tv Newsmakers CSPAN December 6, 2009 10:00am-10:30am EST
is todd fill singer. and stephen hayes. thank you for being with us on this sunday morning and enjoy the rest of your weekend. have a great week ahead. captioned by the national captioning institute, inc. ---www.ncicap.org--- [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> up next on c-span, "newsmakers" with senator jack
reed from rhode island. he's the chairman of the committee of submerging threat. and after that a look at afghanistan. >> senators are continuing their debate of the health care bill through the weekend. our regular book tv schedule will be preempted with these rare sessions, with book-tv resuming after the debate. watch this gavel to gavel on c-span 2, to read the senate version and house version, go online to c-span's health care
hub. >> as we get better of what we do. >> four of malcolm gladwell's books with his latest as our guest tonight on "q & a." >> joining us on "newsmakers" is jack reed and senator let me begin with what you think the afghan military will look like in 2011? >> it will be larger and primarily focused on infantry units, the units from battalion and not have the logistic and supporting arms, those will be growing more gradually.
it will be as it already is, battle tested. and deployed more extensively and a position in several providences to be a lead element. and as a result it will be significant achievement and allow us to begin the transition that the president spoke about. >> will the military be ready? >> i think the army will be ready, ready for a role of holding military and cooperating with local afghans and building political governance. and i believe they will be ready to assume more challenging tasks. they won't be ready for a lab-staff with their own helicopter lift and with logistical and there are few
in the world that have that. but they will be improved. there is an issue with the police, i don't believe they will be at a level of stature and capability. but the first step is to get their army in the fight and to take on the fight. >> tom from u.s.a. today. >> sir, thank you for taking the time. how long do you believe they need support? >> as the president outlined by 2011, we will begin to transition our combat forces out. we will probably as we have done in iraq, maintain first forces to protect our troops. but second there are critical enablers like helicopter lift. but one of the interesting comparisons in iraq and afghanistan is that, you know i think if we are able to deploy
afghany forces with suitable mobility, that some of the more elaborate enablers like helicopter lift, etc. may not be necessary. i think they would be capable against the taliban with mobility and training and fire support and those things. but there will be a continuing logistical support. but the key element is combat forces will begin to come out. >> right, but is this going to take a decade that they need u.s. troops and that support? >> weville -- we will have to have a presence in south asia, because it's a critical area. al qaeda is still on the border, and you have other terrorist networks, that are
disruptive to the pakistanis and afghanies. and pakistan has nuclear weapons and they have enmity with the indians. this is not an area where you pick and go, but the presence should be trainers and supportive elements. we want to and i think we will get to the point where afghany forces are able to handle their own security with limit the assistance. >> on an unrelated note, where do you think you see the civilian side of this? typically some of your aggressive colleagues have concerns if that affects our mission. how do you see that play out? >> there is a definite lack of government capacity, and that is not going to be cured in a
brief time. and regardless of the situation in kabul, the approach in afghanistan is that there is a bit of a cultural disconnect. afghanistan has never had a strong central government but powered in the provinces. and the afghany's in this complex of the central government that is weak, and that's out of sync with their history. we have to move more to a provinceable level, they look to local province leaders and tribal leaders. and part of the strategy of general mcchrystal is to align
our efforts with the culture, and that makes sense. >> does that mean at a local level we need to empower tribes to provide their own security? is there going to be some provision that you would have something like the sons of iraq where you play locals? >> i think there is something to a response fund or something comparable to that, to provide security , it may be more cost effective and may be better. since afghan's have more insight into that. i think there is an effort to be practical and innovative and try different approaches. much that was done in iraq with the army and marine colonels
