tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN February 1, 2016 12:41pm-2:42pm EST
c-span's campaign 2016 is taking you on the road to the white house for the iowa caucuses. tonight our live coverage begins at 7:00 eastern on c-span and c-span 2 with live precaucus coverage taking phone calls, texts and tweets. we will take you to republican caucus on c-span and democratic caucus on c-span. c span spoke to a vice president of microsoft about technology being used in this year's caucus. >> joining us now from des moines is corporate vice president for technology and civic engagement at microsoft. thank you very much for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> microsoft has created an app that will tabulate the results for more than 1,600 precincts
across the state of iowa on caucus night. how did this come about? >> well, we have a team member who is familiar with people in iowa and the process. and as part of our broader civic engagement agenda we are working on what we would call the road to 2016. we reached out to both parties and discussed with them their particular use cases for reporting results and caucusing. so on caucus night they will be implementing and using applications that were designed exclusively for each party and their specific approach that will allow them to formulate results in the precincts. the captains will have a secure and dual factor authenticuation that will drive reporting results to central cloud server. we reached out and designed a process. >> these are political caucuses
organized by the political parties so the tabulation will be done by each of the precinct captains through a central location in des moines. clearly there were problems in 2012 because the republicans declaring that mitt romney was the winner but turned out rick santorum won by about three dozen votes. walk us through from the mistakes made in 2012 how each party wanted to make sure it is not repeated on caucus night. >> what we are doing has no correlation to the specific process that occurs in each precinct. it is really the party process by which they gather and tally the votes. so our application is really just an administrative process by which they can report the solution and the outcome from each precinct. what we are doing is really helping in the process. it doesn't tie back to results from 2012. >> can you explain in detail how it is going to work and how you can make sure that it is secure
andat authentic? >> the first thing is dual factor allows for direct correlation of precinct captain and telephone number that they have assigned to the system. so we know that it is the individual captain who is putting the results into the system. and then, of course, there is because there is a computer inside the phone there is some math that can be done. if there is a certain number of people that can register, when the results are pushed to the cloud service the parties here in des moines have the ability to peer in and see the result and then as they check and confirm they will release those results directly to the website to the public to see. through a programming interface make those same results available because it is their data just running in our service. they will make that result and information available to the media as appropriate so they have control over all of that. >> how significant is this for
microsoft and for the political parties? >> we think it is an important step. we are proud to be part of the process. and these days the idea that there are mobile devices that are highly capable and the fact that there are incredible cloud services and the data centers that we have all around the world allows for much more robust and efficient and secure and real time result. so it's we think the beginning of a process in what we call civic engagement where the citizenry will be ingamged in a much moreope skpn effective process using modern tools. our view was iowa first in the nation major election in 2016. the whole world is watching. we think it is important for us to offer up services and to help provide these kinds of things as a way to make it clear that in the modern world there are ways to do things that can be new and different, highly efficient, secure, reliable. >> when they write the books on the 2016 campaign from your
standpoint how significant is this for your company and the technology? where can this lead us in 2020 or 2024? >> i think you're on to it when you point that out. there is evolution happening rapidly. things change in rapid succession and technology is pervading every walk of life. whether it is real time communications and capabilities or just the fact that virtually everyone in the world today particularly in this process has access to a smart phone or computer of some sort. by 2020 the level of what i would call machine learning or high level analysis of the data as well as this real time capability are really going to change the face of the way we engage in what we call civil discourse. our agenda is tied to that. i think iowa is first in the nation and real opportunity for us to showcase what is possible. >> in charge of technology for microsoft, what does that mean?
what are your job responsibilities? >> well, i look after five or six different areas for the company and i report to the president of the company. everything from environmental sustainability to how we discuss and work with research institutions around the world on things where policy and technology will intercept, things around security and privacy, accessibility for people with disabilities. we are looking broadly at a new mission for the company focussed on empowering every person on the planet to realize the result of technology. that is a combination of mobile devices that people will carry, censors placed everywhere in the world, sometimes called the interetnet of things and how cloud services and high end new learning capabilities will let us see and act and then empower people on an incredible level. it is a collection of what i would say machines people carry and then big machines which are
big cloud service data centers which allow for machine learning to correlate interesting new things to empower people, empower the civil discourse and hopefully uplevel society where technology can be an empowering capability for humanity. iowa is a very focussed instance of how we think technology can make a difference. >> let me take that a step forward. that is with regard to cloud technology. what specifically is that? how is that going to be on caucus night? >> that's a good question because it sounds a little afimeral. it is a bunch of computers, thousands and thousands, millions and millions of computers sitting in data centers, sitting in physical buildings around the world and lots of memory to store the information. and then new kinds of software. we call them neurnetworks. the ability to apply software to
large data sets to see things and extrapolate and present you with things. in many ways people can think about personal computers being devices where you go to the machine and you put things in whether words or pictures or numbers for spreadsheets. you are going to the computer. these large clusters of millions of machines will take the data from the environment whether election or caucus night activities and use software to draw and extract meaning from the data and give it to you as a person. rather than you going to the computer the computer will bring information to you. that is the way i think about the cloud. >> as results start coming in perhaps around 8:00 central time where will you be and what is your measure of success? what are you looking for? >> well, caucus night will be an incredible moment for everyone.
in my case i will be here in des moines and watching the process. i would like to see things in real time. i will be in both the republican and democratic side taking a look at what is happening in the room. and then in real time as we start to we start to see results and success will be an efficient, secure outcome and those most comfortable using the system will use the system and we're looking for efficient, accurate reporting and we hope everyone will get to bed in a reasonable hour. daniel corcoran, vice president at microsoft, he is in des moines. appreciate your time. >> thanks for having me. and a reminder, you can watch our live caucus coverage tonight starting at 7:00 eastern on c-span and c-span2. the c-span bus is in iowa ahead of monday's caucuses to spread the word about c-span. here's a tweet showing our
resources on the ground. c-span all hands on deck as we prepare for our coverage of the iowa caucuses. democratic presidential candidate martin o'malley stopped by and met simpson college students who tweeted this. simpson college students and professor hang out in the c-span bus while martin o'malley is interviewed. republican presidential candidate mike huckabee visited the bus any marco rubio supporters tweeted this. hello from iowa state university, chatting with marco rubio supporters here traveling with the c-span bus. a senate committee held a hearing for lieutenant general john nicholson to be the next commander of operations in afghanistan. he believes security challenges remain in afghanistan. arizona senator john mccain is the committee chair and democrat jack reed of rhode island is the ranking member. both support the nominee.
well, good morning, all. thank you for being here, general nicholson and i would ask the indulgence of the committee to allow our distinguished colleague from illinois and senator kirk to make a few words of introduction before we begin the committee proceedings. senator kirk. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am here to give general nicholson my highest recommendation. general nicholson has had three and a half years of active duty service on the growth fund more than any other general officer in the u.s. military. i have served him several times as a reservist in afghanistan. there is no officer who has as
much experience in the u.s. military than he does, and i would note that with him, you get a multi-generational input from his -- from his father and grandfather and great-grand uncle. the famous nichols saying who has also been given a monument in pakistan who led the british forces in the sea point mutiny and when general nicholson was asked by afghan leaders, are you related to nicholson and yes, i am, that was tremendous impressive to them to have that level of experience to be given command of our forces in afghanistan is unique in this individual. >> thank you very much, senator kirk, and i know you have other responsibilities this morning. i want to thank you for taking the time to introduce this
distinguished member of the military who we will hear more from today. thank you, senator kirk the senate arms services meets to make lieutenant general john nicholson to be the commander of the armed forces in afghanistan. as is our tradition, general nichols nicholson, i hope you will take the opportunity to introduce your family and friends joining you today and as senator kirk mentioned, who have a distinguished family lineage including your uncle and an old friend and members of this committee, jim nicholson and of course, your father, general nicholson, as well. i'd like to begin by thanking you, general for your many years of distinguished service and your leadership in afghanistan at a critical time. you've presided over important
progress including the capacity of the afghan military and developed a strong and productive relationship with the afghan unity government. when you saw the progresses and danger, insisted that further troop withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground. while president obama decided to keep 9,800 u.s. troops in afghanistan beyond 2016, conditions on the ground in afghanistan today clearly demand an immediate re-evaluation of scheduled american troop withdrawals and this administration's continued withdrawal rather than a conditions-based withdrawal which some of us have been urging for many years. in 2001, american forces went to afghanistan because that was where, under the sanctuary of the taliban regime, al qaeda planned and conducted training for the september 11th attacks that killed 3,000 innocent
civilians on american soil. our mission was to ensure that afghanistan would never again be a safe haven for al qaeda or other terrorist groups to attack the united states. that mission has been successful for 14 years, but it's far from over. american forces are carrying out that mission today by performing two critical tasks. counter terrorism and training and advising our afghan partners, but the reality is that the 5,500 american troops that will be left in afghanistan at the end of this year after scheduled withdrawals will be adequate for one or the other of these critical tasks, not both. this similar american force will inevitably be forced to shoulder a higher -- the smaller american force will inevitably forced to shoulder a higher level of risk to be successful, but another way the individual american service member deployed to afghanistan is safer as a part
of a force of 9,800 than a force of 5,500. the risk intensifies. we are now confronting threats from a resurgent taliban, a reviving al qaeda and a rising isil. isil sanctuary in syria has been deadly enough. we cannot afford another one in afghanistan. this complex and expanding terrorist threats expand our own counter terrorism capacity as well as the capability and capacity of the afghan military which is still developing key enablers including intelligence, logistics, special forces, airlift and close air support. by now we should have learned from the precipitous withdrawal from iraq and the disaster that ensued that wars do not end because politicians say so nor will any politician be able to schedule an end to the threat of
radical islamic terrorism that's emanating from afghanistan or the region more broadly. that's why as the security situation in afghanistan continues to deteriorate, it makes no strategic or military sense to continue the withdrawal of american forces. indeed, our military commanders increasingly realize that preventing the re-emergence of terrorist safe havens in afghanistan will require a long-term partnership with afghan government and military similar to the u.s. role in south korea or colombia. and it descended into chaos that contributed to the worst terrorist attack ever against our homeland. we cannot afford to repeat the mistake because the threats we face are real and the stakes are high for the lives of the american people, for the stability of the region and for
the national security of the united states. president obama cannot turn back the clock on decisions made four years ago in iraq, but he can make decisions now that will empower his successor to do what is necessary to confront the challenges we will face in afghanistan in 2017 and beyond, it's time to immediately halt u.s. troop withdrawals and eliminate any target date for withdrawal. this will allow american forces of eliminating the threats and building the capacity and capability of afghan military and it will send a powerful signal to the taliban that it cannot simply wait out the united states and we will not abandon afghanistan to tyranny and terror again. general nicholson, i look forward to your testimony and your assessment of the way ahead. senator reid?
