tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN September 16, 2016 9:00am-11:01am EDT
here.. there'st' also an energy econom opportunity thatec we have to te advantage of. and it wasn't exactly a question, but i want to emphasize that the question doubling our innovation budget, itt raises the question of, you know, do did you have the capacity to absorb it well? i think we have so much unused capacity for innovation in this countryy that that will not be problem. and i can go through examples like with arthur e. for example where we're funding younds 2.5% of the proposals in a program that is by any logical measure extremely successful. so i urthink, i think there's a big ipayoff for us in economy ad environment and security with that kind of investment. >> int agree. having watched some of those activities. the ripple effects of sound jobs, sound-paying jobs that are associated with that too.
shot in the armci for the econo. >> it's that and the infrastructure renewal agenda which is justew absolutely critical. zbp again,bs secretary, thank y. we're all made stronger because ofe your leadership. thank you. >> thehe gentleman's time has expired, mr. engel for five minutes. >> mr. secretary, two new yorkers in a row, that's pretty good. first i want to add my voice to the thanks and the accolades that have beenco getting to you. you've been accessible. you've been intelligent. you'vet. been just terrific, th only withh energy and things wih this committee. on the iran deal, you were right up front u in answering questio andti we didn't always agree, b you were always brilliant so i want to thank you for your hard work. we really appreciate it. i want to start by talking about offshore wind energy that hasn't reallyly been talked about hereg
today. small percentage of our global wind energy is generated offshore and much of the capacity is in northern europe. we're now starting to invest here in the united states, the first offshore wind farm is said to begin commercial operation in early november. and several others are being developed and in d new york, th long island power authority is currently working to prove 90 megawatt wind farm that would become the largest in the united states.at so can you talk a little bit about that.te what your take is on the future appetite for offshore wind generation in the u.s.in what arere the challenges, security or otherwise that the federal government needs toee address with this? >> well, this is a very interesting time for offshore wind. as you mentioned the block island project and 30 megawatt project and actually they finish construction and they will start getting in the grid in november. so that's the first u.s. wind i
farm. offshore wind farm. number two, last friday -- secretary jewel and i released a jointly developed offshore wind strategy and you haven't seen w that. we'd be happyou to shoot that or to you. >> thank you. >> to kind of lay out a bunch of theun issues. and by the way one of the issuei is not just kind of technology we think about, but there's a lot -- a lot more data we need toto understand the developmentf offshore wind.ho third, i do want to emphasize in the island project showed this, that there's really excellent collaborationol between the win people and a the wildlife. like wildlife federation protecting white whales and thaa kind of thing.de that's important part of the development. that's kind of going well. i think we are now also
moving into an arena where we will startrt to see floating platforms and we have pilot projects. one main, one new jersey, fishermens warf. and one lake erie, so-called north coast that are looking at novel technologies. to the main project in particular is a floating platform thatee are going to be forio deep water. massive deep water wind farm off of hawaii. so, i say all of this that i think it's the t same story i sd earlier. technology, development, and hand tont going hand in drive costs down. so i think we're now at that place a for offshore wind wheree can anticipate that c kind of trajectory of getting the cost
done.th the block i island project ppa think was like 24 cents per kilowatt hour. of course for an island like that, that's a lot less than they're now paying by bringing in diesel fuel. sop i think, you know, i think we're at the t beginning of tha virtuouseg cycle of technology d deployment and then we'll see much more. >> it's really exciting. i want to talk about one of the things, and that's your testimony which you read touched n the increasing electric vocation including telecommunications and transportation. anddun i want to talk a little about the relationships reply to the energy response capabilities. talk a little bit about superstorm sandy, when it hit the east coast in 2012, it's impact on energy infrastructure was obviously i especially st devastating. and youas illustrated in many ws that our energy systems were vulnerable to discorruption. and as we all know, more than 8
million people lost power and powerr. lines and service statis couldn't pump gas in new york and new jersey and critical werd petroleum products. products were bad i did damaged. since that time, we've instituted a wide range of policies and procedures designed to better protect our citizens and infrastructure. we've made tremendous improvements. it's still a work in progress. mr. tanko talked about distributed generation. in your view, what are the biggest remaining vulnerabilities that need to be addressed and what steps should the government and the private sectorse take next? >> well, we certainly for sandy and obviously katrina and rita and we could go through the list, certainly in the coastal areas, the reality is that we have to bebe preparing much mor and hardening our infrastructure
for the inevitable, continuingly increasing sea level and end water temperature. which both contribute to the amplification of storm surges andur the damage that we have seen, there's a a lot of blocki and tackling there that we have to do. i mentioned earlier about power and light with they're going through replacement of essentially the wooden polls, they're worried about the substations that are in flood areas andn as they're doing it, i'm sure they could do other things too, but i give them credit. as they do, they'll kind of straightforward hardening at same time, they integrate smart technology. sosolo they are getting resilie reliability, and the possibilities also of more
information moree managing the d grid. so i think there's a lot of that that we have to do. the second point i'll make and again in new jersey, we have a -- n we did a project with ou laboratorynd after sandy was to design a major microgrid system with distributed energy that will sustain the electrified transport which is a critical publice. safety issue. that went down too with sandy. so there's also now getting that kind of microgrid structure to make sure that really critical pieces of infrastructure can operate during these storms. so that's important and this is a whole string of things, but those are some examples. >> thank you.u. and once again, thanks for all you've done. >> wee appreciate it. >> thank you. >> the gentleman's time has expired. mr. secretary, whew, it's over.
i want to close by saying thank you very much for your patience, your expertise, and your frankness. in texas, we say, you're a straight shooter. that's a very high compliment. no matter what happens in the future,te i want you to know yo have an invitation to see the project up and running. a big part of that and mit a ane d.o. emm d. d.o.e. she's coming online. she will capture out'lle of one stack that's made by power from coal captured 95% co 2, use it to give oil about 65 miles south. it's the first viable carbon captured v project in america. thank you, thank you, thank you. >> and we're excited about it. >> we are as well. come by too. best barbecue at the rosenburg and pop by also rosenburg bob's taco stations.
best in thein county. with thatat members, you have fe days to submit questions for the record without objection, this hearing is adjourned. >> thank you. later today we have more from the white house. first lady michelle obama is in fairfax virginia stumping for the standard bearer, hillary clinton. watch miss obama's remarks live starting at 3:00 p.m. eastern on our companion network, c-span.
this weekend on american history tv on c-span 3, saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. eastern -- >> in any war, in any time, weapons dictate tactics. you've probably heard that the civil war was fought with modern weapons and antiquated tactics. and that's not quite true. the civil war is actually an evolutionary war as both weapons and the men who employ those weapons learn different methods to fight with. >> author david powell talks about military theories, battle tactics, and formations during the civil war. then at 9:00, military historian michael neburg talks about his work, about the 1945 meeting of harry truman, winston churchill and joseph stalin to negotiate the end of world war ii and the reconstruction of europe. >> the state was europe didn't interact enough. they weren't cooperative enough.
the power became a 0-some game. the way to solve the problem was to merge europe together, create a european union and that the phrase is already out there. so that france, germany, russia, poland, don't see events on the continent as a zero sum game. >> on sunday night at 8:00 eastern. >> the idea that the american presidents have always gotten the very best health care available in whatever era they lived, well, i want to tell you that this is a charming myth and problems began almost immediately with george washington. >> parkway central librarian richard levinson on myths surrounding presidents and their health. how doctors have contributed to a president's death or saved them from dying without public knowledge. for our complete american history tv schedule, go to cspan.org. adams was not a good president. hefs not a successful president.