and saying that we can use these people. i think all of these options are seen. there is much more of a sensitivity of trying to understand the culture and align our objectives with the local tribes, the local authorities. >> when president obama announced his new troop increase this last week, there was this sense that he needed to sell them to the progressive part of the democratic party. do you think he's done a good job af that? if not, what does he need to do when you move into the spending portion of this thing and paying for it. >> now, john, what i think happened, this started with a very, careful, deliberate and thorough review. military officers who participated said that it's one of the most exhausted and
thoughtful review they had experienced. and that give him the strategy. and the next issue in the public arena is to explain the strategy and then through that explanation rally support. i think that the president did a great job of explaining the strategy. i think one of the factors and this may be characterized it's ok to give some here and here, but part of the strategy by secretary gates and admiral mullen, is a date to begin a transition. i think that's helpful in the terms of the strategic sense and to the american people at-large, this is not an open-ended commitment. and the response to the afghan's to take up the fight. one problem is that president
karzai has not received this message but it's clear that he and his government has to lead. >> but the government did not give the tactics, do you support that idea or how do you pay for it? >> i support the idea of paying for it, we have gone now for eight plus years to wars that his contributed to where we are today. and that's the president's view. the specifics are always difficult. but there are only two ways to do it, one is to make savings in other accounts. i think some of that will be done. and then you have to consider
raising revenue, and that's something we are doing now in the health care debate. it strikes me ironic that we have committed ourselves in the health care debate to pay for it and to make it the budget saving going forward and we are being resisted by the republicans in that. and they seem to suggest that they will resist paying for the operations of afghanistan. we have to begin to reverse the deficit. a lot of people talk about it, but it's got to be done. this particular approach will evolve over the next several months. >> i want to move on about the surge itself, when will we know that it has worked or not? what are the sign posts you have look for? >> one thing that resulted from this detailed analysis, the fact that the troops will be
more quickly deployed. this $÷ña faster deployment schedule than general mcchrystal. and that's a result of going back and forth, and that's an improvement of what we are doing. i expect it will take six months or so as the troops begin to flow in. the signs of progress, the signs will be a decrease ultimately in violence. and we have to predict there will be a reaction by taliban but you will see improvements. and that will give rise to a more routine day-to-day life. and that's the ultimate test, schools are open and stay open. people don't feel intimidated.
>> it seems that you anticipate an increase in casualties? >> that's right, we have seen with deployment with marines and second infantry division, we have seen attacks to them and they are moving in terrain that the taliban has had control of. and they have made it forbidding in terms of booby trapping and the valley is dominated by a river and canal and similar to d-day in france. >> mccain and others have been critical to having a start date
it pull out. and by doing that you give the taliban and others the chance to lay low and when they leave, we will move back in and take over. could you respond to that? >> yeah, first of all, as evidence of the last year or two, the taliban and al qaeda don't need a reason to withdrawal. we have had a deadline and the situation is deteriorating. so the presumption that this will make them angry i don't think is logical. second if they do go to ground, then we will minimize the casualties while we continue to take back and secure and take out their leadership and disrupt their networks. if that's the case, i think that would be a benefit. and that's the view of secretary gates also.
if they want to hide and leave the country, we will build up the afghany army and secure the territory and strengthen the tribal governance to the detriment of the taliban and al-qaeda. >> talk about eliminating civilian casualties, and this is an increase of troops? >> i was in iraq and we were down with a division, and i asked the commanders that question, and they said once we explain to our soldiers the policy and it's a policy that we support and makes sense to us. and the reason is because every time a civilian is hurt the
propaganda that is generated by taliban and al qaeda, it sets us back, and the soldiers and commanders understand this. one lesson of the soviet conflict, they took an approach to this,and that hastened their departure as much as anything. it generated the sympathy in the united states. i recall my former colleague, charlie wilson and went to the camps and talked about the villagers being bombed indiscrim natalie. -- indiscrimnat ely.