>> thank you very much. let me join you in welcoming lieutenant general nick olson. thank you, sir for your service and u.s. forces in afghanistan. i would also like to join senator mccain in welcoming your family and carolyn, and your uncle jim and thank you for your distinguished service in many capacities. as the chairman pointed out, and general nicholson is qualified to have spent the last ten years on the mission focussed in afghanistan including the 3.5 years deployed in country and having held a number of relevant u.s. and nato command positions. your experience is not only impressive and is extremely useful as you assume the responsibility. i recently traveled to afghanistan and it is evident that the past year has been a transition for the country.
the coalition to the afghan national security forces are ansf hasn't been without its challenges as evidenced by the temporary seizure of kunduz city and afghanistan. further complicating the security situation has been the emergence of the islamic state in the khorasan. they had a welcome development and have also added toed dynamic security situation by displacingel ems of al qaeda and the pakistan, taliban and other bad actors into afghanistan. and the greatest security challenges with all these forces at play that confront the nsff in the coming year. -- excuse me, the ansf have had the sole responsibility of securing their country for more than a year and fortunately have remained cohesive and responsive throughout. the ansf have continued to
report their willingness to take areas contested by the taliban while increasing their overall operational capacity under coalition training. lieutenant nicholnicholson, i'm interested in your thoughts on continuing this because that will be a significant force stabilized in aflg of aing and moving forward. >> with regard to counter terrorism, which is the second mission of our forces. i support the report of recent approval of the white house of targeted strikes of iskp as part of your mission. >> furthermore, the joint operation of afghan forces to destroy general campbell and probably the largest al qaeda training camp identified since flev 9/11 is a stark resilience. as the president announced on october it is his intention to maintain approximately 9800 troops in afghanistan through most of this year with a plan
drawdown to approximately 5500 troops by the end of 2017. if confirmed, i will expect and i think you will immediately conduct your own assessment of the withdrawal of u.s. forces based on conditions on the ground, and i believe that that assess chlt should be given extraordinary weight in any decision made for the retention of u.s. forces in afghanistan. last year, it is one of political transition in afghanistan under the national unity government and the ceo abdullah and like all progress in afghanistan it's been challenging, however, the govern am has held together preventing a breakdown governance and it's provided an opportunity for ambitious reform agenda and proposals including governance and anti-corruption initiatives and that will be encouraged by the u.n. and ambassador. it would have been very hard with the economy which is is want performing well at all and the loss of human capital as
many young talented people leave the country. these are just a few of the challenges that you will face, but i'm extremely confident that you have the ability, the dedication and the experience to meet these challenges. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. general nicholson, before we proceed, there is a series of standard questions which we ask for all nominees and appreciate your answer yes or no and in order to exercise your legislative and oversight responsibility, it's important that this committee and other appropriate committees will receive testimony, briefings and other communications of information. if you were to adhere to applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest. >> yes, sir? >> do you agree to give your personal views even if those differ from the administration and power? >> yes, sir. >> have you assumed any dutiers on undertaken any actions which would appear the to presume the outcome of the confirmation
process? >> no, sir. >> we ensure you complied with deadlines for communications including questions for the record in hearings? >> yes, sir. >> will you cooperate in providing witnesses and briefers in response to congressional requests? >> yes, sir. >> will those witnesses be protected from reprisal from their testimony and briefings? >> yes, sir. >> do you confirm and tougher upon request of this committee? >> yes, sir. >> do you agree to provide documents including copies of electronic forms of communication in a timely manner to consult with the committee regarding the basis for any good faith delay or denial in providing such document? >> yes, sir. >> thank you. please proceed, lieutenant general nicholson. chairman mccain, senator reid and members of the committee, thank you very much, i want to thank senator kirk for the introduction. it's a privilege to appear before you this morning, sir, and i appreciate the opportunity
to answer your questions regarding my nomination as u.s. forces afghanistan. i thank president obama, secretary carter, general dunford and general millie for their support for my nomination. also wish to thank my friend general john campbell for his outstanding leadership in afghanistan and for his long service and if confirmed it would be a tremendous honor to follow him in this critical position. as you mentioned i would like to introduce my wife noreen, my daughter caroline and my other family members, my uncle jim, my dad, stepmother for their presence here today and for their love and support of me throughout my career. >> welcome to the family members. i know this is a proud time. >> thank you, sir. >> my father and uncle are vietnam veterans and their service has been an inspiration to me and our generation and our family for years. so much so that three of my cousins and my daughter are all in the family business in the service of our country.
most importantly, i would like to thank the soldiers, airmen and marines with which i've served. their selfless service to our country and to each other is the test am to the strength of the nation. i especially wish to honor the sacrifice of our service members who have died in this noble effort. i also wish to remember the afghan soldiers, afghan police and countless afghan civilians who have suffered so greatly in this conflict. and as i sit before you today i am thinking of them and their families and sincerely wish to deliver for them. the resolute support mission is a vitally important part to protect our homeland from terrorist threats and to enable sustainable afghan capacity to sustain their own country. since 9/11 the u.s. campaign in afghanistan has largely defined my service. i've either been deployed to afghanistan or supported the effort from various duty positions in the u.s. and europe. i've also had the privilege to
serve alongside our allies and partners, not only in afghanistan, but in my four years of service and nato. our common experience in afghanistan have had cohesion inside the nato alliance. it's an honor to serve alongside our allies and alongside our other partners in this 47-nation coalition and of course, alongside our afghan comrades. if confirmed, i look forward to working with this committee and the entire congress through my chain of command to address the many challenges that we face in afghanistan in order to keep america safe and secure and to protect the afghan people. i pledge that i'll make every effort to live up to the confidence that's been placed in me and i'm very grateful for your conversation. it is an honor to serve, and if confirmed it would be a distinct honor to serve in this position. thank you for this opportunity and i look forward to your questions, sir.
