tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 6, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
i would suggest the russian air force does not-- is not subject to and we are subject to, which is different, very different than the first gulf war and the amounts of conventional forces. so, that i think is at least a partial answer, mr. chairman, to your question. >> well, from the way i proceeded here especially given my frustration with the first year of this conflict and not utilizing linear power when it could be very effective, we have a situation today where we are hitting the bad guys in this, isis 100 times in the russians are hitting those that are opposed to isis and assad 800 times to read. that's my take away in a broad sense of where we are now, but
ambassador nuland, this is a just russia reaching out to save an old ally. we look at those remarks and we see russia and iran were together in ways most have not expected. i certainly don't think the administration expected it. i don't think they expected we would find hezbollah fighters and iranian forces and russian headquarters working together in this kind of circumstance. but, this was general solomonic traveling to moscow in the middle of our nuclear negotiations and putting this plan in place, twice as i understand it he made that travel in violation, by the way, of embargo again, something that wasn't objected to when i raised the issue.
by the way, who was sponsored-- responsible himself by the death of 600 americans i am told by the pentagon, that he was in moscow making arrangements with the russians. there was no protest that i am aware of of this being a violation of the travel ban. of late, russian aircraft has been seen running iranian weapons into syria. again, a very clear violation of the embargo, which will support. so, what steps are being taken to uphold the un arms embargo on iran in the face of the russian violations? >> mr. chairman, i'm unaware of those reports. about the movement of iranian arms into syrian on russian aircraft, but we will certainly get you a report as soon as possible. >> i am out of time, but i will mention when mr. ingle returns,
he's at the white house and we will give him ample time for him -- his opening statement and for his questions, but in the meantime, i think karen bass of how a 40th is next in the cute. >> thank you mr. chairman. in light of the president's statement last week that we were deploying 50 special operation forces to syria, i went to know what you see as their mission and do you expect them to be engaged in direct, and how can we be sure that this limited deployment will be eight slippery slope to involve us troops? i would join my colleague, ms. franco who said had we not invaded iraq eight years ago that the whole region wouldn't be destabilized as it is now, but in light of that i went to know if you can respond now and i also want to ask you a couple questions regarding the transitional government in the future. >> let me say that i was in a briefing yesterday and some of these responses on the
activities and location of the special forces are classified. >> shirt. >> so, perhaps we will come back to you with a written answer on matt's. there exact role is also a classified response, but let me say that we are also-- as a mention in my statement the president is looking at a number of other options to intensify our efforts in this battle space. >> in terms of the future, transitional government in syria , there were talks held in vienna, last week and i would want to know if you could talk about those under the future, what do you feel is the best way to compel the regime to an go shaded-- two on negotiated transition? >> the secretary brought
together 20 countries including the russians and iranians and article allies to discuss a way forward and we agreed to disagree on the future of a sawed, but he did plot a way forward on a transitional government constitutional reform in a series of meetings and working groups that would take place with the international community, with the un and with the opposition to try to implement the geneva communicate the 2012. that smeeding will likely be in vienna, within the next few weeks and there will be a series of groups and consultations with the un beforehand with opposition. the idea is to have a transitional governments to work on a timetable for a sods departure and let me be clear that that's a critical element of this policy and then to work on constitutional review and
ultimately an election in syria. that is the basic outline of secretary carries strategy. >> at this point if there were a transitional government, who do you see composing that? >> a number of opposition figures and people already on the ground. it would be key and this was in the communicate the serious institutions of the military intelligence believes civil service would remain intact, so you wouldn't have a total collapse of state of florida read idea is to-- >> like that happened in iraq. >> and his cronies from power. >> thank you. i yield back my time in. >> ambassador nuland, what the world makes us think that russia would agree to that? why would they agree to a transitional government and the removal of a sawed? and did you get that commitment? >> russia did agree to that general framework in 2012, when it sighed onto the-- >> well, that's before they started bombing in military
activities on the ground. it's not 2015-- it's now 2015. >> they have agreed to the general framework that we need to see-- cease fire and winning elections. the area of dispute is what stage in that process assad departs the scene. >> given what's happening on the ground, that sounds like fantasy to me. >> thank you. part of me. thank you, mr. chairman for calling this hearing. welcome to our two distinguished witnesses. first, a chaired a hearing last week with the commission on refugees coming out of syria. the high commissioner's regional representative testified in his bottom line was that there were two big trends that have led to the mass exodus and what is the
political solution will not be found any such time soon to the war secondly after so many years of exile many people resources have dwindled to next to nothing come of it he said the third factor is the trigger, white people have upstate and made their way into europe and he said that trigger was a few months ago there was a lack of funding for the world food program to read that they cut their assistance by 30% and he testified and said as a consequent many refugees that the international community could be starting to abandon them and he pointed out as well that the inter- agency syrian agency and plan for 2015 is only 41% funded. people are living on less than 50 cents a day and he said they decided to go into flight in order-- and my question would be, i know we are generous supporters and i'm glad that congress and the administration has done that, but did we anticipate that this might be a
trigger that there was such a huge cut to the world food program x secondly, as iran reads it billions of dollars in windfall attributed to the nuclear deal, what is your assessment and of course, this could be in a written form to elaborate on it, but what is your assessment of how that cash might be used to assist a sawed? i also ask secretary richard last week about establishing a p2 program for especially minorities who really don't pose a threat. i know we have a very robust betting process. ..
resources come i know this has been that frequent source of discussion. the iranian economy has been in freefall for the last several years because of sanctions. we believe there are huge pent-up needs and energy can structure demand that the government will have to meet but i do not want to be naïve that some of this money will be used for the destabilizing activities of the general and finally i know that you would ask my colleague about the p2 program. let me say there is a lot of concern about people coming out of this area, they are properly vetted and reviewed given some of the history.
>> mr. bill keating of massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i realize your not speaking for the department of put defense. i just want to ask you in open hearings we have had witnesses, generals, military experts, time after time saying that the unilateral approach is just bombing itself accompanied by the ability of troops at the ground to all that area. otherwise it was basically a worthless military strategy and approach. >> simply bombing without the ability.
it has to be incorporated with the land force. >> yes, mr. keating. those topics, as you suggest, are frequently discussed within the administration. let me just say, the campaign has had considerable impact on the leadership. i can give you the exact figures, but a number of prominent leaders of been taken off of the battlefield. and removed from office. >> can i just jump into this aspect? they have been a lot of discussion about rules of engagement, and it is a difficult issue, russia's approaching this in a manner without discrimination. they seem contented bombing
and killing innocent civilians and not even trying to make efforts to avoid doing that takes that into consideration is most countries do. can you comment on the importance of following rules of engagement to try as the us does to minimize civilian deaths? >> yes, mr. keating. as i mentioned, particularly in this campaign, the u.s. air force has very strict engagement on collateral damage in accordance with the pres.'s instructions. i our job is to minimize civilian casualties in every -- in every way possible. not only my i mentioned is a moral issue but one of practicality since you don't want to alienate the united states -- the united states
does not want to alienate the people on the ground. let me say that one of our goals is to work with partners on the ground who can serve as role as ground troops in support of a us air campaign. we have supported the syrian kurds and arabs in the arab coalition, and it has been effectively closing the border to the influence of foreign fighters into the export of refined products. >> is it fair to say -- a fair statement to say that the russian bombing actions were immoral? >> i read yesterday rather graphic reports of the civilian casualties they have inflicted on the village nearby. it seems quite indiscriminate, if i may say so. >> thank you command i yield back.