and if his career had ended at the end of his presidency, as his father's career ended, i don't think i would have written a book about it. >> sunday night on q & a, columnist and new york university professor james trump talks about his book, john quincy adams, militant spirit. about the life of the sixth president of the united states and career after the presidency and the u.s. house of representatives. >> the thing that strikes you, not only as a politician, he's held elective office. he's done whatever you do. he didn't form alliances. he didn't do anything that you would do in order to be able to persuade people who otherwise might not go along with your agenda to do so. and so his four years in the white house were just pain. just pain. everything was hard. he achieved almost nothing. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q & a. and now the senate foreign
relations committee holds a hearing on the security and political situation in afghanistan. witnesses discussed anti-corruption efforts, governess, and counterterrorism. two hours.ut >>in i want to thank the gentlen for being here and for the service to ourba country and th meeting is called to order. i apologize for being a few minutes late. i forgot we changed the time from 9:45 to 10:00 so that ben could go to a meeting that's occurring at 10:30. thank you for accommodating both meetings. obviously afghanistan -- continues to be something that's important, it our u.s. nationa interest. we tes brokered a government in4 that created both at president andh ceo office that has not ben confirmed, if you will, through
t and continued on. we had concerns about that process taking boplace. and you know, you wonder about the support that that government has relative to not being confirmed in the way that it normally would. i have tremendous respect for president ghani and a warm relationshipar with ceo abdulla. obviously their t roles togethe have been interesting are. they've sort of muddled through it together as one might expect. with the type of arrangements that had been quote created from the outside. i was really glad to see president obama commit to 8,400 forward.oing i think the security situation thereul does not warrant changi that atoc this time. i would havee liked for it to have occurred earlier, but it seems like we've been anyone to continue to have the support of our allies in the region. i appreciate certainly the additional or authorities that e
been given to our military there to counter al qaeda. and to work more closely with the afghan troops themselves. i think we know the close air support has been important to them and saving their lives and pushing back what'sfu happening with insurgencies there. we have a complicated future there and i want to want hear from both of our outstanding witnesses e'today. on one hand, we have the taliban there that we're continuing to counter appropriately so. and on the other hand, we've expressed in the past our desire to negotiate we went to afghanistan in the first place in '01 take out very complicated, complicated further by the fact that pakistan continues to be tremendously partner in this.bu mr. olson and i have talked this on several occasions and certainly they are working
against our interest there. through helping support in the ways they do the accounts network. they're the greatest network to soldiers there, certainly the greatest threat to the afghan military and civilians. i look forward to our testimony. i wish it was pants with someone from the military.. i have a good meeting yesterday with one of the generals involved in the transition issues. i don't understand why the civilian side of the military continues to be in over their head, it seems, in their abilite to cooperate in hearings that will be beneficial toth our seem to be ut they in over their heads. so with that, i'll turn to senator cern. >> thank you for convening this hearing. i think it's appropriate we take a look at where we are and where we're heading and evaluate how
we canan achieve our objectives. this hear, of course is in the aftermath of the nato warsaw summit. we'll be able tod get an updat as to the commitments there. and the upcoming brussels conference which will take place in october. ambassador, also i want to share chairman corker's comments. the first issue of concern is security. and i take itou the department defense felt you were fully capable of responding to all of our questions on the security si hearing. yod tow have help. >> and that was the civilian side. civilian leadership, not the military leadership. >> absolutely. anyway, we will want to get an update on the security. it is critically important. wewe know the afghan special forces have been particularly effective, but it looks like
they're stretched rather thin throughout the country in dealing with the security needs that we'd be interested as to how the conventional forces are capable of maintaining the security in the different regions of afghanistan. that's critically important. critically important. the peace process, what is happening. there is a possibility we can move forward pakistan's role as assisting news the peace process in afghanistan. look forward to your update on the governance structures within afghanistan. the status of the emerging democratic institutions. senator corker already mentioned the president ghan and i ceo abdullah, the national unity government agreement of 2014. we have seen signs recently that there has been some division here. is the unity still there? is it still effectively operating at a unity government in afghanistan? i am extremely interested in the protection of human rights.
recent reports of child abuse by some of the afghan national security forces that is absolutely up acceptable -- unacceptable and i want to make sure we have zero tolerance for that type of activity and that's meat clear through awe of our participating arms, which bring knows mr. sampler. the work that usaid is doing and afghanistan, our largest efforts in the world, great personal sacrifice to the men andwoman who are carrying out that aid, some who have given the lieds. so i express my deep appreciation to the work force at usaid and the leaders there and i understand that's may be one of your last days at the time usaid that you are moving on and i want to thank you for your service to our country, both of you for your service to our country. lastly, we need to take a look at the aid program, as to how it's being administered.
considering the size of the afghan economy is it right-sized? do we need to make sure it's working effectively carrying out lasting reform. it's time evaluate that aipac as well. i regret i will be leaving for part of the hearing. we have the counselor of burma is who town. you met with her yesterday at breakfast. i have an opportunity to meet with her and i'll take advantage of it. >> very good. we appreciate those comments, and obviousl >> well very good. we appreciate those comments and obviously you'll be the first questioner, so you make sure that we have time to do what you need to do. our first is ambassador richard olson for afghanistan and pakistan. i think you may be leave soon too, is that correct? >> i will be departing before the end of the year, sir. >> we thank you also, both of you are leaving very soon for distinguished careers in helping
ensure that our national interests are pursued. and we thank you for being here today. our second witness is mr. donald l. sampler jr., the assistant for pakistan and afghan as usai deposition exhibit. you can summarize your comments in about five minutes. your written testimony will be made part of the record and we thank you both for being here if you would speak in the order sblo deuced, that would be great, thank you. >> chairman corker, ranking member, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to update you on u.s. engagement in afghanistan and the region. in light of many years working together, i would express my gratitude to the members and the staff of the committee for your continued support of one of our highest priority foreign policy agendas. 2016 has been significant year for afghanistan and progress has been made, but important work
lays ahead as we will discuss today. my written testimony, which has been submitted for the record touches on many topics. i expect we will discuss including peace and reconciliation and regional dynamics. our partnership with afghanistan remains strong. the government of afghanistan continues to be an important ally on the fight against terrorism and kabul works with us to eliminate the remnants of al qaeda and it's affiliates and degrade the rise of islamic state top to strengthen afghanistan's capabilities as a partner and to improve the lives of the afghan people, we continue to invest u.s. resources to strengthen afghanistan's security forces, to improve governess, build institutions, and strengthen the economy. the afghan government has made headway on launching and implementing reforms using these instruments. we are nearing got-year mark of the political partnership between president ghani and chief executive abdullah,
brokered in 2014. despite the challenges inherent to the government. we believe it provides most viable path in afghanistan. president ghani and chief executive officer abdullah remain resolutely focussed on achieving a more stable, secure, and prosperous afghanistan. political stability is directly linked to a positive security environment. afghan security forces have incorporated lessons learned from previous fighting seasons into their current operations with improving results. the afghan security forces are performing better this year. the fighting has not been easy and there's been an increase of casualties, but the taliban have not been able to capture or hold strategically significant locations for any extended periods of time. afghanistan continues to have strong international support. this is important for afghan security and development. afghanistan will continue to need international support to
consolidate the gains of the past 15 years. president obama is july troop extension announcement was almosted by our allies and partners in july. allies and partners agreed to extend the resolute support mission and pledge support to the afghan security forces for another three years. totally approximately $1 billion per year until 2020. the october 4th and 5th brussels conference co.-hosted by the afghanistan and officials for the development and government reform plans for the years ahead. made of brussels, afghanistan is showing tangible reform progress that remains critical for donor confidence. whul international support for afghanistan remains strong, the regional picture remains comp x complex. a constructive relationship between afghanistan and pakistan remains essential to bringing
peace and stability to the renal. following significant improvement after the election of president ghani, relations between afghanistan and pakistan have peaked and troughed, tested by terrorism, refugees, and border management. on counterterrorism, pakistan has made flog shutting down safe havens and the travel areas and worked with us to decimate core al qaeda. pakistan faces a serious threat from terrorists who continue to target it's places of worship. while pakistan's progress is lotable, it struggled with terrorism will not come to an end until a decisive lead shifts away from tolerating externally focussed groups. u.s. officials have been very clear that pakistan must target all militant groups without discrimination, including those that target pakistan's neighbors. and shut down all safe havens in it's territory. in this regard, we welcome the
general's statement on july 6th in which he directed pakistani military kmaernsd, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement officials to take concrete measures to deny any militant safe haven group, safe haven or use of pakistani soil to launch terrorist attacks in afghanistan. while significant obstacles lay ahead and the need for further and economic and applicability stability, afghanistan continues to be an invaluable partner for. united states in the heart of asia. s the committee today and i look forward to our discussion and your questions. thank you, sir. >> thank you. mr. sampler. >> chairman corker, ranking member cardin, senators, expends and colleagues it's an honor to testify before you today about the work of usaid in afghanistan. today is in fact my last full day as assistant administeryear so i'll use my oral remarks at this probably my last testimony to reflect on my 14 years of almost continuous service in or
on the reconstruction of afghanistan. within weeks of the attacks of september 11 in 2001 the u.s. and our allies had begun military action inia. supported by teams from my own former unit, the special forces group, forks forces loyal to northern alliance quickly defeated the al qaeda. it stepped the international security force. the u.s. embassy was re-opened with ambassador ryan crocker as charge. i first arrived in afghanistan in 2002 to assess the capacity of the government for conducting the emergency -- that was required by the agreement mitchell assessment was not particularly optimistic. the capacity to build a government was basically nonexistent at the time. that an important first point i'd like to share as i reminisce. what we call the reconstruction of afghanistan is something of a
