tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN April 7, 2015 9:31am-12:01pm EDT
totally naive belief that the truth does ultimately come out. sooner or later, it does bubble up. sometimes it takes a long time, but i was comfortable that you know not everybody could be counted on to lie. >> what mysteries did you have about the whole watergate story? what didn't you know that$>i@ip r(
numbers that might be interesting, contributions from people, and he said see if there are particularly any from castro and cuba from mcgovern, but they were looking for anything o'brien might have used to embarrass him. here's one of the interesting things about watergate. so much credence is given to the fact that how could they be so stupid and foolish? well, they were just that stupid and foolish. and they can't believe it%z@s)íeekógñú but=5+2% it was apparent, readily apparent, within you know, immediately. first you look at what necessary did at the ellsburg break-in. it was stupid and bungled as what happened at the watergate. it was james bond stuff, where they thought -- how could you walk in with an army of people to do what cat burglars normally do if you're working for a
foreign espionage operation? >> when you discussed with mcgruder before his-- before his grand jury testimony, you talked to him. some people used the word coached him. did he tell you what happened? >> absolutely. absolutely. i didn't have to coach jeb. what he wanted to do with me, which they at one point tried to claim was my suborning his perjury. it wasn't. i said, the only thing i'll do jeb, is tell you the kind of questions you'll get asked by the prosecutors. i don't even care about your answers, i don't want to hear your answers. but that's what i did with him i gave him sort of a drilling as to the sort of things he could anticipate he would be asked. >> and he told you that mitchell had ordered it. >> he told me it was very clear -- he told me that within days after the break-in. >> and he didn't say that haldeman had ordered it? >> no. he thought that stron might be aware, but haldeman hadn't
ordered it. >> and stron never told you he was aware of it did he? >> no. stron always to the contrary said that he -- he said while it looks terrible because i'm all around it, i actually didn't know what they were going to do. >> but he knew generally that there was an espionage? >> he knew generally, yeah. >> now, mitchell ultimately owned up to it didn't he? >> late in the game. when i had broken rank, i start dealing with the prosecutors in early april where i had my lawyer go down and start talking to them and say you've got a very unhappy witness. it's my feeling i can convince -- if the white house knows i'm going to break rank, i, at this time, for example -- particularly with haldeman. i feel haldeman is the kind of
straight honorable guy that rather than let the president go down, he'll stand up and account for himself what he did right what he did wrong. erlichman i'm not so sure about but i'm sure that if the two of us go and mitchell go then it will pull it away from nixon and nixon may survive. i'm not out to nail nixon initially. it's only when they decide to go to war with me that i say you picked the wrong guy and i'm ready to do battle. >> when do you decide they've gone to war with you? >> when they put out a statement that intimates that. i never talked to the press when i was in the white house refused to. never leaked -- never did during the entire watergate time i'm a witness, either.
i later learned, years later that one of my lawyers did so much to my chagrin, which charlie, my principal lawyer and i, had suspected. but did he it without my authority and i was able to testify for the senate that i suspected who was leaking this, but i couldn't tell if it was coming from the prosecutors or my lawyer or what have you. i don't talk to the press. but, anyway i did -- while i was still in the white house erlichman had issued a statement that ziegler had forced me to have my secretary call the key papers to issue a statement saying they think that i'll be their scapegoat. they picked the wrong guy. >> and when does mitchell talk to you about -- >> late april, when i'm dealing with the prosecutors and i've told mitchell that i'm going to -- anybody i had any respect
for, i would give them an eyeball to eyeball. here's what i'm going to do here's why i'm going to do it ears what i hope will happen, i know you're not going to like it, i regret that we all have to account for ourselves because we've made terrible mistakes and it's time to clean this up. as a result of that, mitchell arranges a meeting with haldeman. actually i'm at camp david at the time this first comes ñixdkofáup. i'm at camp david and mitchell asked that i come down from camp david and meet with him and mcgruder, because my testimony is different -- when jeb had talked to me on the telephone and said, you know, here's what mitchell and i told the grand jury, which i had no idea that there had only been one meeting in mitchell's office with liddy and the other one had been canceled, and i said well that
wasn't true. he said, you knew he was asking jeb. well, i didn't know what his testimony was going to be and that was stupid. they said, how will you testify? i said when did you meet on liddy's plans, i will tell them exactly when i met. this created a first problem for mitchell. >> were they going to try to say that liddy did this all by himself, that there wasn't a second meeting that had never been authorized? >> yes. that's what they had done initially. mitchell and mcgruder had both testified in the first grand jury that resulted in the trial of -- in the conviction of liddy, hunt and the cuban americans and mccord. so my testimony differs with theirs, and i'm called down over to haldeman's office, and he says, john wants to meet with you. why don't you guys go meet in chapin's office, which is empty,
because dwight chapin had left then. so we did. and i explained exactly, you know, what i was going to do. i said, i'm not going to lie for anybody. it's going to come out. you better get down there and clean it up sooner rather than later. tell them you had foggy memories, whatever you tell them, i don't know. and mitchell was very unhappy with it. and i said, john i've never asked you -- talking about the third meeting which i learned about later where he had actually approved -- where mcgruder had said he approved liddy liddy's plans. i said, i never asked you if you approved liddy's plans. and he said, well i did. he was putting even more pressure on me to lie for him. i testified that way about that meeting before the senate. haldeman denied it. or haldeman didn't really add anything to it. when haldeman years later
published his diary, he had recorded that when i met with mitchell, mitchell to his surprise after he had stonewalled him right after the break-in, that when haldeman had asked him again if he indeed had approved liddy's plans, mitchell had acknowledged to haldeman, as he recorded in the diary, that he had done so. which was pretty solid cooperation. it's a contemporaneous note. >> you never saw richard nixon again after -- >> never did. i wouldn't have had any problem with it but he would have. just his personality, that would have been difficult. and the memoirs are kind of curious. he at one point says how much he likes me and respects me in the memoirs, but then he said i lied before the senate, and the problem is that he had lied more than i had. well, this is when they were nitpicking and using minor
problems in my getting one thing on one date wrong with another date which -- >> you in "blind ambition," you give the impression that the president's own knowledge about watergate is always shifting. he knows there is a cover-up and is engaged in it but that he's forgetting things. is it just to put it on the record that you have to remind him, or do you think somehow he's not fully processing everything that's going on? >> i think it's a little bit of gii+g@ww r(t&háhp &hc% both. i think there is times he clearly knows things he is not telling me about. for example, in one conversation, i tell him about the firebombing of the brookings where i had flown out to california and you know, turned that break-in and firebombing off. and he absolutely says nothing about it.
well years later i discovered recordings of him literally pounding on the desk demanding that okbreak-in. so, you know that isn't something new to him at that point, so he just lets it pass, he doesn't react to it. he claims that the first time he learned about the ellsburg break-in is from me in one of my conversations. i think it's about the march 17th conversation. that's hard for me to believe, that i'm the first one that told him about that. that's the real true core of the reason that the cover-up is going on. i don't see that he doesn't see that's how it implicates erlichman and haldeman themselves, while the watergate only implicates richard.
>> tell us about the implication. >> that was aalç that was the 17th. he tells me that erlichman and haldeman have given him letters that he can just have and that he needs them of their resignations so they're ready to resign, and he said he would like the same from me. well, i took one scan at the letters and they are in essence, confessions. and i said to the president i said, well let me take these and look at them and i'll come back with you with another draft of something for you. what i now know today is that erlichman had prepared the letters, and after my meeting with him haldeman come in the other door and said well i
really socked it to dean. it was just the opposite. i was really surprised that the leader of the western world backed down as quickly as i backed him down on that. >> when did you begin to view the president as an adversary? >> not until after the -- i broke rank with the prosecutors when it was clear, you could tell from the internal operations after he had the benefit of what i was testifying about, there were growing efforts at that time to start publicly discrediting him. >> this is in early april. >> no, this is probably in may at this time. and by the time you get to may 22nd when the may 22nd statement, which was kind of to me -- this is when he was going to lay out everything he knew when he knew it. and while he doesn't directly attack me he makes claims like
i'm the first one that told him on the 22nd and lays out a scenario of events that just makes it clear he's going to go toe to toe with me on my version versus his version. >> because he's already asked for your resignation. you've resigned already by then. >> oh yeah. >> how long did you spend in prison? >> believe it or not, i never went to prison. i'm one of the few who -- particularly since i confessed, i didn't -- i pleaded guilty. i was initially sentenced to one to four years by sirika, but i was in the witness protection program. and i was sent to a facility -- a witness protection facility outside of washington at an old deserted army base, fort holliberg. every day i was driven -- literally from the time of my senate testimony, before my senate testimony special prosecutor cox had received some
pretty good intelligence that the fbi had that there were a number of death threats out for me. and they asked me if i would going into the witness protection program because they wanted to keep the government's star witness alive. sam dash also was aware of other threats, and he counseled charlie -- i really didn't want it. i figured if somebody wants to get you, they're going to get you. but i agreed to it at that time and had them with me for a year, almost you know. and so when it came time to start serving, the prosecutors wanted me to surrender just before the trial so i was there. but rather than going to a jail i was at a witness protection facility. actually, some of the other witnesses who were serving hard time if you will colson and mcgruder were brought to this witness protection program as well, and i did 120 days there.
almost every day i was driven into washington wore a suit and jacket every day, spent time before the trial in the prosecutors' office. then about a week before my testimony, i stopped going into the office to just sort of have a break before i testified so they couldn't say they were influencing my testimony. after my testimony, jim neal wanted me right back in the courthouse in the room the special prosecutors were occupying because particularly as they prepared cross-examination, they didn't have computers then. i was their computer for dates, information, reactions. so i was determined, once i started on this road, to do everything i could in my power to unravel it. >> how did you feel -- you had worked with these people. >> bad. it was not pleasant. but i told them as i say, everybody -- i went to mitchell i went to @9!k1fçrxw"haldeman to
old kroeg, i said this is very painful, but it's the only way it's going to end. that's the way it did end. i should say i certainly included nixon. that was the conversation on the 15th in which i say -- it was probably the most interesting tape of all my tapes. it was a fairly long session. >> it sounds as if you had personal conversations with most of these men with the exception of president nixon afterwards. >> curiously, i ran into haldeman when he was working for a fellow by the name of murdoch a developer here in los angeles and we were going to have lunch. we never did. we had a nice exchange in the hall. i was coming down an elevator and he was getting on, and i was seeing somebody else in the building. we just had a brief reunion and we just never did, and next thing i knew, he had stomach
cancer and passed away. erlichman i first ran into, and we shared the same publisher in new york and when i later filed a lawsuit over some defamation over my role in particularly dragging my wife into watergate, i deposed erlichman because he was helping that cause. colson and i buried the hatchet when he showed up at holliburton and i was there. he sort of apologized for what i tried to do. he said, you knew, john, about these things more than i did, which was probably true. but he was up to his eyeballs and he was indicted for both the ellsburg break-in as well as for watergate. and in looking at some of the
memos in the prosecutor's office, it's clear they were also considering a number of perjury charges against him in addition to that when he pleaded and they created a unique that's sort of an obstruction of justice and the relationship to the elsburg case. so he can -- he still claims to this day he really didn't know as much as he did about watergate. but he and i, you know, i -- i was surprised at some of the cheap shots he's taken notwithstanding his newfound, now it's matured christian beliefs. and we've exchanged mail a couple times on that. >> have you interacted with jim before his recent illness? >> i've seen jeb over the years chatted with him. friendly. have a nice rapport with him. i wasn't particularly close to jeb. the people i was, you know, alex butterfield is probably the person i see the most who i knew then.