>> we go toget to mr. jeff duncan, south carolina. >> thank you for holding this hearing. we are seeing a tremendous migration crisis in europe as a result of the syrian civil war. and the aggression of isis in western iraq and syria. this is threatening regional stability in europe, really to attend that we have not seen since probably the 1930s. it is mind-boggling when you watch the videos of the number of migrants streaming in to eastern european countries and now western european countries. i just have a question for ambassador new line, ambassador calling bell works for you; does she not? ambassador to hungry, for the record? >> yes.
>> you were also ambassador to nato, so you understand the key role the nato countries play with the security of the world valuable ally, nato ally so why then after months of seemingly improved relations between western democracy and the nato ally, as we just confirmed, did the us a message of cytologic unprovoked attack last week? you're familiar with both said, correct? >> congressman, i am not sure specifically what comments you may be referring to. she give a speech last week where she reaffirmed us support for a hungary that is increasingly democratic. we have had concerns about government policy with regard to attacking corruption. we havewe have had concerns about repression of media. i think she was probably --
>> she chastised the summer nation's ability to secure its own borders and put fencing up if they so chose, did she not? >> again, i wouldagain, i would have to go back and look at precisely what she said. we have had concerns, as has the eu as a whole, but eu member states erecting fences between each other and have instead tried to support the policy of euthe eu as a whole to work together and to be in solidarity with each other in addressing the migrant crisis. >> i disagree with some of that based upon what you said. is a diplomatic mission not to improve relations with allies or want to school those that we need in nato in order to meddle in domestic affairs while stroking wherever he goes are satisfied by such actions? is that our diplomatic mission? >> congressman, even with our nato allies, it has been the long-standing, one might
argue fifty-year policy of the us to support an increasingly democratic, stable,, stable, clean europe. so when we had concerns that a country is not attacking corruption in its midst, we have concerns about the rollback of the democratic principles that undergird nato membership, we will speak out about it. yes. >> meta-ambassador, i disagree. i think that you are meddling in the affairs of the cyber nation. but we look at the mass migration across europe, are you going to interfere and chastise germany if they decide to deal with the migrants are affecting their nation? are you going to chastise lavinia or some of the other nations for having to deal with this, having to deal with almost a million migrants that have made their way into eastern and now western europe. this is an issue of crisis for them.
the demographics will change the political atmosphere in those countries. these are sovereign nations that will have to deal with this. it will be a strain on social programs, their ability to do things for there own citizens. the demands being placed on them by these migrants is a game changer in europe. is it usis it us policy to interfere with other nations and there ability to provide services for there own citizens and deal with the migration policy? >> on the contrary, congressman, we are strongly supportive of the overall eu policy that they are putting in place now, which is to support each other in resettling migrants appropriately and treating them tolerantly, and sharing the burden coming intervene to post country, providing more funds to those countries where refugees are coming from.
>> my time is just about up. >> missed are we building walls between and among themselves and contradiction of eu policy -- >> i recommend you listen to the statements command we ever attraction on that. i yieldthat. i yield back. >> we go now to lois frankel of florida. >> first off, thank you for being here. you're hearing frustration. not to take this personally. thank you. first of all,all, i want to say in the plot, i think the administration, the president, trying to get many of the relevant world leaders together to try to come to grips with what is going on in syria is going in the right direction. that is a good step. it sounds to me that it sounds to me that is your
opinion that russia's actions in syria are such that they will -- it will be self-destructive. i think that is what i gleaned from your comments. but in the meantime, before russia self-destructs themselves they are doing are so many innocent people were kind of strategies or actions are you taking with russia that can maybe change the course is my 1st question. second is for what are we doing to actually protect the syrian civilians within syria another any further plans are as a helpless to do a save southern no-fly zone was anything else being
consider that we have not heard about? >> let me say that, 1st that, 1st off, we don't think this is a slamdunk by any means. they basically have the whole sunni world against him now command i think it is an analytical fact that we may not have seen anything yet in terms of job because we have already seen the moms in the gulf call for increased jihad against the godless russian presence in syria. so i won't say they have bitten off more than they can chew, but they certainly have issues that they are going to confront, not the least of which is there huge islamic population inside and on the perimeter of russia. vis-à-vis the civilians inside syria. they have the assistance as provided, humanitarian
assistance to the tens of billions of dollars provided to syrians within syria. but in terms of safe sounds, and i'm glad you ask this because there have been a lot of discussion about this. the administration is much of this over and over and over again and there's no option on the table or recommended by the department of defense we continue to look at this and study this moment there is no viable option on the table at this time. >> did you have anything that? >> simply to say that we have been clear with the russians about whatbellow we are seeing in terms of the results of airstrikes. the secretary is spoken to the foreign minister virtually every day also
about our insistence that they exact some kind of restraint for the support that they are getting, at least in the area of barrel bombing, andbombing, and we will continue to share not only with russians directly, but with all of you and publicly what we see. i think as sec. patterson said, what the sec.'s hope is here is that if you wrote them into this diplomacy they will see a better way to a peaceful solution and what they're doing. >> and one more question. i think we will all have heard that the conditions for these syrian refugees are dire, especially at the borders. i heard stories yesterday. my hair would go straight if it could do that, but it sounded horrible. what kind of actions -- i heard people living out in the open. no sanitation, very little
food, what is the response? poor people get caught in pockets. usually that is short-lived, and the the countries go off on the border again. we work with them constantly on that issue to get these refugees into their countries. most of the countries are hosting refugees and host communities which puts a significant strain on public services which is not an education which is why support the international community and continued financial support is important. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you. thank you, sprinkle. >> thank you.
>> syria. fourteen years ago i made my 1st trip to syria to meet with the unknown president asad. he has been pretty well-defined over 14 years, and the dictatorship he has has been pretty well-definedmy over many decades. so let me askw3 a question. ambassador patterson, i will primarily from it to you.ç more than four years ago the situation call for regime change.çóç negotiated various agreements including obviously the chemical weapons departure. at this point, isn't it time to ask the question of what we really want to achieve in syria the so-called free syrian army has cost us so
incredible number that are not going to send television again. it has been a complete failure. we have the free syrian army. more sunnis are fighting independent of us them with us by a factor of probably 1,001. let me ask you in assisting to a, isn't it time we figure out what is possible in a syria that allows the millions of syrians, sunni, shia, aloe light christians to return to their country? >> we don't have that without the departure of assad.
their efforts underway have corralled are gulf allies and european allies in common effort in syria? ii think there is really know alternative but to talk about his departure. >> ambassador,ambassador, i am not for a moment trying to predetermine the departure of assad. i happen to agree with you that a future of syria should be a syria with greater sunni representation with rights of christians respected and that he is probably not the ideal -- he is a failed leader in many ways that history has borne out. my question, if i were to
ask you, do we have an effective italian free syrian military you would have to say no. if ii said, do we have an effective company you have to say no. we have a platoon, but it is not quite effective. i just left the marines 240th birthday. if i sent marines and they would come up short of the effectiveeffective for any of them. and it has been for years. isn't it true that the effective forces against assad today arnon isis fighters who disagree but are not aligned with us, in other words, sunnis who oppose assad who are being bound by the russians as we speak. >> that is true in the north. it is not true in the south. certainly in the north the front, and al qaeda affiliate has absorbed as have other smaller groups a
number of what we would have previously called the modern opposition. it is not true in the south. >> let's go to the moderate fighters in the south. the lead question people always assume i will ask. wherever possible. larison subjecting their own. will not unreasonably embolden has below for the future.
they have a robust training program and were particularly with the saudi's to get them some additional funds to buy military equipment. it is an extremely high priority. contrary to many expectations command seems to be working. >> and i want to thank you for this opportunity on syria and ambassador for pointing out the success. hosting a 3rd of the population as refugees keep isys out of the country. >> thank you for making that point.
whether this change that, increased it comeau what is our read on that? >> we believe it has led to acceleration of migrants into europe in particular. we have seen those upticks in greece, turkey, germany just since the russian bombing. >> have we found that the migrants tends to stay in europe for want to come back? >> with regard to syrians will we are getting from our european friends is, it is a mixed picture of those who have hope that their country can come back together, have left, you know, some relatives and property there , many have lost open are looking for permanent resettlement in europe.
