tv General Votel Questioned on Mosul Air Strike Says Investigation is... CSPAN March 31, 2017 6:15pm-8:01pm EDT
radicalized isis recruits. watch c-span's washington journal live at seven eastern saturday morning, join the discussion.the us central command head general joseph votel test avoid by the before the house armed services committee announcing the military has launched an investigation to determine that the us was responsible for recent civilian casualties in mosul, iraq. he had knowledge the military has not relax the rules of engagement. this hearing is an hour 45 minutes. >>. [inaudible conversation] the committee will come to order. today we turn our attention to the central command area
of operations or much of the nation's military power has been engaged since 1991. we are rightfully putting attention on other threats such as a resurgent russia and the newly assertive china. the threat of terrorism has not gone away. in fact, we just start hearing a few weeks ago is difficult to see how isis is eliminated from syria and al qaeda with its various branches has not disappeared either. and while terrorists have physically spread out in locations, all of them have become adept at operating online as well in advance in the west. >> iran poses a significant threat to global stability, none of us will forget about the essential to prevent afghanistan from returning to be a base for terrorism. so there is much to occupy our witness today and i appreciate his being with us to answer our questions.
also want to mention one additional issue that has been in the news lately. there have been a number of press reports about civilian casualties in mosul related to us aerial support iraqi efforts to claim that city from isis.i would suggest that everyone be cautious in a dense urban environment, there may well be civilian casualties. even the finest military in the world and make mistakes. also know for certain that isis uses innocent civilians as innocent shield and they can arrange 1 million deaths to further their misguided narrative. isis uses such narratives to advance their cause and to curtail the effectiveness of our military campaign. i think we should always give the benefit of doubt to the professionals who are working every day to keep us safe. let me turn to mister schmidt
for any comments he'd like to make before turning to our witness. >> thank you mister chairman. i have statements that i will submit for the record and the chairman's comments about how important this region is to our national security interests and the challenges there are great. the only issue i want to highlight and have a general discuss with it , has in iraq the problem may be the baghdad government is not inclusive enough of the population. i met with a tribal leader yesterday, certainly prime minister abadi is trying as al-malaki did not but there's not been much improvement. there is still a feeling among the sunni population that baghdad is closer to iran than it is to their own sunni population and until we fix that problem, whatever happens in mozilla or elsewhere, you have a disgruntled, dissatisfied push to the sunni population in iraq, you're going to have
for tile ground for isis or al qaeda or whatever extremist groups want to exploit it so i'm curious what we are doing to try and reintegrate the sunni in to the baghdad government so that it is not the sectarian shiite government but a government for iraq and that will be a great challenge going forward and with that i think the general for her service and look forward to the testimony, ideal back. >> without a full written statement will be made part of the record and you are recognized for any oral comments you'd like to make. >>, and ranking member smith, members of the committee, before i do begin my short statement i want to highlight that each of your spaces here, there is coverage on both sides. you will see that really focus on iraq and syria, a lot just highlights where we, where isis is it is indicated
for a. >> chairman thornberry, ranking member smith, distinguished members, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to appear here to adjust a posture in a state ofreadiness of the united states . >> coming before you today on behalf of the outstanding men and women of the command. >> the military, civilians and contractors along with our coalition partners of 60 nations. people are the very best in the world that what they do and we could not be more proud of them and their families. without question, they are the strength of our central command. the command that sent, for a year now, it's been an incredibly busy and productive period. we've dealt with a number of challenges in iraq and syria and afghanistan, pakistan, yemen, the sinai, the straight and elsewhere throughout the area of responsibility. >> we are making progress in many areas but much remains.
>> we are also dealing with a range of allied activities by koran and its proxies in the region. >> is my view that iran poses the greatest long-term threat to stability in this part of the world. and really speaking, the central region remains a highly complex area, widely characterized by instability and conflict. fragile security environments, selective variety of contributing factors with no sectarian tensions, economic uncertainty, weak governance, civil war and humanitarian exploited by violent extremist organizations and terrorist groups such as al qaeda and isis. these groups have indicated their desire and intent to attack the us homeland. our interests abroad in the interest of our partners and allies. and at the time, the central region is increasingly crowded with external nationstates such as russia and china. who are pursuing their own interests and attempting to
test alliances within the region. the point that i would emphasize to you is that while there may be other more consequential threats in our world, today the central region has come to represent a nexus for many of the security challenges our nation faces and most importantly, the threat to this region continues to pose the most direct threat to the us homeland and the global economy. thus we must remain a priority and the resource supported. we sincerely appreciate this committees continued strong support and particularly as it pertains to our budget request and the funding provided not only from centcom from departments and we could not do what we do on a daily basis without support. meanwhile, the us central command remains focused on doing what is necessary to protect our national interests and those of our partners. our strategic approach is very straightforward. prepare, pursue and prevail.
explain what i mean by that, we prepare the environment, turn effective strong relationships across the region. we actively pursue opportunities to strengthen relationships and support our infrastructure and when we do put our forces into action, we avail in our assigned missions. i would also point out that today, to the credit professionalism of our armed forces, we are actively hitting campaigns in the central region with significantly fewer us forces on the ground in previous years. >> as you are seeing clearly demonstrated in iraq and syria, afghanistan , yemen and elsewhere throughout our area of responsibility, have adopted a approach that places a heavy reliance on indicative. >> while this approach does present challenges, it can be a more time-consuming and it is proving effective, it is likely to pay significant dividends going forward. indigenous force partners continue to build
capabilities and they are personally invested in the conduct of operations and thus it is necessary to preserve the gains they have achieved going forward. we also have a vested interest in ensuring stability and security industry deeply important central region. to this end, i will close by highlighting three areas where i do if we apply an appropriate amount of energy and effort we can and will have a lasting positive impact in this part of the world. first, we must restore trust with our partners in the region while at the same time maintaining the trust of our leadership in washington. the fact is we cannot surge in times of crisis. we must do it as necessary now to ensure our partners and staying power. second, we must link our military objectives and campaigns as closely as possible with policy objectives and to our other instruments of national
power. in other words, we must align our military objectives with capabilities with desire to national and regional storage strategy recognizing that if we don't do this, we risk creating space for our adversaries to achieve the gains. >> finally, we must make sure that we have posture for purpose in the region, we must have credible, ready and present force coupled with firm military sales and finance programs. to conserve, build and shape partner nations ability in a timely and effective fashion. ours is a challenging and important mission. much is at stake today in the central region. we recognize this fact and i insure you the centcom team stands ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to protect the national interest and the interests of our allies and partners. i close my thinking is committee again for the strong support to continue to provide to the rural team and united states central command
and particularly to our forces located in the region. >> as i said at the outset, the 80,000+ folders, sailors, marines, coast guard men and civilians that make up the command are truly the best in the world what they do. >> that could not be more proud of them and their families and i know that you are proud of them as well. >> thank you and i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you general and you are right, we share your pride in them and in what they do. as we chatted briefly before the hearing, you expressed interest in addressing some of the press stories regarding civilian casualties , especially in mosul. let me invite you to do that at this point. >> thank you mister chairman and i appreciate the opportunity to talk a little bit about this up front.