>> you don't agree with jeb's recent testimony that the president and haldeman ordered the break-in? >> i was around when jeb first broke that story for a documentary he was working on. i participated in the documentry with somebody on camera, as well. and i don't know how mitchell could have the phone to his ear, and jeb could hear the president approve to mitchell or tell him to go ahead with the program. i just don't know how you do that. and i don't know why jeb would have never shared that with somebody along the way so as i say, i've always had difficulty. you know if he believes it you know, i don't doubt that he believes it. but i'm not sure whether it's recovered memory that might have gotten distorted. i've always been very suspicious of memory. my own included. while i was able to testify to great detail before the senate
and repeat that testimony many times, it was refreshed recollection. because by the process of preparing testimony. but who knows what influences shape our memories. and so eyewitness testimony is typically the worst. >> well, were you noted for having a good memory as a kid? >> i've never had -- i've always had -- i've been a great crammer all my life. could read and retain. >> last question, what do you remember of august 9th, 1974? where were you? >> i had had -- i had had two wisdom teeth pulled that day and was like a chipmunk and watched those proceedings with a little extra throbbing in my throat. it was sad. it was a sad day. i thought it was to me one of nexten's really most eloquent decisions because he saved the country a lot of agony. the decision, one, to turn over the tapes when the court order.
because he theoretically could have said i regret that i have to deny the court, i am a constitutional coequal i don't believe they have the power. i happen to have the army. they don't have anybody to enforce their action. but he did. he willingly complied with it, and of course he was out a few days later. that ses ig nation spared the impeachment trial which would have been -- i certainly wasn't looking forward to it. i would have been the key witness in the proceeding. so tható[hucdq÷ obviously one of the most difficult decisions, and one of his great decisions. >> with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span, and the senate on c-span2, here on c-span3 we complement that coverage by showing you the most relevant congressional hearings and public affairs events. and then on weekends, c-span3 is the home to american history tv with programs that tell our nation's story. including six unique series, the
civil war's 150th anniversary. visiting battlefields and key events. american artifacts. touring museums and historic sites to discover what artifacts reveal about america's past. history bookshelf. with the best-known american history writers. the presidency looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief. lectures in history with top college professors delving into america's past. and our new series, reel america featuring archival government and educational films from the 1930s through the '70s. c-span3. created by the cable tv industry. and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter. each night this week at 9:00 p.m. eastern conversations with a few new members of congress. >> when you raised your hand and took the oath of office, what were your mom and dad thinking? >> know, i knew -- i knew my mom would be crying. and my dad was proud.
and it was funny, my dad is 22 years old. and he showed up to the capitol. he usually walks with a cane. and he showed up, and he didn't have his cane. and i said dad, do i need to -- do i need to send someone to your hotel to get your cane? and he goes -- straightens up real stiff and he says, i'm in the capitol. i don't need a cane today. and he walked without his cane for the entire day. and so, i know they were super proud. >> five newest members of congress talk about their careers, and personal lives and share insight about how things work on capitol hill. join us for all their conversations, each night at 9:00 eastern on c-span. irs commissioner john koskinen was recently at the national press club to speak about the agency's operations, and its future. commissioner koskinen has headed the irs for a little more than a year. he's introduced at this event by national press club president john hughes.
good afternoon and welcome. my name is john hughes. i'm an editor for bloomberg first word the breaking news desk here in washington and president of the national press club. the club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. we are committed to our profession's future through programs such as this. and we work for a free press worldwide. for more information visit our website press.org. to denature to programs offered through our club's journalism institute, visit press.org/institute. on behalf of our members worldwide, i'd like to welcome our speaker and those of you attending today's event. our head table includes guests of the speaker as well as working journalists who are club members. members of the public attend our lunches so applause you hear is not necessarily evidence that
journalistic objectivity is lacking. i would also like to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences. you can follow the action on twitter. using #npclunch. after our guest's speech we'll have a question and answer period. i will ask as many questions as time permits. now it's time to introduce our head table. i'd like each person to stand briefly as their name is announced. from your right, mark, senior associate editor for kiplinger washington editors and treasurer of the national press club. marilyn gewacs senior business news editor for national public radio and a member of the npc board of governors. michelle salceda desk editor for the associated press. rosemary marcus director for research analysis and statistics for the irs and a guest of the speaker. gale degeorge, enterprise editor
for the economy team at bloomberg news. pat koskinen wife of our speaker and guest of our speaker. jerry srmiski chair of the speaker's v bureau chief for the buffalo news and former president of the national press club. skipping over our speaker for a moment, robert cardin, freelance writer, and the npc speaker's committee member who arranged today's program. thank you, bob. eric smith, an irs spokesman, and guest of the speaker. mark hamrich, washington bureau chief for bankrate.com, and former president of the national press club. kevin kevin mckormally. mark chef a reporter with investment news and vice chair of the npc, publications committee. [ applause ]
well, welcome to tax season. americans have 16 days to get their federal returns filed. but for our speaker, every day is tax day. john koskinen is commissioner of the internal revenue service, where he oversees the collection of more than $3 trillion each year. he has been on the job for about 15 months. how has it gone so far? i think he'll be telling us. during the first half of his tenure he testified frequently on capitol hill. questions revolved around allegations that the irs targeted conservative groups to deny them tax exempt status. when he wasn't testifying, he was wrestling with budget cuts imposed by congress. the irs audited 0.57% of businesses in 2014.
that was the lowest rate since 2005. according to statistics released just this month. money being used to enforce an implement the affordable care act has tributed to reduced staff on the telephone help desk. at one point, koskinen said agency belt tightening may result in a, quote, miserable 2015 filing season. koskinen, though, is no stranger to challenges. he was nonexecutive chairman of freddie mac from 2008 to 2012 and he was the acting ceo in 2009. his varied career has included stints as deputy director at the office of management and budget, city administrator for the city of washington, d.c., overseer of the federal government's y2k efforts, and president of the u.s. soccer foundation. now, no amount of irs trouble is going to put koskinen in a bad
mood this week. he is a super fan of the duke basketball team that is appearing in the ncaa final four this coming weekend. ladies and gentlemen, please extend a warm national press club welcome to john koskinen. [ applause ] >> that was such a good and thorough introduction that that's my speech and i'm ready to take questions.; i appreciate the warm welcome, i'm delighted to be back here at the national press club. i was intrigued as i was last year by the desserts. my dessert is a cookie that seems to me not quite the image i'd like. it's a dollar with wings flying away. next to me, though was a more imaginative cookie, it's a 1040 form. now we're very flexible at the
irs, but you cannot file your returns on your cookie. now i should clear the record. there was some indication in a news period that i was a superfan of duke and that i would no doubt regale you with stories of this year's final four the way i did last year. to clear the record up, last year, i did note my affiliation with duke and apologized for the fact that we had ruined everybody's brackets by not quite making it at the final four and not making it be on the first game. i thought that if i ruined your brackets, it was, you know, my fault. this year, if we ruined your brackets, you are going to get no sympathy from me, because you should have had us going at least this far. in any event, the irs commissioner isn't always the hottest ticket in town, because everyone knows the subject is going to be taxes.
i really do want to thank the press club for allowing me to have this return engagement. i promise to stifle normally my impulse to remind everyone as a public service announcement that april 15 is just around the corner. although it is. i hope everyone is doing well with their taxes, and i would remind you that the complexity of the tax code is not my fault. i'm now, as noted, leaving the irs, and i have been for 15 months. it's certainly been an interesting time, to say the least. and has led me to conclude the next time, as i've told several of you i'm going to pay more attention to the fine print of the contract. especially the part about hearings running into the night about no breaks. today i want to share with you some observations and insights about the irs. the problems of the past and how we've dealt with them. the challenges of the present, and our strategies for meeting them. and the possibilities for the future and what we would like to be able to do for taxpayers.
first i would like to talk a little bit about what i've have learned about the irs in the past 15 months. when people hear irs, they usually think of tax enforcement. a letter in the mail or a knock lp on the door. well we are the nation's tax collector, that is not the whole picture. besides enforcement, and other big part of our job is to help taxpayers fulfilled all tax obligations as quickly and easily as possible. when i arrived at the irs it surprise me to learn the more than one third of our employees work in taxpayer service. for example, we run one of the world's largest customer service-9gufçfy phone operations. after seeing everything our employees do to keep the taxes are running in to help taxpayers, i'm no longer surprised by anything that they do. let me give you a few numbers to show you what i mean courtesy of our excellent research division. the leader of that group, rosemary marcus, has already been introduced you and is here today on the dais.
she will be retiring shortly, and i want to thank her for more than three decades of wonderful public service at the irs, the bureau of economic analysis and the congressional budget office. consider some of these breathtaking numbers. this year, the irs has already processed more than 90 million tax returns from individual taxpayers. on the way to an expected total of 150 million. we have issued more than 70 million refunds to individual taxpayers so far. last year the refunds reprocessed topped $330 billion. put another way, that is more than the gdp of entire nations, chile, portugal and my own personal finland. given my finnish ancestry, i get better press coverage in finland than i sometimes get here. but that's another story. this year the average refund check was nearly $2900. that's real money going into people's wallets and back into
the economy. in a way i suppose you can blame the irs at this time of the year for the annual surge in loud commercials selling furniture, flooring and cars. all in pursuit of the biggest check many people will see all year. also thus far in 2015, the irs has assisted more than 24 million taxpayers who called our telephone hotline. we helped more than 1.3 million people who visited our 350 taxpayer assistance centers around the country. and our website, irs.gov continues to grow more popular with more than 230 million visits already this year. our electronic tracking tool -- where is my refund -- is more popular than ever with more than 170 million hits this year already. but there's more. we routinely help people who are victimized by identity theft, disputed tax liability, or face some form of hardship. in 2014, our appeals officers assisted more than 100,000
taxpayers while the taxpayer advocate service provided help to more than 200,000 taxpayers. our employees with special identity theft training work with victims to resolve more than 800,000 cases of tax related identity theft. and our tax collections continued as well. as noted, the economy improved in 2014, the irs collected a total of $3.1 trillion in federal revenues. as noted that's $3.1 trillion, not billion. we have been working hard to improve our operations, and one interesting figure that comes out of this is the cost of collecting this revenue. according to statistics gathered by the oecd, the irs spends less than half the amount to collect the dollar of revenue than the tax of ministrations of germany, france, england, canada, and australia. i could go on if there's any place that has numbers, if the irs.
