have sanctions of our own to try to block arms going to countries. we have worked with folks in the coalition to, we will continue to use those tools to limit iran's ability to support the syrian. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman for calling this important hearing. thank you secretary and general for taking time today to answer our questions it is deeply appreciated. it has been one year since pres. obama announced to the world that the united states would undertake a strategy to degrade
and defeat isis to bring some sense of stability to iraq and lead to a negotiated end to the civil war syria. it was my belief that presidents goal that he outlined to achieve that goal may have been beset from the outset from some flawed assumptions and contributions in a region of the world that is anything but easy to predict. this compounded by string of recent events is white may be time for us to reassess the way the united states abuse this conflict and chooses to respond to it. i think we need to start by prioritizing u.s. national security interests. general, what is your assessment of the most significant threat
the conflict of syria and iraq posed to the security of u.s. citizens and our freedoms. in in other words, at the end of the day, what needs to be accomplished for the u.s. government to fulfill and perform its constitutional duty to protect the people of the united states and our interest? >> thank you. this is a transnational threat. if left on checked it will continue to expand and try to take up an occupied territory and govern. in doing so, it will try to erase international boundaries, it will try to do a number of things that will cause tremendous pain and suffering throughout the region. it will also export terror. it will export terror to other
parts of the worlds and particularly to places like our homeland. we see the beginnings of this and this lone wolf activity. we also see, what we are concerned about individuals who go into iraq and syria and fight as a part of this effort and potential he returned back to our homeland and bring the skills back with him. it is a threat to us and i think the threat will continue to increase. >> the administration strategy is to create an environment in syria that will be likely to lead to a negotiated settlement of the civil war and results in power. in your opinion and given your knowledge of the region, what level of pressure would need to be leveraged by mr. aside and
his supporters, especially other minority groups view some opposition groups as a threat to their survival. how much investment would be needed from the coalition and countries to provide stability in hypothetical post a sod syria. >> i think a sod would only be willing to come to the table to negotiate a settlement if he feels like he is threatened. as things continue to develop in the country we see a number of elements who are fighting the regime. their efforts come together and
place increasing pressure on a sod. shod he is losing capability every day. the wildcard is other countries could sure him up and it could extend things for a different time. in a post a sod environment we have to consider their number of elements that will continue to be there and continue to fight if their remnants of isil there they will can tune you to fight. whatever the transition government looks like. , it has the ability to do its job. >> thank you i see my time has expired.
to six or seven or 8 million refugees, some of whom could be very, very dangerous leaving the country, i think we would have been wise to do it when senator mccain suggested it and i think we think we would still be wise to do it. from having met with a number of people, many would flood the country and go back if basic needs could be met. i would encourage that. i. i know that's not your decision to make. general austin, you set a second ago in response to senator mccain's question that you thought the war against isil would go on for years. is that correct? >> yes sir, it is. >> i don't think go on for years and the chances of success in the chances of isil are dimmed. i don't don't think those are compatible statements.
that isil chances of surviving are dimming and that the war will go on for years, i don't think that those are compatible statements. it seems like the isil threat is expanding geographically. we are talking heavily about iraq and syria. there is isil presence in libya that we are paying attention to and they are in afghanistan. largely those are disaffected taliban. boko haram has pledged allegiance to isil not yet threatening the u.s. and there may be some presence in yemen. is that correct? >> that is correct. that there is. >> the battlefield against isil is expanding. we are actually engaging in some new activity. my understanding, general austin, you you indicated we have undertaken airstrikes to support and train syrians in syria when they have been threatened. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> there is also a change in policy to protect those syrian fighters if they fall under threat and a top attacked by the
assad regime? >> that's correct. >> i tactically, completely agree with that. what is the legal predicate for the united states undertaking military action against forces of the assad regime? >> senator our determination is that as you know, very well, we can defend against isil under the 2001 plan and if our forces are attacked by a regime under certain circumstances, the presidents could exercise his article to rights under the constitution. >> if the u.s. is attacked, if our forces are attacked. >> i meant i meant our forces, meaning the forces that we train. >> i have not seen an interpretation of article 2, ever, that would allow the united states to undertake action under article two to protect others fighters. you can
take action under article two to protect the us. the president doesn't have to ask anyone's permission for that. but to undertake action to protect others fighters, i've never seen an interpretation of article two that would do this. the last thing i will say, there's a lot more criticism i would get into here. i worry that congress is criticizing you. we are acting like fans in the stand. we have not authorized this war. we have not authorized this war yet. i believe it is carried out in violation of basic legal principles because congress has not done what congress is supposed to do. we can be fans in the stand and throw all the criticisms we want, but we are in the 14 month of an undeclared war that is based upon a legal justification that is facetious in my view.