>> free funding dollars conferences, hundreds of millions of dollars. perhaps the question your asking is on the resettlement. the gulf countries do not taking refugees. what they do is taken guestworkers. >> my 2nd question is on the use of chemical weapons. russia agreed to extract the chemical weapons from syria,
syria, and syria is now bound medic weapons convention. what kind of use of chemical weapons have we seen, specifically with regard to chlorine gas? >> we believe that we have seen chlorine gas. >> have we determined it is the assad regime using chemical actors? >> are strong judgment is it is the assad regime. >> thank you. i yield back the chairman. >> thank you. you. now we go to mr. mo brooks. >> is your opinion is russia's use of military
force in syria good or bad, productive or counterproductive? >> we have been clear that we do not think russia's military intervention is leading to a settlement of the syrian conflict and instead is getting assad confidence that he can stay in power. >> using words such as immoral to describe how bad russia's conduct in syria is is that fair? >> assistant sec. patterson confirmed that word, and i have no problem with it. >> what thought has been giving to using a diverse strategy whereby we force the russian military to be engaged in different parts of the globe thereby weakening our ability to prosecute their military aggression in syria, more specifically how it a more aggressive military action in the ukraine impact russia's limited ability to expand larger operations in the middle east and i'm talking about where we are
to have armed the ukrainians. >> protect the territory that have either unlawfully invaded unlawfully invading. >> a cease-fire has largely been holding since september 1. i am confidenti am confidence you would not be suggesting that the ukrainians reignite the war to draw the russians deeper into conflict. i don't think that would be good for ukraine of the stability of europe. >> this cease-fire in actuality is a way that they can consolidate territorial gains?
>> forfeit hopes of recapturing land lawfully taken? >> congressman, under immense agreement the 1st step is cease-fire and the 2nd is pullback weapons. then political progress and then returned to the territory enclosure. we are now starting to see for the 1st time is some pullback of russian and separatist weapon. we are seeing that and starting to see it end and ask. even though the cease-fire is not complete.complete. so if you want ukraine to get that territory back, if you want minsk implemented what is most important is to lean on russia and the separatists to complete those obligations and all our charter of the border. >> as of today.
>> any of the territory taken by russia or its proxies returned? any significant amount of territory? if you are going to be able to answer that give us an idea as to what percentage of territory has been returned after russia's invasion and how much has been kept in the hands of the russians keeping in mind as i said comeau with this cease-fire and the beginning of pullback of heavy weapons ukrainian authorities have been known to have access to the territory they monitor the access and we need to encourage and accelerate. >> is your answer to the question zero? >> zero. >> as of today zero.
>> how much in the way of weapons has the united states delivered to the ukrainian government in order to enhance ukraine's ability to defend his territory? >> through bipartisan generosity in both houses of the congress we have supplied over $266 million in security support for ukraine which includes extensive training of the national guard now moving on to train military. we have provided lots of kinds of nonlethal assistance. >> i'm talking about weaponry. weaponry, what weaponry has been given to the ukrainian government to enable it to defend his territory a recapture territory taken by russia. >> short and long-range. >> missiles? >> we have not provided legal assistance to date. >> no tanks. >> no, but we have provided combat vehicles.
>> mr. chairman,mr. chairman,mrn , with indulgence, may i have 30 more seconds? >> yes. >> reason i mention this is, leadership of congressman bill who is not here at the moment of new york, the house passed a resolution in march of this year by a 348 to 48 vote, 48 percent to 12 pee which is overwhelming in the united states house of representatives and to some degree a little bit unusual. -- that resolution stated that the house of representatives strongly urges the president to fully and immediately exercise authorities provided by congress to provide ukraine with lethal defensive weapon systems to enhance the ability of the people of ukraineukraine to defend sovereign territory from the unprovoked and continuing aggression of the russian aggression.
we help ukraine fight against aggression and i would submiti would submit that it weakens russia and syria which helps to alleviate some of the problems we have. thank you for your indulgence. >> robin kelly of illinois. >> thank you. about 10,000 fighters have been killed this past year, but it seems like despite that there -- they have been replaced by knew recruits, new fighters. we are going are going to destroy them, how do we cut off his new fighters and recruits? >> that is aa big challenge, congresswoman. let me tell you the steps being taken. under general alan's leadership we have developed a number of working groups with our allies, the united arab emirates to try to message, to try to get to these young men and persuade them that there is no viable
future. we have worked with the turkish gunman. the ambassador can speak more to that. most of the border is closed. we worked with them to deport individuals who try and crossover into turkey and syria. we have worked with our gulf allies begin to increase their message and surveillance of individuals who might undertake extremist activities in syria, but it is a big challenge because they have managed to tap into sunni grievances in a very big way, but we continue to press on this. i believe we are having modest success, that is key to restraining the growth. >> what do you think about even the americans going over? have we had success in decreasing those amounts? >> all told there are really
just a handful of americans, and frankly our law enforcement agencies and the communities that they work with, that is the key in the united states to have good relations and the communities who will our law enforcement to a young man, sleet young men your successful. but it is -- the use of the internet and the sophistication of these messages is very, very alarming, but i think as time goes on their getting better and better about understanding the counter message and how the counter message differs by culture and -- by culture and country. >> we don't talk much about the front in syria. what is our strategy to do that the fighters? >> it is an al qaeda affiliate. they are a designated terrorist organization.
they have been successful on the battlefield in the north , and they have absorb some comeau what i would call mom -- non-extremist non- extremist fighters because their own groups have been affected and because they essentially have nowhere else to go. our strategy is that they are a terrorist group will not be part of any political settlement that has developed over time. >> i yield back the balance of my time. >> i want to go back to the understanding with russia. russia was there. russia has been violating turkish airspace. was there a discussion understanding that russia will cease and desist? >> the day of the russian incursion into turkish airspace the secretary and foreign minister immediately
issued a strong statementa strong statement of support. >> and did you get an assurance from the russians that they would cease and desist? >> my understanding is the turks have sought and got an understanding. >> but not us? >> we made clear that it is unacceptable to be incurring nato airspace. >> and did you do that indiana? >> again, they have make fair to us that they do not intend to do it again, but obviously we must watch what they do rather than say. >> do we have any understanding in terms of rules of engagement in terms of the military activities in syria? this hearing is about russia's escalation in syria. >> congressman, in terms of direct negotiations, as you know, the department of defense conducted a very limited air deacon flexion exercise with the russians. we have an agreement on safe
flight, which we have not tested but are not collaborating with them on where they can be and where we can be. >> my question is not collaboration. the rules of engagement to make sure there is not an inadvertent collision between our air force and there's. >> that was the goal of this agreement, this memorandum of understanding that we have not included. it will stay away from each other, emergency hotline and communications particularly because of the flying that they do. >> thank you command i think my colleague for yielding. >> we go to mr. randy weber of texas. >> you have more time at all this combined. just kidding. ambassador, let me follow up. >> were you yielding? >> let me follow up with
your exchange with congressman keating. the air war would not do it at all. do you recall that exchange earlier today? is the president aware of those conversations? >> the president senior leadership meets frequently on these issues. >> how long have those conversations been going on? >> quite a while. >> a year or two? >> easily. you said that russia was spending two and a half million dollars per day on their military excursion. how long can insisting that? >> what i said was two to 4 million a day and it may well be more than that.
you know, in a country like russia where there is only one prime decisionmaker command russia chooses to make this a priority it can sustain it for some time. >> what is the us our layout makes sense? do we know that? >> the last time i asked it was about a million dollars a day. >> four times, two to four times the amount russia uses but we give 1/8get one 8th the amount of airstrikes, is that what i am to understand? >> that would include a rack again, we are not the russians and have different standards. >> and you said earlier that the gulf countries were not taking any refugees that have generous with their money. was that you? >> that's right. i have the list. >> i am fascinated by my
colleagues idea of arming those in the ukraine to divert russia's attention to increase or help defend ukraine and increase russia's expense and cost and maybe deflect them from syria. when they help in that regard to harm some of the ukrainians against the russians? has that question been raised? >> as far as i know -- >> how about why won't they take refugees? >> because they have very different types of societies. >> but they want their society to continue as they know it, right?