we only have an hour, i won't. i hope this gives you a better idea of what the irs does your in and year out. i also want to mention the people behind these numbers. none of the work i just described could happen without the dedication, professionalism, and expertise of our employees. my admiration for them continues to grow. i have never seen such a dedicated workforce in my entire career. the smooth filing season we're experiencing is a great testimonial to those employees. they've achieved an amazing degree of success when you consider the challenge of this filing season was to build into our system the back end of the affordable care act, the front end of the foreign account tax compliance act, and the tax extenders passed in december. we often hear from people only when things go wrong, so i think it would be help to remind you of something significant that is going right. a great example of the caliber of our workforce is also sitting up here on the dais with us. eric smith who was introduced to you has spent nearly four
decades at the irs working with reporters. helping them put the complexities of the tax code into plain english. he shows no signs of slowing down. his dedication to public services what you find with our employees in locations all across the country. i am pleased to be able to publicly thank eric for his years of dedicated service. i wanted to give you this picture of the irs today because @05xj.ijeátáh!een obscure is pú0od(by the intense focus on the problems of the past. for awhile now you've heard a lot about those problems. overspending on conferences. making some ill advised videos and of course inappropriate scrutiny of applications from groups seeking social welfare status. the criticisms of these areas is absolutely deserved. but what gets lost is that these mistakes occurred several years ago and we have taken concrete steps to address them. in the tax exempt area, we acted on all of the inspectors general's recommendations to fix the management problems they
identified nearly two years ago. these problems should not have happened and we continue to work to make improvements to ensure that they never happen again. as for conferences, spending has been reduced by 80%. since 2010 when the conference took place that was the subject of all the scrutiny. not only that, but we require all conferences costing above $20,000 to get prior approval from the irs commissioner. otherwise known as me. and for any expense over $50,000, planners have to get my approval and the approval of the treasury department. and for videos, many of the ones we are making these days are aimed at helping taxpayers. the irs channel on youtube has more than 100 videos with nearly 9 million views to date. make no mistake, that we understand we will never compete with taylor swift, jimmy fallon, or funny animal videos, but our videos do help on very difficult tax topics.
the subjects run the gamut from understanding how to claim various tax credits, to protecting yourself from identity theft and avoiding tax z u÷cn@w3 scams. what's more, the much criticized videos from years ago could not be made today. any irs division seeking to make a video must receive prior approval from an executive review board the agency created more than two years ago. not to miss anything, people mayfálp .ra] have listed to justify or budget we no longer pay performance awards to employees who willfully fail to pay their taxes. i would note in passing that the tax compliance rate of irs employees is over 99%. we're working to ensure as well that no former employee with a serious performance problem is rehired. i would stress that again, while these problems were important and needed to be addressed, and deserved our attention the remedies we have applied we think will keep them from happening again and the problems
do come from a prior era. we have addressed them, so we think they want happen again, and it really does make it a new day at the irs. it's not the irs of 2010, 2011, or even 2012. i can't guarantee we want have any problems in the future, no one could, since we still have 87,000 employees who deal with 150 million individual taxpayers and administer the world's most collocated tax code. but i can assure you that our commitment is to find problems quickly, to fix them promptly, and to be transparent in the process. so how are we doing that? in the past, problems were not found fast never corrected right away. we are building a culture within the irs that is focused on risk management and encourages the flow of information from the front lines through the organization and encourages every employee to think of themselves as a risk manager, responsible for reporting problems as soon as they see
them. employees are beginning to believe that i mean it when i say the bad news is good news. xdçóvpfá?; we don't shoot the messenger, we reward him or her, and the only problem we can't fix is the problem we don't know about. in trying to build for the future, one of the challenges we face involves our workforce, which has changed dramatically over the years. the workforce issues facing the irs are some of the challenges facing other government agencies. for years we've heard concerns about the brain drain, confronting the federal workforce. as large numbers of workers head toward retirement. the irs has been dealing firsthand with that issue. the problem is aggravated by our steadily declining employee numbers which in turn are driven by our budget cuts. the high water mark of the agency's workforce in terms of size was in 1992, since then we have lost more than 30,000 full-time employees and we are at the lowest level since the a5ñso÷çó÷lz-pdxd early 1980s. the drop has been accelerating between 2010 in 2014, the irs
lost over 13,000 employees. these are just positions in washington or one or two other cities. every state in the country now has fewer irs employees than they did a few years ago. meaning fewer people to help with taxpayer service and enforcement. we expect to lose, through attrition, another 3000 people perhaps more, by october 1st of this year. the resulting composition of the irs workforce also presents a challenge. the problem is simple -- given my age i think i can diplomatically say our workforce is maturing at a rapid rate. as highly skilled employees retire, we need to replace them with the next generation of talented dedicated people. that is becoming harder and harder to do, in large part as a result of the hiring freeze have been forced to maintain for the last several years to absorb the significant cuts to our budget since 2010. more than 70% of the budget is devoted to employee costs, so we had no choice but to constrain
our hiring of new employees. as a result, a portion of our workforce over 50 years of age has been growing rapidly during the last several years. today, more than half of our employees are in that age group and we estimate that by next year, more than 25% of the irs workforce will be eligible to retire. by 2019, that number will be over 40%. meanwhile, the number of irs employees under 30 years old has been steadily declining and is now less than 30% of our workforce. we have only about 1900 employees out of the 87,000 under age 30, and about half of them are only part-time. we have only 650 employees out of 87,000 who are 25 years old or younger. essentially, the irs is facing its own version of the baby bust. the situation makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the irs to properly develop the next generation of leaders. we estimate that by next year
41% of our frontline managers, and 61% of our executives will be eligible to retire. with so many departures go knowledge and expertise that we will find difficult or impossible to replace. especially if our severe underfunding continues. for anyone who questions whether he really is a new day at the irs, let me share another piece of information with you about our workforce. since october 2011, 101 irs executives, or 46% of them have left. çómy of the leaders of our agency have left. some of our business divisions have experienced an even higher rate of turnover. a good example is our small business self-employed division, where about 80% of the current leadership team is new since the end of 2010. the changes are so significant throughout the agency that you could hang a sign out at the front of the headquarters saying under new management. tax issues aren't simple, and
neither are the core skills we need to run the irs. for our technical positions, it's not like hiring people for a fast food restaurant or grocery store. when we hire a tax auditor, it takes years for them to reach full productivity. it can take even longer for those auditing the largest most complyicated corporate cases that involve complex issues spanning industries and national boundaries. it's one of the reasons we decided even in this budget environment that we have to continue to train our employees to ensure they are as proposed as possible to deal effectively with taxpayers and their questions and problems. the negative impact of the budget situation on our workforce are generally overlooked in our funding discussions, and yet these issues are critical for the future of the agency and one that will only grow in importance in the months and years ahead. as i've noted along the way my term will end before the true magnitude of this problem is visible to outsiders. it would be irresponsible to just slide along without
beginning to address the situation. we have a number of initiatives under way to deal with the specific challenge. with regard to the loss of insights and experience when employees retire, we initiated an agencywide knowledge s7 áagfswcvf÷57b"l management program designed to capture, to the extent we can, lessons learned along the way by employees at all levels of the organization. a large business and international division is leading the way in this area and our human capital organization is coordinating similar activities across the agency. in addition, the office of personnel management has approved a phased retirement program, designed to have a retiree spend time transferring their expertise to ongoing employees. we're still studying now how to fit that program into operations that don't have the resources to support the activity. with regards to the lack of younger employees in the workforce i've advised our senior leadership that this is the last year that we will deal with budget constraints by freezing or severely limiting
new hires in the agency. we have interesting and exciting career opportunities to offer young people beginning their 6z1pw" é@ careers, and we need to encourage more of them to join the agency. in the days gone by, the irs had a reputation of being a great place to start your career, because of everything you learned that made you attractive to accounting firms, businesses, and law firms. many of those who started with the irs and assumed they would move on after what sometimes was viewed as a postgraduate education discovered the challenge and satisfaction of the work here and stayed throughout their careers. we need to restore our reputation that regard. but i'm not here to talk just about the problems we face. we are also working to move th,s@leex
of a taxpayer bill of rights. we believe this is a cornerstone document that will provide clearer help to taxpayers. the taxpayer bill of rights consists of ten fundamental rights that every taxpayer should be aware of, such as the right to receive quality service from the irs, the right to paying no more than the correct amount of tax, and the right to retain representation. and when a taxpayer has a disagreement with the service. our employees believe in these rights and are doing their best to advise taxpayers about them and to support them in their day-to-day activities. given the complexity of the tax code, the majority of taxpayers these days seek professional help with their taxes. last year, more than half used a professional preparer. the irs has been taking steps to help taxpayers know where and how to get the help they need, and as part of that effort, we launched a new directory of tax irs.gov earlier this year. for the first time, taxpayers
could use this directory to find a tax professionals with credentials and qualifications in their local area. we're also trying new ways of doing business in the taxpayer assistance centers. we remain deeply concerned about helping people at these walk-in sites given our resource imitations. we are aware of taxpayers lining up outside some of our offices many hours before they open. you would think, in fact, we must be selling something like the apple watch when you look at the lines. this isn't a news story this year, it's just gotten worse and we're working to find a better approach for taxpayers. to help cut down the long lines, one approach we're trying is simple. why not let people make appointments in advance, rather than wait in line for hours. we began doing this at ten centers in february, and recently added 34 more. if this works, we will consider expanding the approach to all of our taxpayer assistance centers next year. we already discovered one major advantage of this new system. the irs employee setting the
appointment time is often able to determine what the taxpayer's problem or question is and as a result, what information the taxpayer needs to bring with them to their appointment. this saves the taxpayer the aggravation of having to make a return trip later. the pilot program is a great example of a commonsense change c'ce1t(q that increases the level of customer service we can provide while minimizing needless, pointless burdens on taxpayers. another good example of a new initiative is in the tax exempt area where 15 months ago we had a backlog of applications from groups seeking status as private nonprofit organizations. those applications come in at the rate of 70000 a year, and at one point the backlog exceeded 60,000. this kept groups in limbo for months or years. so our tax exempt organization group got to work trying to come up with ways of tackling the problem before it got further out of hand. these efforts led to new processes and the development of a simpler application form for
small groups, the 1023-ez. that form debuted last year, the result is that our inventory of applications is now current. that's a huge accomplishment and a change that's helping all applicants, including larger organizations, completing the longer, more complicated forms. these are just a few of the new,á innovative initiatives we have been working on to help taxpayers and improve tax administrations. all of these efforts are important, but we want to do still more. in the time remaining, i want to talk about the irs of the future, and some of the things we're looking at before -- but before we do that, i would like to talk more generally, just for a minute about our current budget and technology challenges. by now, some of you, especially my newfound friends in the press, have to wonder why i don't get tired of talking about the subject of our budget. the simple answer is the underfunding of the agency is the most critical challenge facing the irs today. as a serious ramifications of
five years of budget cuts become increasingly visible, i don't want anyone to say that we didn't warn you in advance. so consider this your warning. in case you missed it, the irs budget for fiscal 2015 was set at 10 point $9 billion, which is $1.2 billion less than five years earlier. the irs is now the lowest level of funding since 2008. znó& ñ@
we are also seeing a noticeable negative impact on taxpayer service. this year we were forced to substantially reduce hiring of extra seasonal help we usually bring in during the filing season. as a result, the phone level of service is now below 40%. that means that six out of every 10 people who call can reach a customer service representative. this truly is an abysmal level of service. it's troubling to me that these cuts prevent us from fully improving and modernizing our i.t. infrastructure and operations support. the situation hurts taxpayers and the entire tax community. we are operating with an antiquated system that is increasingly at risk as we continue to fall behind in upgrading both hardware infrastructure and software. despite more than a decade of upgrades in the agency's core business systems, we still have very old technology running alongside the more modern systems. we have many applications
running when jfk was president. about the only good thing you can say about them is that the code they use has been out of date for so long that it has the unintended effect of creating problems for any hackers who might try to figure out how the system actually works.oçqi]+[t(d but this ancient technology bsf compromises the stability and reliability of our information systems and leave this open to more system failures and potential security breaches. while irs systems have held up well, it's a continuing area of major concern for us. in this era of daily headlines of major companies and institutions seeing security breaches. so there you have it. there is no doubt the irs has budget and i.t. challenges. but where does that leave us? will providing additional funding for the agency solve these problems? well funding would certainly help. i'm increasingly convinced that the irs needs to do more and take a different approach and one that doesn't just rely on
funding. as i told our appropriations committee in the last few weeks, the irs can't keep doing business in the old ways. if we get additional funding, we're not going to build the irs back to where was in 2010. we need to be looking forward to a new improved way of doing business. the world is changing, taxpayers are changing, and so too must the irs. we need to look at the future in a more comprehensive way, and consider how we can take advantage of the latest technology to move the entire taxpayer experience in a way that's more cost effective for the government. that's what we're doing. in particular, we are focused on how best to use our limited information technology resources for the benefit of the taxpayers. have a more complete online experience for all their transactions with the irs. the online experience should r give everyone confidence in knowing they can take care of their tax obligations in a fast, secure, and consistent manner. the goal is not unrealistic.