congress has allowed it to happen giving up their article one response abilities. now we've been told the wars way to go on for years, my question to my colleagues is how long are we going to allow the president to wage and executive war without congressional authorization. i think. i think were afraid to touch it so we can criticize it as much as we want. we will have many more hearings like this and we will have critical things to say. if were not willing to do our constitutional duty, why are we here. we are supposed to be the owners of this team. >> if that's the question, i will say say wars are not one with paper resolution. they are one with iron resolution and that is clearly lacking in our resolution with the ups islamic state. >> thank you for coming and for all the thousands of troop you represent and their service in your service and i want to speak briefly about the reports that there may have been some efforts to cook the books. i know you acknowledge this in your opening statement. there were ongoing questions to
include with the ig. you you have an on going challenge in your reporting that affects your operations. putting aside the investigation, could you tells what steps you are taking to confront those challenges you face on a daily basis? >> i have recently, and continue to, emphasize to all of my subordinates that my expectation is that i get candid and accurate intelligence assessments from my staff. i also and besides to my entire command that the welfare of my people is extremely important to me. i care about my people. my expectation is that they have a climate that is conducive to
providing for a good, healthy, sound work environment. >> thank you. i would have to say to as someone who regularly consumes intelligence products on the islamic state and our campaign against them as a member of this committee, i was very surprised to hear allegation that books are being cooked because those products would not paint a pretty picture of how this campaign is going. i want to move now to events in syria, in particular, russia russia's military buildup and reports in the last few weeks that russia's senior officials and aircraft carriers and have battle tanks now. in in addition to life-support systems that were designed for a large and continued presence, how many airstrikes is the coalition conducting on a daily basis in syria? >> we are conducting overall
about 24 airstrikes in iraq and syria. about one third of those are in syria. what efforts if any do we have to d conflict this battle space now that we have hundreds or thousands of russians running around with battle tanks and airstrike technology? >> we continue to look at what the possibilities of encounters are, sen., and we make sure we have measures in place to ensure that we don't have an inadvertent encounter with either russia or syrian aircraft. >> do you have positive identification that there is no russian on a target before they strike that target? >> the russians have not started, to my knowledge, have not started operation so we have not encountered that yet. clearly these are things that we
will continue to work and think through. >> assad's other supporter inside syria, do our pilots have to have 100% confirmation that there are no iranian members before we issue and airstrike? >> we have to have certainty that they are isil targets that will be engaged. since you know, know, we can see what we are shooting at or what we are engaging, this is not an issue. >> there is a report recently in the media that russia offered, in 2012, to help the west remove assad from power but the u.s. denied that.