>> yes, and they have a very close degree of intelligence and military cooperation with our gcc gulf cooperation partners on fiber, to have cyber, military, intelligence. >> they could put up temporary camps. if they were willing? >> i am not sure that is true because of the level of social services and infrastructure that is vastly better in europe. we do want the gulf to play a more active role. >> okay. now, what happens -- and
jerry asked a question about what if there was a problem between the us aircraft and russian aircraft. what will happen when the russian aircraft drops a bomb on some of our 50 advisors over they're? >> we have deacon flexion procedures in place that were designed to avoid any conflict? >> if that happens ofwith our pilots be authorized to shoot that plane down that dropped the bomb? do you have any knowledge? >> without getting into classified information, i would simply say that where we anticipate special operators being the russians have been very far from that territory because these special operators are
operating against i sil. >> let's keep our fingers crossed. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i will play off of some of the colleagues comments. our goal is to defeat and destroy i sil. is clear that we do not have the forces but have had some success. the anti- coalition has killed about 10,000 fighters part of our challenges that they are being replaced. we can have success, but some of it is stopping a replacement. he talked about doing what we the border, doing what we can tracking the fighters that are leaving europe, europe, leaving some of the north african
countries, middle eastern countries in the western states. i think we're losing the propaganda war. they have shown to be able to use the internet very efficiently, social media efficiently. we doing about to counter the propaganda? >> a big challenge, but we are getting better hadat it. for instance, we have a joint center with the united arab emirates that has to be in arabic and in an arab country. we're working with a broad range, while working, working group on messaging. and we have a very large operation at the state
department and with the intelligence community that works in designing the most appropriate message. so i think that we are making progress. let me take tunisia. the most jihad is per capita of any country in the world, but in the past year we worked intensively on intelligence issues and counter messaging and training religious leaders to counter that message. we have gotten better and are making at least some marginal progress. >> the chairman has led us on a number of hearings. we must redouble efforts because if we can stop it on the front end they won't have to fight them on the battlefield. theythey are losing that front and propaganda war through social media and the internet. ambassador come i agree with you that russia's involvement is
counterproductive, exacerbating an already challenging situation in syria and is certainly escalating the refugee crisis. it does threatened to recap make. you are seeing european allies struggle with the refugee crisis. some of the syrians weighing the conflict zones. >> it would take a massive commitment of air power and would protect the air assets from the fight.
there is no asset considered viable because of the enormous resource would require to protect the population within it. >> is that option being discussed? again, not an easy option. frustrated by the administration's ability to implement articulated strategy in syria for the middle east is a whole despite the public façade. it does not appear that the president really wants assad
removed from power that we have any understanding of the long-term tragic impact that the policies are having on the syrian people come on the region, allies, national security. do we really need additional out to have evidence to prove the current chaos is not working? the pres. seems topresident seems to be running out the clock until it is someone else's problem command i don't think history will look kindly on the choices that this administration has made on the syria issue. ..
>> is it possible to negotiate a solution with the opposition while they continue? >> possibly. >> are we pressuring iran and russia to stop assad's massacre? >> absolutely on a daily basis. >> should we inferred that the president agrees more with russia and iran's goal of keeping assad empower than he would have us believe? >> certainly not. the president and certainly the secretary of said many times that an assad departure is critical to any future in syria. >> what is the president, the white house and secretary of state communicated to you about
the administration's desire and in state and national security objectives in syria and is impossible to achieve those goals when russia and iran's goals are the complete opposite? >> the secretary, of course we have different goals in syria but i think the secretary's goal is to find sufficient common ground for the process of negotiation and a political settlement. we might be able to find a way through this. he is not naïve about this and this is what the whole vienna process and follow a process is about. >> and when you say common ground in a political settlement does that entail keeping assad empower? >> no, absolutely not that it might entail some negotiation on a timetable for his departure. >> and we would be working with who to try to achieve that settlement to have him go somewhere else?
>> we are working with the vienna process and 20 different countries. obviously our gulf allies and the turks are intimate with the the -- the turks are intimately involved with this as are some of our european allies and we are constantly in touch with the u.n. and members of the modern opposition and armed opposition within syria and those civilian leaders in exile. >> and those allies, if they see assad's removal from power as imperative to deal with the situation? >> our european allies, our gulf allies and turkey do see that he they are absolutely determined that he will not remain in power. >> and to follow up on ms. frankel's question, there's a lot of talk in different communities that we represent about whether the united states is doing enough to protect syrian civilians from the assad
regime. if that's still one of the priorities of this administration and how is that priority manifested? >> certainly we try. we have provided over $2.5 billion for humanitarian assistance inside of serious so we are certainly trying to support the syrian populations who are under great stress and we certainly as you mentioned before we have certainly talked with the russians about preventing assad from attacking his own people. >> and the bombs that we have seen that have been attacking some of the forces with him we are dealing and whom we are protecting and we are arming and yet some of those airstrikes seem to be targeting the very folks who are supposed to be the good guys in this battle. what are we doing to make sure
that ends? >> that is absolutely true congresswoman. we mentioned 85 to 90% of the strikes were against anti-regime forces and on your second question we can talk more about that in a closed session. >> there has been a lot of discussion in the open press about like-minded factors like the al-nusra friend being part of the coalition that will then defeat another band of bad guys. are we in that coalition building with folks who we would normally see as our enemies and the enemies of our allies? >> nusra is an al qaeda affiliate. it is possible that some members of the opposition have been forced to adhere to join al-nusra because they had nowhere else to go.