we are not trying to go to the moon. 1“ we are simply saying that people should expect the same level of service when dealing with the irs in the future as they has now with their financial institutions, their banks, brokerages, and mortgage companies. the idea is that taxpayers would have an account of the irs where they and their preparers can login securely, get all the information about their account, and interact with the irs as qi.qñfx dwm5cterjg(p&hc% needed. most things taxpayers need to do to fulfill their obligations could be done virtually and there would be much less need for in person help either by waiting in line at an irs assistance center or calling the irs. improving service to taxpayers in this way can also help us on the compliance side of the equation.thx.>[móú l1 o wwleed to be faster and smarter with a more modern system, the irs could identify problems. in tax returns, when a return is filed, rather than coming back to taxpayers years after the fact. while the meter is running on potential interest and penalties.
we want to interact with taxpayers as soon as possible on these issues so that they can be corrected without costly follow-up, contact or labor intensive audits. the up-front issue identification effort could also help in other areas as well such as the ongoing battle over the use of stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. we must provide greater security in the future. we need to find more ways to protect taxpayers' private information. at tax time we need to be sure we are interacting with the right person. improving identity authentication is a major goal going forward. we've already taken a number of steps in the identity theft area and the most recent occurred earlier this month when we held an unprecedented sit-down meeting with the leaders of the soft ware and tax industry and state tax administrators. we agreed to build a cooperative effort of the past into a new way to leverage this public-private partnership to help battle identity theft. we agreed to form three working groups to come up with short-term solutions to help
taxpayers in the next tax season and to work on longer-term efforts to protect the integrity of the nation's tax system. you could say that if i find it exciting to talk about the possibility of taxpayers being able to conduct all of their communications with the irs electronically, i may need to find a way to put a little more balance in my life. but do look forward to talking more about the future vision of the irs in the months ahead. many of our efforts to improve taxpayer service will take years to fully implement. our progress will be affected by many factors, including changes in the tax law, the continuing evolution of refund fraud, the demographics of our aging workforce. ,s$ñ and of course, how quickly we can deliver on this concept will depend on future levels of agency funding. but even with our constrained funding we are going to continue to find some funds to support these efforts to build toward the future, even at the expense of other areas of operations. otherwise, if we just wage a guerrilla style fight every year
through the continuing funding challenges, focusing only on the present, we'll wake up in five years and be no further ahead than where we are today. and, in fact we'll be five years farther behind. so it gives you an idea where the irs stands today. how we change from the past, where we want to go in the future. i took this job 15 months ago because i understand the critical role the irs plays in the lives of taxpayers in the fá collection of the revenues that fund the government. i know i speak for the thousands of professional, dedicated employees at the irs when i say that we are committed to continuing to do all we can to build for the future in the interest of serving the american taxpayer. i hope all of you filed your taxes now, and had a good experience. for those of you have been filed yet, remember the clock is ticking. and as noted you've got 16 days which means you now have the benefit of three public service announcements for the price of one. the irs serves all taxpayers, and therefore we also include in that group procrastinators.
if you can make the april 15 deadline, remember everyone can file for a six-month extension. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> thank you mr. koskinen. you talked about the budget cuts. if there are only so many people who can perform audits and resources for audits, how do you determine who gets audited? it would seem the people who owe the most money would be higher on the priority list but that is not always the case? >> for those of you not at the top of the food chain making a lot of money, do not rest comfortably that we're not coming after you, as well. our audits serve an important function, which is to have wçk?5úi%'(boky!áz taxpayers, as they pay their taxes, feel comfortable that everybody is paying their fair share. if you're trying to cut corners, we are going to notice that,
find it, and we will be unhappy about it. so we need to actually demonstrate our focus on taxpayers across the entire income spectrum. because tax repairs are very quzarj)1)qv will notice if they have taxpayers in certain income brackets who don't get audited very often or at all. and that will simply encourage people to take risks that they otherwise shouldn't take. so we have an -- every year we review our exam plan to see how to make it most effective. obviously, we do audit a higher percentage of people at the top the income stream and collect significant amounts of revenue from them. but i would stress that we always have and always will audit people across the entire spectrum. soúmí ; exam process slows down, because of the funding constraints the roulette wheel keeps turning and you don't want the little white ball handing on your number, because we won't be too happy about that. as we go.
i would also say and there has been a question raised how we select within that exam plan how we select returns for review. and that process is basically automatic. it's done by computer filters that look at returns and identify those that seem to have issues or questions in them. no individual in the irs can cause any taxpayer to be audited or reviewed. there are at a minimum, takes a group of three to take a look at any particular issue, but the vast majority of audits and exams are determined by a set of computer programs that don't know who they are looking at. i think it's important for all taxpayers to understand even with the limitations, we'll do over 1 million audits this next year. everyone should understand that that audit and when you hear from us by letter the first time, when you hear from us, it's because of something in your return. and i think taxpayers need to be comfortable. they're all going to get treated fairly no matter who in the same way, no matter who they are. no matter what political party
they belong to. no matter who they voted for in the last election. if you hear from us it's because of something in your return. and if someone else has that issue in their return, they're likely to hear from us, as well. >> with these budget cuts, is it easier to cheat? >> even in the best of days, you know, we have measures and we might be auditing 1% 1.2% of the entire population at the high end you know we may be auditing"ói r 20%. those percentages would cause you, at the 1% or 2% level to say it's 99 98 chances out of 100 that i won't be in the 2%.qnpnm7 í$1oyxd over time, as i said it's all done by computers.[v: so to the extent you start taking shortcuts that other people aren't takiñgua51pb÷ñámy@)póqwv to show up. as idf5%bxwwp:m7$ñorp agent once who said you know, we should and we do divide the world into those trying to be compliant and those trying to
avoid their taxes. if you're trying to be compliant, even if you have trouble paying, we'll work with you. we're anxious to help taxpayers. if you're actually trying to dodge your obligation to pay won't be very happy about xdkofú( w; and i think that's important for people to know, as well. >> as someone who is involved in implementing tax law and tax code, what would be the best thing that congress could do to improve the tax code? >> i always preface my answer by saying tax policy is the domain of the treasury department, the administration, and the congress. we are involved in tax administration. having said that, the best thing they could do would be simplify the tax code. it is beyond being impenetrable. i don't know how anybody understands all the ramifications of it. congressmen camp when he was chairman of the ways and means
proposal last year said the irs code is longer than the bible with none of the good news. i told him i would give him credit for that for a year and then i'm just stealing it as my own line. but clearly the burden on taxpayers, individually and corporate, by the tax code is makes no sense. so the best thing that congress could do and which we are happy to help on a technical basis, the policy issues are theirs. but on a technical basis, anything we could do to help simplify the tax code, we'd be delighted to do. >> on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most likely, how likely is it that we'll see comprehensive tax reform say, in the next five years, and along with that, somebody is asking about your relationship with paul ryan, the chairman of the house ways and means committee, and whether you'll be able to work with him in getting some tax reform done.