first off, i want to emphasize to everybody here, all the members that these are absolutely tragic and heartbreaking situations and our hearts go out to the people of mosul and iraq and other places where we are operating. we acknowledge our responsibility for operating a higher standard, it is my responsibility as a combat commander to ensure our forces operate in accordance with those goals and standards. >> we take every allegation seriously and we are communicating a well-developed process that if necessary investigating to these allegations. >> how we do things is important as the things we do. and we are doing everything possible to prevent these type of events and incidents from occurring as a result of our operations. >> we meet with lieutenant general and his comments yesterday, he is our commander on the ground in iraq. we accept that there is a fair chance that our operations may have contributed to civilian casualties but i would highlight to each of you that this investigation continues and there is still much to learn.
we have a general officer assigned to help us address and understand and discover the facts of the case. we were able to visit the actual site yesterday and gather both additional evidence and perspective on the situation. in addition, we are reviewing over 700 weapons grade videos over a 10 day period to ensure that we follow this alleged incident to ensure that we understand the effectiveness of the munitions we dropped in the vicinity. this should be an indicator of how intense a combat situation is. the investigation will look at command-and-control, the human missions we employ, it will look at intelligence, and more importantly it will look at the behavior of the enemy and it will look at how are our actions may have played a role in any civilian casualties. >> the investigation will
confirm or deny our initial impressions and highlight the lessons learned while we consider and establish credibility over our actions, i think it is also important to clearly recognize that the enemy does use human shields. has little regard for human life, does intend to use civilian casualty allegations as a tool into our operations so they bear responsibility for this as well. and the nature of this fight is the operations and on his 2 and a half year campaign and our approach as involved as well. one example of how we have evolved is in our efforts to enable and entrust our leaders with unnatural edge with the authority they need to help our partners win. we have not relax the rules of engagement. i have authorized lieutenant general thompson to allocate the employment of rules of investigation and level through the top urban fight that we knew was coming in mosul. to be clear, it changes the rules of engagement and
allows us to engage. >> we are aware of all the reports, especially the priority nations and amnesty international, the center for civilians in conflict and the syrian observatory for human rights.and we have developed relationships with a number of these organizations and we look forward to working with them as we complete the investigation, thank you. >> let me just ask about a couple of the things you said because as you recognize there is widespread reporting that rules of engagement have changed and the implication is now we are carelessly dropping bombs and killing civilians but as i thought i heard you pretty clearly, the rules of engagement have not changed, is that correct? >> that is correct mister chairman. >> and you have a long experience in iraq in dealing with thisenemy . >> how would you describe
their ability to create and further narratives that they see as in their interest? one example that's stuck in my mind, i remember in iraq that after a raid or something, the enemy came and deposited dead bodies and then brought cameras in to make it look like they had been killed as a part of the raid when in fact they hadn't , that people were brought in after the fact so just describe the sophistication of their efforts. >> thank you mister chairman and i would agree with you that the enemy that we have faced in afghanistan and iraq and syria and other places is fully sappy in how they use information operations. isis in particular is well skilled and has professionals if you will who have expertise in this area so they know how to manipulate
the information environment and create situations they know will cause concern for western countries and as i mentioned in my comments, i do believe they do attempt to use our concern to operate at higher standards and prevent civilian casualties as a way to distract our campaign. so i think it's important that we recognize that. that has not changed how we approach things, it doesn't change our values, it doesn't change our inherent law of armed conflict and the fact that we do operate at a higher standard but it's important to recognize about our enemy.>> how conclude by saying we want to be informed of the results of the investigation.we share your commitment to make sure we do things the right way. and so, the investigation needs to occur and then you
see what it finds so i will trust you and your folks to fully inform once you are able to reach concerns on that. let me yield to the ranking member. >> thank you mister chairman. if you could answer the questions i raised in my opening statement about where the sunni population in iraq is at right now. there is a great divide and while i concur with the chairman's comments about civilian casualties in mosul, i know the sunni population is concerned about the fight that's going on there and the lost life that is happening from both sides, they are also concerned about the iranian backed militias and basically the general feeling that this continues to be a shia run country that is not making room for the sunnis and that undermines our entire effort. is that an inaccurate portrait, is it better than that and what do we do with
the problems that remain? >> the way that i would characterize it is i think your term here is that iraq is assisted by the coalition confronts the isis enemies they are dealing with, there has been some level of local accommodation and cooperation, collaboration with different groups. really focused on doing this, i would cite to you that our continued efforts to raise tribal forces to bring the hope forces into these areas, particularly sunni areas as after they have been cleared, we've seen some success with that but i would agree with you that long-term, there is so much work to be done. i know in my interactions with the prime minister we frequently talk about this and he is very concerned about it and but also i think recognizes the balance that will have to be achieved here in the region with a variety of different trysts that are
ongoing and so he clearly recognize that but i would agree with you, more needs to be done to ensure that the sunni population feels engaged and empowered and a part of the government of iraq and of the iraqi people. >> quick question on that, the issue of arming the kurds or others sunni tribesmen, there's a frustration expressed that they were more able to get those arms directly and it is our position, our country's position that all that had to go through baghdad, basically. and i understand that to a certain degree but is that accurate? and how does that impact the ability to arm the kurds or the sunni tribesmen that fight with us?>> i believe we have made good progress on that over the last year and there certainly were some issues with that in the past in terms of how that was done but particularly as we got
focused on the occupation for mosul we saw a high level of collaboration and coordination between the kurdistan regional government and the government of iraq, particularly as they prepare their plans and prepare their forces for that operation and i would highlight to you that i think one of the key succtheresses and i think this hasn't gone, the government of iraq is the high level of coordination that took place at the military level and security levels and that operation gets underway and that continues to this day. i do believe that as a basis for moving forward. that said, it's something that we continue to eri on. >> as people prepare for the attack on rock, it's a great question, first of all you got the kurds involved there and they don't get along but we're trying to figure out what our coalition is in syria. going after rocco, how are we
currently deciding the issue between the turks and the kurds? >> there is engagement at the high political level that is taking place. as you are well aware, chairman, the champion for us in working at the chief defense level and back and forth we have from us, standpoint working in conjunction with european koran, we've increased our interaction to ensure there is good visibility out of things that we are doing. >> and we certainly recognize turkey's interests and concerns with this. there are great partner here and we could do many things without them. that said, the most effective force that we have right now in syria is the syrian democratic forces that consists of both the kurds and arabs, coming in some cases some christian organizations. >> thank you mister chairman. high-yield back. >> misterwhitman. >> thank you mister chairman. . general votel, thanks for
joining us today. i want to get your perspective on what might happen in the future. we see today access happening inmosul . we're pushing out and defeating mosul forces both with our forces and with iraqis. >> the question then becomes i believe is what happens after that and while mosul is a concern, i believe that iranian backed shia militant groups are of even greater concern, we don't hear about that today but i believe there is an issue, the rgc commander commander of the shia militant groups in that region, i believe with the iranians backing has visions about what could happen for the future as isis moves out. today as we see iran and the us have common interest in defeating isis. the question becomes once isis is defeated, iran has a mind to re-create that region. >> so by pushing out isis and