>> thank you. one of the sources of concern to the members of this committee on both sides is the almost continuous announcements even when there is an increase in troop strength or pause in reduction is announcement that we will be out of afghanistan. many times, in my view, in contravention of the events that happen on the ground. i guess my question to you is, do you believe that the security situation in afghanistan is improving or would you argue as some of us do that the -- that we were just completed or nearing the completion of the
most significant fighting in the winter that we've seen in many years in afghanistan, significant successes on the part of the taliban and now the presence of isis and including iranian providing weapons to the taliban. in other words, the view of many of us is that the security situation in afghanistan has been deteriorating rather than improving. what is your assessment, general, of the overall tactical situation in afghanistan? >> sir, i agree with your assessment. >> so if that is the case, isn't it be wise at least to pause in
our plans for further reductions and try to achieve some stability on the ground? >> sir, i agree in your opening statements both you and senator reid discussed conditions-based assessments to the capacity that we maintain in the country and that this capacity, this capability be maintained and should be able to adequately address our two core missions of counter terrorism and train advise assist to the afghans. and isn't it true that there are as -- long this line that the afghan military still does not have some capabilities that require years and years of training and equipping such as air assets and such as intel and
such as even things like med vac, but particularly intelligence capabilities that despite their brave fighting and i know from your experience you agree that they are very brave and tough fighters amongst the best, but there are certain capabilities that they simply take years and years to develop and they have not achieved of the level of efficiency in those areas. so i guess my question is what you're do you think the afghan military still needs united states assistance to improve their capabilities and perhaps turn this tactical situation around? >> sir, i wanted to echo your sentiment on the bravery, courage and fighting skill of the individual afghan soldier and as you mentioned, sir, i've had the opportunity to fight alongside them and they're very impressive and as we've seen and senator reid mentioned this year was a tough year for the afghan
security services. they took many casualties and this fighting has continued into the winter, but what we're seeing is an arm they has a degree of resiliency that has not broken and they continue to fight and they work hard to roll back any taliban games. to your specific question, sir, you've mentioned some of them. intelligence is certainly a key capability. the provision of air support and rotary wing aviation, fixed-wing aviation, as you mentioned takes some years to build. the growth of mid-level leaders at the small unit level where tactics matter and where we combine arms is extremely important and the use of indirect fire and fire support is extremely important and perhaps one of the most critical is their casually treatment and evacuation although we've seen improvements and steady growth in all those areas as you mentioned and we have years to go, in particular the aviation
area. >> as we all know, one of the biggest problems has been the sanctuary, particularly for the network and particularly the involvement of the isi and pakistan which in many cases have been supporting the hakani network and yet the chief of staff of the pakistani army has been to those of us that have met him and are very impressed with him. have you seen any -- any progress in this whole problem with sanctuary for the taliban in pakistan and how serious do you view that problem as it is today? >> i view it as a serious problem and this has been one of the principal challenges as you know from your many visits to theater over the years. it's a sanctuary that our enemies in particular the
haqqani network have enjoyed inside pakistan and we have seen, various times i have seen over my years there different efforts and different offenses and different parts of the tribal areas, and i note that the pakistanis have suffered significant casualties in the tens of thousands in terms of their security forces and their civilians and most recently these horrendous attacks at schools that have occurred inside pakistan. at the same time, sir, i concur there's not been satisfied that there's adequate pressure put on the haqqanis. the recent operations in northern waziristan have help as well as their stationing of the regular soldiers and the tribal areas have helped and some of this has pushed some fighters into afghanistan which has contributed somewhat with some of the issues there and so it's a mixed story, sir, and it's one that requires continuous engagement with the pakistan military in which general sharif
with continuous engagement at the operational, tactical level and increasingly, of course, we want to encourage the afghans and the pakistan military forces to work more closely together against their common enemies. >> senator reid? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and let me thank you for holding this hearing in such an expeditious fashion because it's so important to have the continuity of command with general campbell and general nicholson for several reasons and one is that we both have made it clear that your recommendation based on the condition is central to any decision, but that recommendation is going to have to be made essentially in the early spring because of the dynamics of changing forces and closing locations, et cetera. can you give us an idea of when you estimate that you will be compelled to make the
recommendation? >> sir, after the initial 90 days i'll have a good sense of where we are, building on the experience that we have, and of course, if confirmed, sir, the chance to do some more thorough discussions with general campbell and with the team on the ground. >> and so that we really should be looking at a decision period in the middle of this year. we don't have the luxury of december 31st or december 15th or december 1st. this is an estimate early enough so that you can take operational responsibility for the decision, is that correct? >> yes, sir. general campbell as mentioned, has the intention to hold the majority through the year and in the latter parts, and i support that approach, but as you point out, senator, these decisions take time even if a drawdown is going to occur and we need to set the conditions for that earlier and i agree with your
assessment and we would have the discussion sooner rather than later. >> one of the other consequences of the various moving pieces, the fact that iskp, the islamic state is actually sort of firmly tried to root itself into eastern afghanistan with external support, and the pakistan military is forcing terrorists into that part of the country and just to follow up on senator mccain's point about the general rahil who is a very distinguished chief of staff and he's announced his resignation, his announcement, at least, is that correct? >> as i understand his normal tour of duty would end this fall in november, i believe, and that he is, as i understand from the open source media has announced histic tension to depart at the end of his normal tour of duty. >> that could be another dynamic and let's put that aside for the moment. the counter terrorism mission seems to have expanded.
if nothing else has changed then an argument for the capacity in afghanistan would be simply the fact that there are many more al qaeda and pakistan, taliban, haqqani in your area of operations. is that a fair assessment? >> sir, i think it's fair to say, as you said in your opening statements, sir, the presence of iskp, the islamic state khorasan province and southeast kandahar is the presence of al qaeda and the indian subcontinent aqis and the sub district of kandahar and both of these are clear attempts of transnational terrorist organizations to establish sanctuary inside afghanistan. yes, sir. >> and the responsibility to go after those forces in afghanistan is your responsibility as the commander of operations? >> yes, sir. >> there's another aspect to this, too, and that is that you
wear a couple of hats there in your nato situation. my sense and again, if you could give us some insight is that their commitment of allies will be calibrated based on our commitment and the sooner we make a decision it will be at least clearer to them what they must do and what they will do. is that accurate also? >> yes, sir. >> again, your service throughout has been extraordinary. there are very few people that have been deposed for a mission that have actually sort of spent years from, i think in '07 the first time you were deployed there and all of the way up learning as we all do through trial and error and experience. so i think again, you are prepared to assume this responsibility and thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, general, for your distinguished service and
relling to serve in this important position and to your family, as well. i wanted to ask, based on the administration's announcement that, in fact, they will reduce the number of troops in afghanistan to 5500 by january 1st of 2017, you named a number of areas where the afghan forces still have some significant challenges. i just looked at your list and i saw intelligence air support and mid-level leaders and fire support, casualty treatment. given that we've made this announcement, i want to understand, what's the military rationale for reducing the forced posture by 44% in announcing a year in advance. what is it that we won't be able to do when we go down to 5500? because one of the discussions we previously had with your predecessor general campbell when there was a discussion about essentially bringing us down to an embassy presence,
what is it that we'll be able to do with 5500 behind an embassy fromsence. if you can help us understand the military rationale and what risks we have going down to 5500 and it's important for us to understand that. >> thank you, senator. the two core missions, as you know, four operation resolute support and afghanistan. counter terrorism and train advise assist to the afghans and for our allies and resolute support. first, i'd like to express great appreciation for this congress and for this effort because without that we would not be able to man e equip, train this field without this organization. our allies also contribute, as you know a billion a year and the afghans contribute some, as well. so these two core missions, counter terrorism and train advise assist are the ones
against which on how to accomplish that policy as senator mccain as the chairman mentioned earlier and it's incumbent upon me as general campbell has to estimate four-hour political leadership and the necessary leadership to accomplish those mission. it's difficult for me, and i'll be happy to come back later where the exact rationale and these these, and i want to take in my first 90 days to look at that and what amount is necessary given that current condition. >> what worries me and what i think we need to understand is what risk are we taking on? this has been a constant kabuki dance where the administration announces we're going to withdraw to this point telling our enemies, by the way, here's the numbers and here's what you can expect from the united states. i'm very glad that, you know, they backed off from their sole
embassy presence which is where we were supposed to be, but this is very important because we cannot afford to take on risks that allows obviously the safe haven with al qaeda and now with isis engagement and to me, we do need you to tell us just very clear-eyed when we go to 5500, what risk? what are our capabilities then? because it seems to me that force protection is always be our number one priority for our men and women, 5500 is a pretty low number given a support mission for the afghan forces given what you've give then committee already for what their capabilities that they still are lacking in some ways. >> senator, i share your concerns and i would ask your indulgence to be able to come back to you once i've had a chance to get on the ground and do a detailed assessment of this
to really give you the answers you're looking for and of course, this will be based on conditions and to mention a couple of conditions that are different in 2015. one, as we heard earlier the attempt by the al qaeda and the indian subcontinent to establish a fairly large training basin side southeast kandahar, the attempt by iskp to establish a sanctuary inside nangahar and these are chase manhattaninges need to confirm do we have the right level of c.t. capability to doeal with that? >> we appreciate and i want to follow very quickly, last week in the readiness subcommittee i held a hearing on the task force on business instability operations. this congress allocated $800 million and roughly $650 million
were spent and i can't account for it. $150 million on villas where they could have potentially stayed on base. literally we're trying to track down how much money was spent on an ice cream business, carpeting, jewelry, a compressed national gas station that appears to cost much more than it should, bottom line is i hope that you will follow up this because if you think about what we could do with $800 million to support our men and women in uniform, you think about the equipment, the training and their preparation and readiness, we cannot afford to continue to waste money like this in afghanistan. i hope you will take this as one of your responsibilities very seriously, as well. >> absolutely, senator. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, chairman and welcome, general nicholson. i want to thank you for your willingness to serve. how long have we been in the train and equip mission for nsf
forces in afghanistan now? >> sir, our first afghan act was created in the early 2002 and 2003 period and a fully resourced counter insurgency campaign that was adopted with president obama's approximatepo decision in 2009 is one where we made heavy, heavy investments with the military and in the air and frankly we started with the air component and that will take longer. >> so 14 years overall, but seven properly resourced and focused. what do you see as the pathway to military sustainablity and just in terms of the performance and what do you see as the pathway for sustainability with dnsf. >> sir, a couple of points.
