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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 17, 2014 1:00am-3:01am EDT

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whole of government/regional campaign. >> one final question, secretary hagel. >> the with the, as i understand it, has laid out what could be an extended military operation that could extend many months or even years. in my view, carrying out such an operation, not responding to immediate exagaincy, requires congressional authorization and i think congress would be prepared to grant that authorization if a case were made with specific objectives. what is your position as to the legal authority of the administration to carry out an extended military campaign for years, potentially, absent congressional authorization? >> well, i believe the president has the statutory and constitutional authority to take the action that he is doing to protect this kn countcountry as
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it out to the american people last week. >> what is the legal authority you're basing that on? >> the statutory authority is the amf of 2001. if you wanted to add something to that, would probably be the amuf of 2003. >> my time has expired. >> i assume you meant there's no purely military solution to isil? when you said there's no military -- because you're seeking -- yeah there's no purely military solution. >> thank you. we need to stick very carefully to the six-minute rule because we have one, two, three, four, five at least, and so we have to be out of here at exactly 1:00. so, please, watch that clock, everybody. >> i'm not your problem. >> senator donnelley. i didn't mean -- >> i know that, mr. chairman. i want to thank both of you for everything you've done and for our service to our country. i want to get back to what you were talking about as to having
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had partners and having buy-in. i heard the role john allen is going to play. is a big part of that role n your mind, working with sunni tribal leadership, the people they worked with before, to try to get them to get back to a place almost they were before, which is working together with us? in effect, almost a second awakening. >> yes. that's one of the reasons john was such a -- such an attractive figure for that role. you know, lloyd austin, the relationship. he has incredible regional relationships. though, this coalition will be beyond the region. we'll be looking for european partners and maybe nontraditional partners. but john allen is certainly going to focus on the tribes.
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>> general austin has done a tremendous job, but it doesn't hurt to have someone else in the lineup to help him, i would think. when we look at this, what are the kind of things that general allen can do in effect to start to get the tribes to look at this differently, to say, look, our interests are more aligned with this coalition that's being put together than with this group isis. >> well, at the national level i think he will, along with our diplomats, encourage the new iraqi government to answer some grievances that both the sunnis and kurds have had for years, actually, since 2004. i think there's some indication that there's reason to believe that could occur. the sunni tribes in anabr.
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the maliki government was actually, as you might expect them to be, very much against the idea of a national guard in a al anbar. i think this government may be more open to it. i think that will be one of the lines of effort. >> is this something -- this is for either of you -- that we can get done in iraq if we don't get buy-in from the sunnis? >> as i said in an earlier question, senator, every campaign makes assumptions. if those supgss are valid, you stay on path. if the assumption is rendered invalid, you deviate. one of the important assumptions of this campaign is that we can, in fact, separate the moderate sunni tribes from the isil ideology. if that proves untrue, we've got to go back to the drawing board. >> okay.
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and you know, we talked about taking back mosul and the effort to do that. and it would involve isf and that we're working with the best parts of isf, or trying to. and i guess this touches back again on that same subject, which is getting the sunnis to accept those parts of isf. is that part of what general allen is going to do ask what general austin is working on? >> absolutely, yes, sir. >> this is again, for either of you, reports you mentioned financially about isis, you know, getting income of $3 to $5 million pir day, sa what we've heard. they're the best financed terrorist group. some of them have tried to put shoe laces and chewing gum together. that's not the case here. what is the plan or what are we working on to try to cut off their financing? because the oil they're selling has to be going somewhere and someone has to be paying them. so, how are we going to do that?
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>> senator, i mentioned this in two previous answers. >> i apologize. i wasn't here. >> but an important question. i also noted it in my testimony. that the administration has put together a focus working with our treasury department as key interagency department. with all other allies and partners around the world, you mentioned oil. the black marketing of oil. has been recently a very significant resource for them. they have taken small oil fields in syria and iraq. that's something that we can address through what we're looking at on some of our strategic focus outside of the treasury department. the ransom, the terrorism, all of the ways they finance
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themselves we have a task force working through treasury department to focus on this. that has to be and is a major part of our overall strategy, to cut off that funding and flow of resources. >> the last thing i'll ask is about coordination with our european allies in regards to the people with european passports who can get visa waivers and other things. the efforts that are going into that. is is that being done with all of our european allies over being -- >> that, too, is a major part of the coordination.