misnomer. the soviet occupation, followed by decades of brutal civil war, have robbed afghanistan of any sense of what governance was or could be. the physical, emotional, and intellectual and human infrastructure of the country was devastate over the course of 30 years to the point we were not reconstructing afghanistan. we were helping the afghans construction a new state from scratch. so perhaps our initial estimates of the problems. he wreck with sit solutions and prospects for rapid, meaningful, social changes were too optimistic. yet, during the past 15 years i have seen afghanistan make remarkable gains. thanks to the effort of the united states, our international partners, the afghan government and the afghan people. the key elements of uaid venezuela afghan straight remain to make durable the gains made in health, education, and opportunities for women to maintain a focus on economic together and fiscal sustain
santa and support a transparent government in afghan that is responsive to the needs of its citizens. the efforts transcribe to our own national interest of combating terrorism and stabilizing the region. senators, when i first arrived in kabul in 2002, found a city with virtually no infrastructure but with fantastic hopes and operations. the population with a great passion to learn and a country with a very bleak, divisive and painful past that was hoping for a brighter dis that was hoping for a brighter future and looking to the united states for support in that regard. i'm proud of what we've accomplished in afghanistan over 14 years with the support of the united states congress and the american people. today in afghanistan, mothers and children are much less likely to die immediately or during -- during or immediately after childbirth. more afghans have access to health care, education, electricity, healthy food, clean
water, cell phone service, and even the internet in their rural/local communities. afghan farmers today are being trained and equipped with modern farming techniques that include the quality and yield of their farms to the point that the afghan minister of agriculture, ear investigation, and livestock hopes to be food self-sufficient in five years. and the afghan education system from primary school through university is producing young afghan women and men who are capable of contributing to their country, to their society, and their economy in ways not imagine nbl 2002. we've accomplished much over 15 years of which we can collectively be proud, but we have much to learn of the experiences and failures along the way and we must learn those lesson. we have much more to accomplish and their decade of transformation. mr. chairman, let me conclude my remarks by recognizing the people who've made our progress in afghanistan possible. the men and women of our military, our allies, and the
afghan national security forces. the thousands of civilians working with and for usaid, many of whom had never experienced the kind of environments that would face in afghanistan. the remarshal staff that usaid and specifically the staff and the afghanistan and pakistan affairs and the mission in kabul. while i have the privilege of addressing you today, the accomplishments about whichly boast are the fruits of their labor and afghan colleagues. i have to thank miss barbara smith, a dedicated and development professional who throughout my work has been my counselor, confessor, intellectual sparring partner and frequently my critic, but most importantly my life. her support made my tenure possible and enjoyable. finally chairman, i'm pleased to introduce mr. bill hammock. he will be sworn in tomorrow as the new assistant administrator for afghanistan and pakistan affairs. he has served as a mission direct in several countries around the world.
he's served for three years with me in afghanistan as the mission director in that country. and he has served in senior positions here in washington. so he knows the lay of the land here as well. i'm confident bill is the right person for this job. i'm confident he'll continue to lead in afghanistan that in ways that make us and you proud. thank you, mr. chairman. >> well thank you. and we're certainly fortunate that both of you are here today. and we certainly deeply appreciate ambassador olson's service to our country. i will say that for someone whose been involved in afghanistan for 14 years and has committed to it in the way that you have, we're especially happy top have you here today. i hope you'll write a book, i hope you do, seriously, to help us. think about engagements like this. more fully in the future. it's, i'm sure the knowledge that you have, the experiences that you've gained are invaluable. and while i had planned to focus on afghanistan's other issues today, i look forward to seeking
some of that advice today. but thank you so much for being here. bill, i assume is the gentleman sitting behind you nodding his head. we welcome you. and with it, i'll turn to senator cardin. >> senator, i join you in thanking both of our witnesses for their public service and extraordinarily challenging surroundings. i cannot imagine what you saw 15 years ago. and we're all very concerned about what the light is at the end of this tunnel and how long it's going to take in order to reach that and how much more of our military and civilian efforts are going to be needed before the country is self-sufficient. and i hope we'll get into those types of guess during this hearing, but let me just focus on one or two issues that i want to make sure we follow up on. ambassador, the last time we had a hearing, i talked about the pervasive problems of construction, you acknowledged that is a serious problem within
afghanistan. and indicated that the mutual accountability framework could be used to have greater can theability in this area. you just update as as to what will be done perhaps in brussels to make sure that we stay focussed on achievable results, in plight and corruption in afghanistan? >> thank you, senator. corruption does indeed continue to be an enormous challenge for afghanistan, but i can tell you that the government of afghanistan starting with president ghani takes this challenge very seriously. first of all, let me say that our assistance to afghanistan is conditioned in particular the security assistance provided through defense channels, through the combined security transition command afghanistan,
includes specific measures to root out corruption and prevent corruption of contracting authorities such as fuel. u.s. aid and i'm sure my colleagues larry can talk about this sponsors extensive anti-corruption components. on the political side of the house, the recent appointment of the attorney general, mr. hamadi, who has an excellent reputation in this area is working to promote the rule of law and to take spechk -- specific anti-corruption measures. he, in june of 2016, and with the support of the u.s. government, he administrated applications for 25 vacancies to ensure that government positions are filled on merit. that's one small example. the afghan government's
anti-corruption efforts have been backed by actions. there was president ghani's established or had council for the rule of law and anti-corruption which meant for the first anytime august, he announced the establishment of an anti-corruption justice center. to -- >> that's good. i know those areas are good. there's been little activity by the anti-corruption justice center to date. and i would just urge you, and we, the united states and our capacity, continue to keep a very bright spotlight on these issues. and i would personally have ask to keep this committee informed. but also on advancing the human rights issues. and i'm sure during the course of this hearing and if not we'll make sure it's available our specific concerns. yes, i think those steps are good, but to date, we haven't
seen enough evidence that it really is taking root. so we need to continue to major spotlighten to. one more administrative question. we have bureaus, is it likely that that structure will continue in indefinitely or move it into their euros? >> well, the state department, the the office, the special representative for afghanistan and pakistan will be continuing for the time being. i think secretary ke ri and the leadership of the state department will be making decisions about how this is presented top the incoming administration, but for the time being, we continue to have the special representative's office. >> mr. sampler, you said that you have learned lessons over the last 14 years.
i precluded to what is the light at the end of the tunnel? and how much longer will it be before we can start to significantly turn over the responsibilities to the afghan people? >> senator, with the respect to the light of the end of the tunnel, there are literally millions of afghan who see that light already and enjoy the benefits of the intervention we made 15 years ago. when we talk about the taliban and when we talk about the conflict in afghanistan, it's important to remember that well less than 5% of the population of afghanistan is under the rule of the taliban. now that number fluctuates as the combat rolls around. but the vast majority of the afghan people are living a much better life than they could have envisioned in 2002. i take your point that wasn't really what you were looking for, but in terms of the future of afghanistan, the one of the points i'd like to smak we're there. we need to continue to support afghanistan. we need to make sure the changes
for women and girls and young entrepreneurs are not rolled back, but the opportunities that we, with your support in 2002 begin to create in afghanistan are reaching fruition now. and i'll like to address your corruption question. you know, ambassador olson talked about some of the grand schemes and strategic level things we're doing. the u.s. government is supporting something called the joint interagency, monitoring and evaluation commission for fighting corruption in afghanistan. the mec to do internal audits and this is all on their own doing. looking for signs of corruption or vulnerabilities and addressing them. they've done this already with administering public health. i think it probably alarmed the minister that he was going to show all of his dirty laund write in one of the open hearings. it was done at his insistence and productive. like wise, we have mechanisms in place to protect government of
afghanistan programs we're supporting and to protect u.s. tax dollars. so the corruption that you mentioned is endem nick afghanistan and to be honest, it's endemic in most of the countries that usaid works around the world. we are prevented to help prevent it and we're in it in the long thul ultimately defeat it. >> thank you, thank you. >> thank you, i'm just going to ask one question. i want to make some interject n interjectio interjections. i'll make the observation that ambassador holbrooks opinion at the time while certainly was the best we could make at the time is different than we thought. and so, i do think it's worthy of looking at this the relationship and having a pakistan, afghanistan official. because there's a the lot of conflict there and i'd love to have your council off record as to that's still something that beats distrust by both countries of having the singular role. i think that's worth discussing. larry sampler, first of all, how
much are we newly spending, the united states, government, on afghanistan today? >> senator, let me in a broad sense we have spent $21 billion -- >> but this year, how much. >> you have appropriated to us right at a billion dollars this year. >> no, no, no. >> how much have we pent? >> no, how much we spend each year -- i'm not talk about uthrough usaid. the u.s. government in general, support of the military, support of security, their military, their security, and our certainly -- >> i don't know the answer to that because i don't know what the military spends. >> i'm not taking about our own military. i'm talking not support of their military, and mr. olson do you to answer answer that. >> in broad terms the figure is $4 billion a year in support of the afghan national defense and security forces, and roughly a
billion in terms of civilian assistance. >> that doesn't include, of course, what we're spend only the troop wes have on the ground. this think the numbers are close to $10 billion a year but i'd love to be correct. my question in getting to that, i didn't think it would take that long -- is to ask someone who has been invested in the way that you are, who has seen his brothers and sisters killed, maimed, back here in and many disabled positions, as a person, again, who sees the future there, but since you will not have this opportunity likely again, we're going to spend this kind of moneyed a infinitum. 95% of afghanistan's budget structure comes from donors. okay? we know this is going to go on,s a infin night -- infinitum. there's no end to this in sight.