we're working very hard at the institutional level where the afgh afghan's fight, and they're tactical levels and when you have to sustain that force, recruit, train, equip, maintain the pay system, et cetera, this is where we've really had to create institutions from the ground up and so our focus right now is at the institutional level and the core level with train, advise, assist. so that will take some time, sir. the -- >> could you give me just a -- some time, obviously, we've been at this a while so what is some time mean? >> yes, sir. >> and so again, i'd like to give you the kind of answer you deserve and need because we greatly appreciate the resources congress has provided for all of this. i would like to get on the ground and analyze these areas that we focused on and come up
with something more concrete. i can tell you though, sir, the air piece will take a little longer for a number of reasons and some of these other enabling systems. as far as the end state. you mentioned this, sir and what are we looking for. this is afghanistan and there will always be some level of violence in afghanistan. so from my perspective, the ability of the security forces to maintain that level of violence and for their part, prevent the re-emergence of these sanctuaries and this is the standard we're looking for and we're not trying to create a western-style society here. we are looking at an adequate level of security to prevent the re-emergence of transnational terrorist threats. >> you mentioned, i think we con tr tribute $4 billion a year to this effort and you mentioned a contribution from the eu. of the total cost of this
effort, how much is borne by afghanistan in a percentage basis. >> sir, as i understand currently it's about $500 million and so 3.5 billion from the u.s. and a billion from other contributors and then about 500 million with an objective, of course, with that increasing over time. >> do you see any pathway to ever reaching sustainability from a financial point of view? >> sir, there would be two ways that that would occur. one is, of course, the economic development of afghanistan and president ghani has a number of thoughts about that and as initiated that in many respects. the, of course, the second way is ultimately to reduce the size of the security service and this has been discussed previously and the challenge there, of course and the conditions on the ground don't merit a reduction. >> so i'm going to change gears
a little bit here. when i was in the kandahar area a number of years ago, one of the things that i found very interesting was that people did not want to commit to the kind of farming that produced crops that were unstable. in other words, if you grew melons or anything else that when you got to the border checkpoint someone could tell you, if you don't pay a bribe you're just going have to sit and wait a few days while your produce rot. so people would invest in things that were stable and that included opium as well as other, you know, more legitimate crops like raisins which they knew couldn't be subject to that kind of corruption. what are your thoughts as to how we get a handle ol what is probably a $22 billion opium trade at this point? >> yes, sir. as you mentioned, of course, the military is in a supporting
capacity when it comes to counternarcotics policy to other agencies of the public and the international community. i'm not asking for a military answer. what can we do? what should we be doing, not necessarily asking you to solve the problem. >> yes, sir. and your visit to kandahar, as you know, this used to be the bread basket of not only afghanistan, but the entire region and if you look at initiatives like the silk road initiative, these are long-term initiatives and much of the work that's been done by usaid and kandahar if particular and the british development agency and other agencies like the asian development bank and others there's been significant advancement for many of the products that you mentioned and the challenge, of course, they face is they may be able to grow the melon, but they don't have refrigeration and these other things and that, of course, the value chain rests on infrastructure and power, water, roads and so these have all b n
been, intense effort and investment by the international community for years. so, ideally at some point they're able to return to that, but in this current environment of conflict it's extremely difficult for these farmers, as you saw when you were there, sir, and these people are very hardworking and they're willing, they accept hardship with the dignity and grace that we in the west find very admirable and we should, but they -- at the end of the day they have to survive so i think they fall back on as you just articulated these things they know work. and so production of opium and then being paid in advance at the farc gate for their product as opposed to trying to take it to market over a dangerous route that may not work. these are the choices they make and these are choices to survive. and so until we can create a
stable enough environment for some of the economic initiatives to take hold, we'll have this problem for some time to come. >> i apologize, mr. chair, for going over my time. >> thank you, mr. chair, and thank you lieutenant general, for your great service to our country especially the time you spent in the 75th regiment and i want to thank your family for being here today. it's great to see that you have such a great support group. so thank you very much. i am glad that senator ayad drilled into the situation and i would like to take that further because we do talk about decreasing troop strength in afghanistan and i would like your feelings on that because i think that this administration continues to set up our service members for failure, to be
honest. you had stated you don't believe that the situation is getting better in afghanistan with the current troop strength, the current missions that we have. so what i want to know is then your feelings if that is the case, then does it make sense even to keep the troop strength at current numbers? what would you do differently? do we need to increase troop strength and take on additional missions or do we need to decrease troop strength and withdrawal completely? what is that magic number? >> i know you probably don't have an answer today, but i'm sure you've thought about this. we can't keep on keeping on with what we're doing right now and expect things to get better and i would like feedback on what the troop strength needs to be and where do we go from here to make things better. >> thank you for that question and the support of this effort
and first off, i would say we have not been attacked in our homeland from afghanistan in 15 years. that success is worthy of continued investment to prevent that from happening again. as recently as this year and the 15th year of the war, we see a dogged determination of our enemies to attempt to re-establish sanctuary inside afghanistan. we see even with a transition and the taliban leadership, very quickly, al zawahiri of al qaeda pledged allegiance to the new head of the taliban and we see a continued connection between al qaeda and the taliban. we've seen the efforts of the pakistanis force some of these terrorists to the other side of the border and former members of the ttp. we have members of other terrorist organizations that have joined together to form iskp and we see their attempt to get there so back to our first principle of preventing an
attempt on the homeland, we still see attacks by terrorist organizations to get into afghanistan and we see linkages between them and the taliban. so this, again, as a first principle requires our continued focus and effort. so then the question in my mind is what level of investment is necessary to accomplish the c.t. mission and to avoid having our own combat troops there in an endless sense you need to develop their indigenous capability. so the 352,000 soldier, policeman, security force and we think, the number is still right and as i mentioned before, we don't see this original projections for a drawdown have to be looked at in terms of when that occur and we need to get this to a level to be able to prevent re-emergence of sanctuaries and that means preventing the taliban from taking over areas and because of the connection we see they would
potentially invite al qaeda back in. so this means train, advise assist is important. so the two critical parts of our policy, counter terrorism and train, advise assist and in my military opinion are the correct ones. the issue, as we discussed is what capability in each of those areas do we need going forward? so i would not advocate, ma'am, for a change to the policy. that's my role, of course, is to deliver how to execute the approximately see militarily, and i think those two components are necessary and now once we have a chance to do the assessment and see given thisél: emergence of iskp, given al qaeda presence in the region, what do we have the right c.t. force, and then on the train, advise assist part, do we have the right sized advisory force? the only thing i would mention there is a couple of considerations i would look at. what level do we need to advise at and right down to the core
level and at the institutional level and then what capabilities do we need to help them with as we build their capabilities? i hope that answers -- >> yes, you did, general. thank you very much. the first point that you made stating that we have not had an attack on the homeland and anything of the scale that we have seen since ne9/11, i think that is a very important point for those that state we simply need to pull out. i think we are disrupting our adversaries' activities in that area. so i thank you for making that point quite loud and clear. i think we should focus a little more on counter terrorism. if that means additional troops then we do that, but we need to protect our homeland as well as make sure wooe moving in the right direction in afghanistan, as well. thank you for your service and thank you to the members of your family for joining you today. thank you, mr. chair.