with the question about how governance takes place with that, with the existing government in iraq, what do you see has the future with us ultimately defeating isis, what happens with irani and back shia militant groups and what happens thereto with the iraqi government in trying to reestablish some kind of government control in those regions ? >> thank you, i share in your concern about our panel and their long-term extension here and certainly with 100,000+ shia militia members on the ground, this is extraordinarily concerning. and it's a big concern as we move forward. >> we are engaged, i know the embassy is well engaged with the government of iraq as they look to implement a paramilitary force of law in their country. >> the prime minister i know
has appointed that is working through this affect and we certainly have provided advice into that and we have examples about how we employ national guards and other things here and how we look at. our concern i think with that is the paramilitary forces that were in flight don't become a duplicate as to counterterrorism service or to the iraqi army and those types of things and that there is a valid role for someone that they do answer to the government and they remain like the other security services a political entity and so are very strong focus is in that particular area with respect to the shia. >> staying on the theme of the ran, something there in the arabian gulf and more specifically recently in the space of four moves where we had for iranian attack vessels , for the uss mohammed. >> there's a concern about that continued effort and
what they are trying to achieve with that and what our actions are that might be . but give me your perspective first of all about the frequency of those attacks. what is the ran trying to achieve, is those probing maneuvers designed for them i think are very indicative of what the ran i believe is likely to try to achieve in that area and that is the harassment of ships just enough that they stand us off, give your perspective on what you think iranians are trying to achieve their and what our reactions that is or what we are doing to prevent. >> the direct your question, i think rands objective here is to be the regional hegemon. they want to be the predominant power in the region, there's no doubt about that and i think that's what they are pursuing. one of the first things i did after becoming commander sense, was to get down the straight and i wanted to understand what this was an
frankly the iranians did not disappoint. within 30 minutes of being on there we had both surround us in the area. i had a chance to observe our chips captain and then crew and how they responded to that and has since had a chance to see that on a number of different occasions. i did numerous reports on it. i would tell you congressman i am confident in our leaders and in the processes, procedures and capabilities that they have to properly defend . the presence of these type of boats out there very seldom, if ever, prevent him us from accomplishing our mission. what they are out there to do is demonstrate their presence to in some cases potentially be provocative. i think you look over the course of the year, i think you see probably 300+ incidents of this kind of nature about 10 to 15 percent of those we would classify as
being abnormal meaning outsidetheir normal pattern of life, unprofessional , meaning they are not following proper maritime procedures or unsafe, meaning they put themselves or potentially put our vessel and our cruise at risk and so we are paying extraordinarily close attention to this but i feel confident in our ability to protect ourselves and pursue our missions. >> mister chairman, i healed back. >> thank you mister chairman. general, thank you so much for your service. i want to turn to afghanistan. what kinds of support are the russians sending to us through the taliban and how direct is their involvement, what does that say about our ongoing conflict there? >> i think there's a lot we don't know about what russia is doing. i think it's fair to assume they may be providing some kind of support to them in terms of weapons or other
things that may be there. again, i think that is the possibility. i believe what russia is attempting to do is they are attempting to be an influential party in this part of the world. obviously they do have concerns because it is close to the former soviet state that they can sitter to be within their sphere so there is some concern about that but in general, i don't consider their outreach and linkage to the town and to be helpful to what the coalition has been trying to accomplish for us for some time now in afghanistan. >> could you share with us in your state of acknowledgment? >> that you talk about? >> in afghanistan? i think we've established we are at a stalemate right now. right now i would say that it is generally in favor of the government. of afghanistan, but stalemates have been seen to decline over time so we do have to support this.
we have to missions in afghanistan, what is our counterterrorism mission , the resource and that is going pretty well, i feel confident in that. the other one is the nato mission to advise and that is one where i think we ought to consider looking at our objectives here in how we continue to support that mission going forward and ensure that the government of afghanistan has the time and capabilities to accomplish what they need to. >> clearly i think the government seeks as important, we've been working on that as well for some time but there's a great deal of concern that it hasn't been as robust as is needed in that setting and i'm not sure that i would say that is going to increase, i think if anything it's going to decrease. any comment on that and the
importance of that mission? >> i think that certainly is the topic under discussion now with the secretary of defense and general nicholson and myself, the chairman right now so we are in the process of a review of our posture in afghanistan and how we ought to look at that going forward and i think that's still pre-decisional at this point so i'm not sure i want to get out in front of the secretary and announce anything in particular but it is a key topic here and one that terry mattis is been engaged with us on. >> one of the concerns as well is the administration now has not been feeling all of the decisions. for that region. most military perhaps his more covered than other departments but i wonder if you feel that these gaps are becoming problematic and perhaps what you would be doing about it? >> congresswoman, i he the benefit of having a cabinet secretary who previously held
my job and so he understands the region that i am operating in right now and we have a very open, communicative relationship here and so i feel i'm getting everything that i need from the department this juncture so i can't tell you that i have been disadvantaged while the transition completes and get someplace. >> thank you and following up on my colleagues question from earlier, about how we are planning for what comes next in iraq. what's it going to look like? >> what is the extent of that planning, how would you see that right now? >> as i mentioned in my opening statement i think this has to be, it has to involve more tn just the military and in my advice to the secretary and the chairman as we begin to look at how we move forward in these areas, my principal
piece of advice was we have to look at the political preparation of these areas and make sure that we are addressing some of these long-term issues as we talked about a few moments ago, how we accommodate the different parts of the population, how we have a plan for governance. there's a lot that the military can do and it's an nearly important that our diplomats are other development agencies, others are involved in this particular process and we have. >> my question is are they. >> i believe they are. >> i feel very confident that we are working with our partners. >> thank you mister chairman. and general thank you so much for your long service to this country.the, i think it was raised earlier about the concern of the population, the fact is that after we
left the country in 2011, that the shia dominated government reverted to their worst sectarian tendency as and i believe pushed out the sunni arabs from the government and created an opening for isis to spell across the border to syria and to capture those areas with little to no resistance. because there was simply no loyalty to the government of baghdad. in the iraqi constitution there's a provision that was insisted by the kurds that allows provinces to band together and create semi autonomous regions. should in fact the sunni grabs look at that, should we reenter is that? it just seems like without a path where they have some say and there's only 20 percent of the population, in their future, essentially right now
old revenue basically is most of the revenue and that's contributed by the central government out of baghdad so it's a tough decision. so do you have a view on that particular issue? >> punishment, as you know our policy is one in iraq right now so that's, as we apply our military operations, that's something that we would do that. i would agree with you that there has to be a very serious look at this, we have to ensure that the different parts of iraq are represented in their government and in other things that are in their military and other security apparatus and other aspects and they have the opportunity to take advantage of economic opportunities that are available in iraq so i certainly think there has to be a much broader discussion about how we do that.