is that an accurate report? >> i don't believe that's an accurate report but that was from several years ago and i was not in this position at that time. i don't believe it's accurate. i don't believe it's accurate. >> do you believe iran and their proxies can be a partner in the fight against the islamic state in any way or any part? >> no not really. we are not cooperating with iran and iraq right now. we are d conflicting, as you know well, they certainly have a role role with some of the shiite militia and the popular mobilization forces, but we are not cooperating and i don't see iran as having a productive role in either iraq or syria. >> they had to rely on u.s. air power and they are relying on russian airpower trying to rely
on them to help with the islamic state is like trying to rely on gasoline to put out a fire. >> thank you mr. chair, general, i want to touch for a few moments on the intelligence issue. i consider this extremely grave, a grave issue because if we don't have reliable intelligence we can't make good policy. this keeps happening. this goes back to the day of vietnam, the iraq war and this allegation, these allegations are extremely serious and i hope you will, i understand we have an ig investigation, but investigation, but his commanding officer, i would hope you would just be all over this. i want to ask you a direct question. have have you ever
ordered, suggested or hinted to any of the intelligence command that they should sweeten the intelligence report in order to portray a more positive view of the success of our efforts in iraq or syria? >> absolutely not. absolutely not. >> i hope you will stay on this because as you know, better than any of us, if you don't have good intelligence you are not only going into the battle blind, if it's cooked intelligence, you're going into the battle with one hand tied behind your back. i just am extremely concerned about this issue. this is a question for the record. you use the term progress in your statement a number of times. of times. progress here in progress there. not now, but for the record, i, i would like a very specific list of what you consider progress. where we are succeeding.
generally, it doesn't look like that. it. it looks more like a stalemate and i think again, we should have this information and i know some of it is in your testimony. i would like, if you could, a one pager on where you think progress has been made. >> i would be happy to bribe that sir. we will get that to you right away. >> thank you and i think from a broad question of policy, and this comes off a lot of other discussion we've had, assad and isis are evil twins. isis largely came into existence in reaction to assad. in retrospect, and like senator like senator mccain, i was very reluctant to get involved, but in retrospect, the longer we have left assad there, it has created a situation both a humanitarian crisis and a situation that has allowed isil -- isil didn't even exist when we started having these hearings. it has allowed them, it has given them it enemy and an
opportunity to make hay with the population. a strategy that ignores assad, and for example, trains troops to go into syria only to fight isil but not assad, i think we need to recognize that is not a logical strategy. part of good strategic inking is that you modify your thinking according to change in circumstances. the circumstances are, he's losing his capabilities every day. i'm sorry general, i've been hearing that it every hearing since 2013. aside is about to go. he's about to collapse. i know you. he's about to collapse. i know you didn't say that today, but we have got to find a strategy that allows us to move assad aside in some way. working with the russians if necessary or the iranians because he is the irritant that is keeping this thing stirred up. finally in terms terms of our troops, the fundamental
problem is we are not going to defeat isis with airpower. everybody knows that. we are trying to rely on a week force in iraq and no force in syria. how do we refine the strategy, general, and you know that in order to root them out, you have to have troops on the ground. we don't want them to be americans. how do we break through this? to train and equip is just too little too late. your thoughts? >> we will need a greater commitment commitment from the partners we are enabling, senator. if the iraqis make the commitment to put more troops through the train and equip program we will get them trained and equipped and we will get them into the fight. >> are there signs that the iraqis are willing to do that? do they want modal back? >> i certainly think so.
they want to stabilize and then take on multiple. yes i believe that. >> in terms of getting iraqis into the fight, they are opening the aperture into what units they are putting into our training sites. that should help create additional troops. >> i'd like specific numbers on that for the record. >> certainly. we see them starting to plan ahead in terms of which units are going into the training pipeline. again that indicates a greater sense of urgency on their part. on the syrian side of the ledger, i would say, it is clearly harder to find partners on the ground on the syrian side of the ledger. one of the things we didn't envision one year ago was the partnership, if you will, that we have with our airpower and the syrian kurds and the syrian coalition that are operating with them.
that won't be a enough but we are continuing to look for opportunities like that. >> i really think you need to rethink a strategy about a safe zone, no-fly zone, some protection from assad's barrel bombs. i hate it when the chairman's right but he's been talking about this for two years and in retrospect, i think, i think he was right. we've allowed this atrocity to go on too long. it's impacting us us and the rest of europe and i think there should be a rethinking of the non-intervention strategy. not in terms of troops, but troops, but in terms of airpower in order to level the playing field and bring pressure on assad and the russians so we can negotiate an agreement because it doesn't seem to be in prospect now. thank you very, very much mr. chairman.