i'd love for you to share with us -- you did speak about the thing that have transpired within the country but as the citizens look at the national interest and weigh 10 billion a year ad infinitum and weigh what has happened to military personnel ands who are so committed, the people like you have done what they're -- they've done hospital. would you you express the value of this to american citizens since you're right there on the group, as they look at these types of incursions. and how it affects our national interest. >> senator, thank you for the very broad question. i appreciate the opportunity to respond. will yield to rick as well part of the remaining time. my response is this. the human development index, which depth professionals around the world use to rack ask stack countries in whether where they stand in terms of human development needs. action is 171st out of 158 countries so they're somewhere
in the middle of the countries in africa. our they're serious expenditures so i can make an argument as a develop professional or a humane person that we are investing in afghanistan to improve the quality of life for afghanistan in ways they desperately need. overlay that with our non security interest, come frog am military brown very much focused on counter-encentury general si, ungoverned spaces are the worst possible thing can allow so supporting the government of afghanistan and their ability to govern their own space and do that pro-actively to prevent insurgencies rather than having to counter. the is a good investment. it is expense tonight work in afghanistan. it's a long ways away. the roads terrible. the airports are not good. it costs a lot of money, and every time i go home to georgia i have to explain to my 83-year-old father why this is more important than fixing fixie bridge out back. and senator, i apologize --
fixing the bridge in georgia. how we spend this money in afghanistan does make it's difference and makes difference any home state of georgia as well. >> thank you very much. senator brasso. >> thank you. i share your concerns that the senator cardin expressed with regard to corruption, and i think you made a comment about writing a book. a bike came out yesterday called "corruption in conflict." this is the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction, and when you think about who this insector general is -- i ask unanimous consent this be included in the record. >> absolutely. if a book has been written or an article published you have read it. so thank you. >> what i hadn't realized, unlike other inspector generals, congress created this special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction as an independent agency, not housed inside any single department, and it is thus able to provide independent and objective
oversight. and if you go through this, as they have reported in today's financial times, today's financial times headline: afghan corruption worse an usaid effort says watchdog. so when we talk about fixing a bridge in georgia versus what has happened in afghanistan, undernight it says, countless examples uncovered of fund goods to waste and malpractice. it says it is this endem neck corruption that poses an existential threat to afghanistan and u.s. policy objectives simple want to ask questions based on what we see here and have you comment on things in the report that just came out from the special inspector general. the inspector general -- corruption undermine the u.s. mission in afghanistan by
fueling grievances against the afghan government and channeling material support to the insurgency. we're talking about political objectives, security objectives, working to wife with al qaeda. so either one of you. >> thank you, senator. i think first of all, we appreciate the work that they've done and we thank them for broaching the 15-year history with lessons learned approach on corruption itch don't think anyone would doubt that corruption is a huge challenge in afghanistan. president ghani has himself acknowledged its as one of the form yost challenge would say we agree with the assessment that corruption undermines governance, and can in certain cases even help to fuel the
in -- i insurgency. with the ghani government we have a commit partner on anticorruption and president ghani has taken a number of steps. he took action to seek to finally clean up the kabul bank scandal, which was a dramatic example of corruption and malfeasance. last year he cancelled a large fuel contract because of allegations of impropriety and as my colleague, larry, mentioned, he has set up the monitoring and evaluation committee, mec, iowa outside experts, leading outside expects on anti-corrupt corruption who have come in to work on this. anyone would have to admit this is a work in progress but i think it is a dramatically different situation than what it was friar 2014. >> i'll go you with the next i think it is a dramatically
different situation prior to 2014. >> i'll go to you with the next quote from the report and ask you to comment on that. the united states contributed to the growth of corruption. by injecting tens of billions of dollars into the afghan injecting tens of billions into the economy used flawed oversight and contracting practices and partnering with maligned power brokers. that's from the report. just ask you if you'd want to comment on that. long history, been to afghanistan 60 times. remarkable commitment to the country. this is a concerning report. >> in general i've gone on the record multiple times how i appreciate the value. this particular report, i don't find it helpful to be reminded corruption is a problem. in 2004 we did a grand assessment of corruption in afghanistan then and it's been a part of our onward planning
every since. i do appreciate every opportunity to bring attention to corruption in afghanistan, but u.s. deals with this all over the world. to the question we created corruption by infusion of money. one of the things from remarks yesterday, liken corruption to cancer. irng that's a good analogy. once it's in the system, it's really hard to remove. have you to catch it early. remedies to cancer are incredibly painful and in some cases more debilitating than themselves. for example, refusing to work with malign actors. defining is their own problem but who you choose to deal with and not deal with creates enemies to the state and in the state which are in some cases as much as cancer. ambassador mckinley doing a fantastic job must balance the support to the government of afghanistan as they work to eradicate this cancer of
corruption in the country with the political requirements to be as inclusive as he can to make sure he's able to bring stability to his country. i tell my staff all the time, if this were easy boy scouts would have done it ten years ago. we continue to wrestle and will continue to focus in afghanistan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my time is expired. >> it's an interesting observation you make. the conflict that existed from the very beginning with president karzai publicly alluding to the suitcases of cash delivered to him by our intelligence agencies from day one and continued throughout his administration according to him and public reports. these are alleged statements. the thing senator brasso is
alluding to and certainly undermines when people are so aware of it when have you a president of a country stating we are delivering suit cases of cash, it really undermines our situation. i understand the conflict you're alluding to. senator menendez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you both for your service. i want to continue on senator barrasso's report. i understand some of this is things are hard. even a boy scout, eagle scout can get some things done. let me move onto some of the other major points. it says we were slow, u.s. government slow to recognize the problem, the way it threatened core u.s. goals. even when the united states acknowledged corruption as a strategic threat security and
political goals consistently trumped anti-corruption actions. and when the united states so the to combat corruption saw limited success in the absence of sustained afghan and u.s. political commitment. so as someone who has been very supportive of our efforts here, and its resources, this undermines my sense of commitment, because you say, mr. sampler that we recognize it in 2004. that's 12 years ago. so more than a decade later, i don't see a lot of greater success in this regard. that's why working with chairman corker, legislation the senate passed in april to address many of these concerns that laid out this in a number of quarterly reports mandated by congress. almost all have indicated that without addressing core conch
answer issues our efforts there will be a failure. and at its core afghanistan lays out steps to work and tackle roots of corruption, to develop a clear accountability bench marks supporting afghan legal system to better oversee property rights and asset management and in certain cases imposing specific penalties on persons who are knowingly involved in direct acts of mismanaging or misappropriating u.s. assistance. unfortunately the house has not taken up this legislation yet. however, the essence of trying to establish sound metrics when we are talking about billions of dollars of the u.s. taxpayer's commitment to afghanistan shouldn't need ab act of congress at the end of the day, although it certainly will continue to push for that. so my questions are in this regard, i don't get a sense that
we have made progress in institutionalizing any of these commitments. we seem to have tried the capacity approach for the past 15 years. so it seems to me that while i've always heard we build capacity and accountability, i think it's more important we look to the accountability side of this question. and so my question to you is are we taking progress? don't give me a generic answer but specifics of institutionalizing these commitments. how can we effectively hold those officials who engage in these practices accountable and what's the threshold for taking real steps to improve good governance and develop anti-corruption efforts? >> senator, thank you for your question and for the attention that your legislation draws to this very thorny, complicated issue of corruption. i should note when i mentioned in 2004 we did a study of the
state of corruption in afghanistan and discovered corruption was, in fact, endemic, there were no institutions in place to fight it. they had had their emergency and constitutional and had not had their first election. institutions in afghanistan even now, i frequently when i speak publicly talk about the state of play in the united states when our nation was 14 years old. we had not, of course, dreamed of giving the right to vote. we had serious problems our selves with managing revenue and debt. in afghanistan specifically things that have been done, i am very pleased with the work. five have signed up in agreement with monitoring and evaluation committee that they will examine their own ministries and publicly air what's found in those examinations and publicly address what they need to do to correct it.