>> probably the best answer on the one to ten scale over five years is people who are working on this in great detail. i would simply that it's instructive that if you look in both the house and the senate at the number of individual congressmen and senators who have taken a position that tax reform is important, either for corporations or for corporations and individuals, as well you almost think there's a quorum there if you could pull them all together for it. i think obviously, as peoplec:@daz on the hill have said, if it doesn't get done this year, next year willtespbqcji: bád it's a presidential election year. but the question was over five years. i think the pressure is building from the public to do something about the complexity of the tax code. in particular i've spent some time internationally, i work with tax administrators, and commissioners around the world. on the international front, the progress is movingxd b97?hç?xx5 o
international companies. and the result of that is going to be that that is the first platform for the exchange internationally of tax information focused on individuals, the next move will be to get to country by country reporting. as you move in that direction, the complexities of our corporate tax code are going to come back to create great problems for corporations in this country. so i think the political pressure from individuals and corporations will build over the next five years. with regard to chairman ryan who is chairman of the ways and means committee, in the house who has been a vigorous supporter of tax reform, i've had good discussions with him. we are working with his staff trying top2t@+ support they need in this area. i think that again the tax policy issues, there are going to be discussions between the administration and the congress, but in terms7xs(u%1m9sr)]mnoufz:ñ the implementation -- implications of any policy change we already are having i think very positive discussions and stand ready with
both the house ways and means and the senate finance committee and chairman hatch who also has taken a very strong stance supporting tax simplification and tax reform. we stand ready to help them all. issue of targeting groups in a the 501 c three area based on political beliefs. changes that have been put in place. do you really believe from your position atop the agency that that issue isstrgrú dvw past, and what gives you confidence that this issue won't creep up again? >> it was actually as you said the use of improper criteria to screen companies -- organizations trying to get c-4 status. the reason i'm confident is that first we've taken all the recommendations thus far from the i.g. to provide better training, better review, of the entire process. as i said, i do think it's important to understand that
even the best controls don't self-execute. so it is important for every employee in the irs to feel as i said, it's their responsibility, and they're empowered to let us know when things aren't going the way we thought they should or the way they are supposed to go or the way we predicted they would go. the only way any organization, but certainly a large organization, can effectively function and deal with problems as they occur is if there is a free flow of information. and i am confident with the of our eo anything looks like it's creating a problem or is about to, that we'll hear from them the next time around and people understand it's important for that issue not to be raised just in the middle of the organization, it's important for everybody at the top, most especially the commissioner, to know about it. and i think there's been a rededication to the long-standing commitment of the irs to be involved in tax administration, not be involved in politics. the final recommendation of the
inspector general was that in fact, the quote facts and circumstances test used to sort through who is eligible to be a tax exempt organization, and not needs to be clarified and i've said from the start we need a process that's clear, fair to everyone, every organization that applies, and easy to administer. and we're working on that, as well. >> there's been interest in the issue of using private8# vs accounts, as government officials. have you ever discussed irs business on a private e-mail fá'lí1/=ñoláçu account or used a frieft e-mail server to store e-mails that are government records? you know, when this issue came up, how did you address this at the irs? did you, you know, do anything to make sure that people weren't using private e-mail for public discussion? >> the long-standing irs policy is employees are not to do business on their private e-mail
systems. we monitor our systems regularly for security purposes, and i discovered early, very early in my career when i was preparing testimony and i wanted to work at home, i sent the testimony home to my home commuters so i could print its out and edit it. within a couple of days i had a visitor from i.t. security noting that i had been sending a couple e-mailsd t;0lvpw3 my home computer. nay assumed, correctly, that i was actually trying to edit my testimony and they thereforeñiw3r-ti gave me a computer and printer for home from the irs so that i would have my account available to me at home, because, in fact our strong policyzvño)9ú do personal business on your personal e-mail account. back to the first part of the question, i have never -- other than sending the couple pieces of draft testimony to my e-mail account, i certainly never discussed irs business on my own personal account. i'm confident that we continue to enforce and remind people
about that policy across the agency. we have 87,000 people, does that mean no one is doing it? i can't guarantee that. but i can guarantee we are keeping a close watch on it, and if somebody is doing it, they'll hear from us pretty soon. >> several questions on cyber security and tax scams. a recent gao report reviewed irs' i.t. security and found a significant defishagesy in its financial reporting systems. how vulnerable are taxpayers because of the i.t. system? and if you could comment in general on how challenging it is to keep up with the scammers and if that kind of activity as it seems to be on the increase? >> the gao report which has been ongoing is about our financial systems, not individual taxpayer information. and that's not a security problem so much as we just need -- we have a complicated financial system because we process all of these funds and all of the activities and we're
working to correct that weakness. but it isn't just in our financial management side it's in the reporting of the funds that flow through the irs. it has nothing to do with the day in and day out processing of taxpayer information. as i said in my talk, it's a high priority for us to not only protect taxpayer information to do whatever we can to increase the ability of those security systems to ensure us that there won't be any breaches of taxpayer information. clearly, identity theft and refund fraud are an ongoing challenge for us. we have thrown almost 2000 people in jail over the last two or three years as we have increased significantly our policing of this area. so as i said we've gotten a lot of the amateurs off the street but we are clearly dealing with organized crime syndicates here and around the world. particularly one of the scams that has surprised me with its longevity was about a year ago we began to hear that there were
people on the phone calling people, impersonating irs agents and threatening people if they didn't immediately give up their personal information or make a payment, with jail, with criminal prosecutions, with seizure of their houses. we've tried to make it clear that as a general matter as i've said for the last year if you're surprised to be hearing from us, you're not hearing from us. that our way of contacting you is by letter. if we ever talked to on the phone, the last thing you'll overhear hear from an irs agent of any kind is threats that we are about to throw you in jail, unless you pay us immediately or put money into a particular account. now the good news about that the inspector general collects all of those reports and i get a weeklyhtfá tiru&á7j$i(us report from the i.g. while the number of reported calls is going up, the number of people who have fallen prey to the scam is down significantly as a percentage of those calls. but the i.g. has a record of over 400,000 reported scam phone calls. and that's obviously not all of
them. since a lot of people don't call. so it is part of our effort. whether it's youtube videos or information or tax tips to remind taxpayers of the way that people will try to take advantage of them. we put out last year and last couple years we put out the dirty dozen we called it of the tax scams. this year to try to get more visibility about that. terry in our group put them out one a week so we would get people focusing not only on people calling you, phishing expeditions where you get an e-mail and looks like an irs website. if you go up to the details you'll see it's not from the irs. people reaching out to try to get information from you that would allow them to steal your identity. there are unscrupulous tax preparers. we've said if anybody is ever doing your taxes says just sign the blank form and i'll take care of it for you you should go find another tax preparer quickly. it's an ongoing issue. this year our filters, thanks to ourm c57?pwm+eñ expenditure of some of our constrained resources on
improved data theft are catching more refunds at the door. more people are now getting letters from us, questioning their -- our 1040 filing who didn't file yet. and i've told them the good news about that that means we've stopped the refund at the door, not paid the refund and haven't contaminated your account with that false information. so we'll continue. it's a high major issue for us. we get millions of attacks on our system every year and thus far, knock on wood, we've been able to defend against those. it is one of my concerns about funding constraints is that we could become( with more funding in those areas. but it is a high priority and we will continue to do whatever we have to do to secure taxpayer information from any threats of breach or theft. ó[> what has been the impact so far on the affordable care act? americans now either have to
have insurance or pay a tax )]ñçów3d penalty, so has the administration of that tax penalty proven to be a burden so far? >> back to my earlier comment the filing season has gone swimmingly. as i told people you could have made a lot of money betting last january, 15 months ago, on that result. the ability to implement all of the new statisticer to requirements and changes and have the season run smoothly has surprised almost everybody. we are delighted with it. part of the reason is i think that about last year about 91% of people used software to fill in their returns and 85% of people filed electronically. and we worked very hard for the last couple years with software producers and tax preparers to make sure that those systems worked appropriately. so for the average taxpayer, the affordable care act is just another item in their questions that they get asked by the software. thus far this year aboutfá s3w,0çí
people just checked the box that said that they had insurance. for the vast majority of people filing the affordable carability has been no problem whatsoever. thus far as well the people seeking exemptions the people seeking exemptcepts$]rb 1!w3z it's gone smootly and everyone seems to be comfortable. again, low income taxpayers can
go to any one of our sites, staffed by 0u8,000 volunteers last yore. they prepared 3 million returns. a lot of people use free file on our website and about 3 million returns were prepared that way as well. so there's a lot of assistance available to taxpayers no matter what the complexity of their situation is. >> before i close, i'd like to remind everyone about upcoming speakers. a best-selling author, an outspoken critic of radical islam will address a luncheon next tuesday. ban ki-moon, secretary general of the united nations will speak on april 16th. and navy secretary ray mavis will address the club on april 30th. might have time for a couple more questions, but the irs is considering including section 527 organizations in its
upcoming guidance on 501c exempts. what form would this guidance take? >> as i noted throughout the last year, one of our goals is to in fact treat everybody fairly across the spectrum of c organizations. 501c 3s, your normal charitable organizations. 4s, social welfare organizations, which have been the focus of a lot, most of the discussion, then you'll have c 5s, 6s and 7s, labor organizations. congress has established 527 organizations, the organizations that basically can spend all of their money on politics and so, one of the things that we've been doing is looking at how all of those provisions of the 501 c section of the code fit together in terms of creating a pattern created by congress.
to rationalize your choices to where you want to be. so, the point has been we're not going to regulate 527s anymore than they are regulated. the reference to it has been that you need to understand that that's a possible place and organization could decide to go or end up to spend more than have of its money on politics end up being regulated. so, the dpoel goal here is swrus to include the 527s in our review of the other organizations, not to provide a new set of regulations or constraint constraints on the 527s themselves. >> and your final question, will duke win its game this coming weekend? >> well, with luck we'll have two games this coming weekend. i grew up in kentucky so i've always had mixed emotions about
how to deal with kentucky and its success. obviously, they're the favorite. las vegas from the start has always said you could take kentucky against the field is a 50-50 bet but some have said they're so good how could they be 50? it continues apparently i'm told that they're going to have an interesting set of games. wisconsin is a great team. the first game, duke and michigan state have had a year, a series of fwams. at this stage, they're all great and playing well and so, anybody predicting probably is to some extent throwing darts against the wall and i think quite a few step back, you have to say that kentucky still seems to be the favorite. as they go forward. but there are those of us who think the other boys in blue, known as duke, will do well. so, we'll see. i tell my son it's why they play the games rather than just letting you mail in the results. thanks so much for your time.
>> before u step away, i wanted to present you with the honorary press club mug and i believe this falls under the limit for needing to disclose it, so you're good. >> right, you could either get a gift you can eat or share with people or under $125, so i can't eat this. i'm assuming it's less than $25. >> thank you so much for coming. i'd also like to thank the national press club staff including its journalism institute and broadcast center for organizing today's event and if you would like a copy of today's program or to learn more about the national press club, go to our website press.org. thank you. we are adjourned.
gallego. he became the first in his family to go to college, earning a scholarship to harvard university. he also joined the marine corps when he was eventually deployed to iraq. >> what will you remember about your time in military? >> just the friends i made and the friends i lost. i got to serve with some of the
the -- sorry. i served with some great men. and you know i don't think i would be surrounded by people that great. what did they teach you? >> they taught me about humility. my friends taught me about really being there for each other. the marines taught me about discipline, organization, but that was the marine corp. the marines i served with taught me about what truly it means to care about another human being. and what -- what you're willing to do to keep them alive. >> you can see the rest of that interview with congressman gallego at 9:00 p.m. tonight on cspan.
military leaders of u.s. central command of the u.s. africa command and special operations were recently lyly on capitol hill for a nat hearing. they each testified about operations in their respective regions as well as the threats posed by groups like isis. they were also asked about the potential impact of budget cuts at the pentagon. this is just over two hours. >> good morning. the committee leads today in testimony on the posture of u.s. central command, u.s. african command and u.s. special operations command. i extend my appreciate to the troops and their families who depend our nation every day.
the old order across northern africa and the middle east is under siege. both the regional balance among states and the social order within states is collapsing in no new vision has emerged to take its place. unfortunately, the lack of clear u.s. strategy and lack of strong u.s. leadership has confused our friends, encouraged enemies and created space for maligning influence to flourish. despite the fact that dr. kissinger testified that the united states has not faced a more diverse array of crisis since the end of the second world war, quote, the loom of sequestration serves to compound that threat and create a leadership backing that fuels the chaos of our current predicament. jim mat is told this committee, quote, no field can reek such havoc on our security than sequestration is today. i couldn't agree more. our witnesses are in position to
describe the increased risk due to sequestration. to navigate this time successfully we must have ambiguous priorities clarity and an unwaivering commitment to the resources required to support the necessary courses of action. for your sake let's hope your job performance is not measured by the number of crisis you have to juggle, but how you handle it. my fear is that you're expected to juggle with one hand tied behind your back. whether it's sequestration or direction from above, not to upset iran during sensitive nuclear negotiations, yours has to be one of the most difficult jobs on planet. i'm deeply troubled by comments from senior administration officials on iran. secretary kerry recently said and i'm not making this up that net effect of iran's military action in iraq is quote positive, similarly, the chairman of the joint chief general dempsey said quote as
long as the iraqi xwovt remains committed to inclusivity of all the various groups inside the country, i think iranian influence will be positive. again, that's in the category of i'm not making this up. general austin i know from our conversations that you do not suffer the dangerous delusion that somehow, iran can be a force for the good in the region. in your position, you can't afford that fantasy. today, i want to discuss our strategy to address the situation on the ground as it is rather than as we wish it to be. general daift petraeus gave a realistic picture in a realistic interview, quote, the current regime is thot in the middle east. it is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. the more iran yawns seem to be dominating, the more it's going to -- groups like the islamic state. i'll be interested if our witnesses agree.