>> general nicholson, thank you for being here today. thank you for your service and congratulations on this nomination. thank you, as well, to your family who is here with you today, and two regards. one, in my experience, veterans of combat are the last people who want to go off into combat again and they're the first to do their duty and family members often have to stay behind at home and wonder if they're safe at home and thank you for the many years of doing that as a representative of the family members and our armed forces and second, multi-generation and multi-member family of our armed service which is a reminder that a very small percentage of americans currently shoulder the load of our armed forces and when you look at the number of multiple family members who do so it's even smaller, often from places like arkansas or arizona, and iowa. we appreciate your family's decorated service.
so you're going to be replacing general john campbell and the commanding general of the 101st airborne and looking through your bioand looking at your right pocket i see lots of service at the 82nd airborne and i see no service at the 101st, is that correct? >> i did wear the 101st on my right and left shoulders when i was in rc south in afghanistan, but i have not served at fort campbell, senator. >> hope you can overcome the defishence ney your background. i hope that the committee will oversee the american, if you can get screaming eagles on your team in afghanistan, but in seriousness, i want to associate myself with the comments and the questions of senator mccain and senator earnst. i want to raise another screaming eagle, general petraeus and i would assume that you've worked with him even in afghanistan. do you see petraeus as a source of trusted counsel and insight
into current operations in afghanistan? >> yes, i do, senator. i worked for general petraeus in afghanistan as deputy commanding general for operations. >> are you aware of an article he wrote for "the washington post" called it's time to unleash america's air power in afghanistan? >> yes, sir. i've seen that. >> i would like to quote here from what general petraeus wrote. at present, u.s. and nato air power in afghanistan is used only to, one attack validated al qaeda targets. two, to counter terrific individuals or groups who habitat coalition forces previously and three, to respond directly to attacks on coalition forces. according to leaders on the ground, u.s. and nato forces are otherwise not allowed to attack taliban targets. >> general petraeus goes on to cite that there are 400 sorties which is a fall of two-thirds since 2014 and a fall more than 2,000 sorties since 2010.
do you agree with his advice that it is time to unleash american air power in afghanistan and if so, what would that look like? >> thanks for that question, senator. of course, president ghani has asked for help in bridging the cash gap. as you know, senator, we have a long-range plan, but the challenges right now, we have a shortfall, in afghan air power and they're the principle force combatting the taliban and we focus on force protection and ct and hence the gap. wye want i want to explain the difference why there is a gap and eventually as an afghan air force and aviation training they'll be able to fill the gap. in the end the question is what to do. i've not had the opportunity to talk to general kimmel about this specific issue and i know that he has thoughts on this and he has made some recommendations and there is a conversation going on inside the department of defense right now about some of his thoughts about this and
other subjects in 2015 looking ahead to 2016. at this point i'm not confirmed and i don't want to insert myself in his dialogue with his chain of command, but i look forward to doing my own assessment when i get on the ground because filling this gap is important in order to enable these brave afghan soldiers to take the fight to the taliban. so i agree that we need to,a dress this gap as president ghani is requesting and as general petraeus has highlighted. >> thank you. given how decisive american air power provides us. i hope you will take a close look at that. a related topic that petraeus wrote in the op ed is that some administration lawyers harbor concern for the u.s. of military force approved soon after 9/11 does not extend to justify the continued use of force against the taliban. would you agree with that viewpoint? >> sir, the -- i believe the point they're expressing is we
are no longer engaged in direct action against the taliban and that is also partly a policy decision. although the rules of not getting into a rules of engagement discussion, but we believe that we have adequate engagement authority to threaten anyone who engages in u.s. forces. i think there is a policy question of whoen game e en gag taliban and do you use u.s. air power and do we let the afghans handle it. this is the issue and i believe it's in a way that's related to your first point about addressing this threat posed by the taliban given the intensity with which the taliban came with the undsf this year. >> thank you. my time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i want to thank you for assuming this responsibility to all your
family. to your uncle jim who served as a veteran secretary when i was in the house, thank you very much for everything you did for veterans during that time. i guess the question is, so what is our goal when you go to afghanistan? is it to make sure the taliban doesn't get another foot of ground and if it is, what do you really ned to do to accomplish th that? because if we have troops there that are not enough to get the mission done then doesn't it just make it more difficult for the troops that are there? what is the goal as you see it when you go there? >> sir, our policy, and i agree with this, is that first and foremost counter terrorists to prevent another attack on the u.s. homeland that emanates from afghanistan. number one mission. number two, enable the afghans and we're doing that through
what we call train, advise assist to be able to secure their own country with financial support and advisory help from -- from the coalition, but enable them to secure their own country. and so this growth of afghan capacity to secure their own country would then lead to a point where the conditions would warrant reduction in our presence, but to get to that point requires us to continue to make an investment financially and with the train, advise, assist and going forward, i think it would be prudent to maintain a counter terrorist capability in this region and as part of a global counter terrorist network and our afghan allies are very willing and support partners in that effort. >> so in the last year, do you think we move the ball forward in afghanistan or did it go backward? it's a great question, senator. i think the enemy, the taliban came at the andsf more intensely
and perhaps we anticipated because of that, we did not make the advances we projected and we thought we would make, i believe, and again, i say this not being confirmed and not having a chance to get on the ground and talk to the commander, so i would wish to caveat all of that with that. >> and i have the greatest respect in the world for general campbell, as i know everyone here does. but one of the old sayings is plan for the worst and hope for the best. so how do we plan for the worst scenario in afghanistan? what do we need to do? how do we need to make sure that the sack ri feces that have been made don't get washed away? >> sir, i believe that we need to have an adequate counter terrorism force first and foremost, back to job number one is preventing an attack. so as we assess the growth, potential growth of aqis. we saw this attempt by them to
establish a base in southeast kandahar. as we assess the attempt of iskp to get into nangahar, we go back and look at adequacy of our c.t. capability to deal with that and secondly, we look at the challenges the afghan security forces faced in 2015 and see if that drives a need to recalibrate the level of support we provide them in 2016. >> one of the things looking forward is when we look at troop lechls and i know you said we need to get on the ground there and start to get a better handle on it to figure that out and i trust you will, but we desperately need you to let us know what we really need. if it's 10,000 that's needed to be effective then tell us it's ten. if it's five, tell us it's five, but i can't think of a worse
scenario than to need ten and to have five and to try to, in effect, almost be like someone who is trying to paint four pai. if we don't have enough there, it is just going to make it worse and worse and worse. what we don't want to do is go backwards. if it's 12,000 or 13,000 or 14,000, just let us know because you don't control the day you get there. you don't control exactly how many you need, meaning, they may want to shoo you in a 5,000 number, but if the number is 14,000, then the number is 14,000. we can't make a peach an orange. so we really need to hear unvarnished exactly what the situation is and exactly what you into ed to have success. >> senator, thanks for that
encouragement, and thanks for your indulgence. in discussing with the chairman and ranking member on giving me the opportunity to do an assessment on the ground. and the message has come across loud and clear from every member of this committee that you really are looking for that best military advice. and i greatly appreciate that, and i will provide that. >> well, we appreciate your service and taking on this mission. we wish you godspeed and just let us know what you need. thank you. >> general, we also would like to know what missions need to be accomplished that the afghans cann cannot, and then come up with a number. it seems to me that one of the mistakes that we have made in the past is dictating a number rather than assessing what missions need to be accomplished, and then arriving at a number. arbitrary statements made by the
president of the united states that we will be down to a certain number by a certain date is not dictated by mission requirements or anything else that members of this committee could ascertain. so i know you'll be looking at it from the mission requirement standpoint rather than giving us an arbitrary number. so when you come back before us, i hope you will tell us what needs to be accomplished by american troop presence, and then a determination of what numbers it requires to fulfill those missions. senator sullivan? >> thank you, mr. chairman. and general, like my colleagues, i'd like to congratulate you for the nomination and your service and the service of your family. we know what a sacrifice that is for you and especially your family. i wanted to ask a little bit, on this committee we hear a lot
about counter terrorism missions and we sometimes hear about counterinsurgency missions. so the ct versus the coin approach. i think sometimes it confuses people. i think it sometimes confuses the american people. can you explain to us how you see the different missions? how do you define the ct mission? how do you define the coin mission? are there -- and then what are the troop levels that we need from your perspective in afghanistan to accomplish either/or? >> well, thank you, senator, for that question. on the ct mission, the counterterrorist mission in afghanistan, as you know for many years we had a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy. that was part of president obama's policy announcement in 2009. then as we transition to resolute support in 2014, we transitioned to from a u.s. perspective a counterterrorist mission, and then a train,
advise, assist. >> are we done with the coin mission in afghanistan right now? >> the afghans' strategy is a coin strategy, enabled, trained, advised, assist by us. >> that's part of our coyne strateg. >> they, afghans are the lead for the coin, sir. not us. this is why we can reduce to a train, advise, assist capacity. >> can you just define the ct mission? what does it mean when you say we have a counterterrorism mission in afghanistan? >> yes, sir. so the counterterrorist forces identify and destroy the terrorist networks that threaten our homelands. >> is that solely al qaeda? is that isis? that the haqqani network? the taliban? do we have a pecking order in which we're trying to destroy? >> sir, a really important distinction. so we know al qaeda has been a part of or national policy for years. they launched the attacks on 9/11. they are clearly a transnational threat we have to target. >> they are our number one ct
mission in afghanistan. >> yes, sir. then we have seen the emergence of islamic state in the khorasan province. now there have been some questions about what does it mean to be operationally emer ge emergent. we know the intention of is. we've seen this globally and in the media. we know they have the contention to conduct terrorist attacks and they have identified the united states as a target. what they don't possession in afghanistan or haven't until recently is an operational capability to enable them to act on that intention. >> are we targeting isis forces as part of our ct mission? afghanistan? >> yes, sir, as of december. >> do we target the haqqani network and taliban as part of our ct mission? >> sir, they are not a part of that designation right now -- sir, i could talk to you in another forum about some of this. but we know the haqqanis. of course, our number one threat
to our forces in afghanistan. they've been a severe threat to the government of afghanistan. i appreciate what this body has done to focus on that and to help the pakistanis focus on that, so thank you for that, senator. but the haqqanis are principally a focus of the afghan security forces. the taliban and the haqqani network. >> you mentioned pakistan. i saw in your background very distinguished background that you were the director of the pakistan/afghanistan coordination cell. whether it's going after the al qaeda or the haqqani network, or even taliban forces, how do we defeat these forces when there still remains a safe haven in pakistan for these forces that allow them to essentially conduct missions against our
troops or terrorism missions, and then go back to their safe haven in pakistan, on the afghan-pakistan border where we don't touch them? how do we ever, ever complete our mission unless there is a substantial safe haven in the border region of afghanistan and pakistan? >> sir, you're correct. when an enemy enjoys sanctuary like that, it is very difficult to defeat them. you have to tenlist the nation, in this case pakistan, and build up the capacity of the afghans so they can keep that level of violence down to manageable level. >> one final question as i'm running out of time here. but there's a debate that i'm sure you're seeing being played out, i would say kind of the back ends of it are on been end you have president obama coming in with his strategy, very focused on an exit strategy, very focused on ending wars, very focused on getting out. we saw how that worked out in
iraq. then you have, on the other hand, generals like general abizaid and others who have talked about the long war and have talked about generational approach, more of a model of, hey, look, we've been training forces for years -- years -- in afghanistan, and i would say, in my experience spending some time over there in 2005 and 2006, we were doing a lot of training back then. we had a lot more troops on the ground to do training. so i don't know if i believe this notion we're doing more training under president obama than we were previously. but how should we be thinking about this issue? i noticed that brigade general schofter talked about kind of a korea model approach. these are very, very, very different spectrums in terms of a strategy. one is get out and see what happens. another is, stay. germany, korea be wi, generatio.