>> i would hope that would be something that our government would look at from a diplomatic standpoint in terms of encouraging the government because the fact that it's still the vertically integrated government that we left that was in place prior to the fall of saddam hussein where really all decisions are centralized out of baghdad. that, there was no taxation at the provincial level so i just think that a decentralization of authority that occurs now enjoys would be great for the sunni arabs and i would like that to be something that we look at. >> and i would express my concerns by having served there in 2005 with the marine corps. that the ranking member expressed in that this is a tough situation for the sunni arabs in that region. and the first year between
these shia militias that are running impact and the local population is not to be discounted and again, it's that alienation from never feeling that they are part of the iraqi government. >> thank you mister chairman, i yelled back. >>. >> thank you mister chairman. thanks to the general. >> they, initially in your answer to your first question about the mosul incidents, i said that you're going to assess and if necessary investigate. would you help me understand that distinction on your perspective? >> absolutely, so this is unfortunately not the first time we've had allegations of civilian casualties in centcom so what we have is a process in place for how we standardize the process and
we start off with the receipt of an allegation, we get allegations from all over. we get from social media, from people on the street . much of it is self-reported. i think we see something so we get an allegation. what we do that is we do what we call a credibility assessment. and the intention is to do an initial review of the facts and circumstances to merit and predetermine whether we need to move to a more fulsome investigation and so what we in this particular, if we make that determination then we moved to an investigation though from the incident that i was talking about here in mosul we had taken that step.we have decided there is general townsend acknowledged yesterday there might be something there. we might, we may have contributed to this and it's how we moved to the investigation at this point so there will be a more
formalized approach to really look into the details of this as much as we can to establish what happened. >> and establish what the facts are and identify accountability and i certainly identify the lessons learned. >> you mentioned on the criteria that you are looking at with command and control, there were a few others. >>. >> thanks, so we'll look at the command and control, look at the intelligence that we had. >> this was a very dynamic situation, this wasn't deliberate targets or anything else, this was an evolving combat situation so we will take a look at the intelligence that was provided by the iraqis that we had. we will look at the enemies reactions here and we will try to understand their role in this. we will look at the munitions, that we employed here and we will look at the diffusing options. x we do have the technology
for a largely supported by congress to have emissions that can be very specific. >> as you heard general townsend say yesterday, the munition that was employed here did not create the effects that have been observed. >> so that causes us to look atthat. >> to see if there are other things that may have contributed . >> as well. so what we do is try to be more complete in the investigation, it takes a little time but we used a pretty good answer at the end of it. >> to switch gears to yemen. >> you just briefly describe the us security objectives in yemen? >> well, there's two principal emphasis that we are concerned about in yemen, one is that you is not used as a platform or a sanctuary for attacks on the homeland and that gets you are focus on al qaeda in the arabian
peninsula, al qaeda in yemen. this is the franchise of al qaeda that has demonstrated the ability to try to attack her homeland and some of those people are still existed there. >> so to have that key aspect of our interest and our operations are focused on disrupting it. >> al qaeda there. >> the other key interest we have in this area is freedom of navigation. >> on the western coast of yemen between it and the horn of africa is the bottle mandel, an extraordinarily restrictive state. it is the chokepoint, a major transit area for commerce, not only ours but for international. it's about 60, 70 ships go through their day. what we have seen is with the support of a random we have seen capabilities that we previously observed in the straits or lose, a layered defense area of missiles, radar systems.
mines, explosive boats that have migrated from the straits and this particular area right here, threatening the commerce and ships of our security operations. >> just, can you, do you assess that we will be able to stay with the detectives and will be betrayed in other people's goals? >> of course as you know there is a civil war ongoing right there and there is a cleanup between a lot of coalition and then a rainy and supported elements and so we provide some indirect support to that. >> obviously this is something we are paying close attention to and while that rages, it does have some impact on our other interest in this area so i think we do have to pay some attention to that. >>. >> thank you mister chairman. >> it's been, the next month
or so it's going to be very intense here in washington, obviously there's been a lot of talk about healthcare but there's also something at least in my mind that is going to have direct implication. >> and that's the continuing resolution that the budget, that we have got to pass. >> to support you. >> and i'm going to be very candid, you don't have to answer totally. >> i think you can see this one coming but a number of us are very worried about the indicators. >> about, we had folks talking about maintenance, you've got a large area, large military area and if we don't do this correctly, to the best, can you give us an
evaluation of the impact on readiness and the ability to conduct your mission? >> thank you congressman and so first off, the support that i get from the services is extraordinary, they give me everything that i asked for and i've been well taken care of but i share your concern on the impacts of the resolution on the services and on so, that provide the capability that the commander like i need to have so i am concerned when we are not able to pursue long-term programs and approach them over time. i am concerned with the impact that continuing resolutions and other instruments here have had on readiness. for example, i look at the marine corps provides any area as well as in the
centcom area, they don't come with a number of helicopters that we had in the past, that's a readiness issue and it impacts liability to have flexibility and react to things in the area so i am very concerned about this and while you know, money unnecessarily comes to me, if those are the people that provide me with capabilities that i need to our objectives . >> i am very concerned about this. >> i want to switch gears a little bit, and also on fort pierce and we have the issue that continually pops up about foreign military sales and last year looked at the replacement of saudi, the number of m1 battle tanks they had lost. and sometimes, you alluded to it there was a question about yemen and everything else that was taken there. >> do you influence at all
the state department, foreign military aid for the sales, particularly for some of our allies would obviously contribute to your ability to conduct the mission? >> congressman, we absolutely do. we have our security operation in many of these countries, almost all the countries we have here and i would share your concern about this. fns have been extraordinarily important programs. from my perspective as a baghdad commander, i want capability for our partners to provide their own security and be integrated with us
we are constantly trying to assess what our requirements are and how we best support our farmers with a buy with approach and make sure we have the capabilities to fully enable them and to help them win. there's a constant process of assessing what we need. i command that arab leader's forward three general towns and in this particular case provides rationale for capabilities that he needs and we have very very clear roles and missions for the things we are bringing forward. and so we do have a very deliberate process. what you have seen here most recently are not things that just came up relatively quickly. these are the things that we have anticipated for some time. you cited for example the marines and some of the artillery organizations. we have to recognize that as we continue to pursue our military objective in syria we are going to need more direct all weather fighter support capability for
our democratic force partners so that is what you are seeing. they have deployed and they are helping us with that particular aspect. they are also helping us with some of our logistics capabilities in syria. syria is a fairly immature area for us in terms of that so we don't have a structure like we have in iraq or some other places so we do need some help in those particular areas. what i can assure you is that there is a rationale and there are some missions for all of these capabilities that we are bringing. >> thank you for the answer and again i don't actually want to second-guess your military judgment but it sounds like they are starting to get much shorter , deeper involved in the fight in raqqa and i guess you know we voted a couple of years ago in this defense authorization bill extending
title x authorization which in my opinion if somebody supported that it was not about boots on the ground direct military involvement but this sounds like we are sort of creeping in that direction. >> congressman i think what i would tell you is we have not taken in the eye off of the initiative which is advise-and-assist and enable our partners and so i think that is what you continue to see with all of these appointments right here. we are not -- one of our key principles here with our folks forward is to help our partners not buy for them so as we continue to bring additional capabilities and these are things we have decided so they do fit into our continuing mission of the thighs assist in enabling our partners. >> thank you. again there's a larger question
here about the fact that i think the authorization of use of force is long overdue for a revisit but that's our problem, not on your side. during the time that you have been in command the carrier gap phenomenon has been occurring again from i think 072-2015. you had continuous presence of carriers and airstrikes against isis. i mean how are you coping with that? >> thank you for bringing that up. this is another example of potential readiness concerns here. the way that we do that and what we have done is we have worked through our air and maritime commanders in theater so we have on occasion brought in additional air force organizations to help fill in the gap in those particular cases. we just completed that with a squadron from the united states and they have done an exceptional job for us for about 90 days and we also look to our allies, our partners.