second example, the public utill, afghan equivalent of georgia power or duke power company when we were working with them to provide resources to help build their electric grid we identified 56 specific vulnerabilities to corruption in the utility structure. again, this utility created in 2009 basically from scratch. first two years significant federal subsidiaries from the government of afghanistan, now in the black and generating revenue it reinvest. they address all 56 or whatever the specific number was of the vulnerabilities we identify in a way that satisfied us so we began giving them money. that's an important point. we incentivize our investment in afghan institutions by requiring them to make the necessary adjustments to meet western standards. final point that i'll make, afghans are very upset with corruption, the afghan public is upset. asia foundation survey every year raises the issue of corruption. and the way that i respond when i talk to afghans is there are
two elements to fighting corruption and a third observation. the observation is going to take a decade. you can't turn corruption around overnight. the first requirement strong institutions. president ghani, as the ambassador alluded building those institutions and the second is political will. one thing we had in spades that we did not necessarily have before is political will. not just at the president's level but young technocratic ministers and deputy ministers he appointed. these are afghans that don't want to tolerate corruption but need our help rooting it out and preventing it. >> unless we see substantial improvement, sounds like self-policing, if they are true to their commitment self-policing can create a positive result but i'm not sure. the point is that i don't know what the political will here in
the united states will be in light of what's going on there. we're well into over a decade of this type of commitment. it takes another decade. i just don't know what the political will will be here. the sooner they accelerate their actual actions, doesn't have to be they are going to be pure overnight but that they are tangible and demonstrable and can be measured, then the better the political will will be here. otherwise people like my receives who have been supportive will have a different view. >> thank you. >> thank you for your comments. i do hope the president's efforts every saturday morocco to himself sit down and micromanage the contract letting that's taking place. i hope they will bear fruit. i think senator menendez is right. i think he's in a different place. you would think some low level
person would be doing it but he's doing it himself. seems many times have distinguished georgians. >> thank you for your service to the country and particularly 15 years working in afghanistan. it's a real tribute to you and the country. are you going to be retiring to georgia? >> sir, i can only wish. i will be taking a position somewhere else in the country. >> if it ends up in georgia, we'd love to have you register to vote by october 8th. >> be assured you have my dad's vote. >> tell him anything we can do to help him let us know. you made a comment early on in your testimony answering a question i think of senator corker that we are there, talking about the work of u.s. aid trying to get girls in school, change things that need to be changed on the ground in afghanistan. if we are there in that
definition with the exception of some areas controlled in a minority way by taliban, is it going to take the $5 billion referred to we're investing into afghan military and government for us to stay there in your definition of being there? >> senator, thank you for letting me clarify. i don't want to communicate in any way we fin irked our work in afghanistan. a i skated 1 1th out of 183 countries on the human development index. by being there, what i mean is afghans have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. there are afghans who live a much better than life than they did before. the fact we've been able to reduce maternal mortality 50% is fantastic in aids circle but it's still incredible number in infant mortality. midwives that allow women to have safe births or at least accompanied births that they didn't have before is a
remarkable accomplishment and afghan women would say it's tremendous but isn't yet a standard that we should be satified with. i can't comment on what the cost will be on the years going forward. ic in afghanistan everything is tied to reconciliation and resolution of ongoing conflict but i do think as development professional and as my work in the past years on planning for the future, i would see u.s. aid being engaged in afghanistan in a meaningful way for a number of years as long as we support u.s. congress and the people. >> one of the things i was hoping we could point to and you led me to the point, your successor who is behind you, is that correct? we wish your successor the best of luck in his endeavors. one thing we need to look to the future in answering that question, what is it going to take from us to support what you have done so far and to sustain it in the country of afghanis n afghanistan?
we learned in iraq, soft power, use of united states military, tremendous investment we brought iraq to peace, constitution, voted three times. we left and support mechanism level and iraq became headquarters for isis. we don't want the same thing for afghanistan. honest assessment, keep the success you've made and build on it, it's going to be important for us to know. i hope your successor will work with us giving us some idea of what that will really be. >> i believe the isil is iskp, is that correct? what is their strength in afghanistan? >> we believe they have a few thousand fighters, 15 to 2500, mostly concentrated in the east. they are actively being fought against by the government of
afghanistan and of course our own forces are carrying out airstrikes against them. >> are they coordinated in any way with the taliban? >> no, sir. in fact, the taliban and daesh have been fighting each other, at least in nangarhar province. they have not joined forces. they oppose each other. >> do they have a stated goal, daesh? they want to disrupt afghanistan or do they have a goal they want to take afghanistan over? >> i think one of the differences between taliban and daesh is that daesh has, in fact, the global agenda, the advancement of the caliphate and the taliban traditionally has focused its objectives purely on afghanistan. and it has not had extra territorial ambitions.
i do think it's important to note that daesh in afghanistan is largely the result of of ttp, pakistani, taliban people who were pushed out of north wizzer stan. they went to the border and many have sworn allegiance to daesh. that is in mabe ways the basis for afghanistan. >> thank you for your service to the country. >> is it still the goal of the administration to solve the internal differences that exist between inclusion?
>> we do believe the piece of afghanistan will require a political settle mement. the way i look at it, there's a very long-standing conflict in afghanistan for 40 years. the sides have changed considerably over those decades but at the core there is an internal conflict but at the core has to be agreed to by afghanistans. our belief is it will be necessary to bring about a political settlement, have the taliban come to the table. this is why we have repeatedly called for both unilaterally but also through multi-lateral mechanisms for taliban to come
to the table. unfortunately they have so far not been prepared to do that. this was an important factor in the president's decision to take the action he did againearlier e summer. we continue to believe that will be the way forward and that is the belief the president ghani as well. >> i look forward to following that up on the second round. while i abhor pakistan's activities and find their duplicity hard to take, my sense is you're going tooz lessening degree of support for pakistan over time as a result, in many ways because they know our end goal is to negotiate with the taliban that feeds some of the duplicity they are carrying out, too, because they are hedging their bets. with that, senator, you go.