how do we think be about that and how do you think about that, more importantly? >> senator, two points. thanks for the question. number one, in this age, the threat of transnational terrorism is a legitimate concern. and because of all the advances in technology and so forth, and as we saw on 9/11, the ability of a small terrorist group with a sanctuary in afghanistan to reach out and affect us in america is real. so this has changed the -- i believe how we need to view these types of missions in terms of ct. secondly, i'd say the difference with afghanistan -- we have a very willing and capable partner. they want us there. and they want to fight on their own behalf. i have talked to many afghans who have -- i talked to an afghan mother who said she weeps more bitterly when a u.s. service member dies because of all they have given up to come to her country and fight on their behalf. i have heard the same thing from
afghan soldiers. and so they want -- they view it as a matter of pride to defend themselves. so when we have an ally like that who needs some assistance, to me, the investment in them then will pay dividends in the future because they're willing to do the heavy lifting themselves. so i think we do need to think about an enduring commitment to the afghans as the president said in his october announcement on the policy shift, that we have an enduring connection with afghanistan that will sustain. and so the level of that, sir, is where i hope to provide my best military advice on how to accomplish that policy. and i appreciate are the chance to come back to you and the committee later with my assessment of that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you for your extraordinary service to our nation and for
your continuing service in the role that you are about to assume. i have a question not so much about the flow of people across the pakistan-afghan border, but the flow of bomb making materiel, the components of ieds that continue to inflict casualties on our forces and our allies. are you satisfied with being from what you know, with the efforts the pakistanis are making against the factories and other sources of whether it's fertilizer or other bomb making materiels that go into the ieds that inflict these kinds of grave losses? >> thank you, senator, for raising that issue. the majority of the casualties in the afghan police, for example, are caused by ieds. two-thirds. so this remains a serious problem. as you know, many of the casualties we suffered on our
soldiers were caused by ieds. the difficulty in dealing with this is the availability of these components. you mentioned homemade explosives. that can be made from fertilizer that is produced globally but in pakistan, a significant amount. so, senator, i'd like to be able to come back to you with a specific assessment. i did work this specifically in afghanistan, but i don't have a current up-to-date sense of where we are with the pakistanis but i know this has been the subject of intense effort on our part to reduce the flow of these precursor materials that can be made into bombs. >> i would appreciate it. it's been a subject with intense effort. i know on your part, on all of our part, and also a source of intense frustration often, because as you have very correctly said, the ieds have
inflicted such massive and serious casualties on our own troops and now on the afghan police and their military. it remains a course of frustration and concern to me and i know many of my colleagues. so i would appreciate that greater information. i want to ask about the general subject of post traumatic stress, known as post traumatic stress disorder, but i prefer to refer to it as post traumatic stress. i know it is a subject of concern to many of our military leaders. rightly so. and your assessment about whether our nation is doing enough about post traumatic stress especially as a cause of suicide and other related kinds of emotional health disorders. >> well, thank you, senator, for your support of our soldiers, our service members in this
area. i'll speak now as a former division commander where we dealt with this issue. one of the manifestations, as you mentioned, sir, is suicides. and so this is a terrible event in the life, not only of the family involved, but also in a unit. because it is a member of the family. what we found is, because of the intense effort we put into trying to understand the problems, there is an education issue, and get leaders and peers and support networks more engaged so they see the signs of an issue, and then the ability to intervene and coaching people to intervene when they need to to help save a life. i think we are starting to see positive results of this effort. my own experience -- again, this is anecdotal, one division in the army, but our categories of
suicides fell -- there were two of them generally. one, there might be a trigger event and someone who is otherwise seemed to not have any issues like ptsd or anything, but a trigger of that would cause a reaction. in many cases volume was involved. then they'd make a bad decision with respect to suicide. and then the other half of the case is, there might have been a history, family history or individual history, it might have related to their experience in combat, it might have been an issue that they had before they came into the military. and those issues we have to work closely with our medical professionals, respecting medical rules about privacy, but also getting enough information so we understand when someone is potentially in crisis. so all of this adds up to greater awareness on the part of leaders and leaders being more engaged.
the more we see that happen, i think we see a reduction in the number of suicide. s. >> thank you for that very inciteful answer. i look forward to your continued service. thank you very, very much. i want to thank the chairman for his work on the suicide issue. he and i worked on a suicide prevention bill which addressed some of the manifestations that you've mentioned. and thank you very much. thanks, mr. chairman. >> good morning, general. thank you for being here. welcome to all the family members who should be very proud. also wanted to say hello for the folks in ft. bragg and fayetteville from the time you had down there. i hope it is on your short list many, many years from now when you retire. i have a couple questions. one, i'm with a number of other
members when we were in afghanistan last year with president ghani. he's working to address the corruption issues in the government. it's a lot of challenges there. i think he's made progress. one of the things he said he is trying to focus on are other things that will stabilize the country long term dealing with infrastructure projects and getting out and gaining additional support from the population. what role, if any, do we play in that? >> as general john allen recently pointed out, he viewed corruption as the number one problem. we had task force that was very focused on how to eliminate corruption. we continue these efforts with oversight in how our dollars are spent. we have a great relationship with president ghani who is
really committed to this. i think at the upper levels we see a genuine effort to eliminate corruption. if confirmed my area of responsibility to be through things like the pay system where instead sf cash exchanging hands with all of the potential to be siphoned off, we pay soldiers through an automated system where the soldier gets their full amount of money. . that's not universal yet in all of the afghan security forces but that's one example. i know when i get on the ground, sir, if confirmed, to meet with our team that's working inside the ministries, to ensure that this oversight and accountability is improved. we have some work to do there. as you know, president ghani pulled up contracting authority to his level because he wasn't satisfied that it could be done without problems at a lower level. so this was one of the encouraging measures.
however, that's also slowed down our ability to do contracting. so these -- this is an area i'll be jumping into, sir. and we'll include this in the assessment that i will provide back. >> general, if i look ahead -- there's no way i could do your job. but if i were looking ahead and thinking about things i'd be concerned with in your job, i'd like to know whether or not you are. one, going forward, are the levels that i think others asked questions about, your level of comfort with the current troop reductions. the other one relates to funding, that it's my understanding, i think in 2017, that the level of funding that has been used to this point to reinvigorate kabul and to kind of get the economy back on track there, there is a cliff out there where we haven't had a revenue stream either from the united states or other partners. how does that make your job more
difficult if that is not addressed over the course of this year because i think economically it starts hitting them 14 months out? >> sir, you are exactly right. one of the positive outcomes of a more stable environment provided by the security forces is the chance for the economy to grow. so that would be a problem, sir. absolutely. if there was -- if a viable economy takes hold and of course there's great potential in afghanistan for the extractive industries, and of course afghanistan is a transit route for the pipeline. i mentioned the silk road initiative before. if there were increased trade between the countries of the region using afghanistan for that, then all this would contribute to an afghan economy. part of the problem with migrants out of afghanistan that we've seen, and many of them end up in europe where i now serve in nato, there is a sense of, one, insecurity, but also no work. so there's some economic issues
associated with migration. then when you couple that with the demographics of the youth bulge in afghanistan, you have many young people who are looking for jobs. we have improved education. that's a major plus. but these increasingly educated young people now don't have economic opportunity inside the country. >> i just think that going forward, it is important for us, we all have our concerns. we asked earlier about troop reductions or strategy within country but i also think we have to open the aperture and take a look at other things that are going on in terms of infrastructure buildout, the economic impact of a lack of funding going forward. because afghanistan doesn't have an economy that can make up for that now, and how that actually potentially threatens the security of the region or the security of our men and women who are over there. thank you. >> thank you. i think the president chose wisely. you will do a great job. you're very afghan fluent.