>> and we will remain without thinking and not help those groups with their alliances? >> no, we have -- nusra. >> thank you very much. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. we go to david's a celini of rhode island. >> thank you. >> thank you to our witnesses for being here and of course for your service but i have to tell you i remain very concerned that the absence of a coherent strategy for success in syria and iraq to defeat syria by russian escalation and a failure to define what it is plagues us in syria and the best way to press the administration and congress to do this is to vigorously debate and opposition with use of military force during which the president would be required to articulate a strategy and to persuade both the american people and congress of the likelihood of success about strategy and i recognize
this is complicated. they're not easy answers but i think it's compounded frankly in your written testimony indicated there are strategies in the syrian conflict remains the same essentially using diplomacy and military action to achieve a political transition. of course that's not a strategy. that's the goal and so i think what we are really looking for and what we need is a detailed plan of action with goals and plans to mobilize resources to achieve those so that's really a strategy. i think that's really what we are missing 10 what i think is critical but i want to ask a specific question. you said in your testimony that coalition made progress in our military campaign against isil but according to al-arabiya as of october this year isil controls half of all the territory in syria as opposed to july 2014 when they controlled about one third of syrian territory so first is that correct isil has more territory
now than in the summer of two -- 2014 and if so how is that progress? >> they may control more land territory but certainly there has been progress against isil in tikrit in and ramadi and again there is then considerable progress against the leadership. off the top of my head i think 60 liters of isil including some very important once have been taken off the battlefield. the effort by special forces against the leader of isil and against his wife was an intelligence bonanza so there has been progress but i am the president and everyone else has said it's going to be a multiyear campaign and it's going to requires considerable resources to prosecute. >> with respect to the moderate opposition there has been a lot of discussion about supporting the moderate opposition and it appears to be a tactic in our
syrian response. who is the moderate opposition? the president just authorized another 100 million-dollar expenditure so now totaling $500 million. there are reports that there are as many as a thousand armed militia groups and much of the success of the larger groups like fsa, bad as a result of working alongside some of the most hard-line groups. so who are we talking about when we are speaking about moderate opposition and do they in fact include elements of al qaeda and al-nusra and other more extremist groups? >> let me take the civilian modern opposition. those are groups within syria and groups that live in turkey and lebanon and other places, and what that project is designed to do is to keep these people not only alive physically
but also keep them viable for a future of syria. we have managed to, even areas under control of isil, i won't mention them but we have managed to provide money to city council to health clinics to teachers and policemen so these people can still provide public services and form the basis for a new serious so that's a good portion of that money goes into efforts. there's also the opposition on the ground and i think they have gotten sort of a bum rap in this hearing because they think they are more sensitive than is generally recognized particularly in the south and of course in the north some of these individuals have been affiliated with nusra because there was no place else to go but i think they are in wide range of moderate commanders. we worked with him closely and i think they are viable and will be able to play a part in the
future of syria. >> ambassador the president of the josé has announced 50 special forces will be dispatched to syria to advise-and-assist kurdish forces in our region. can you tell me what the end goal of this is, what is the object is, how can we be sure that this limited deployment doesn't begin a very slippery slope and a wider deeper military engagement in the syrian civil war and finally you mentioned the financial support of the gulf nations and the refugees. we have heard from a number of refugee organizations that there is not sufficient financial support from gulf countries. i know you mentioned qatar but are there other in the gulf that are not doing as much as they should be because we have heard a different representation from refugee orientations dealing with press on the ground. >> let me provide you after this hearing with the list of supporters have from the gulf. i think some of the traditional refugee agencies, there's not
enough money. they're simply not enough money for this enormous humanitarian catastrophe. let me stress that but i think the gulf nations have both been generous with the u.n. and often their money is put through local red cross societies and local ngos and cbo's so perhaps there is some concern about that. that they are not going through international, the big international ngos. but i will provide you with that. >> what about the 50? >> the 50, we talk a lot about the strategy of ground support in working with -- these 50 special forces are to work with the syrian arab coalition which has had considerable success in closing the border and to improve their capacity and i think anything else will be provided to you in a classified
letter. >> thank you and i yield back mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. cicilline. we now go to mr. dana rohrabacher of california. >> thank you very much and let me say i'm very frustrated with talk about russia and i have spent my entire life trying to defeat the soviet union and i was very pleased to be part of the reagan administration that helps accomplish that goal of bringing down a regime that wanted to impose an atheist dictatorship throughout the world and their ideologies. the russians expected to be treated as friends, the russian people after the fall of communism and what has risen instead is a hostility that is so overwhelming that it is damaging not only russia and their ability to establish themselves in a new world role, because it is after all a major power in the world and they have
interests no matter if they are not communists they are a major power with interest just as we are but the double standard that we have been judging russia and even as the president in the hearing today is just overwhelming. we sit here, oh russia wants to keep assad in power. how horrible that is because assad to the dictatorship. as if saudi arabia is the dictatorship and would murder millions of people, thousands of people to stamp our? what about other gulf states run by kingdoms who would murder their people in great numbers? they are no different from assad. in fact they might be better than assad because some of them are religiously motivated to the point that like communism was a religious conviction. their form of islam sometimes puts them at odds with sunnis or shiites killing each other. the double standard that we have
been judging russia with embracing our policy on the double standard has caused us great harm, great harm. putin five years ago tried to work out a compromise with us and we turned them down, that would have created at least some sort of semblance of stability in syria and now it is totally gone to hell and we still can't get ourselves to try to look at putin as a possible partner in cooperation to make things better. i believe it is our hostility towards russia that has prevented us from creating a policy that will create a more stable middle east and gadhafi, we may agree with him about the coffee. and what did we do? we broke that agreement and has that resulted in the alternative non-gadhafi non-us -- islamic
alternative to that make it any better there? no. people want to murder the -- murder us because they are radical muslims. and we have been working with the russians all along in good faith. i believe that there's a situation situation in the middle east would have been totally different and stayed more stable. let me just note that i can remember the charges, the monstrous charges against us in iraq, how horrible it was that our troops were murdering people by the thousands. most of those reports were false , were wrong. they were lies by people who wanted to achieve a political end by claiming we were massacring people intentionally in iraq. while i don't know, is it possible that some of these reports we are getting, aside as a murderous dictator but the
magnitude of his oppression and his murder of his own people might be exaggerated to achieve certain political and? i would think so and i have a little time to answer but let me give you a question. please feel free to disagree with everything i say. i believe it and i know you have your beliefs to and there are honest disagreements but let me just ask, if indeed assad is removed and we get this third alternative, why one it be just the same as with gadhafi where they are radical islamists who hate us now see a weaker adversary and it will come in and replace whatever that regime is very quickly with a regime that will control all of syria and there will be radicals that will be our worst nightmare. why would that happen in syria the way it happened in libya? >> i need to say something
mr. rohrabacher. >> please feel free to retort. >> i can't let it go by bashar al-assad with our gulf allies. these countries are not in our image but there is no way that they have oppressed their citizens are killed there citizens to the extent that bashar al-assad has. >> are you said that they would not engage in military use to suppress their -- that's very naïve. >> i know well that they would not do that. that's not how it works there but let me try and answer your question about syria and there is broad consensus in the international community that the institutions in syria would remain intact. the intelligence, the military, the police, the civil service, the ministerial structures and the goal is to remove bashar
al-assad and his closest advisers and have this political process that would lead to a new government. it is not to destroy the institutional structure. in libya i would argue there weren't any institutions. >> why is it -- why do we have to go in and make that decision in syria? why is it for the united states to send them to this far-off land rather than going to -- there are lots of other places we could go protect. why is it for us to have to go in and do that when we know that you've got these radical islamists who are waiting on the sideline for some type of instability that they can take advantage of. >> because her national security is at stake in the region and the security of our allies like israel in gcc countries in lebanon and jordan and turkey is ultimately affected by what happens in syria.
>> that's right in our policies are making the instability were sent back with dealing with putin and instead of trying to demonize him perhaps we could have more stability there. perhaps her friends would be better off than the current policy. whatever we do don't work with rush and get rid of assad. putin is also helping us with general assisi who we give just lip service to the man who is a pivotal role in stability in the middle east. >> we go to grace meng of new york. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you for -- to the witnesses for being here and what you do for the country. my question is about the growing concern of russian arms entering syria at unprecedented levels and the possibility for advanced arms to pass syrian forces and even to groups like hezbollah.