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combat in iraq. you served as -- you were in charge of training the iraqi troops. how many years ago was that? >> '05 to '07, sir. >> that's several years we've been training the iraqi troops. will they fight? >> yes, they will fight. if they are well led and believe their government is looking out for not only their best interest but their families. >> well, is it -- will they be encouraged if they felt they had
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united states air support? >> absolutely. >> i believe you said earlier our first priority should be isil. is that correct? >> i did, senator. >> i agree with that. no doubt about that in my mind. don't we have a commitment to encourage the shia, sunnis that we work with for ten years in war and help them establish at least for a time a government that functioned in iraq? don't we have as a nation some sort of relationship by bond between our two nations, even though we've had difficulties in recent years? >> i can tell you those that serve certainly field that bond. >> i've heard that from people that work there. we owe those who have served and suffered to be successful if we can be successful. and i think we can be successful. now we've had a lot of questions
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about syria and there are many complications in syria. but if we're going to make isil the first priority, shouldn't we make that -- shouldn't we emphasize our relationship with our friends, the kurds and baghdad and the iraqis and begin to work with them to turn the tide? in terms of strategy where you begin, wouldn't the first place to be to push -- to put isil on the defensive in our ally, iraq? >> yes. >> well, i'm a little -- embedding troops -- i want your military opinion. but if we embedded a number of special forces with the iraqi military and they knew that they are access to intelligence from
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the united states and air support from the united states, wouldn't that encourage them to be more effective militarily? >> as i mentioned in my opening statement, there may be times when i believe that would be necessary in order to make the mission successful. i don't think so on a day-to-day basis. >> well, let me just ask you directly. if there's a military unit in iraq today, they had united states military embedded with them and they were asked to undertaken an offensive operation, wouldn't they be more emboldened and encouraged to know they had americans there with them? >> well, in those cases where i would assess the mission to be complex enough where it would absolutely require our expertise forward, i'll make a recommendation to do it. we also don't want them to become a dependent on us.
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and there's a fine line to be drawn there. >> well, they've become a bit dependent on u.s. air, i acknowledge. i do believe you're correct that they will fight, but they do need -- i don't think they'll have the kind of morale boost we would like them to have if they don't have confidence that they have air support and that is enhanced with embedded soldiers. surely that's true, is it not? >> i'm actually eager -- i would love to find an occasion where we might have jordanian special forces embedded and -- >> we all have horses. we take a ride. we don't have that. and that's all -- we're talking about down the road. so, you said several times, we need to blunt the momentum. we need to change the momentum on the battle field. don't we need to start taking back a territory in iraq, those of us who share that view?
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>> yeah, absolutely, senator. but your premise is that we have to have u.s. embedded advisers forward. i don't share that premise at this point. >> did we use em pedestrianbedd when they took the haditha dam back? >> we did not. >> how did we assist them? >> we have advisers in headquarters can use overhead imagery, full-motion imagery, and direct strikes. >> well, would it be in our advantage to sooner rather than later encourage the iraqis to get on the move? >> absolutely. but we to want make sure they're ready as well. >> how long is it -- well, you started training them in 2007. and it's been a number of months now. i just think we're in a position to start taking some advances.
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i think it's necessary and to blunt the momentum. secretary hagel, briefly, i notice that the house put in their cr $91 billion for the oko funding and the president had asked for 58. is that money going to be used to -- in addition to the $550 million for training and equipping the syrian -- free syrian army? is that going to be used for carrying out military operations in the region? >> well, i haven't seen what the house did. and i think our comptroller may be here. if i might take a second to ask mike mccourt, who you all know, mr. chairman -- >> have to make it real quick because we got four more -- >> okay. because i haven't seen -- i haven't seen what the house did. and i don't want to say -- respond to that until i know -- >> can you respond in writing? >> we can do it for the record.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i'll provide it for the record. >> if we could get that this afternoon, because obviously it's important what the administration's position is. >> we will. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank both of you for your service. you and the president have made a voe strong case that isil, if left unchecked, will be a threat to europe and the united states. and they are attracting recruits from all oefrt world, including the united states. general dempsey, you noted that as we were looking at that map, what looks like territorial gains by isil is really a tribal by tribal overcoming. so, my question to you, general dempsey, is how important is it, even as we are asked to provide the authorization to arm and equip the free syrian army, how important is it that we work with the sunni tribal leaders to
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enable them to fight off isil in both syria and iraq. >> it's an integral part of the campaign plan. >> what exactly are we doing working with the sunni tribal leaders to enable them to fend off isil? >> the -- this is -- this probably requires the inte grait gra integration of many things. i mentioned already that the government has to show they care about the sunni tribes and not just fence them off in al anbar province. that's one effort. the other line of effort is john allen as he goes forward, using some of his previous relationships to meet with the tribal leaders and begin the formation of a national guard for al anbar province. and then i think it will be a matter of regional partners who have sunni governments providing some of the maybe -- maybe most, actually, of the funding and