iran is not our ally. yet, we learned just yesterday that the u.s. is providing air support in tikrit, which media is reporting is being fought by 20 to 30,000 iran-backed fighters and 3 to 4,000 iraqi security forces. i have many concerns and questions about why we are doing this. yemen, a county tray that president obama recently prased praised model for u.s. count terrorism, a suck says story. i'm not making that one up either. was more than our arab partners could wit stand. the air strikes by these concerned arab nations stems in part of their perception of america's disengagement from the region and a total absence of
u.s. leadership. while our arab partners conduct air strikes to halt yemen, united states is conducting air strikes to support the offensive of rain yawn proxies in tikrit. this is bizarre as it is misguided. another tragic case of leading from behind. the complex intertwining of iraq and syria challenges on an area the administration has poorly handled to date. the ability to prioritize and deal with multiple crisis simultaneously. we're seeing increasing links between isil and terrorist groups in -- adding to the rising terrorist threat across the continent, africa remains plagued by long standing conflicting that have resulted in large displacements of people and rising instability.
despite a growing array of threats, africa command insis enterally suffers from resource shortfalls that impact your ability to accomplish your mission. one of the key components of our efforts to combat terrorism is the team of men and women special operations command. special operators are deployed in more than 80 countries involving an increasingly dangerous terrorist threat. they defend the nation by training our partners and conduct conducting direction action operations. however, demand for special operations forces continues to far exceed supply, placing an enormous strain on the readiness of the force. the looming force of
sequestration which will not only degrade the force -- i look to you to update the committee on the impact of sequestration around the men and women you lead and the increased risk of the troops you will be forceded to accept as a result. we need a strategy that spans the same geography as the threat from isil or al qaeda to iran. witnesses work tirelessly to combat these threats and we owe them and their forces they lead better than a piecemeal approach that lacks resources and fails to address the full spectrum of threats we face. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses, senator reed. >> good morning and let me thank the witnesses and the men and women of the command to the service of the nation. you represent the fight against al qaeda and isis.
require a regional and sometimes a trans regional approach approach to effectively dealing with them. the rise of the military cape capable isis threatens to erase national boundaries between iraq and syria. and they're providing a training ground for foreign fighters who threaten to spread violence upon or returning to their homes in europe, asia or even the united states. iraqi prime minister has taken steps to address british grievenses. openly the issues in iraq to have a political solution as military efforts to by time, but not ultimate and decisive success. similarly in syria, addressing a root cause, promoting the conditions for the political arrangement as well as success on the battlefield.
if the growing influence taking orders from the iranian force threatening to alienate the liberated sunni community. the reports of human rights abuses by shia militia may lead some to believe they are better off with isis under the control, and that would be an extraordinary setback for all of us. and general austin, would be interested in your assessment of the efforts to train and assist the iraqi security forces to build up the peshmerga as they begin to retake territory from isis. we're also interested in your views on the growing influence of iran in iraq and the threats it poses long-term. and overnight, as mccain indicated, you were given an additional task of supporting gcc operations. and their operations in yemen. and i hope, general austin, you can give an update on those operations.
of course, an additional concern is the outcome of the nuclear framework negotiations between the p5 plus 1 in iran, and the implications of success, failure or something in between. we'll have profound impacts in the region and that, too, you'll have to assess. afghanistan military forces are focused on training afghan security forces, conducting counterterrorism operations and solidifying gains. and we all had the privilege of listening to the president gani yesterday, i think there's a new hope and opportunity and we have to move forward, understanding it's still a very fragile situation. general rodriguez, you are facing challenges that were located in adjacent ors. the rise of isil, jihad in somalia. operations challenge you in attempting to build the capacity
up of the nations in that region. and also, to work with our european allies. very effectively to present a united front against these terrorists. so, again, your efforts are critical and also, let me command you and your forces for the resolve with respect to the ebola outbreak and what you were able to accomplish. senator mccain made this point very clear very eloquently. under sequestration, all of these efforts. civilian military, interagency will be hammered if it is allowed to prevail. so i hope you can provide assessment, not just in africa, but the effects of sequestration on your ability to operate. general votel as a special operations forces, you are working across the globe. your missions are critical, but once, again, i think it would help us if you could indicate where the effects of sequestration would actually undermine current and projected operations.
again, one of the points that you made is you are sort of a global force. you rely extensively on the base operations of the united states army, the united states air force and every other service, and some civilian agencies. and that would be hopeful to point out. let me commend you for all of the operations you've undertaken in the last 13 years. there's no force that's more stressed. no group of individual men and women in their families that give so much and go so often to the battle. so thank you, general, for your efforts. and please, communicate that to men and women you lead. thank you very much. >> general votel, can we begin with you? >> good morning, members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the current posture of the united states special operations command or socom as we refer to
it. i'm pleased to be here with my partners general austin and rodriguez. it was created to ensure we had forces to meet the nation's challenges. our ability to address these challenges is due in large part to the strong support we get from congress. and especially from this distinguished committee. thank you very much. i'd like to start out by commenting on the amazing actions made daily by our special operations men and women. operators, acquirers, analysts and many others, active and reserve, military and civilian. the total soft force. alongside our conventional force partners of the 69,000 quiet professionals of socom are committed to service to our nation. they relentlessly pursue mission success, and today, roughly 7,500 of them are deployed to over 80 countries worldwide. supporting geographic combatant commander requirements and named operations. we are a force who has been heavily deployed over the last 14 years, and our military members, civilians and their
families have paid a significant price physically and emotionally serving our country. we are appreciative of the support to address the visible and invisible challenges and we never forget that for socom, people are our most important asset. socom supports the combatant commanders and the missions they are assigned by the secretary of defense and the president. if they are successful, we are successful. if they fail, we fail. today, the united states is faced with many challenges. the spread of technology and the defusion of power are not only been used by responsible leaders, but by wicked actors to orchestrate terror and violence. nonstate actors like al qaeda and isil and other violent extreme organizations menacing state actors like north korea, destabilizing actors like iran and the growingly coercive actors like russia. we are equally affected by the
growing use of cyber capabilities and social media. which make it easy for our adversaries to communicate, coordinate, execute and inspire their actions. the fiscal environment is of concern, as well. while socom has been well supported in recent years, i remain profoundly concerned by the impact of another round of sequestration. and not only how it impacts socom, but how it'll affect the four services upon whom we are dependent for mission support. to address the challenging security department. through small footprint operations and by relying on a network of purposeful partnerships, provides a comparative advantage through persistent engagement, partner enablement, network focus and discreet rapid response to crisis situations.
while we support military operations across the spectrum, soft capabilities are uniquely suited to operate and succeed in the gray zone between normal international competition and open conflict. and it is in this area that we see our best opportunities to help shape the future environment. to enable our efforts, i have established five priorities for the command. first, we must ensure soft readiness by developing the right people, skills and capabilities to meet current and future requirements. to this end, we want to ensure effectiveness now and into the future. with the best soft operators and support personnel enabled by the best technology and capabilities we can field. along the way, we want to make the very best use of the unique mfp-11 funding authorities that congress has granted us. second, we must help the nation win by addressing today's security challenges. we strive to provide coherent and well-integrated soft forces for the combatant commanders. noex
nearly everywhere, you'll find soft forces working alongside and often in support of their conventional force partners. to accomplish our security objectives. third, we must build purposeful relationships to improve global understanding and awareness to create options for our leaders. we don't own the network, but we are an important part of it. and working with our partners will always produce the best options for our nation. fourth, we have to prepare for the future. security environment to ensure that it's ready to win. our goal is to match exquisite people with cutting edge capability and the very best ideas and concepts to help our nation succeed against the looming challenges we will face in the future. finally, we must preserve our families to ensure their long-term well being. it is in this area we are specifically focused on a wholistic approach to address the invisible challenges of stress and suicide that are affecting our service members,
civilians and their family members. i remain humbled by the opportunity to command the best special operations forces in the world. i'm incredibly proud of each and every one of our team members and their families. i look forward to your questions and dialogue today. >> general rodriguez? >> chairman, ranking member reed, and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to update you on the efforts of united states africa command. and i'm glad to be between joe and lloyd today. let me express my gratitude for your support to our service members and our families who underwrite our nation's security and an increasingly complex world. today our nation faces strategic uncertainty, risks to our national interests are significant and growing. part of our strategic uncertainty is our fiscal uncertainty. if sequestration returns in 2016, i'm concerned about our ability to execute the current strategy at a manageable level of risk. threats and opportunities to
address national interests are growing in africa. in the past year, we achieved progress in several areas through close cooperation with our allies and partners. we have built significant partner capacity over the years. this capacity has played a major role in regional efforts to contain violent extremism, including other al qaeda affiliates and the islamic state of iraq and boko haram. and a small number of our unilateral operations have applied additional pressure. we also achieved success with other partners against other challenges. as an example, in liberia, we supported usaid, in the liberian nation. another illustrative example is our support to strengthening the capacity and organization of regional partners in the gulf of guinea. furthermore, in central africa, combined military and civilian efforts significantly reduced the army's ability to threaten civilian populations. working closely with the state department and our regional
partners that has allowed us to improve our posture and capability to protect u.s. personnel and facilities. when security in libya deteriorated we assisted in the safe departure of personnel. conversely, in the central africa republic. we've had a lot of successes, but many challenges remain and there's much work to be done. transregional terrorist and criminal networks continue to adapt and expand aggressively. while al shabab has weakened in somalia, it remains a threat to u.s. and regional interests. al shabab broadened operations to conduct attacks. libya-based threats are growing rapidly including and expanding isil presence. if left unchecked, they have the highest potential among security challenges in africa to increase risk to u.s. strategic interests in the near future. boko haram threatens the nigerian government. boko haram has extended the reach to niger and chad. in somalia, libya and nigeria, the international community is challenged to implement the comprehensive approaches necessary to advance governance,
security and development. declining resources will make this more difficult. to mitigate increasing risk, africa command is sharpening our priorities and improving the alignment of resources to strategy. we are coordinating with international and inner agency partners to harmonize across the country. and we are seeking progress flexibility. thanks for your continued support to our mission, and the dedicated people advancing our
nation's defense interests in africa. thank you. >> general austin, welcome. >> thank you, sir. good morning. chairman mccain. senator reed, distinguished members of the committee. i want to thank you for the opportunity to appear here today to talk about the broad efforts and the current posture of united states central command. up front and most importantly, i'd like to thank all of you for your continued and strong support of our men and women in uniform and their families. i look forward to talking about them and the exceptional contributions that they continue to make on behalf of our command and our nation. i'm pleased to appear alongside my teammates, general rodriguez and general votel. and i'll join them in making a few brief comments and we're prepared to answer your questions. ladies and gentlemen, much has happened in the area of responsibilities since i last
appeared before this committee a year ago. indeed, the central region is today more volatile and chaotic than i have seen it at any other point. and the stakes have never been higher. the forces of evil that threaten our homeland and our interest in that strategically important part of the world thrive in unstable environments marked by poor governance, economic uncertainty and ungoverned or undergoverned spaces. and therefore, it's essential that we be present and engaged and cultivate strong partnerships and continue to do our part to address emerging threats and to move the region in a direction of greater stability and security. we must be properly resourced to do what is required to effectively protect and promote our interests. at sentcom, while shaping future outcomes, we spend a great deal of our time and energy managing
real world crisis. we transition from combat operations to a train, advise and assist and ct mission focus in afghanistan. yemen, egypt and lebanon and a host of other locations throughout our area of responsibility. we actively pursued violent extremist groups, and we took measures to counter the radical ideologies that are espoused by these groups. we also dealt with iran, which continues to act as a destabilizing force in the region. primarily through the forces and the support actors such as lebanese hezbollah. while we were hopeful an agreement will be reached with iran with respect to the nuclear program, either way, whether we reach an agreement or don't reach an agreement, iran will continue to present a challenge for us going forward. we are faced with a number of difficult issues in our region.