what is the u.s. prepared to do to counter this? what have we done, could we do more to ensure these russian arms don't end up in the hands of hezbollah? >> we have the same concerns that you do about the advanced weaponry flowing into syria from russia. iran, we have raised these concerns regularly with the russians including presidential level and we are continuing to monitor what exactly happens with them. the russians as you know have now made a decision to put in ground artillery and that is exacerbating the conflict further in homeland and at home. >> my second question is russia has conducted a number of airstrikes on the number of locations and some strikes which are on the about 30 to 40 miles from the israeli border. iran has also sent troops and
military advisers to shore up assad's role including on the golan heights. ringing iran's influence directly to israel's doorstep. jihadists groups including isis and al-nusra also continued to gain territory in northern and southern syria including along the golan heights. in your opinion how likely is it that fighting in syria could spill over into israel and what are the major concerns from the israelis and what can the u.s. do to help? >> congresswoman nothing is more important to us as a national strategic interest than israel's security and all these elements that you have raised, the russian strikes, the pressure on nusra in the golan heights, the iranian presence. we are in constant contact with the israeli government and are working very collaboratively on this. i would say the israelis can
pretty much take care of this problem and they have shown that in a number of ways and make him perhaps discuss it later. but we have lots of collaboration on this issue. on the broader issue and the prime minister course will be here, we have given millions of dollars in -- including our dome over the past three years and we are discussing ways we can have israel's security generally but these are concerns we share with israel and we meet with them and address them and in all kinds of ways. >> thank you and i yield back. >> thank you. my question is on syria and then on iran. i've been briefed on the target packages in syria and i think as you indicated, but me say first
of all when you don't have a strategy and he fail to have a strategy you end up in a power vacuum and now we have russia filling that power vacuum not unlike the terrorists do. now it has really created a complicated situation from my perspective. when i look at the target packages of russian strikes, as you mentioned 90% are anti-assad and only 10% are even remotely targeted towards isis. it raises a question of why is russia there? what is their intense? i have talked to our partners in the middle east. some say that russia has told them they could defeat isis and others tell me the only reason they are there is to support the assad regime. very briefly what do you believe
is russia's intense? >> i think their main intent, they have several but their main intent was to shore up bashar al-assad. he was losing ground, significant ground when they decided to come in and they also want to protect their interest. they want to reassert themselves but their primary interest was to shore up a sure al-assad. >> i tend to agree with that and here's the problem that this now presents. when i talk to, 50 special forces guys, they are our guys but that's not going to win the day and i would argue they are in harm's way right now. if there was a strategy with the sunni fighting the sunni extremists and when i talk to nations like turkey and jordan and the gulf states they are willing to put a ground force in there to defeat isis that they would never do so if it emboldened and empowered aside. that was kind of part of the
agreement. now that the russians are and there it doesn't look like he's going anywhere anytime soon. so where do we get our ground force now? >> ambassador nuland can speak more about this. we have worked with an enhanced effort with the turks across the border. as a mentioned hearing arab coalition which will be supported by her first -- special forces and frankly mr. mccaul we have had lots of sessions with her gulf allies and with jordan about the possibility of introducing ground troops. i think they are probably told me that too. so that's the status of that at this point. we work very closely with the jordanians about the issues in southern syria. >> jordan has been one of her best friends in the region but again it's going to be difficult to get a sunni ground force now that aside is not part and it
will be difficult to get assad out now that the russians are in there. >> let me stress that is our goal to get assad out and we don't think the russians are going to have such an easy walk through syria with the opposition of the entire sunni world so there may be a political meeting that we can exploit to move him out. >> if you could reach a political reconciliation and petition the alawite from the rest of the country that's a possibility. do you first see any remote possibility the joint strategy to defeat isis with the russians? >> the only way we would end up in a joint strategy is if the russians agreed to the general premise that we have to have a cease-fire. we have to have a transitional government and we have to have a
decision on getting rid of assad. that is what the secretary has been working on. in the meantime we are working on isis and they are working in a different part of syria so i don't see working together militarily unless and until it's all efforts on the transition that would allow us to turn -- and turned to focus. >> i would be very careful and trusting them but i will say the boston bombing experience, we have a common enemy and those are the jihadists. the chechen rebels. we know there are thousands of them joining isis. i predict that rush is going to have a homeland security problem of their own and is that he comes four for problem for them their desire to move away from protecting the regime to attacking isis hopefully will shift. >> i think that is what is so frustrating to us. we ought to share a goal with defeating isis and defeating those who come from russia to
join isis but that's not what the russian military is focused on. >> my last question is with respect to iran. we have reached this agreement which i disagreed with but nevertheless since that time iran has taken several provocative actions including ballistic missile test, the jailing of americans on criminal charges and support for terrorist activities via the irgc, the iranian revolutionary guard corps. the quds force is a terrorist arm of iran. i sent a letter to the president of united states requesting that they irgc be placed on the foreign terrorist organization because they are the terror arm of iran. this would not lift the sanctions. it would keep the sanctions in place on the very terrorist activities that iran wants to take the $100 billion and ship them towards these activities. what is your response to whether or not designating the irgc and
the fto whether that's a good decision? >> i'm virtually certain they are a already subject to the sanctions that they mr. mccaul? >> they are designated a foreign terrorist organization which would make a difference. >> i can't answer that question mr. mccaul. i will have to get back to you. i would not think they would meet the legal criteria but i don't really know. >> the irgc at or the quds force being the main sponsor of terror in iran would qualify them to be a foreign terrorist organization. ambassador nuland? >> again i defer to and go on the questions. >> i look forward to the president's response which i have not received at the time. the chair rick mrs. mr. sherman. >> it's always good to have you here. we hear folks say words are
strategy? that implies that the united states is in control of events, that we owed them in the outcome is determined by what goes on here in washington. that's a very dangerous viewpoint. we can be a force for good but to control the outcome i would ask anybody to put forward a strategy that would lead us to peace, stability and democracy in iraq and syria with modest american casualties. and modest american costs. george w. bush had a strategy to achieve that for iraq and it failed and in the future those who say where's your strategy are really saying why can't you control the world at no cost? that's a silly question.
we are told by the gentlelady from florida that the evils of assad deliver recruits to isis. that's correct dawisha point out that the actions of maliki and many who are still in the baghdad regime to justice much to help isis recruits. just because the government of baghdad was installed by us doesn't mean it's part of the solution. it's part of the problem and we had to be there looking very carefully at her aid to baghdad where "the wall street journal" to put on the front page how so many 100-dollar bills amounting to tens of billions of dollars are shipped from washington and disappearing in iraq except they are turning up in the isis, with isis. ambassador patterson i have one little bit of advice for you but also to help the others next to
you and that is you have a higher couple of folks who are experts in islamic theology, but a decent islamic jurisprudence. you can't understand and you cannot argue and you cannot persuade if you don't understand the mindset of our friends and our enemies both of whom are drawing. if you need congress to say not everybody has to pass the foreign service exam, one or two experts because the foreign for service exam does not pass the difference between a good haditha and a bad haditha is a unique experts in this book to talk to her friends and to understand our enemies. as for chemical weapons the administration achieved a major victory in getting all chemical weapons out or virtually all out of syria. chlorine is next to every pool in my district. you can prohibit chlorine. it is unfortunate that chlorine has been used illegally as a weapon but those chemicals that
are illegal per se appear to have been removed from syria. i don't say we had a great plan or strategy but we did have a great result on that issue. the solution to the refugee crisis is peace in syria not to cancel syria and move its population to syria. we had a policy that many of us pushed in congress to arm the reasonable elements in syria. that policy has basically failed. it is failed for a couple of reasons. first it ended years after we started pushing for it but second it is still subject to the incredible and ridiculous conditions that those we arm have to convince us that they do not intend to fight assad. any reasonable patriotic syrian intends to fight assad so no wonder we only find 50 people and only have five on the battlefield. how do you find somebody who is reasonable that doesn't hate
assad? i will point out that while isis has a bad taste to put his murderers right there on television, the beheadings it is the shiite alliance of iran and assad that posed a greater threat to the united states and have killed far more innocent people and have killed far more americans. now turning to russia. russia is not a terribly strong position. 45-dollar a barrel oil. they cannot waste resources on per referral matters. the ukraine is of vital national interest to russia. if it fails to protect russian speaking persons, putin is gone and if the ukraine is successful , it becomes a model demanding and inspiring all russians to change and follow that model. given the very closest tree between ukraine and russia. syrian contrast is not at the
center of russia's universe. there are substantial costs to what rush is doing. syria and assad are very close to the center of iran's national security. they dream of a shiite controlled. [speaking in russian] and eastern iran on the mediterranean. assad has been there the longest as their ally. so one would raise the question, not why is iran doing what they are doing but why is russia and then we look at the timing. russia deployed forces as substantial long-term risk and cost to russia a couple of days after it became certain to those who were observing things, especially here in congress that iran would get it hands on $130 billion. first they had to sign the agreement.
then you had to look around here and make sure that congress wasn't going to blow up agreement. it was pretty apparent that we were going to blow up agreement a few weeks after was signed and it was pretty much like a day or two after a lot of us concluded that congress was not going to prevent this agreement from going into effect for the first couple of years and iran was going to get its hands on the money that russia started and so the question is, if iran is giving the money to assad or if iran is sending the money directly to russia would we know about it? so i will ask both of you since one focuses on the middle east and one on europe, if there was a transfer of the billion dollars from tehran to moscow either through damascus or otherwise, would we know about and would it be public?