the uk, the french have sent some of their ships into this particular area to help make up for this gap as well. this is a constant management process for us. this is an environment in which we are always looking for ways that we can balance out with the whole joint combined force that's available to us. >> thank you. senator wenstrup. >> thank you for being with us today. we perceive we are in the process of increasing our and/or our allies and capabilities in the fight against isis right now i'm curious what is the conduit for this committee to get some knowledge on number of personnel needed and i don't need an exact number but i don't like when we have caps because we end up using contractors instead of our
troops and sometimes it costs more but just trying to get some understanding of what you need as far as personnel and what we need to execute the mission so that we can somewhat justify the expenditures involved with that. >> congressman i think we have a closed session right after this and i'd be happy to go into great detail about any advice i could provide and what we need and what we have talked about. >> i appreciate that. another question, general braddy mentioned the other day russians influence in afghanistan increasing. what is your understanding of their influence and how this has changed her efforts? >> it hasn't significantly altered our approach here at this particular point that what i think they are attempting to do is they are attempting to be an influential third party here in afghanistan. i think they're reaching out to the taliban and they have made
the decision under their own determination that the government of afghanistan and the coalition that support them are unable to solve their concern about isis and i think they are much more concerned about isis moving into the central asian states and that it will have an impact on them. they have created a narrative that you have to partner more the taliban to address this particular threat and they are trying to leverage that into a bigger role in terms of i think trying to pursue disagreements and other things with the taliban. frankly i don't consider to be particularly helpful at this particular point and what we have been doing in the process. >> so does that change your behavior in any way? >> i don't think it has changed our behavior. we have been working with our afghan partners. we have been extraordinarily
focused on the islamic state emerging in afghanistan. i believe we have had a significant amount of success and reduce them from 50 districts they are operating into about two. we are targeting a lot of our leaders right now. we have persistent sequester on them all the time so it is not impacted our approach. >> thank you general. i yield back. >> ms. tsongas. >> thank you mr. chairman in its good to have you with us today general. appreciate you very much taking the time and thank you to your service to our nation as well as the remarkable in women and men who are serving in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. we are forever grateful. i've will enjoy listening to your view statement as well as reading your remarks which i think illustrates the clearly the threats posed by i saw qaeda and other affiliated groups in the region and certainly made clear that there are no easy answers given the seriousness
and complexity of the challenge to reverse isis game. i'm also concerned about the steady buildup of u.s. forces in the region both especially in syria absent a robust debate in congress on authorization for the use of military force. something secretary mattis called before the senate armed services committee and i was glad to hear that. i'm concerned that deployment may lead to an expansive open-ended commitment. i think an involving campaign could have long-term consequences raising substantial and unpredictable risks that haven't been fully considered or endorsed by congress as a whole. i'm also mindful of the countries where we are waging the fight against isil and how mounting civilian casualties at tragedy in and of themselves as you yourself said kim ultimately work against our long-term interest in setting the conditions for stability.
i appreciate your redressing and addressing it in your open remarks but i also appreciate the important work that international groups are playing in monitoring civilian casualties. as reported in the "washington post" yesterday quote according to air wars that you are familiar with the british monitoring group the frequency of civilian deaths alleged to be linked to u.s. strikes in iraq and syria have now outpace those linked to russia. the scripting has been compounded by a string of high-profile report of u.s. attacks in both countries including assaults on a mosque, a school and most recently a building apparently used as a center in the iraqi city of mosul that is now being investigated appropriately so. these reports come alongside indications that the administration is considering relaxing the rules of engagement put in place by the obama administration which made a concerted effort avoiding civilian deaths and you have
said today that there has not been such a change. i have read that you said that the coalition will quote take extraordinary measures to avoid harming civilians and quote. can you tell us how you balance the pursuit, very important military objective with those extraordinary measures and in particular when fighting an enemy that intentionally places civilians in harm's way, we all know that, how much risk the should the u.s. and its civilian coalition partners accepted limiting air or artillery strikes where it may be difficult to confirm civilian presence especially in mosul where civilians have been directed to shelter in place. there are so many still there, it seems to be an extraordinary challenge and i'm curious as to how you are thinking this through in order to minimize civilian deaths. >> thank you for your question there. first off we have provided i
think very clear and concise guidance to our commanders in the field and i think the principle way that we are addressing this is by trusting and enabling our well experienced and trained leaders on the ground. they are the best guard against this. we have seen that in the past and we will see it in the future. their judgment their experience is the best thing to ensure this. as we go through this and with our commanders that are very close i think the key thing that we do emphasize is we go to war with our values. we hold ourselves to a higher accountability, a higher standard and of course we always operate in accordance with the law of armed conflict. we do everything we can to prevent this and what we try to do is we try to work that through our leadership and ensure they understand the obligation that we all expect
and as they carry out the applications and what are extraordinarily complex and difficult situations making best judgments and decisions that they can based on the information that they have. i will tell you and many, many cases they are making the right call. i have visited iraq every month and i talked to advisers and i hear about operations that we support but on the same page i hear about operations where we choose not to strike and we choose not to do something because it didn't look right and we couldn't confirm what was going on, we didn't have that situational awareness so from my perspective we are going to trust our processes and trust our people and continue to put emphasis on that. see that trust and verify. >> mr. russell. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you and it's good to see you again.