>> thank you, in your opening statement, i apologize i had to step out and go to a judiciary committee meeting. you made a comment and i want to focus some time on through a series of questions that hopefully i can get brief remarks. you said isis is not 10-foot tall. the reason i have a have a concern with that kind of statement is that it kind of, it's reminiscent of characterizing them as a jv team. they are a very serious threat. before. before i go forward, i want to thank everyone for your service. i know you are part of the solution. when we say that isis is not 10 feet tall, they tall, they are the richest threat group of this kind in human history. to the seizure of assets for the iraqi national bank, they they seized some $820 million. last week, we we just had a memorial for 911.
it's estimated that the 9/11 attacks cost about $500,000. through that one asset seizure, if my math is right, that equates to about 1600 events like 9/11. having the resources to strike that kind of damage in the homeland in middle east and other places, i think we need to recognize one of the single greatest threats we have today. of course we have russia, north korea and iran. they are at the front line for people we have to take seriously. we have to figure out where were making progress and where were not. that leads to my question. do you feel like over the last year or 36 months or whatever makes sense to you, does isis control more or less territory or do they have greater or less influence in other areas that are emerging as potential strongholds for isis in the future? more or or less? >> less in iraq. >> what's the net #we know they
are expanding elsewhere. they are changing jerseys from afghanistan and caliban and we have them operating in other areas. what's the net? more or less. >> it would be more if you consider -- >> okay do they have, if you were to compare their resources, their economic resources over the last 24 or 36 months, do they have more or less dollars to support their terrorist operations? >> less. we have targeted their resources. they make money as you know off things like oriole collection. >> kidnappings. >> right. i have long long said on a number of occasions, note not only do we have to stop the flow of foreign fighters but we have to take away their ability
to finance -- >> okay i'm trying to come up with this time set of it -- bored so i can ask you the same series of questions and see where the twins are. do they have more or less influence, they seem to be winning on social media in terms of reaching out to people in the homeland and people in europe. about six hours ago some 16-year-old girl murdered her mother in europe. she was convicted of murder as a result of being radicalized. have we made any effort on their use of social media to restrict this pressure mark. >> they do have a more effective counter messaging strategy in this area. >> it seems to be growing. in terms of trend, the ground they are taking in the places they are influencing, social media, - i mean this is an organization that is trending in the wrong direction against the greatest superpower that has ever existed
i want to go back to chemical weapons. do you think, there has been reports, i only want to talk about confirmed reports -- do you think their use of chemical weapons have increased over the last 24 months or are beginning to see they are used in certain areas in syria and iraq? more or less? >> given they had no apparent use of chemical weapons at the outset, there is some indication there is more. >> the last question i have is how we are working and i understand most of the problem has to do with iraq failing to do what they need to do to
engage the sunni population, but they haven't done it. so over the course of last 24 or 36 months, has the sunni population been more or less inclined to side with isis where the conflicts are rising in iraq? >> i think we have seen considerable outreach from the prime minister and the sunni to take -- there are now 4000 sunnis and am bar that we didn't have six months of go. >> so you feel like we are winning in terms of engaging the hearts. >> i think we are bringing more sunni fighters into the fight. >> i would agree they are less inclined in iraq to side with isis. they seen what i soul brings the table. most of the sunnis don't want that going forward. they do want it in the government of iraq. >> i think it should be. if be. if were going to have a long-term strategy with productive engagement. thank you you very much. >> mr. chairman, i want to submit for the record an extraordinary speech by robert
gates in 1992 when he was head of the cia on the danger of the politicization of intelligence. it's brilliant and not surprising coming from robert gates. i just want to submit it for the record. thank you. >> you. >> no objections so so ordered. we think the witnesses and adjourn our hearing. thank you.
[inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] the c-span network features weekend full of politics, books in american history. saturday morning beginning at 930 on c-span, we are c-span, we are live from manchester for the new hampshire democratic convention. speakers include five presidential candidates. hillary clinton, bernie sanders, martin o'malley