>> congressman and i don't think at this stage we have seen any evidence of payments to russia. on the contrary we see russia hemorrhaging money on this latest adventure in syria. >> but if there was a transfer and obviously iran doesn't quite have its hands on the money yet so putin is going to have to wait a little while but if there was a transfer of a billion dollars this winter are you confident that you would know about it? >> let me answer that. it's not confident but i think the chances are pretty good. >> okay and ambassador nuland? >> if it was in any dollar denominated the form we would likely now but if they wanted to do it or shove of iranian currency or rubles, maybe not. >> or euros. >> euros i think we would know. >> you would know but a transfer
of a billion dollars over me then ask obviously north korea was paid half a billion for al-kibar and the tremendous aid that they provided to a syrian iranian nuclear program. we know about that where did the israelis bring to us the fact that al-kibar was in sight many years after north korea received it? >> i don't know the answer to that mr. sherman. i know we have extremely close corporation with the israelis. they have sources that we don't have. i just don't know the answer. >> israel spotted the location. nobody spotted the money and so the confidence that bad guys can't move money without us knowing or that russia is financing us without being paid by iran is untested. i yield back.
>> the chair thanks the gentleman. the chair recognizes himself for a question. thank you ambassador for being here. the use of dod of these 50 special operatives loathe the other folks that are characterized as boots on the ground is an extension of diplomacy to meet exacting the policy that we would like to see happen in the middle east or anywhere. it's just an extension and usually you would see it in those terms. with that in mind is there any any -- because this keeps on being stated that this is not a combat mission so is there anywhere in the mix at the state department is and they chain of command and decision-making or what these special operators are, people who were military uniform or are paid by the department of defense acting in syria and iraq in this operation is there any state department bowman in the decision-making process for what they do and where they go and how they
conduct their business? >> absolutely mr. chairman. first of all the state department to the secretary and the state department participated in all these discussions and they weren't talking with the turkish government to work on the effort to close the border. the special forces advisers are critical to that effort so yes we have been deeply involved in that. >> you were involved in the chain of command. >> they are not the chain of command that the overall policy process in particular general allen and others and ambassador nuland who is discussing this at great length with the turks. >> the military command makes the decisions and issues the orders commensurate with what you have come up with. >> commensurate with what the president of the united states comes up with and instructs them
to do but of course the special forces advisers are under the command of general lloyd austin. >> okay, so what is their mission? these up to 50 is what i hear, up to 50 special operations, what is their mission? >> congressman with response to the question that we are going to differ in dod and a classified session, probably. >> you just said to have the discussions but you can't tell me the mission right now and get yet everything i read is to advise-and-assist. i expect you say advise-and-assist. >> advise and assist but will that we can't sit here and tell you is where these fellows are going to be deployed and exactly who they are going to work with and who will be on the ground. advise-and-assist. >> so advise-and-assist to what and? what is the goal? >> the goal is to enhance our
efforts to defeat isil and we would be happy to give you a broader briefing on that. to close the borders or so i so can't get recruits and i still can't export refinery products and tube put pressure on my side quarters. >> this goes to a larger strategy so if you are telling me it's to achieve, the goal was to close the border and somehow at some point defeat isis i don't want to put words in your mouth but that's what i hear. close the border, defeat isis. we have 50 guys that are going. doesn't that just drink than assad? so he has got isis and he has got local sunni insurgents that are fighting him and we take, let's just say in a perfect world everything and a strategy that we have that you want to call it that these 50 guys defeat isis, doesn't that
strength than assad? >> you can't's solve the problem of isil separate from assad. v i understand that but let's say the perfect thing happens that you get what you want and the operators in conjunction with the kurds and whoever they are working with assisting and advising to defeat isis. is assad strengthened or is he weakened the? he has got rushes they are right behind them attacking the very people that we train and are supporting. >> you have to do both. >> but we are not doing both. where doing one. >> were trying to get a political assessment. >> you don't want to answer that but i would say that it does empower and increase the power of the sod -- a assad. with all due respect to the gym was sitting here saying there is no strategy and these people say there's no strategy in the strategy assumes we can control everything from the united
states. we have a strategy in world war ii. we couldn't control the emperor of japan are the fuhrer or stalin but we had a strategy and sometimes we had to deviate an adapter that we have strategy. i would say this is not a strategy but that's my contention. i'm going to take some liberties because everybody else seems to have done that. the president has said the white house press secretary said that this is not a combat mission. is syria a combat zone dropping bombs and shooting each other? is a combat zone or isn't it? >> an extremely complex battlefield and with the president says is what you quarterback timmy mr. chairman that there was an adviser to mrs.. >> so they are not to patrol or travel with groups but it could change as the situation dictates. i expect you to tell me because
i'm going to ask you what would change, what changes with dictate? what situation would dictate them changing not patrolling or traveling? you are going to tell me that's a classified setting. >> i'm not going to tell you that. i'm going to tailor the island that's up to the present of united states and nsa then the elders and reserves the right to change the role of american forces. >> if this is a combat zone and these forces are not on a combat mission how was it delta force commandos entered syria aboard helicopters and ospreys and killed an islamic state leader about a dozen militant fighters and one of our soldiers was killed a week and a half ago. if that's not -- what is that? >> sergeant wheeler grew up 20 miles from where i did. that was a mission to save kurdish hostages and other hostages. >> i know that but you understand when we imperil --
these young men and women raised their hands to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and pledge their lives with the proviso that the commander-in-chief in the the powers that be will sacrifice their lives for nothing. and these people are going into combat. you are saying it's not combat. >> of course it's combat and these people plan to combat because the president has its orders them. >> someone loses their life that don't come home with a purple heart because they went to combat. do you understand the ramifications of pledging your life and their lost? and just a couple of other things. because i reject the whole situation to the digital man next to me who said there was no strategy and those of us have said there was no strategy didn't have a strategy is absurd.