and this is general mcchrystal and has demonstrated an alliance and they are the ones that think this is the most effective way to wage this fight. >> we have started to see some signs of fatigue with the afghan war with the public. how long do you think we have before it starts to seeing serious obstacles to stay? >> there has been frustration obviously. it's been a long time, this is eight years. but we did not appropriately use many of those years. this was underresourced and ignored, because iraq assumed all the resources and political debate and capital. and in those years we have lost
tremendous ground. we have allowed the taliban to reconstitute itself. and the frustration is not only the americans but with the afghan's. we thought we would help to achieve more quickly stable governance, etc. but we have to recognize this can't go on the same way. and that's why i think the president decided not only would we provide these additional resources and accelerate growth of the afghany army, and we understand there will be a point of transition, and that's in 2011. and the other part of the frustration of the american people is also the economy. that puts us in a different
context than 2002 and 2003, and now people are saying, and they should be saying, can we afford? how do we pay for this? >> this is your forum, not ours. but i want to follow up what you said, the president referred to, the days of the blank check is over. what do you back that up with? >> to the notion that we are in afghanistan for our own purposes and not to help the afghan people. and that's lack of the coordination of the afghans and particularly by president karzai. and i think the president has said, and not just the president but general
mcchrystal and european allies. this is the last major chance you have to govern effectively and efficiently, and the consequences will be more severe to you than the united states. >> to follow up on that, what must the afghan government do to prove they are competent? >> they first have to ensure that local governs -- governors are effective and they are first elected by karzai and the resources come from kabul. they have to ensure that committed to the fight they have the resources. if education funding and health care, and if we restructure the police, they have to have the a lot -- have the ability to pay
the police. and they have to recognize they have to build this infrastructure. build the economy and have to start and build out. and they have to be competent, not corrupt. and the test has to be competence not who do you know when pay. >> would you support including some kind of benchmarks like this the funding bill? >> i would expect there would be benchmarks. and those benchmarks are generally helpful. because they establish sort of a framework, there is a clear understanding. and i know in the iraq experience, we were attempting to do that, but when unsuccessful. the ambassador could communicate to the iraq
government, and wait a minute, they are serious. this dynamic is helpful, not hurtful. >> both politically and militarily side, there would be benchmarks? >> yes, one thing that is fundamental to the insurgence is for the military to develop capacity. >> how concerned are you for the military deployments over the forces over the eight to nine years? >> the strain is significant, we owe a great deal to the men and women of our armed services. they are remarkable. one thing that has happened over the last years is that there is a dependent-well period. my friend's son just got back
from iraq and he can expect two years back at fort bragg, and before it was 18 months. that's been stabilized. but still the strain is significant. and it's played out in what you are seeing now in terms of divorce rates and mental health issues. we have to be conscious of that and very concerned. and that's one of the factors that has motivated the president to not only energize the afghans and to signal this is not an independent commitment of a large-scaled u.s. combat forces. >> is there anything that congress can do to help that? given the economy climate, is there a way to help with the strain? >> we have increased the troop levels, but not some figures that i and chuck years ago when iraq started.
maybe we anticipated the need for more forces, it took a long time to get the increase we have now. what we are trying to do to ease this strain, to be sure that the commanders have the resources for all the quality of life services that are so necessary. and when a solder, marine or air force first deploys, it helps to know that the schools on the post are functioning and day care centers and hospitals and family support groups are in place. and another thing we have to do is to make sure that is a closer connection between veteran's association and department of defense, and that soldiers don't fall off the screen and don't get the help they need back home. >> you mentioned that afghan has been starved for resources. is that no longer the case? and if it is the case, what do
troops lack there that they are not getting? >> as soon as president obama came in, there was a march to send 20,000 more forces, that's a strong sign to get more effective forces on the ground. and then the equipment has been increased. the marines deploying and hummer with an altering capability is more adaptable to afghanistan than those in iraq. and we have helicopters. and we are beginning to develop the kind of i.r. capacity, intelligence capacities and more platforms are in place. those in iraq are moving across. it's a tough decision for
general mcchrystal because the general in iraq still has responsibility. but there is a huge shift in resources. and the biggest source of resource, we have been taking the best people we could find to go in. we have had good leadership in afghanistan, but we have now tried to assemble what most regard collectively as the best we have. general mcchrystal and rodriguez and general kaldwell to be the general commander. and integrating efforts and control with pakistan. it's a much more effective organization. >> senator, you flew up with the president up to westpoint and back, what was the mood on the plane? what was he talking to you?
can you give us a sense of that mood? >> yes, the president was consumed getting the last parts of the speech and getting that right. and i sat with others and there was a feeling and it was powerful, that this is a result of a deliberate, careful review. they felt confident about the outcome. and they felt confident that the president had so emersed himself in the review. and this was a message of the right strategic choice, and a difficult choice. and one would argue after years of neglect, there are not many good options. this was the best of difficult challenging options. and with the sense that this would communicate to the military and field to allow them to accomplish what they
believe they can. on the way back the president came back and sat down and chatted about -- i showed a picture of my daughter who is three in her westpoint cheerleading out fit and the president and michelle gave the baby diapers and chatted about the health care and we landed and it was a very exciting trip. >> senator jack reed, democrat from rhode island, thank you. >> we continue the conversation with john statton and tom. what happens if this strategy does not work? >> as the senator was talking about, there