>> thank you both for your service and what is an awful difficult situation there in afghanistan. mr. sampler, you used the metaphor that corruption is like a cancer. as you know when we tackle a cancer, we have to do it very quickly or the cancer wins. i just am a little bit disturbed when we talk in terms of 10 years and long periods of time in terms of getting ahold of corruption and really knocking it out, and one of the areas that it seems to me is the most effective, removing people from office, prosecuting officials,
letting people know there's a deterrent, really strong deterrent. can you tell us how many people have been removed from office, how many people have been prosecuted? is there a strong prosecutorial presence. what is actually happening on the ground in terms of acting on the individuals? as the chairman talked about suit cases of cash and all of those kinds of things, if that's happening, something ought to be done in terms of the institutions there. >> senator, thank you for the question and the observation. i have learned in my last hearing i will not ever at hearings again use metaphors because they can get out of control quickly. your point about catching corruption early is correct. i would argue especially at the
higher levels of government. leadership leads by example. if there are in the higher echelons of government official leads corruption and trains younger officials to be corrupt in their own right when it becomes their turn, one of the things president ghani has done quickly in his term of office he has seized the reins of corruption at senior levels to the best he can recognizing he has challenges with reclusive governments and there are political consequences for firing certain individuals that he has to consider but he has done it. senator, qfr, specific numbers about individuals, i do know we have that. i don't have it on the tip of my tongue. in general sense president ghani has relieved i believe the number is 30 customs officials where he learned of endemic corruption. he has created panel within the parliament, both general parliamentary panel on corruption and a women's
parliamentary council on corruption that is also empowered to take action. but i will take details at qfr. >> just one point, president ghani has also removed more than 90 generals from the ministry of defense roles. that was not necessarily specifically for corruption. but the individuals were removed for inefficiency and effectiveness but i think it helps establish principle of accountability that is so important in anti-corruption efforts. >> has anybody gone to jail? >> there are individuals from kabul bank who are in jail, yes. >> now, the whole issue of corruption raises the question what's more of a threat to the long-term stability of afghanistan. is it the current inability of the afghan government to deal
with its own internal struggles? ie corruption. or is it isis, al qaeda, the other group you mentioned or the taliban? how do you see that in terms of the long-term stability? >> well, i think that there is no question that what preoccupies most afghans on a day-to-day basis and what preoccupies the government is the security threat from the insurgency. that is to say from the taliban. i think that overall the taliban have thrown everything they could at the government for two years now, two fighting seasons, 2015 and 2016 and they have not succeeded. they did briefly take kundus but did not take any capital and afghan forces have been fighting
back very effectively. given the effectiveness of the afghan defense forces, i think that the taliban have resorted to outrageous terrorist attacks in the cities, which, of course, garner enormous attention. but those are generally speaking against very soft targets. so i think that the people of afghanistan are genuinely concerned about the insurgency and i think they would see that as the first and foremost amongst the threats. it's also one of the reasons that there is such a yearning for peace in afghanistan? >> thank you very much. thanks for your service. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you. thank you for your t. a couple of years ago in the house, myself and another member on the government reform committee looked into some of the contracts that we had with
afghanistan. at that time a lot of percentage of the funding were trucking contracts with the afghans moving tools and forward operating bases in particular. with a diminished presence there, that requirement has gone down quite a bit, i understand. is that -- there was -- that was identified as an area of deep concern at that point. the allegiance of those with whom we were contracting basically to protect our supplies moving forward and to move those supplies was fleeting at best, to put it mild ly. taliban one day and with us the next. is that still a concern or what percentage of funding with regard to defense funding is still going that direction. i know you may not be aware of these figures, but can you give
me the best estimate you can. >> senator, with regard to department of defense funding i would have to take that question and get back to you. that's responsibility of my colleagues at the department of defense. what i can tell you, and i was assistance coordinator at the u.s. embassy during the time you're talking about and there was a great deal of concern about contracting, and efforts were made to greatly improve vetting of the various contracts to make sure that no u.s. funding was falling into the hands of maligned actors. as you correctly state, that is less of an issue now in part because of the diminished size of u.s. forces. i would say there continues to be an emphasis on fuel. i know general nicholson has spent a lot of time addressing fuel contracts to ensure they
are completely clean and administered in the best -- in a way that doesn't encourage any corruption. but of course i'd have to refer you to the department of defense on those particular contracts. >> senator, with your permission i'll add in specific response to some of the early issues, u.s. government developed programs called vetting the ambassador alluded to. i can give you numbers on vetting since 2011. u.s. aid has vetted 7,318 potential partners to receive our funding since march '11. from that, 300 have been determined ineligible. that may not mean they were criminals but we found something that made they will not eligible to receive our funding. the amount of money that may have protected is in excess of $670 million. we took the threat of that corruption seriously and systemically across the government and i might add in other countries as well we're looking at how we examine
background of individuals in these organizations which we work. >> thank you. the concern was, and this applies obviously the numbers are bigger on the defense side but applies to other contracts as well. at that time so much funding used later. these were big numbers, huge numbers, in terms of these contracts. i'm pleased it seems the vetting process has been stepped up. it was quite clear at that point, a lot of the money used to acquire weapons and to launch attacks was actually u.s. money that had been turned around because of insufficient vetting. i understand you have to deal with unsavory actors here a lot less so now with the diminished presence. but i just hope that we're making sure that our funding ends up where we want it to go and not being used against us.
thank you. >> thank you, senator murphy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you both for your incredible service. ambassador olson, we often use the number of 8400 u.s. troops to talk about our presence inside that country. for any of us that have spent time there, of course you well know that number of u.s. support personnel is actually much larger. we obviously had a big nonmilitary civilian contracting footprint. do you know offhand what the number is of u.s. supported or u.s. paid for personnel that are on the ground today in afghanistan beyond just that number of 8400 troops? >> yeah. no, senator, i do not have a number for the number of contractors who would be supporting either dod or state. i could give you numbers of u.s. embassy.
you have about 670 people, americans, at the u.s. embassy in addition to the 9800 who are serving with u.s. military. but we would have to get back to you on total number of contractors. >> i simply raise it because we use the wrong metric when we try to understand our presence there. we have transferred fairly significant functions away from u.s. troops to private contractors who are doing things troops used to do there. so our footprint is much bigger and frankly we have a lot more americans at risk than just that number 84. >> if i could, if you don't object, would the order of magnitude be triple the number we have military just to give an order of magnitude? >> senator, i'm really reluctant to guess on the number. i don't have a sense. >> apologize. >> of the number of contractors. >> my questions, that would be a minimum. >> that's my guess.
>> ambassador, can you talk about what you see for future vision for u.s. military presence in afghanistan, whether you see this as a movement towards the day in which there are no u.s. troops, no u.s. military presence, or should we be thinking about afghanistan more like south korea in which we are going to have to have a constant presence there to help underwrite and help advise the afghan military forces. what's your recommendation to the administration on that question. >> well, i think as we're thinking about transitions of administrations, of course, these are the kinds of questions that will come to the fore. and president obama with his decision on keeping 8400 troops in place wanted to leave as much
room as possible for his successor to make decisions about overall levels of u.s. troops. i think that, you know, i will give you my own personal view that there is essentially two models, i would say, for how we can be looking at the future. one of them is essentially a long war in which we do have a long commitment of some number of troops, whatever that number may be, i think, would be open to debate. but the other option is to pursue a political settlement, pursue reconciliation. i don't think that that is necessarily something that needs to be done in the immediate timeframe, and it certainly needs to be done in accordance
with our core principles, and we have established with regard to reconciliation that any agreement has to at the end of the day involve the taliban breaking with al qaeda and international terrorism, with ceasing violence, and with coming under the afghan constitution including respect for minorities and women. so i think that if i may, just having, you know -- thinking in terms of future military presence, i think the way we should be thinking about this is that our military hardening of the afghan state puts them in a position to arrive at a political settlement that is, you know, safeguards the investment. >> but that assumes that the taliban is interested in a political solution. do you worry it is simply not in the dna of the taliban to compromise? we're not talking about a political party. we're talking about a social, cultural and religious movement
that may be totally incapable of doing what we're asking them to do, which is sectionally get one-quarter or one-half of what they want to power share. it doesn't suggest to me the kind of organization that really in the end is capable of entering into a political settlement. if that's the case, then a strategy which assumes eventually they will fold in is one that will never turn out the way we want it to. >> if i may, senator, i think that's an excellent question, and i think we don't know the answer to the question. i would say as a diplomat, this is a proposition we would need to test, whether the taliban are prepared to come to the table and to talk. what i would say is that there is an enormous war weariness in afghanistan on both sides. i think that is very evident. it is evident amongst the afghan people who are, i think,
absolutely ready for a peace element and for reconciliation. if that widespread desire can be translated into attitudes on the part of the taliban that can be changed, i think there may be some ground. it is a proposition that has to be tested, sir. >> thank you. our staff leaned up and said they fell the number was probably between 80 to 100,000 of additional security, of contractors. if you would get back to us with that number it would be good. in saying that, i want to say personally i lobbied the white house to keep the number of troops that we had there. i'm glad the president came up with a number that i think will keep stability there. i appreciated the additional authorities given to the military to give close air support to the afghan military when necessary. i appreciated the authorities to
go against al qaeda that didn't exist a year or so ago. i don't want any of the questions that i'm asking to indicate anything other than my support for those decisions that have been made. i think ghani is generally a good man. like all of us has flaws. i'm glad we have someone who does care about corruption. you know, he is more of a technocrat and certainly understands the ways of the world and imf and other places. i think has significant political skills as a human being and inner relationship kinds of skills. that said, again, i want to go back to some of the questions i asked mr. sampler earlier. regardless of political reconciliation, and i share some of the concerns senator murphy laid out, when we created the afghan military and afghan police, we knew that for add in
finite um we were going to pour billions and billions even with reconciliation occurring. we have a country, as you mentioned, one of the poorest in the world. all this utopic discussion about the minerals in the ground, which has been utopia for decades. it's not going to happen in my lifetime i know. i just think it's better for the american people for us to understand that once you undertake an effort like this, you're talking billions and billions and billions and billions of u.s. dollars every single year. so i would get back to, geb, somebody i think is a true patriot, mr. sampler, and just as we learn about this, obviously it's affecting the american people when they see afghanistan, when they see iraq. you know, there's obviously a change of thinking in our country among the american people. those of us who are policymakers obviously want to always
continue to pursue our national interest but we understand the country is changing, or at least has for a while. what would you -- how would you assess when we go into a place like afghanistan and we determine what we're going to do, george bush 41, president bush 41 determined when he went in in desert storm there was a limited mission. once that was accomplished, he stepped back out. bush 43 determined that mission to be something very different in afghanistan and iraq. you're seeing on the ground the effort it takes for this transformation and certainly good things have occurred but how should we begin to think in a more sophisticated way on the front end about these types of engagement based on what you've learned over the last 14 or 15 years. >> senator, again, thank you for the question. the observation i would make, and i make it coming from a
special forces background, is it is much cheaper and much better and much more humane to prevent insurgencies than it is to go and try to clean them up. in afghanistan, one of the reasons i'm such an ardent supporter for continuing our engagement is we have seen firsthand the consequences of walking away from this region. it was the taliban and it was 30 years of civil war. it spawned a breeding ground for al qaeda from which they attacked the united states. i'm an ardent supporter of pursuing stability in places like afghanistan. one of the things i pledged the agency to continue to work on with them is what should we have learned about how we do this the next time around, wherever it might be in the world. as an agency or interagency what should we be better at to be as prepared to bring all instruments of national power to bear, find most economical and effective ways to do this.