i guess in my own take on it is that we are not seeing a never-ending increase. we are recovering from a massive decrease in disengagement in the region. it's not that many years ago, six and because of that decrease we now see iraq in the throes of civil war, syria and the throes of a civil war in yemen in the throes of the civil war. the complete areas destabilized making a whole number of things even harder to deal with plus distancing our allies in saudi arabia and egypt, not to mention other coalition partners on the whole number of other affairs. so i tend to disagree with some of my colleagues here in that view. with regard to collateral damage no one cares more about civilian casualties than the united
states military. no one takes more pain or more effort to prevent the needless loss of life. no one has the systems in place to prevent the things that we do in our targeting systems and everything else. we know about our own errors because it is us who expose them, discover them and try to refine them so before we get in the dashing of those that are in uniform and the needless loss of civilian casualties or somehow suggesting that we are causing more civilian deaths than the russians, i challenge that. i defy that, i reject that. i don't think that reflects anything to our presence as a nation and certainly our men and women in uniform. general votel you spoke of the need to use the other national power. there is a number of areas that we obviously see a need to do that.
you have spoken to a lot of them but one of the most troubling things is yemen and as we would see the gulf of aden slip into a possible future hormuz strait. is there serious implication with that? we have 60% of the human population now that is now a nurse and we have opportunities to do good things with other efforts. the foreign military sales being crucial before an engagement being crucial. if you could design it where you engaged the other international power to support coalition efforts as well as the centcom efforts what would it look like? what would you want that other engagement to be other than just a the military? >> thanks congressman. certainly one of the things which we have highlighted here is we have dissolve the civil conflict.
that creates an environment and makes it extraordinary difficult for us and has made it difficult for us to be persistent in our efforts against al qaeda. it's hard to break relationships and it has given rise to the threat that we have already talked about this morning in the red sea, an area where we had 60 or 70 ships go through every day , not just ours but international ships go through there. it's important so i think the thing we have to do to press on is we have to press and our diplomatic efforts and to resolve that conflict as quickly as we can. that will help us i think set the table. there are perhaps some things that we can assist with on the military side to bring that forward without coming to a civil conflict here. we should consider those things.
i will tell you i have talked with our ambassador on a regular basis. he is extraordinarily engaged and i just think we have to continue to press in this particular area. this is an area where we will need the department of state and others to help us move through. >> do you so still see a base of support? a lot of relationships have been developed for decades and much is lost as we see the things tip towards the who do you rebels. with engagement with the population assisting them and feeding them and other things would you speak to that? >> i would highlight that we have some very good partners in the area. certainly saudi arabia and the united arab emirates have been extraordinary partners for us. they have good relationships here so i do see the ability to reestablish some of these partnerships again. >> thank you.
thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you general votel for your great insight today. i want to switch back to iran for a moment. you said you believe that iran is one of the threats to the u.s. today so if that's true in your assessment is true in their overall objective is to be the most powerful in the region and to pursue this and do you believe iran has that increased to destabilizing activity since the jcpoa and if they have how should we react to the alleged activities without escalation with other conflicts in the region? >> i do believe they have and i believe iran is operating what i call a gray zone. it's an area between normal competition between states and just short of open conflict. they are exploiting this area in a variety of different ways. they do it to evade surrogate forces.
they do it to emulate facilitation. they do it through their own cyber was abilities and their own influence operations. i think they are clearly focused in this particular area and i think their efforts have increased in this particular area. i think the things that we need to do, there are three broad things that i've had an opportunity to talk to some of our regional partners about it. we need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt military means or other means, their activities particularly their facilitation aspects here. i think we need to look at opportunities where we can expose and hold them accountable for the things that they are doing. that has to be done. they have to account for the destabilizing role that they are playing in the region right now and finally i think we do have to address their revolutionary ideology.
that has to be addressed and certainly we play a role in that but others in the region do as well. iran has a role in the region, there's no doubt about that and i want to be clear that we think differently about the people of iran when we think about the leadership in the revolutionary council. those are two very distinct things and our concern is not with the people of iran but with their revolutionary government. >> thank you and i would like to switch a little bit to the greater geopolitical tension in the region. is terrorism really the most pressing threat for the middle east and what is the best way to exert our influence if that's true against them for? >> congress colin i think terrorism is what is manifested out of water really underlying issues that pervade this region. there are some serious sectarian issues across the region that have to be addressed.
they're disenfranchised populations. there is economic disparity between governments and the people that they lead. these deep underlying issues that in many cases still remain across the region, those have to be addressed and i think the way that we see this being manifested as in violent extremism and we have seen the rise of vices when you book at the desire for young men and in some cases young women to join up qaeda or isis. they are looking for a job. they are looking for money. they are looking for relationships and economic opportunities. so they are deep underlying issues that have to be addressed in this region that give rise to these threats that we are focused on. i don't want to give the impression that -- it will remove the threat that it won't
solve the underlying challenges in this region. that will take more work. >> considering we are going to be creating a bill fairly soon where do we best put our resources to fight this? what do you need? >> congresswoman but think we have identified, from a military standpoint i need to know the sustaining operations and we have ongoing in places like iraq and syria and really across the region. i need to ensure that the services army-navy air force and brains and socom in providing capabilities have the resources they need to develop the capabilities and the resilience in their nations to continue to provide so those are the key things that i'm thinking about right now in terms of the resources moving forward. >> thank you. >> ms. mcsally.