you've been over there a long time. and to your family, i know this is an honor and a burden all at the same time. when we fight for kandahar, if there was an offensive tomorrow or next week or next month where the taliban were able to generate forces to put kandahar at risk, would we sit on the sidelines like we did in mosul? or would you recommend that we fight to keep kandahar from falling into the hands of the taliban? >> sir, we'd need to prevent kandahar from falling into the hands of the taliban. >> so your recommendation as military commander is that we should use combat power, american boots on the ground, to protect kandahar. >> before it came to that i'd look at extremist authorities i'd have. >> not just authorities. your recommendation. isn't kandahar the spiritual home of the taliban? >> absolutely, sir. >> i just want the american people to know we're not going to let iraq happen in afghanistan. if there is a sustained effort for -- by the taliban to take a
major city, we should not sit on the sidelines and let that happen. that is not in our national security interest. >> i agree, sir. >> thank you. counterterrorism. what's the likelihood of another 9/11 being generated from afghanistan if we went down to 1,000 troops in january 2017? >> sir, i'd be concerned that we would not be able to perform our counterterrorist mission. >> would you say it would be high? >> it would be definitely higher, sir. >> so if the counterterrorism mission is one of the most important to the united states, how many counterterrorism forces will we have in place under the current plan in january 2017? >> sir, i can't answer that question right now but i'll be happy to come back to you. >> isn't there a plan that envisions going down to hundreds? >> sir, the plan right now at the 5,000 would still include a significant counterterrorism -- >> would it be enough? >> that's what i would like to assess, sir, because i'm
concerned that it would be. >> i know you are. you're a good man. i know you want to protect the country. i'd like for you to present to the committee, if this is appropriate, a count terrorism footprint. given what you see to be happening on the ground today and in the next five years, ten years, marrying that up with the capability of growth of the afghan military. and have a small, medium, large, low, medium, high-risk footprint. and let this committee know from a military point of view how many troops we'd need to have a low threat. and as we go below that number, what are the threats to our homeland? could you perform that for us? >> yes, sir. >> when it comes to high sill, what are the limitations on your fight against isil in afghanistan? >> sir, isil's been designated as a terrorist organization. they can be engaged. >> can you do independent operations without going through the afghan military? >> sir, i'm not sure the classification level of some of this. >> okay. >> i can come back to you in
another forum. >> would you agree with me from a national security point of view, we should be able to independently operate against isil in afghanistan? >> yes, sir. >> from a national security point of view, we should be able to capture somebody who's an isil fighter and put them in american detention for intelligence gathering purposes? >> sure. again, a little bit out of my area in terms of detention capabilities. >> i just want to mike suake sut we can fighteffectively as required in afghanistan. how did isil come about in afghanistan? how were they able to get there? >> sir, as i understand it, couple of dpakt efactors. one, pressure put by pakistanis forced some fighters. some are from the ttp. they aligned with the movement of uzbekistan. as well as some isil facilitators formed a group and
began to grow. they didn't have much operational capability initially. there were linkages, definitely, back to syria with this group and now they've gotten to a point where they do have operational capabilities. the area they've embedded themselves in -- >> is there a command and control component from syria to afghanistan? >> that i'm not sure of, sir. i'd have to come back to you. >> that would be something we want to know. >> there is communication. >> okay. so i just want to put afghanistan in perspective. do you agree with me, of all the places on the map right now, that this is the place we were attacked from on 9/11. this is important that we be seen to have won in afghanistan. and that we're going to be judged not by the day we leave, but what we left behind in terms of our national security interest. can you describe what winning would look like in afghanistan and how close are we to it? >> yes, sir. number one, there's no more terrorist attacks that emanate from afghanistan that affect our homeland. number one.
number two, the afghans have a level of security capability that enables them to secure themselves with our continued assistance. >> how close are we to achieving those goals? >> sir, i'd like to get on the ground and do ply assessment and i can give you a better answer. >> well, general, we thank you for your testimony. there may be some written questions submitted by members of the committee to you. we'll try and expedite that and ask you are o membemembers to ge in as quickly as possible. we'd like to get your nomination to the floor by early next week, but we also want all members to have the ability to ask any questions that they might have. i can only speak for myself, but
i believe that you are imminently qualified. i believe that we are in a crisis situation there given the in. creases in the conflict that we have seen, presence of isis, as senator graham just pointed out, and other aspects of the situation which are indeed disturbing. due to your previous time there, you know that we've made enormous sacrifice there, and it would be really shameful for us to lose this conflict because we are not addressing it adequately. so we thank you. we thank your family for their service and we'll look forward to your return in some months from now after your confirmation so you can give us your
assessment. in fact, the earlier, the better, so you can give us your assessment of the situation on the ground. senator reid? >> mr. chairman, i concur entirely with your explanation. i think the gentleman is perfectly qualified. we look forward to your report as soon as you get on the ground and get back. i thank the chairman for being so polite given the overwhelming number of west pointers here. >> i'm getting much kinder in my declining years. this hearing is adjourned.
c-span's campaign 2016 is taking you on the road to the white house for the iowa caucuses. tonight our live coverage begins at 7:00 eastern on both c-span and c-span2 with live pre-caucus coverage taking your phone calls, texts and tweets. at 8:00, we'll take you to a republican caucus on c-span and a democratic caucus on c-span2. c-span's been talk to iowa residents about their experiences leading up to the caucuses, including campaign-themed apparel.
here's a look. >> we're joined my mike draper, owner and founder of ray gun, a print and t-shirt design comes in downtown des moines, a company known for its witty t-shirts. several are themed at the 2016 caucus. >> we've made caucus shirts for several years. this one is iowa! for some reason you have to come here to be president, which has been a popular gift for people to get to the candidates who i think deep down wonder why they have to come here to be president. >> it's t-shirts not just targeted at the candidates and supporters but the media as well who descend on iowa and des moines. >> yeah. when we were thinking of political shirts to do and stuff about the caucus, we thought of stuff just for the media to wear to reduce the number of things they have to ask people. didn't i interview you four years ago? to this is my setting up a shot with the iowa capitol in the
background shirt. tell me about iowa. you have to live here? you are not able to leave? i think some people think we lost the lottery of life and are stuck here but there are several clearly marked exits. i just choose to live here. >> are there candidates in this election cycle that have made selling t-shirts easier? >> yeah. this election is even more bizarre than like past elections. probably the truest thing we have released is "i support the crazy one!" which could be about any number of candidates running this year. so from trump to bernie sanders, there's lots off colorful candidates. we've stuck bernie's face on a t-shirt. not really as an endorsement for ber bernie, but he is just by far the most exsupprepressive from
socialist. we're ten years old but we're only three in caucus years. this will be our third caucus. >> isn't this the best caucus for t-shirts? >> yeah. but now that we're bigger we sell more of everything. this has been a great year for us in general. >> do you get involved in campaigns at all? do you get xaepcandidates that through here? >> no, we've never had a candidate that come through this door. i think there's probably some photographs they don't need to be photographed next to. des moines is probably a little more liberal for washington, d.c.'s sensibilities. >> what are some of those slogans that they don't want to be interviewed next to? >> this one -- dear america, sorry about steve king. sincerely, iowa. to when they legalized gay marriage we did a shirt that says america is now finally as gay as iowa, to a shirt that says the gop creating government small enough to fit inside your
vagina i think is one of probably released shirts whenever we haven't had enough crazy people threatening us on the facebook page. >> even t-shirts from candidates that aren't officially in the race. >> we did one for the 15-year-old from iowa and one for jon stewart for president. we thought he was retiring this summer to make way for his run. that's why we say strength, courage, and now plenty of free time. >> watch our live caucus coverage tonight starting at 7:00 eastern on c-span and c-span2. every election cycle we're reminded how important it is for citizens to be informed. c-span is a vehicle for empowering people to make good choices. it really is like you're getting
a seven-course gourmet five-star meal of policy and, boy, do i just sound like a nerd right there. but it's true. >> to me, c-span is a home for political junkies and a way to track the government as it happens, whether on capitol hill or in the agencies. >> most staffers seem to have a television on their desk and c-span is on. i think it's a great way for us to stay informed. >> i urge my colleagues to vote for this amendment. >> there are a lot of c-span fans on the hill. my colleagues. when i go back today, they're going to say i saw you on c-span. >> you can get something like the history of grain elevators in pennsylvania, or landmark supreme court decisions. >> there's so many more that c-span does in terms of its programming to make sure that people outside the beltway know what's going on inside it. >> i am proud to announce -- >> i announce my candidacy -- >> i am officially running --
>> -- for president of the united states. >> i've been a reporter who covers politics. for so many of my stories in the "washington post," c-span has been part of my research, providing me with quotes and insights about people. >> there are so many niches within the political blogosphere and all of those policy areas get covered. >> how many nuclear warheads does russia have aimed at the u.s. and the u.s. have aimed at are r russia? >> it is a place that let me go do the decision making. >> follow house meetings, senate meetings. >> good morning, everyone. phone lines are open so start dialing in. >> the interaction with callers on c-span is great. you never know what you're going to get. >> caller: you're right i'm from down south. >> oh, god, mom. >> caller: and i'm your mother and i disagree with all families are like ours. i don't know many families that
are fighting at thanksgiving. >> well to book tv's live coverage of the 32nd annual miami book fair. >> c-span on weekends. it becomes book tv. >> it's been a wonderful way of accessing the work of those folk who are writing really great books. >> every weekend c-span3 becomes american history tv. you had a history junkie? you've got to watch. >> whether we are talking about a congressional hearing or we're talking about an era in history, there is so much information that you can convey if you've got that kind of programming. >> whether it is at the capitol or on the campaign trail, they have a camera, they're capturing history as it happens. it brings you inside of these chambers, inside of the conversations on capitol hill and lets you have a seat at the table. you can't find that anywhere else. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> i'm a c-span fan.