i really appreciate your observation with respect to the time that's required. you may be able to go into afghanistan as we did in 2001 and topple the government there very quickly. but you cannot rebuild the state in an equally quick period of time. there's a further confusion in some of the community of interest that if you double the amount of money you spend, you will therefore double the rate of change in the national government. i appreciate, too, the growing recognition that's just not true. so i guess i would argue for a comprehensive whole of government approach that really does use all the instruments of our national power. and the strategic patience, as you've indicated, to be willing to stay the course and make sure the changes we make are permanent. i worked in bosnia in 1995 and '6 when richard holbrooke brokered that agreement. the balkans are a tough place to
live and work still, but it is a governed place. it is getting better. the people there lives better lives now than 1993. if that's all we adheef in afghanistan, that might be better for short run. we need to stay the course to make sure the gains afghans have made and governance they are beginning to provide is permanent and not reversible. >> i came from another committee meeting. i just will make the observation i think part of entering these conflicts we know are going to go on for decades, i mean, what we've done in our country is do so and not pay for it. what we've really done is made sure future generations will pay for this, which to me is inherently immoral. it seems to me on the front end of these, a decision needs to be made. if we know we're going to be there spending $10 billion a
year for add in finite um, create other services, obviously american people would pay attention to or in some other ways revenues pay for these undertakings, because we're not just committing to something for a long time. each year most of these resources are being piled on the back of our young people that down the road are going to pay the price, not us, but people down the road. with that, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would agree. i think you point out what we have done is we've let the american people think we can do these kinds of interventions without any cost to america. and that is a dangerous precedent to set. but i want to begin by thanking you ambassador olson and mr. sampler for your service in
afghanistan and to the country and wish you well in whatever you decide, whatever you're doing next. i have really two questions. my first is a very specific one. as i know you both know without any action from congress to authorize additional visas for the afghan special immigrant visa program, not only will that program expire but thousands of afghans who have provided valuable service to our embassy there, to our men and women who have served, will be denied access to this country and be exposed themselves and their families to great danger. many of them already are. so i want to ask both of you if you can talk how important it is for congress to take action, extend the program for afghans
in the pipeline and talk about what a difference that has made to our mission there on the ground. so ambassador olson, do you want to begin? >> yes. thank you, senator, for your question. let me say that the state department is fully committed to the special immigrant visa program. we consider it, frankly, a moral responsibility to our employees who have been prepared to put their lives at risk by their association with us. and senator, you are indeed correct that without an infusion of visa numbers, we will very shortly be exhausting the ability to issue visas, whether it's to individuals who served with our armed forces, or our
locally engaged staff at the u.s. mission. so i wouldn't offer any specific commentary on the various pieces of legislation that are currently under consideration except to note that we do believe the need is real and would encourage the senate and house to act. >> mr. sampler, do you have anything to add to that? >> yes, ma'am. i'll endorse the ambassador's recommendation. i look forward to the day afghans don't feel the need to flee from afghanistan. the brain drain this creates not just among interpreters but professional staff at embassy who leave after serving two years and are now in the united states is significant. it has been discussed and the government of afghanistan, as soon as we can reverse the security concerns and give these people a sense of confidence that they can stay, that will, i think, be a significant success. in the short run i very much
support sid program. i have colleagues who work with and for me in afghanistan who are either in the united states now or hope to be because of the siv program. i very much appreciate that congress is willing to offer this and willingness to extend it. >> thank you both. i do appreciate the efforts of the state department to make sure that this program has worked and worked more expeditiously to help those in real danger. it's disappointing to me that we've had a few people in the senate and in the house who have blocked something that has been very important to our efforts on the ground in afghanistan. my second question is really a much broader one. you know, just reading and listening to media reports in the last months about discord between president ghani and ceo
abdullah about taliban incursions into helmand, nangarhar provinces about the recent very high-profile death of one of the police chiefs who at least from all news reports was not corrupt and who was working hard to address the dangers of the taliban. it's hard to read all of those reports and have a rosey view of the good work that has gone on in afghanistan. i appreciate both of you talking about progress that has been made. but it does raise concerns about what the future holds. so i wonder if you could talk about how we should view the future given some of the reports of what we're seeing. >> yes. thank you, senator. i agree with you that it's important not to be rosey eyed on this, but i do think in
particular the security situation is not quite as dire as it is sometimes presented through media reports. i'm not saying that to be critical of the media, but it's just simply the nature of the news cycles. the fact is the taliban for the last two years has thrown everything it had against the afghan forces. with the exception of the brief fall of kundus last fall, the afghans have helped. under leadership they have taken much more offensive actions and are much more mobile and less tied to checkpoints. many of the incidents that you're describing are actually the overrunning of checkpoints. for instance in a province there
were reports that the capital had fallen. that wasn't true. what had happened is certain checkpoints on the outskirts, a town up in the hills and surrounded by narrow roads leading in, had fallen to the taliban. the city it's self was never actually under any kind of direct threat. that said the fighting has been serious, especially in helmand and parts of the north. again, the key part of helmand, that is to say the populated districts, capital, areas around ring road have continued to hold. i think the taliban do control certain parts of afghanistan that is indisputable but what they control are primarily rural areas with very low population
densities and remote areas. these are not population centers. if you look at the proportion of the country the taliban holds in terms of population, it's really not very significant. and this is, of course, given that the five major cities of afghanistan have over the course of the past 15 years become huge cities in afghan standards. kabul probably being 2 to 5 million people when it was traditionally a city of 200,000. so i don't want to be overly optimistic but i do think afghan forces are holding despite some real casualties. and with our continued support, we believe they will be able to withstand whatever the taliban has been throwing against them. >> on the question of the government of national unity, it
is a challenge. this is not a country that has a tradition of coalition government ever. it has a long tradition, frankly, of very authoritarian centralized one-person rule. and so there are challenges to making the government international unity work. there are some challenges that have come up recently of which i'm sure you're aware. our sense is that both president ghani and dr. abdullah, with whom i've been out to kabul twice within the past month, met with both of them repeatedly. my sense is they both recognize the importance of unity, of inclusive government. there are tough political issues that divide them. but we are working with them to continue to keep the process on track. >> can i ask a follow-up?
you talked about the significant losses to the afghan forces. i have heard they have lost thousands of people. so how much is this affecting their ability to continue to recruit and enter a place all of those people who have been lost? >> well, i don't mean to dump the question but probably a question need to refer to my dod colleagues. i think they would probably have the precise numbers on that. my sense from having been out there and from having talked repeatedly to general nicholson and others is that while the casualties are severe, first of all, they are not as significant as the casualties that the taliban are taking. i think that's an important point to remember, that the taliban casualties are
particularly severe. and so far i think it is safe to say that the recruitment efforts have not been hampered and there's some important advantages that the afghan forces have right now. particularly the use of air power, which gives them a big advantage and a moral boost over the taliban. the afghans now are flying a 29s, afghan air force conducting airstrikes. we've provided helicopters, md 530s which are being used quite effectively. i think that has a really important effect on the battlefield because, of course, that means that their enemy cannot mask. i think also it is a great boost to the moral. >> okay. so i have a state department question for you.