>> thank you mr. chairman and thank you general votel. >> there are media reports on what you think the number is that it's in the tens of thousands come is that probably fair? >> i think that's fair. >> having spent a lot of time shooting 30 millimeters out of a a -- i want to agree with my colleagues that we go through great pains in our targeting cycle to make sure we are compliant with the loss and avoiding civilian casualties. we want to understand that the loss of our complex there. if we have a legitimate target we do everything we can to minimize civilian -- is isis targeting civilians? >> i believe they are. >> absolutely. isis is violating yet my
colleagues the standard for the act as we make feasible precautions towards limiting civilian casualties while we are hitting legitimate military targets but alas administration went above and beyond higher than i've ever seen before my 26 years in the military using near certainty that no civilians would be killed. i agree with some retired generals most recently general dunlap that if we are not hitting legitimate literary targets and allowing these terrorist to continue to live we are actually allowed them to continue to kill civilians. this actually enables them to continue their terrorist activities. what general dunlap called the moral hazard of an action of us doing nothing on legitimate targets because of this near certainty standard from my view actually allows a terrorist to continue to kill civilians, tens
of thousands of i believe but we are seeing in the change here is that isis knows they can use human shields to be -- to avoid being hit. additionally as we move closer to the urban combat in mosul civilian casualties are going to go up. this is a horrible element of four that isis started in this war so do you agree that some of the high-level of ridiculous standards that we have previously have created this behavior by isis and they now realize that they take human shields they will avoid being struck and that's adding to the problem. >> i do believe they understand that in their exploiting that. it's going to become more and more difficult to apply extraordinarily high standards although we will try. >> thank thank you and i'd look forward to talking to in the classified round but this whole line of thinking that somehow
because we are engaging the enemy and unfortunately again the investigation on this latest attack somehow it's our fault that we are engaging the enemy that perhaps civilians are being killed either by the state or because the enemy is using a tactic that has them becoming part of the target. that is on them, not on us and if we move back further and allow more terrorists to live and fight another day because of this narrative we are going to open up more civilians being killed by these terrorists. is that fair? >> i share your concern congresswoman. >> thank you. i also want to ask and maybe in a more classified setting clear identifying noncombatants that sometimes we are getting ready to track the bad guys in somalia and i would hear terminology of whether there are women shields versus main pier what we saw in yemen is we had a bunch of women that were actually shooting at our troops.
it's been reported in the media. do you confirm with me that we are still using deterrence in our combatants and noncombatants and where not making the decision as a woman you are not combat and? >> we do look at it that way. >> great, thank you. thank you mr. chairman i yield back. .. .... .... ....
>> cyber command and their elements. i would throw so-com in there. it allowed us to use the capability. we are creating affects on the ground. i would share this is an extroidinarily savvy enemy. they have capability in this area and we will need to continue to evolve in this. some of our coalition partners have unique instruments as well. i think we have having good
effects but there is more to do. >> let me ask you this, is the current joint task force synchronized with other options in the area of responsibility or also how do you character integration within cyber com? >> i think they are excellent in both cases. when we hosted a congressional delegation at centcom we invited jason in. we considered him to be a close team member. i think the integration has been exceptional. the leadership at cyber command has been extraordinarily well engaged with us. >> thank you. another topic.
we rely heavily on special operation forces around the globe. the authorities and capabilities allow us to keep the footprints small and carry out you network activities. however, that utility may have led to an overreliance. as the former socom and current centcom commander, what actions can we take to reduce this demand around the globe such as force training capability? >> as a former socom commander, we want to support all the operations and we talk frequently and have been able to figure out ways to manage the force moving forward here. i do support up to the very
continued support. i will tell you one thing does concern be about socom is many are heavily leveraged. some of the unique capabilities are heavily leveraged in oco. that concerns me as the socom commander and now the centcom commanderism i am concerned about that and i think we need a make a commitment to give socom the things they need to serve the nation. beyond that, congressman, i would tell you one of the things i am most proud of being the centcom commander is the close relationship between soft and conventional forces. that comes for a variety of reasons. working together and the fact that a lot of your leaders know each other not just
professionally but personally i want to assure the committee and the american people that we are fighting the enemy together and not fighting each other. that was not always the case in the military. i am very pleased with how our conventional and soft forces work closely together. >> very good, general. as the former socom commander i have great confidence you will balance that force. thank you for what you are doing and i look forward to the classified session. >> mr. bacobacon. >> thank you so much. so many problems and it isn't just one, two or three. i know you and your team work very hard at that. i will echo the comments from colleagues that say we need congressional office for force.
i think in 2001 and 2003 are applicable and we need to work toward that in congress. i want to say i agree with your comments on iran. i think you are right on target. my fourth deployment there, i think, i was there 2007-2008 and i believe roughly half of our service members were killed due to actions from iran with the support they were giving to the shiite soldiers. my question to you today is we can do kinetic operations indefinitely with isis or al-qaeda. i don't think that wins the fight in the end. how do you see the grand strategy to defeat these enemies? we have to go after their ideology, financing and recruiting.
do you think we have the right strategy? >> i think we have the right outline. one of the first things the new administration did was direct the secretary of defense of state to help with a plan to address and defeat isis more completely. i think the acknowledgment of that is department of state and many others in the government and it is acknowledgment we need to do that. we certainly need to go after their finances and where they are physically and we need to go after the conditions that give rise to these particular organizations. but i would also add that we need to go after this ideology. there are things we can do but certainly things our partners in the region can do. there are just some things that as a western counties as the united states will not resonate
as fully as it will from people in the region. the ideology is very important and getting after the underlying issues we talked about i think is ultimately what we really have to focus on. >> one final one. in 2007-2008 we had great success largely because the sunni tribes came over to help us and i think on a grander level we need the sunni help like you are alluding to. our agreement with iran undermine the trust of the sunni countries because i think they fear iran as much as isis in some cases. have you seen the same trend? are there concerns about what we did the past two or three years with iran? have you seen it undermine our ability to work with our sunni friends? >> truthfully, congressman, i have. i have had sunni leaders and arab leaders tell me that same thing.
there is certainly a perception out there and as you know perception is truth in many quarters here. so that is why i think one of the key things we have continued to emphasize with our people and with our leadership is the importance of building and rebuilding trust with our partners in the region. these are -- they are difficult situations here. they are not all perfect but we have to -- i think it is better to be engaged with them and be their preferred partner and the impressions where get when talking with our partners in the region is they do prefer the united states and want to have a relationship with us. we ought to look at ways it take advantage of that moving forward. >> thank you very much and mr. chairman i yield back. >> mr. lamborne. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for the job you are doing and i am so glad you are
there especially given your past track record. when it comes to yemen, i am glad we are taking steps topo support our allies and friends in the area. when i have talked to people from the emirates their concern isn't isis. they are concerned but they are concerned about yemen and the iranian proxy war that is going on there. how do you evaluate what is going on with yemen? i know we had a tragic loss of life with the recent raid. and that is regrettable but i think it is important we support saudi arabia and the gulf states. i think it is overdue we are doing it. what are your perspectives on yemen? >> congressman, i think there are vital u.s.' interest at stake. we don't want yemen to be used
as a platform for attacks at home or around the globe and region. i am concerned about another contested maritime choke point in the region. that impacts the freedom of commerce and supports the global objectives here. i think we have to be very concerned about that. i think there are vital aspects of that. all of that is against the backdrop of the civil war you talked about here. you know, certainly we all understand the implications of becoming involved in those types of activities and if we don't chose to do militarily we have to look at ways we can try to move forward and try to resolve that situation. i do believe as long as that continues to boil that it will impact the ability for us to really focus on the other
principle interests we have in that part of the world. >> obviously everyone wants peace in the area and the fighting to stop but until that happens i think we have to take the side of our friends and allies. they are so concerned that iran is using the huti rebels as a proxy to destabie stabilize and ultimately come after them. i don't think we need to consider boots on the grund but as much as we can do with isr and things like that to support our friend and allies is critical. if you want to better address this in the closed section of the hearing, tell me more. but is there more we can do? >> there is. and i think this would be a really good topic in a closed session. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> mr. scaler. >> thank you. a quick follow-up on the yemen.