this assault tactics. and george w. bush did not have a strategy. you might not have agreed with it at times but there was a strategy and i would also say the war in iraq to stabilize the area right up until the present left iraq it was stable. it wasn't perfect but it wasn't what it is now. and with that i will recognize mr. trott. >> i thank. >> i thank the chair and i thank both of you for being here today and everything you do for our country. ambassador patterson would you say or policy in the last four years has been a success in syria? >> that we have not succeeded in removing bashar al-assad from power and isil is not defeated and so long hard struggle to defeat isil. >> you think the administration has contributed to our failure
are not really impacted it? has the inability to make a decision complicate where we are today? >> i want to speculate on that mr. trott. i wasn't around when those decisions were made and i don't want to speculate. we are where we are now. >> the policy going forward are we are going to have this 50 special forces and continue with the airstrikes and we have heard a lot of criticism of our policy there. one day russia attacks 94 targets and we attack one. we are going to start calling out russia for violating international law with respect to rules of engagement. we they're going to ask assad to stop dropping barrel bombs on the citizens. we are going to have meetings of the transitional government. this strategy as best i can discern this morning is going to work because this is too complex
for russia. they're going to lose interest. they are going to run out of money and it's just too difficult. is that a fair statement of our strategy going forward and if it isn't please enlighten me as to how you believe the strategy is different than what you just described? >> i don't think that's a fair characterization. >> russia isn't going to be in it for the long-haul. they have got other problems. they want to put resources behind it so seems to me the gamble we are taking going forward is our strategy going to succeed because rush is going to lose interest. tell me what i've missed. >> our strategy is to mobilize the rest of the international community including art gulf allies in turkey to work towards a political solution and to work hard to defeat isil. i think the contributions on the defeat of isil and the efforts we are taking against isil which
aren't just the 50 special forces but the strengthening of our position and the steps we are taking in iraq will all accelerate the defeat of isil so that's the key element and it's been my view in this hearing. >> ambassador you said earlier we are talking to the russians so two questions, are they listening? i know we have an mou that was entered into last month so that is perhaps evidence that they are listening but are they really listening to what our objectives and goals are and what evidence we have the fact that we are talking to the russians as moving them around and whether different goals are in syria? >> congressman, as we have said throughout the morning the conversations we have been having with them have not affected their military choices.
they have not change their pattern of bombing. they have also not taken us up on our insistence at a minimum price that their support for isis is to stop barrel bombing so on the military side i would say they're not listening and they are also not listening to the gulf arabs. they are not listening to the europeans. they're not listening to the vast majority of the innocent peaceful sunnis are concerned about the collateral damage from their. that said we do have them in this political process as senator carrie is leading. in that process they are in the minority in terms of their perception of how long assad should stay so the question is whether continuing to participate in that will bring the majority to cause them to reevaluate their view. >> ambassador he said a few minutes ago it would be difficult and defined speaking
incorrectly please tell me that would be difficult to get a transitional different -- government with respect to oracle's in syria. have they never listen to us with respect to their military operations assuming they never listen we never get on the same page what do we do then? >> i don't think i would quite characterize it the way he did. one thing the russians have said is the syrian people should be in charge of their own future so the other piece we have said this morning although i would defer to secretary patterson is where the syrian representatives whether their regime other than assad are extremes of the opposition given the fact that the country is being torn apart by what's happening. >> looking down the road if russia doesn't want to ever move towards a transitional government what do we do then?
>> again we can't project a straight line from here to there. we are increasing our support for the moderate opposition. there are raising the cost for hitting the wrong folks. we are trying to mobilize the rest of the country. we will see that it's costing them is also costing them at home. >> and i will yield back but i think it's a mess. when we had good options we didn't make a decision several years ago and i think what someone said earlier today is exactly correct which is we are just trying to run out the clock so the next administration will inherit the situation in syria that has russia just as engaged as it is today and our options will be limited. thank you. i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman and the chair recognizes the gentleman from
florida chairman yoho. >> thank you mr. chairman. i have only been here three years in congress but there appears to be a high level of incompetence and a lack of planning and it's almost laughable other than there has been over 250,000 syrians slaughtered. millions of dollars it's cost us to our military and i look at this stuff and i want to go through a timeline to in my time in congress. obama august 2013 this administration was going to attack syria. we sat at the white house. there was no strategy. they did have an estimate of the costs. mr. mcdonough the chief of staff said it would be over a billion dollars a month. i asked him how long was going to take and he said estimated 10 years and a billion dollars a month. we had just shut down. there was no authorization to go over there.
we are attacking a sovereign nation without an amuf. president obama went on to say there was a red line if syria uses a chemical weapon. they used it and there was no follow-through. they failed to act. the president and john kerry both said the assad must go and then they denied that they said that, the world said that. john kerry said there was no diplomatic solution to the chemical weapons problem in syria yet two weeks later after you said that russia jumped in there and showed leadership and within two weeks there is an agreement to get rid of the chemical weapons. i find it interesting that we didn't think that could happen yet russia brokered it and we wound up paying for it. the president said no boots on the ground multiple times, no boots on the ground no boots on the ground and then we went with a 500 million-dollar train and equip and arm by 6000 free syrian rebel fighters whatever that is and we find out a year
later that's a complete failure. they trained possibly 40 to 50 but only five made it to the field at the cost of $50 million. that's $10 million of fighter. it's got to be laughable other than its reality and it's just bad form and i guess my question is why hasn't the present work to create safe zones when especially the chairman of this committee, chairman royce and ranking member ann asked that four years ago. why is that not happened? >> because it's usually difficult and complex. >> i'm going to stop it because you said that earlier today. >> resource intensive. >> am going to stop you there because this is what i wanted you to bring up. it's complicated, expensive, very costly.
how costly is it to have 4 million displaced refugees that have gone around the world that have disrupted the whole world as far as refugees just leaving there. 7.5 million displaced in syria. that's pretty costly to is it? isn't that disruptive? >> it is costly and we are trying to contribute to alleviate that problem but let me talk in more detail about some of these military exclusion zones. the department of defense is not proposed an option that does not have a very significant contribution investment of u.s. airpower. the airpower would be diverted from the fight against isil. the fight against isil which is an extraordinarily virile terrorist group is a threat to us and their allies in the neighbors so that's the first
priority. it's also extremely difficult to patrol and to protect the safe zones on the ground and that would require a very significant investment of ground forces of some sort. the primary reason is the investment of airpower. >> ginobli are going to attack this week to attack it and the lack of diplomatic efforts or even a hint of that over the last three years i have not seen it until russia steps in there and then russia puts in 2000 troops brings in the tanks and all this armament and we respond with 50 ground troops when the president said no american ground troops on the ground. my question to both of you is why should i or anybody in congress support anything this administration attempts with such a poor strategy of winning this? the president doesn't come out and acknowledge who we are fighting, isil.
radical islamic jihad is. they won't even the knowledge that yet we are going to go at this and do little effort to try to defeat isil. i think it's a joke and again my question is why should i support anything this administration does in the middle east with syria the middle east or even in ukraine but the lack of strategy that i see? you are talking about how we have to protect israel but yet we have the iran nuclear deal that does anything but protect israel. why should i support this, anything they are doing? >> i guess the short answer congressman is that isil is a threat to us and to our european allies into the neighbors in the region and we are are ready seeing incursions by isil pressure against jordan and pressured in saudi arabia. i think that's the short answer
and you are asking a much broader question but i think that's the short answer to your question. >> up we are going to do this was to write in let's get to strategy and make it count instead of just playing around with it and i don't mean playing around because we have troops on the ground and i'm sure they are on the ground and they don't think they are playing. i yield but -- i yield back. >> i'm chaired -- pleased to recognize chairman fortenberry who has remained on these issues and particularly the plight of christians and other religious minorities in this region of the world. mr. fortenberry. >> thank you mr. chairman. i'm sorry didn't have the benefit of hearing your conversation but i did want to avert to the question that the chairman laid out. therefore it is a ambassador patterson we met a number of years ago when you were a consulate in pakistan. those a few days before there was an assassination or kidnapping attempt upon you and from then -- then from there as
i recall you were not to be ambassador in pakistan as well as egypt. i want to thank you for your many years of dedicated service in a very difficult area. i don't think we have had any interaction ambassador noel and and -- nuland but i appreciate your willingness to testify today. a great concern is this and let me divert by telling a story. i happen to be in a audience with pope francis a little while back and he was presented a small christian crucifix. it was worn by a young syrian man who was captured by the jihad is and he was told to convert and he refused. he chose his son a chance of tradition christianity and he was. his mother was able to recover his body and found across and fled and made her way to