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material support to that organization. >> do you see evidence that this kind of effort is working? that these tribal leaders that have been marginalized or excluded are now going to trust what we're doing? >> i can't make that report yet, senator. what i can tell you is that while isil was making these broad sweeping movements across iraq, many of the sunni tribes completely got discouraged and wanted to be -- for what was going to happen. they didn't feel they had any reason or capability to stand up to isil. now that isil's been -- the momentum has been slowed. it hasn't been stopped and it hasn't been reversed, but it's been slowed. we did see today, actually, an is unit moving near baghdad, for the fishgs movement south of baghdad. now all of a sudden we're getting tribal leaders reaching out saying, okay, if you're
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going to be serious about that, we'll talk to you. so, i think it was a necessary first step that we showed we were really serious. >> there were some earlier questions, concerns being made about the free syrian army that has been fighting assad and what makes us believe that when we train and equip them that they will turn their attention to fighting isil? do we have some kind of agreement with the 5,000 of -- forces, syrian army forces that we are going to vet and train? do we have some kind of an agreement that says, you will fight isil and you're not going to be fighting assad? >> no, we do not have any agreements at all because we haven't begun the recruiting effort. we don't have the authority to begin. we haven't done anything but come up with a concept. >> let's say do you get the authority. then what kind of -- what kind of terms would you -- would you
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put forth to enable us as much as possible? we realize there are risks here to have us conclude that the people we are recruiting are actually going to fight isil and not assad? >> well, the important part of an overt program is we'll actually -- we'll link it to a political structure over which we will have a certain amount of influence because of their dependence upon us for supplies, ammunition and so forth. as well as the fact that the regional partners, in particular, i think, as long as they're -- if the regional partners believe we're just going to ignore assad and just leave him there in perpetuity, then we're going to have a problem with building a coalition. but we can, it seems to me, coalesce around the idea that isil is the immediate threat and, therefore, should be addressed first. >> there is the question of what is assad going to be doing while
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the free syrian army is busy attacking isil? there are a lot of complexities and things -- >> there are. >> secretary hagel, we know isil is attracting recruits from all over the world, including from the united states. i note in your testimony that you said that the department of justice, department of homeland security, have launched an initiative to partner with local communities to counter extremist recruiting. can you talk a little more about what this constitutes, about what this initiative is all about? >> first, thank you for pointing that out because, as i noted in one of my earlier answers, it's a very important component of the overall strategy here to deal with isil. since i'm not involved in that part of the strategy and the
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operations, i can't go too deep into how they're doing it exactly. but the point being is to enlist local communities, law enforcement awareness, who's in their communities, who's coming in and out of their communities. just be more alert of things that are out there that will help our homeland security people, our law enforcement individuals, be more aware of things that are -- may be occurring, shouldn't occur, and then also working with our international partners as we trade information on individuals who are flowing in and out of these countries. we know, as you have mentioned, and marty mentioned and i have mentioned, that there are thousands of europeans that we know are in syria and the middle east. and these people all have passpor
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passports, which allow them access to our country, to different countries in the world. so, it's a combination of using those sources and coordinating that effort. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you. >> senator cain. >> thank you, senator. thank you to the testimony today. i believe the president's plan is generally reasonable. but i have one significant point of disagreement that i want to spend some time on. that's the question of whether the president has the authority, without additional congressional authorization, to carry out the mission as described. secretary hagel, you have used the phrase war against isil and others have used that phrase and general dempsey you have talked about a multi-year effort and others in the administration have expressed the same concern. i believe very strongly -- i don't think it's just a theoretical or law professor argument that the president does need the authority of congress
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that he described. the president's power is composed of twopaíkçó kinds of . the constitutional power is do that, i can't go on offense without congress. senator obama made the same
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point clearly in 2007, the president does not have power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual ongoing or imminent threat against the nation within the last two weeks the head of the director of national -- director of national counterterrorism center said, at this point there's no credible information that isil is planning to attack the united states. i understood the president's comments last week and other comments to suggest that isil was a significant threat, a serious threat, a growing threat. in terms of an imminent threat to attack the united states that would trigger the article 2 defense powers, it does not seem to exist at this point. then there are statutory powers. the white house decided both the 2001 and 2002. in 2001, it's important to remember not only what congress authorized but what congress refused to authorize.