however, i firmly believe that challenges present opportunities. and we make progress primarily by pursuing those opportunities. and we do pursue them. and i am confident that our broad efforts are having a measurable impact. of course, the most immediate threat facing us now is the threat posed by isil or dash. this barbaric organization must be defeated, and it will be defeated. we are currently in a process of executing our regional military campaign plan. and i'm pleased to report that we are making significant progress. at the outset, we said that we'd have to halt isil's advance. and we've done that in iraq. we said that we're going to have to regenerate and restructure iraq's security forces and help
them to reestablish their border. and we're in a process of doing that right now. we said that we'd have to help our partners in the region to bolster their defenses against isil. and we continue to help our friends in jordan and lebanon and turkey. we said we'd guard against ungoverned spaces, and we'll soon begin doing so as part of our syria train and equip program. ladies and gentlemen, we are making progress. in fact, we're about where we said we would be in the execution of our military campaign plan, which supports the broader whole of government strategy designed to counter isil. and we're having significant
effects on the enemy. attacked the command and control capabilities, we've destroyed its training sites and storage facilities along with hundreds of his vehicles, tanks and heavy weapons systems. and in doing so, we have significantly degraded his capability. the ability to command and control his forces, and also his primary sources of revenue, namely his refineries and crude collection points. the fact is that isil can no longer do what he did at the outset. which is to seize and hold new territory. and he has assumed a defensive crouch in iraq. although, he has greater freedom of movement in syria, he's largely on defensive there, as well. having a tough time governing. and this is crucial to his claims of a caliphate. he has begun to expand into other areas, namely north africa. in part because he knows he's losing in iraq and syria and needs to find other ways to maintain his legitimacy. in going forward, we should expect to see this enemy
continue to conduct limited attacks and to orchestrate horrific scenes in order to create opportunities and distract and intimidate. but make no mistake, isil is losing this fight. and i am certain he will be defeated. however, there is still work to be done to get to that point. and we intend to continue to execute the campaign as designed. and i say that because how we go about this is very important. if we don't first get things under control in iraq where there is a government that we can work with and some amount of reliable security forces, if we don't get things there right first before expanding our efforts in syria, then we risk making matters worse in both countries. but done the right way, in light of the limitations that exist, i believe that we can and we will be successful in our efforts to defeat isil.
at the same time, we can be assured continued progress in pursuit of our principle goal, which is to move this strategically important region in a direction of increased stability and security. going forward, we will all be required to make tough choices. we'll need to find ways to do more or at least as much with less in the current fiscal environment. that said, i remain concerned by the fact that capability reductions can and will impact our ability to respond to crisis. and especially in the highly volatile central region. the resulting loss in flexibility makes the u.s. and our interests increasingly vulnerable to external pressures. i would ask congress to do its part to make sure we avoid sequestration and other resourcing limitations. chairman mccain, senator reed, members of the committee, i want to thank you once more for your strong support that you continue to show to our service members, our civilians and their families. they are the very best in the world at what they do. and they continue to demonstrate absolute selflessness. and they make enormous
sacrifices on behalf of the mission in support of one another. thank you, sir. >> thank you, general. i'd ask the witnesses, do they agree with general petraeus' comments a few days ago that iran was as great or greater threat in the middle east than isis? do you agree with that? general austin? with that statement? >> sir, i would say that in terms of the long-term threat in the region, iran is the greatest, greatest threat to stability. i would say the most pressing threat is isil. in one that we have to deal with and defeat in the near term. >> general rodriguez? >> yes, i agree, sir. with both general austin and general petraeus, the short and long-term challenges. >> general votel? >> mr. chairman. i agree. >> so now we are seeing, oh, general, austin, when were you told by the saudis that they
were going to take military action in yemen? >> sir, i had a conversation right before they took action. shortly before. >> right before they took action? >> yes, sir. >> that's very interesting. now, you were talking about how we're defeating isil. right now, the battle tikrit is stalled and we've been launching air strikes in tikrit? that's obviously correct. and it's my understanding, please correct me if i'm wrong, there's about 2,000 iraqi military fighting there and about 20,000 shia militia doing the majority of the fighting. is that roughly correct? >> so there was about 4,000 iraqi security forces combined in that area. currently, there are no shia militia, and as reported by the iraqis today, no pmf forces in that area, as well. >> so there's 4,000 iraqi.
who are the others? >> the shia militia that were there have pulled back from that area, sir. >> so the fighting is all being done by the iraqi forces? >> sir, when the -- >> i've only got a few minutes. maybe you can shorten the answer. pretty straightforward questions. >> yes, sir, the clearance of the town, as you know on the west side of the river is being done by the iraqi special operations forces. and the federal police with our -- >> so why do we see pictures everywhere leading and orchestrating this effort. >> those pictures were from before. and as you know, that effort, the iranians were sponsoring. it stalled.
it stalled because they didn't have -- >> they're no longer in the fight. >> he is no longer. he was no longer on the ground. >> the shia militias are no longer in the fight. >> the folks that we are supporting in clearing -- >> see if the militia's still in the fight. >> no, sir, they're not a part of the clearing operations in. >> so we are the air strikes that we're carrying out in support are only in support of iraqi militaries? >> that's right, sir. precondition for us to provide support was that the iraqi government had to be in charge of this operation. they had to know, we had to know exactly who was on the ground. we had to be able to deconflict our fires. they had to have a credible scheme of maneuver, which not only replanned, but we caused
them to rehearse it. and they had to be able to talk to the folks on the ground, as well. >> we -- in our air strikes in -- by the way, i totally disagree with you about ignoring syria. there's no strategy for syria. and we all know that. and isis doesn't respect those boundaries, but somehow you seem to and the president does. there's no -- they know no boundaries. and so to say that we are going to have a strategy for iraq first and syria, of course, is softestry. of the 12,000, 3,000 of them actually drop weapons. is that true? >> i think that's about right, sir. >> don't we put our pilots in great danger if they're not going to drop weapons? and isn't it the argument that we really need the terminal attack controllers, the jtacs on the ground if we're going to be effective?
or are you going to have 3 out of 4 fighters fly around in circles and then return? >> sir, the hours flown to ordinates ratio, one is the type of enemy we're imposing. and the second is are the distances we're dealing with on a daily basis. if you take a look at an operation like desert storm where you have fielded forces and infrastructure that you could attack with preplanned sordys. you have a greater ratio to ordinates employed. the type of enemy we're facing started out as an extremist element. and because of that, we were able to attack the mass formations early on, but he very quickly resorted to behaving like an irregularly force where he began to blend in with the population. as he did that, it became more difficult. >> which surprise no one. >> but the nature of this fight
is we need to be able to report the -- >> we're satisfied with a situation to launch 12,000 sortis, where only one drop weapons. that is not a viable or frankly a good use of the taxpayers' dollars. >> sir, i would just make the point. as we compare that ratio to what we've done in afghanistan. it's equal to that -- because it's the same type of fighting there, principally. and the ratios are comparable. even better than what we saw in afghanistan. >> well, i would argue that's comparing apples and oranges, but my time has expired. senator reed.
>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. general austin, again, returning tikrit. we are operating at the question of the prime minister of iraq who is the elected leader and we set conditions as to what we would require before we would be engaged. is that correct? >> that's correct, sir. >> and your comments to senator mccain suggest that mobilization forces of militias have withdrawn. initially they were engaged in the fight. they've pulled back and now the operation is being conducted by iraqi regular forces. special operations. >> special operations forces. yes, sir. >> it appeared a few days ago that this fight would go succeed simply with the mobilization forces, the militias which added a significant sort of, at least rhetorical claim to both the
militias and to the iranians. now it appears they cannot effectively clear the city without the support of the united states and our air power. is that? >> that's correct, sir. and if i could make a point here to highlight why it failed. it's the way the forces went about trying to do this. these forces obviously were not being controlled by the government of iraq. they didn't have a coherent scheme of maneuver, command and control. they didn't have precision fires to support this effort. and so trying to go about the difficult task of clearing a place tikrit. and once those conditions were met, which included shia militias not being involved,
then we're able to proceed. and i like to highlight, sir, you know, three tours in iraq, commanding troops who were brutalized by some of these shia militias, i will not -- and i hope we never, coordinate or cooperate with shia militias. >> and part of the operation in tikrit. and we're doing all we can do to assist the regular forces to succeed will be a prelude to mosul, which have always been contemplated to be conducted but iraqi security forces with, if they make the conditions with our support. is that accurate? >> yes, sir. >> all right. general, we have the assistant secretary of defense. and he is the service secretary of special operations forces, your forces.
do you have any views? because he's established a special operations policy council. do you work with the council? what's your relationship? >> senator, we absolutely do. and i meet with secretary lumpka on a regular basis. provides a good forum to pull together a number of senior leaders within osd and, frankly, on the joint staff to ensure we are looking at the requirements for soft forces and ensuring it's well coordinated within the building. and getting both oversight and advocacy for our activities. >> let me ask an additional question. you have to talk about it in your prepared remarks. the campaign plan for global special operations, which of necessity has to interact with
the campaign plans of sentcom and north com and south com, et cetera, et cetera. so can you comment about how you manage this plan. and just quickly because my time expired. might make a comment, too. >> absolutely. so the campaign plan for global special operations is really designed to support my principle task of supporting my geographic partners out here, and designed to synchronize our activities to help prioritize our resources and where we are putting them in support of the gcccs. it's designed to address the partnerships we need to have in place. it's designed to look at the things that we will do to shape the environment for the geographic combatant commanders, and it ensures we have aligned to those specific areas so they can develop the capabilities they need to best support the geographic combatant commanders. >> general rodriguez, your comments.