do we expect president ghani to call parliamentary elections? >> the timing of elections will have to be up to the afghan government to decide. we think what's really important in the near term is that the government of afghanistan agree on what electoral reforms are absolutely necessary to conduct elections as soon as possible, because i think there's a widespread consensus that after the last -- after the 2014 election, that reforms are necessary. there are issues that are under consideration right now, consideration of electronic id car cards, the question of constituency and naturally constituency raises questions of redistricting which are as controversial in afghanistan as it is in the united states. so these are important issues that they are going to have to
get through. but we think the important thing is for them to actually come up with a reform package and agree on it. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i will say in reference to one of your questions, there is a 30% turnover rate in the military each year. so the special forces, i think, have done an outstanding job at performing. the rest of the regular afghan military does have significant turnover. as far as the gains that have been made, a big part of that has been with close air support we've been able to give, too. is that correct? >> yes, that is correct, sir. i'm well outside my lane in terms of offering military appreciation. >> military leaders just couldn't get it together unfortunately. but that is true what i just
said, right? >> yes, sir. >> there are -- to provide air support to care out a strategic effect and he has been using those authorities quite effectively. >> those are new authorities. >> that is correct, sir. >> when do we expect the afghans themselves? i know they are gaining ground as it relates to the air service. when will we expect they could totally displace us, if you will, on those types of activities? >> sir, i would really think i couldn't answer that question. that would be one for my air force colleagues working this issue directly. we'll be happy to take it back and try to get you an answer. >> would it be your observation
in the event the jurga were to take up the issue of having ceo and president today, it's likely they would vote that down. >> the question is a complicated one. the political agreement calls for one, constitutional but first holding parliamentary elections. as i mentioned there are challenges to that and why the loya jirga has not come about. >> my understanding was possibly one of the reasons we're not going ahead with the parliamentary piece, we know to the extent the way it was constituted, the loya jirga, in fact, this shotgun marriage we've created would not exist and would fall apart.
so it's the sequence that you outlined and not concerns about what the aftermath might be. >> yes, sir. well, first of all, these are afghan decisions about whether or not to convene. >> i understand. >> a loya jirga. i don't think the calculation that this would not -- that this would perceive one way or the other was the factor. i think it was simply the difficulty of reaching consensus on the electoral reforms and therefore agreeing on the electoral date that actually prevented the convening of a loya jirga. i'm talking about a constitutional loya jirga. there also is the option of a traditional loya jirga, which is much less predictable in terms of its possible outcomes. >> i understand president karzai
is playing a nefarious role in these issues. is that correct? >> well, president karzai has occasionally signaled that he -- he has signaled that he would favor a traditional loya jirga. i think we would have concerns about a traditional loya jirga. at the end of the day, this is up to the afghans to decide. >> one last question, i can tell senator cardin wants to close with some other comments and questions. so the role that you play is, first of all, you being in this post that's going to end after many, many years of distinguished service which we're all grateful for, but it does seems to me now the whole notion of this half pac if you will, the scenario we envisioned at the time is very different
today. i'd love for you, if you would, on your way out the door to talk about the strengths of that, of having a person in this position and and some of the flexities. i would think in some ways it breached distrust by both countries for someone in your position, or could. i just wondered if you might make some oepgsobservations kno that others will decide if this position continues. >> thank you, senator, for giving me the chance to address this. it's an important issue. i do think having an office like mine that is robustly resourlsed and staffed and neighbor to deal with some the highest priority issues on our foreign policy on a daily basis makes a good deal of sense. just to give you some xamplz i in some ways an equivalent to
assistant secretary of state, but i only focus on two countries. this allows me to focus much more intensively. i have been out in kabul twice in the last month in the nine months or so that i have been in this job, i have been out on a monthly basis almost so and iz llamabad. that is an ordinary sec stare of state would not be able to attach to one or two countries. i have to say there are challenges to the structure as well. the structure, i challenge i think that we all come up gerns is the fact that pakistan in some ways and views itself in
terms of its relationship with india, and india and pakistan are in the current structure tour in separate bureaucratic domains, it sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but let me just say that i work extremely closely and with great respect for my colleague nisha biswal and we have made significant efforts to make sure that seam is not problematic but it is a serious concern. >> senator carden? >> i want to follow up on islamabad and pakistan. can you just share with us how helpful pakistan is being to getting the taliban involved in afghanistan, and the peace process and particularly how
they're inconsistent, i'm being generous right now, position in regards to the al kani network, the ability to have the peace, a meaningful peace process in afghanistan? >> yes, thank you, senator. well, first of all, i continue to believe that pakistan is at a strategic crossroads, and it can choose either to act against the extremists, who threaten, who have a safe haven on its territory and threaten its neighbors, or it can continue to ignore this problem. if it chooses the former source of action, cracking down on the terrorists, it will build regional stability, enhance relations with its neighbors and the united states. if it chooses the ladder it will face it seems to be increasing isolation and estrangement. >> excuse me, have they made this choice? we've been talking about this for a considerable period of time and at least, it seems
like, i'm going to be somewhat kind on this, seem to be taking both pats at the present time many believe they made the decision to not go after the alkani network. they have chosen not to go after all terrorist activities. if you talk to the indians they'll tell you the same thing is true nards to the networks against india, terrorist organizations against india that are supported at least by their presence in pakistan. so i guess my question is, is the jury still out on pakistan? if it is, how do we influence to make sure they make the right decision? >> well, i think that pakistan has taken some actions against the taliban.
in the past few months, they have, first of all, they did clean out north waziristan, which was something that we had wanted for many years, including closing down -- >> is that, i agree with that but is that translating into cooperation to get the taliban into the peace process? >> well, with regard to the peace process, i think it's safe to say that pakistan made serious efforts to bring, to try to bring the taliban to the table. we know that through a variety of means but at the end of the day, the taliban did not take up the offer to come to the table. and i think that's, i think that's unfortunate, and regr regrettab regrettable. we continue to urge pakistan to take robust action against the hakani and against the taliban,
and i think there are indications that they have taken some actions, but i don't think it would be fair to say that those actions have been definitive. >> well, obviously this conversation's been going on for a long time, and it just looks like when we put a major spotlight on it, we get some help and then at times for either their strategic reasons or political reasons pakistan seems to go in the wrong direction. so it's a matter that not only has a direct impact on pakistan and truly it does, but also of course their neighbors. let me ask one additional question on human rights. there are many human rights activists in afghanistan that think that the united states has not been strong enough with the human rights monitoring in
afghanistan. i would just make that observation again, as i did with corruption, where we had a good discussion here today. it's critically important that the united states prioritize the human rights progress at every opportunity we can. we have, we are a major player in afghanistan, and that we must have accountability if we're going to be able to continue this to we hope a successful conclusion. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. did either one of you, since you may not have the microphone on one of these hearings again, anything you'd like to say before we adjourn? >> senator, it's just been an honor. i've appeared several times and i'm continually impressed with the value of our government and how it does things and it encourages me to watch other governments that get the opportunity to work and i appreciate the other
opportunities you've given me to testify. >> can i come back, chairman? i did want to make one additional point to mr. carden's point. i think that there has been a subtle shift in the way pakistan is approaching the question of the haqqanis and the taliban in their conversations with us, and we have, i have had many, many conversations. i was formerly ambassador to pakistan and probably meant with general rahil 50 times to discuss this particular issue. but i think that what has happened is that there is less of an emphasis on the strategic dimension that you alluded to, and i think there is a greater concern about taking on another fight, when they already have a
domestic terrorism issue that they are grappling with. so to some extent i think this is a question of capacity for the pakistanis to deal with, not 100%. i mean, i wouldn't suggest that there aren't some people who do favor the taliban for strategic reasons, but i think it is, in many ways, from the perspective of the military establishment, simply being, having too many things they have to deal with at once, and i think that we are, we have the sense that we are making progress, slow baby step progress in all of these areas. but again, let me join with my colleague, larry, and thanking you for giving us the opportunity to be here today, and to thank you for your
support and cooperation. >> thank you. if i could follow up on that, you and i have had conversations about the haqqani network and we know that it roadblocks a given get out of jail free card, they provide health care. the relationship is very cozy and we understand and know the leadership of pakistan knows generally speaking where they reside. they've moved in, in some cases to suburban areas of pakistan, out of the fighting area so it's a problem we all understand. we've held subsidies, if you will, on buying fighter jets to pakistan. we see the clips each day and know that's been widely reported both in pakistan and india, but what those just in all khan dhar, you disagreed with that effort and i appreciate that. although i haven't heard much from the state