>> yes, i am a c-span fan. >> and that's the power of c-span. access for everyone to be part of the conversation. the cato institute and the center for competitive politics recently hosted several panel discussions on buckley versus a vallejo, a ruling on campaign finance law. what it might look like after citizens united and the rise of super pacs. >> if i could have you folks' attention, please. good morning. we're very glad that you came out through the treacherous streets and the piles of snow to join the center for competitive politic and the cato institute this morning on this forum
commemorating the 40th anniversary of the supreme court decision in buckley v. vallejo which is actually on saturday, january 30th, is the exact date of that event. obviously we've had to make some change today, and that's kind of bit into our audience. it's cut into our panelists. wendy from atlantic was going to be one of our questioners and james bach, a supreme court litigator. but we have still three excellent panels that i think you will enjoy and find very informative. the format that we tend to use on these is we have instead of people giving short little speeches, we have a questioner, an interview process, and people respond to those questions. this is all unscripted. the questions have not been provided in advance to the speakers. in any case, i should i should introduce myself. i'm bradley smith, chairman for
the seshts fcenter for competit politics. buckley was decided 40 years ago. it has been criticized routinely for 39 years, 364 days. yet the decision has been comprising ll ll lly -- surpris resilient despite repeated predictions it will meet its demise at any time. i remember when i first began getting into this area 20 years ago burt newborn insisting buckley was a rotten treaty and the crushing was just which direction it would fall. now buckley continues to stand and indeed one writer has even suggested that it is the precedent of steel, one that cannot be overturned. its criticism has been very great. scott thoreau likened it to to the dread scott decision, spending $2,000 on a political
race, very similar to slavery. owen fisk, jaseveral luminariesf the legal academy have likened the case to loughner, if you are familiar with law and constitutional law, you know calling something akin to loughner is with be well, worse than calling it akin to dread scott. so it has been criticized. it is worth noting very briefly what exactly is it that buckley v. vallejo did. what did it do? we're going to shorten this to the barest nutshell and get more illumination as the program goes on this morning but buckley, in essence, did three or perhaps four crucial things in the area of campaign finance law. first, the buckley court upheld the ability of congress or legislature, state legislatures as well, to place limits on political contributions.
that is direct contributions to candidates and parties. that such contributions to be akin to bribes, could be too difficult to celebrate what was a bribe from what was not, and so it was essentially a prophylactic measure limiting people's ability to associate with candidates in that particular way one of the reasons buckley allowed that kind of limitation and recognized this was a limitation that affected our speech rights, because if you can't spend money to get your views out, then effectively it limits your speech, just as if you couldn't spend money to buy gasoline it would limit your ability to travel. if you couldn't spend money to publish a newspaper, two limit your ability to print a newspaper. if you couldn't print bibles two limit your right to predom of religi religion. one of the reason the courts
held the contribution limits is because it also struck down limits on what people could spend separately from the campaign. that is, it said people's ability to spend monowould would remain largely unlimited. not a blanket prohibition or limit how much it could put. that was the out and that's what made the burden on association of contribution limits something that was tolerable under the first amendment. buckley also upheld the government's right to require political committees to register with the government and compel the disclosure about information of contributions to political parties and candidates and also the disclosure of information about donors contributing to speech that advocated specifically for the election feat of candidates and political
categories. the language of the statute was very, very broad in terms of what it required be disclosed. the 9o÷ t narrowed that down to disclosure only of speech that was a direct call for action for the election or defeat of a candidate. and then in a later decision broadened that slightly to include certain speech very close to an election concerning candidates. but basically much narrower than the original law called for. then finally, buckley allowed congress to set up a voluntary system of public financing of campaigns, of having the government pay for campaigns. so that's our basic core four holdings of buckley. we have three panels today and the first is going to talk ab t about -- i'm sorry. the first is going to talk about buckley's importance, why buckley matters. then we'll hear a view for how
luck by has affected campaigning and politics. finally we'll hear a panel on the continuing resilience of buckleyvallejo. our first panel will contisist me. i'm a professor federal election commission. i'll be joined by a man who ohio and former chairman of the truly needs no introduction so i won't really give one, floyd abrams. floyd is a partner at cahill, gordon in new york and is probably, i think fair to say, the preemnebt firinent first am litigator in the united states. i won't spend a lot of time elaborating on that introduction. our interviewer for this first panel, mattea gold, political reporter for "the washington post," covering money and politics. she recently worked for the "los angeles times" and "chicago tribune" as well. after this first panel we'll
have a lunch, that's on us. then we'll have two great panels this afternoon. hello, everybody. thank you so much for joining us in the wake of storm zilla. i was a little alarmed to see that the whims of the federal government could affect the schedule for cato but i guess that's the way it works in washington. so, i wanted to start off since we're sort of setting the stage here to talk about implications of buckley to get your take on an alternative history. if buckley had not been decided the way it was, how do you see
our current campaign finance system working and what would have been different? >> well, buckley -- that's a great question. i think one thing that's often overlooked is what would the world look like? i'm often asked what's my ideal system of regulation? it is known i tend to favor less regulation in this area but rarely do we ask that question of those who favor more regulation or talk about how we need reasonable regulation of one kind or another. i think maybe the best way to look at that is to look a little bit at the statute that was struck down in buckley v. vallejo. th that statute would have limited spending by candidates and political parties to a very low amount, an amount considerably lower than what is typically spent in campaigns. some people like the idea, wouldn't it be great if we spent less on campaigns. there's pretty good research showing that higher spending tends to benefit incumbents, it tends to benefit outsiders, it tends to help interviews new
ideas to the political system. just looking at like the last elections, 2014 general election, every candidate who spent less than that limit would have won and every challenger that spent less than that limit would have lost their campaign, because challengers need to spend money just to get a fuse out to let people know why change needs to be made to overcome the name identification advantage that incumbents have. the law also prohibits any group of citizens from spending $1,000 or more relative to a candidate. this is an extremely broad phrase, "relative to a candidate." one can imagine if the groups you belong to, whether they're environmental groups or pro-life groups or pro-choice groups or labor groups, or whatever, are truly limited in spending $1,000 to say anything relative to a candidate. not even promoting their election or defeat, but just relative to a candidate. the law also prevented corporations and unions from spending any money at all "in
connection with" an election. what does that mean "in connection with an election"? it requires americans to register with the government if they spent $1,000 or more for the purpose of influencing an election. again, a very broad phrase that had no sort of real cut-off. what does it mean to influence an election. so i think that we'd be in a situation where we'd hear far fewer voices. incumbents would be well entrenched. all political discourse would have to be filtered and we the citizens, would essentially be left out of the process. i think too often we ignore that fundamental question. what kind of world would we be being looi ilooking at had buckt be decided? >> i'd like to add that we'd have fewer candidates, fewer individuals who were being considered throughout this campaign that we are mid stream in rid now. now this has been a subject of criticism of buckley and
citizens united, as well, wealthy people able to fund candidates who, but for them, might not be able to stay around. i have precisely the opposite view. i think it was a good thing for the cause of democracy, no less, that newt gingrich could stay in the race last time longer, rather than less time. he won two southern primaries after he would otherwise have been out if he didn't have the money to stay in. we have a number of candidates now for the republican nomination -- it's diminishing as we speak, perhaps -- but a number of candidates who have enough funding to continue to show up for debates, to try to hold themselves out the