>> when we make our strategic plans, sir, our theater special operation command is fully involved. and all of those things that joe does about allocating forces and capabilities across the world support my plan exactly how i want it to be. >> general austin, a quick comment or one for the record. my time's expiring. are you comfortable with the interaction? >> i am very comfortable with it, sir. >> thank you. thank you, gentlemen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as i told you, general rodriguez, i was going to concentrate my questions on africa. when senator mccain talked about being underresourced. it is true when you were formed in up to the current time, you don't really have resources. you depend on ucom for almost everything, is that correct? >> we got a little bit more resources in the last year and a half to include special purpose. a commander's response forces, special operations force, and we've also got a couple key enablers for forces. i also do depend quite a lot on ucom capacity, sir.
>> yeah, i think you do. and i think other things that come up like the lra and things like that specifically. you inherit resources to help put out those fires. however, with the restructuring, the european infrastructure consolidation, are you concerned about how that might affect what resources might be available when called upon? >> right now, from the european infrastructure consolidation, most of the moves have been to the south and east to help the responsiveness of ucom forces to support both sentcom and afacom. >> i don't know where you were when we put together the whole thing. before that it was three different commands and pay com, u com and sent com. and that was a wise thing to do. but the discussion at that time was where to put the headquarters. we were all promoting the idea it should be in africa. that continent is so huge. we understand what happened
politically at that time that this fear of colonization and that people wouldn't buy it. i've talked to all of the presidents in the area. they thought that would have been a good idea. at the time we put it together africom, there was some discussion that after a period of time they might consider making that move. if you heard anything at all about that? is there anything in the middle talking about the -- >> no, many of the african leaders talked to me about that. but the current assessment by the secretary of defense is to continue to leave it where it is for the foreseeable future, sir. >> yeah. well, you know, the foreseeable future is beyond us now from when they first put this thing
together. i don't know, i know that would still be a problem. let me ask you, my first experience with joseph coeny and the lra was way back in 2001. that's 14 years ago. joseph coney was old and sick then, how is he now? >> he's older and sicker. >> and do you think that we are getting in a position right now -- it appears to me from the reports we get, and i think you'd probably agree, i'll ask you if you do agree that most of the stuff now he's doing is just trying to move around and avoid it. he's no longer making the hits that he did back at that time. and our involvement, which we have been involved in is actually being -- is working. >> yes, sir, it is working. and it's in a great team effort with all the country teams as well as many of the civilian organizations that have built the durability and the civilian population to better resist the
problems he has. right now, he's about down to about 200 real fighters and the impact on the civilian population is very minimal. he's using elicit trafficking to continue to sustain his efforts. but it's tough for him because the continual pressure over the last 14 years. >> being chased around places like c.a.r., eastern congo, south sudan. it seems like it was a trail of blood following him. and it's not that way so much anymore. i just think that we haven't talked about that in a long time. we need to get on the record. some things are -- seem to be working there. >> yeah. it's a long-term effort against kony with really fairly modest resources. but the long-term effort has done exactly what you said. it has significantly decreased his impact on civilian
population, sir. >> yeah. >> general rodriguez, last year you testified 12% of your requests are being met. i'm reading this from the transcript last year. has there been any change in this intelligence gap? >> just a little bit more, sir. i'm about 13% now. but that's a great question as far as the impacts of sequestration. just for the committee. we will lose more caps in sequestration than i have in the theater right now. so you can see the impact that's going to have on our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. thank you. >> thank you very much. thank you. >> senator manchin? >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you all three of you for your service to our country and things you do every day. with that, general austin, i said last year, if i believe sending u.s. trainers and weapons to syria would make america safer, i would have supported it. i did not then and what i'm hearing further supports my belief. last week, reports emerged from the department of defense is unable to account for more than $500 million of military assistance to yemen, including weaponry, aircraft and
equipment. and i'm sure you've all seen the same pictures on youtube that we're getting of our equipment being used for people against us and against our efforts. all of which could potentially fall into the hands of our iranian backed rebels or al qaeda. in syria, we've heard reports, seized u.s. weapons from cia trained rebels, and a tank missiles. two days ago, video footage was posted. showing them using a captured u.s. missile in a fight. and these are not immediate events. we supported individuals in the '80s. 1980s in afghanistan. we watched isis capture vehicles and military equipment that iraqi security forces abandon. which are millions and millions and millions of dollars being used against us now. even after we spent the better part of a decade training them. we have a history of supplying weapons and training that ended up being used against us. general austin, who is responsible for the weapons and equipment the u.s. supplied in these cases?
or are these reports accurate? and will any disciplinary action be taken? >> clearly, sir, what -- with not having the ability to be in yemen currently to monitor the disposition of the weapons, then certainly we can't, we don't have the ability to oversee the safeguarding or the employment of those weapon systems. that 500 million, i believe, was the amount of funds that were required for both providing weapon systems and training. and as you know, training is pretty expensive. >> this was yemen. >> yes, sir. >> i know about the 500 million requested for syria. is there nobody in our government, in our defense pentagon that's responsible like when we give all this equipment to yemen and then we see it falling apart. do we not have any way to retrieve that? >> certainly in a case like yemen, sir.
we don't have the ability to go back and retrieve it. we don't have it -- >> as we see it falling apart. we can't take any actions at all to keep from falling? >> once we've provided the weapons to them, sir. >> it's theirs. >> yes, sir. and we will continue to monitor the usage of those weapons and make sure that if they're not being used properly, we don't continue to provide capability to them. >> do you all confirm. do you all agree with the reports of how much weapons and lethal volatility of these weapons being used against us. there are weapons being used against us. >> i don't doubt. >> are these accurate? they're widely reported. >> yes, sir, if we're not there and we provided weapons and it's reasonable to expect that some of that material will fall in the hands of the people. >> let's just -- let's go with mosul first.
and the iraqi forces that abandoned, that was substantial, i'm sure. correct? >> it was, sir.sir. >> and we know that is being used against us. >> yes, sir. >> and now we know about yemen and we have concerns about this will be repeated. are we taking any steps about from what we've seen happen. and whoever we support in syria how can that not fall in the wrong hands? >> there is no way we can assure you that won't happen, sir. what we do is try to train the folks that we're working with and providing capability to, to be responsible as they use and safeguard these weapons and in the event they are not, then we certainly we quit providing the capability. >> and a question for general
votel, in west virginia i observed the national guard and special forces and both the 19th and 20th special army forces have served in afghanistan and iraq and how do you see the national guard moving forward? >> as you pointed out, they are integrated to everything we are doing, not just on the army side but on the air guard side. but some of our isr capabilities will reside in the air guard and air reserve organization. so they are absolutely and totally integrated into everything we are doing now and will do into the future. >> thank you. >> thank you. mr. chairman. >> general austin, when it comes to fighting isis, i appreciate your determination, your military drive. and that is coming through.
i do question the sort of optimistic note that you have in your testimony because it just seems that things are not going as positively as you are suggesting. you mentioned, beginning on page 11 of your testimony, the present's announcement this past september, five key elements to what the administration wants to do involving coalition partners jordan turkey and lebanon, train and equip, having reliable partners to assist on the ground and you say once we do all of these things we will have defeated isis through sustained pressure and dismantling of isil capability and dismantling the c.t. capacities. it is hard to see and hard to be very encouraged about that happening at this point and i want to ask about our partners.
now, not everything we hear is -- is in these big hearings. we met with the king of jordan, not in a classified setting but the king of jordan tells us we can't want this more than the air abe neighborhood -- arab neighborhood wants it. and we ask to go back together and make this work on the ground, i think everybody has been saying boots on the ground are going to be needed to defeat isil. are those boots on the ground going to have to be iraq -- the iraqi army boots on the ground because i don't see -- i don't see the jordans having that capacity. we met with the ambassadors from uae and saudi arabia the other day and they want this coalition
to take effect and they want egypt to be part of it and i wonder who in that whole list of neighboring countries has the capacity to go in and retake this territory -- you mention on page 12, that we are doing precision air-strikes but i think we know that is not going to get it done. and then you talk about the intent of the regional campaign is not simply to destroy isil, but although that is our primary objective. so how is this going to be wrapped up by troops going in and taking the territory back and the united states not employing boots on the ground? >> thank you, sir. a couple of things that we said up front was number one, this would take time because we are
working with indigenous forces and we are using the iraqi security forces to conduct the ground operations. as you pointed out, sir, we've also said that you can't do this with just air power alone. it has to be a complement of fires and maneuver forces on the ground. and our approach is to generate those forces by training and equipping iraqi security forces and we're -- as we have halted isil's advance into iraq we've started the business of training and equipping new iraqi security forces so they'll have the ability to train -- to take back their borders and secure their sovereign spaces. >> is there any prospect of saudi forces being there in numbers that would be uae
jordan forces they have a police force but not much else. >> they have some capability sir. none of them have volunteered to come forward and put boots on the ground. and certainly iraq needs to want to be able to take that on and take those forces in. but to this point as you look at what saudi is dealing with on the borders with yemen it is currently focused on that right now. but to answer your question, sir, there is capability with countries in the region, but none -- no countries have come forward and volunteered to put boots on the ground in iraq. >> well good luck to you. i appreciate your determination and resolve. i hope you are as successful as you believe you will be. >> we will be successful. >> thank you, mr. chairman and
thank you for your efforts. general votel i would like to talk about an issue. i would like to thank you about your top-down issue on mental health. you have but frank about this and that sends something to the troops and can you talk about the force and preservation about the family and how that is going today. >> and we appreciate the support from congress on this very significant challenge to us. we are looking at a variety of things. we are looking at peer to peer programs that we use within organizations to help provide access to our members and their family members and others to reach out and talk to -- talk to their friends and their peers about that. and i think this is an important component. and likewise we are ensuring
that our leadership and chaplains are well trained to identify those behaviors that we think are related to stress and potentially -- which can lead to suicide. and third i think one of the most important things we are doing is trying to send the very clear message across the soft force that it is absolutely normal and expected to ask for help when you need it. and you can do that without concern of stigma or any concerns about your standing within the command. and we are putting really -- working double tides to put that theme and message throughout this. the census of our program is to empower people by communicating early and often and trying to enable them and giving them easy access to programs and resources so they can get help and encouraging them. >> and will you work with us to help us take the lessens --
lessons that you've learned with so com and work with us. >> yes. >> thank you so much. >> general, it appears the efforts in tikrit are stalled at the moment. and so my concern, one of the areas i'm looking at is how do we empower the moderate sunnis? are they the key to making this work. and if you are a moderate sunni, and does i this the other day, the concern is why do you want to team up with a shiite militia when isis is also sunni, they may be like the bad cousin that shows up at the event but they are still your cousin. how do we empower the moderate sunnis and what is the key to moving this along and having success in iraq? >> sir, i do believe that getting sunni population
involved is really, really important in terms of being successful going forward. and you are right, the previous operation in tikrit did stall and it stalled because i think the wrong approach was taken. those -- many of the forces being employed were not controlled or supervised by the ministry of defense or government of iraq. that has recently changed as of the last several days and we started supporting this effort. we think this effort will begin to move forward with the employment of the special operations forces and the help of our enablers. but i think it is absolutely key that, number one, the government has to be accommodating to both the subby and -- the sunni and the kurd population and