has the fighting there enhanced and undermine the reach and do you envision a long term presference the emirates and saudi arabiams in yemen and do their long-term objectives in yemen align with their own? >> before the civil war, it was my estimate we had a good focus on al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula. i believe al-qaeda had an opportunity to prosper and become stronger and resilient and continue to pursue their objectives so you have seen us renew our focus on that. we are doing that with variety of partners with the eau and saudi arabia among the principle
partners we are working with. with respect to long term presence that is probably a better question for them. i don't have insight into their strategic calculations but i think long-term commitment is usually necessary in most of these areas to usually change conditions. >> in syria, russia has doubled down on the long term commitment going back to the '50s. it seems russia and iran are in attack in syria. russia provides the air power and the iranians through hezbollah provide a lot of ground forces. do you see evidence of a broader regional alliance between russia and iran? if so, what are its manifestations? >> well i think there perhaps could be. i am not sure i see specific indications of that in other areas but certainly they are cooperating together. i think the implications of this
are things we have seen. we have seen russian jets operating out of iranian bases and certainly their cooperation together to proper up the regime and give them new life here is certainly an implication of that relationship there. i am very concerned about that. i think we should be concerned about that. i don't know we have great insight into what the russian long-term perspective is on that relationship. >> i too am concerned. i think the rise of the russian-iranian access is the biggest thing in the region related today the iran deal. returning egypt to a form of authoritarian behavior. can you comment on if you are
getting the cooperation you need from a military perspective in egypt? >> i think egypt is an extroidinarily important partner for us. they have had historically long term relationships and are important to them. they have been helpful in the sinai and helping address threats to the multi national force there. they were particularly responsive to our request for assistance there and have been very, very good partners there. you know, while we have had perhaps some differences politically with them, one of the things we have been able to maintain is a good military-to-military contact. i think from a centcom commander sta standpoint i look forward to continuing to build on that. >> would it be fair to say, the program and broader relationship we have with egypt is achieving its objectives?
>> well, i don't know. right now we do see instances where countries like egypt and others are reaching out and buying military hardware from other countries. i think it knows back to the discussion we had about fms. i think that program encompasses a lot of purposes and one of the principle ones is building capability with our partners especially capability that can be integrated with our capabilities so we can operate together. when we chose not to allow them to buy they will look other places for this. this doesn't help them because they get lesser systems, don't get sustainment, don't get the training, are stuck with stuff they fully can't use and it isn't integrated with us. i think fms and fmf are important programs that fit in across the region. >> thank you. i know it is on the edge of the
aor but afterwards maybe we can talk about the extent of the ypg affects our relationship with turkey. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield. >> i will add to points on the fmf discussion. number one, all our allies, virtually all, are very frustrated with the process. you talk about decisions. absolutely that is one thing. but then the process being so sluggish even if we decide it is in our interest to sell or provide equipment has even then it is a subject of frustration. so, our oversight investigation subcommittee is looking into this issue from our standpoint. i am hopeful a number of member on the foreign affairs committee looks at it from a state department standpoint. i think one of the earlier
points was reestablishing trust and i think that is important for this. mr. wilson. >> thank you. it is great honor to be with you. it is reassuring and i am grateful to the american people to hear your service. appreciate it as a member of congress and also appreciate it as a fellow veteran but particulary appreciate your service as a military dad. i always like to recognize your service has meant so much to our family. my oldest son served for a year field artillery in iraq, my second son was a navy doctor serving with the rangers and seals in iraq, my third son a signal officer served in egypt and our youngest son was an engineer in afghanistan. we certainly cover the centcom area of jurisdiction at all times we appreciate your leadership. i give credit to my wife for training these guys but thank you.
as the iraqi's security forces continue to make progress toward liberating mosul, what is the latest on the operation? what has been the keys to the iraqi's army success? >> thank you, congressman and on behalf of centcom we apriepreci all the contributions of team wilson there. turning to mosul, the iraqi security forces are making i think good progress. this has been an extroidinarily hard fight. it took hundred days to secure the eastern side of the city doing it at a cost of 490 killed and over 3,000 wounded. it is a price they paid for that. they very quickly were able to get themselves focused on western part of the city and they are now engaged in what we are seeing is a very, very difficult fight there. some of their elements are the
engaged in a dense urban area, much more complex, and much more favors the defender than it does the attacker so they have their hands full as they do in this. i would just note that the iraqi security forces, just so far in about 37 days, have sustained about 284 killed and a little over 1600 wounded in the western part of the city. the keys to success here have been -- i think the very close relationship they had with both use and coalition advise and assist teams and the ability for the iraqi security forces to come together. as you know, institutionally they have trouble. they have counter terrorism forces that answer to the counter terrorism director.
these are all separate mintries but they have a common commander in place among the different pillars of security here who really performs a very good i u intugrating fashion. they are operating much better in conjunction and in sync with each other and i think that has paid off in what has been a difficult, and will continue to be a difficult fight in the weeks and perhaps months ahead. >> it is so important and the american people need to know the city is over a million persons. the second largest city in the country of iraq and how important it is that it be liberated and the oppression the people must have faced in the last two years. it was so encouraging for all of us last week on the foreign affairs committee to have the
opportunity to be with prime minister who i met in baghdad last month. it is so impressive. and also the minister of defense high auly. that country has positive leadership to work with. you testified about russia's interest into the syria conflict. what is the latest on russia's intrusion into syria? >> as you know, they have been focused mostly on helping the regime accomplish some of their objectives in the western part of the country and i think they have been successful. i think russia has achieved many of the objectives they set out to pursue as they got in there. a government that is favorable to them, access to air fields, influence in the region. so i think they have accomplished that.
i think they have begun -- they are continuing to support regime forces now in this case as they fight isis so to the extent that they are doing that that is, i would admit helpful to what we are doing. i would share with you, congressman, that we do share a very congested air space with the russians. it is generally a professional exchange and we talk frequently to deconflict our operations in what is a very compressed air space over northern syria. that generally goes pretty well. we are looking to make that little more robust to ensure we continue our freedom of action here as we continue to pursue the campaign. >> thank you very much. >> general, thank you. as you can tell, members are
public service by america's cable television companies. it brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. tonight on c-span2, the supreme court hears oral arguments in the case of la county versus mendez about the right to sue the police. then a discussion about us-asia relations. and then a u.n. envoy talks about peace efforts in the syrian war. and then relations between europe and russia with the secretary general of nato later on tonight. the supreme court recently heard oral argument in the case of los angeles county versus mendez which centers on when citizens can sue the police. the homeless couple won a $4