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the bush administration approached congress and said, we would like the power to undertake military action against terrorist groups to prevent attacks on the united states. if congress had granted that, it clearly would have covered this threat. but congress overwhelmingly rejected that, did not believe in a pre-empty war doctrine, did not want to have him determine who to go after. congress narrowed it to have it be with respect to the perpetrators of the attacks of 9/11. isil was formed after 9/11. there has been an administrative gloss to go beyond the perpetrators of 9/11 to talk about associated forces with al qaeda. has there been a time when isil has been associated with al qae qaeda? there was but they are are not. they have disclaimed each other. they are battling in some theaters. could a lawyer make a broad
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argument, really creative argument that it covered isil? i suppose. i'm a lawyer. i've made creative arguments. but this president spoke at the national defense university in may of 2013 and he argued against broadening the open-ended aomf and said what we should do as a nation and what he was committed to was not broadening it but trying to refine it, narrow it and repeal it. i don't know why we would take it and try to broaden it further. finally, there was the aomf with respect to the iraq. it was designed to topple a government long gone. there have been many governments since the hussein government was toppled. and the administration testified in a foreign relation committee hearing here in may that the 2002 aomf was obsolete and should be repealed. to try to take these two statutory elements and stretch them so broadly i think is a
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significant problem and it will create a precedent that if we go along with it in congress we will live to regret and possibly regret very soon. that said, i think the mission is reason. but i think congress is necessary. and the president last week and you today have said obviously you would welcome congress. because we're stronger if we do it together. not just as an institution. we're stronger in the support we provide to the men and women that we ask to bare the risk of bottle. if we ask them to bare the risk in a war that may take a number of years, that will have aspects that we can't currently predict, some will be hurt, some will lose their lives, some will see bat things happen to their comrades in arms. if we're going to ask them to risk that, then we should do our job to bless the mission and say it's worth it. if we're not willing to do our job as congress, bless the mission and say it's worth it, we shouldn't be asking people to risk everything. it's my hope that that body will
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grapple with this plan, will ask tough questions, will refine it but will give our approval and not ask men and women to serve without us doing the job we're supposed to do in order to demonstrate the national support for the mission that we're asking them to carry out. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator king. >> i'm in complete agreement with senator cane. i'm glad he went before me because he articulated it more clearly and forcefully than i would have. i would only touch a bit on the history. the constitution is very clear and it wasn't an after thought or a minor comma here or there. congress shall declare war. the first draft said congress shall make war. they had -- they argued about an amendment to change make to declare because they realized it was impractical for congress to execute the war. so they changed it to declare to leave the power of execution to
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the president. but they were very explicit about why they did that. if you look at the 69th federalist, it talks about the differences between the president and the king or other executives. this is one of the things they pointed to and the risk of having the power of war exclusively vested in the executive. in madison's notes to the c constitution, madison talks about this discussion of the declaration of war and george mason used a wonderful phrase. he said, it is our intention -- it is our goal -- our goal here is clogging rather than facilitating war. that's an interesting term. they wanted it to be of deliberate decision. and i believe, along with senator cane, that stretching the aumf from 2001 or 2002 to cover this situation renders the
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constitutional clause annul. i just believe -- the danger here is, as this happens year by year, war by war, conflict by conflict, eventually there's nothing left of that provision and we have, in fact, transferred to the executive the unilateral power to commit american forces. that's not good for this country. and we may like this president. there may be a president down the road we don't like and we don't want to have this power. the more precedent we establish -- it started with truman in korea where there was no declaration. i think the stronger that precedent becomes, the more dangerous it is for the country. i think it's significant that the administration is using the word war. i won't go further. but i think it's an important point. i totally agree that congress has to act. it's our responsibility to act. it's our responsibility to act,
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and it will strengthen the president's hand, to draw coalition partners if we are unified and we're not -- congress isn't doing what it usually does, which is criticize and second guess and is participating in the decision. second point, we need to be thinking about three levels of strategy here it seems to me. one is, the plan the president articulated which i believe was a coherent, thoughtful and strong position. the president articulated a plan. the question is, as general dempsey has alluded to today, what if we -- what do -- what's plan b if the coalition doesn't stand up? what happens if turkey and saudi arabia or all the other countries decide that they're not going to participate? and then we're in the position of west waging war or islam, which is what isil wants.
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we cannot be in that position. we have already quoted tom freedman today, i would -- i will do it again. he had a wonderful phrase. they very to get engaged in t d struggle. that's how the people get into syria and getting to isil, turkey. the question -- the strategic question is, what if they don't stand up? are we going to do it by ourselves? the answer has to be, we can't. not only because the american people aren't interested in it but also because it isn't going to work. it has to -- this war has to have a coalition face. the third strategic question, forgetting about this current battle -- this is a battle in a long-term war. the real question to me is, what
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is our strategy for dealing with radical jihadism generally? not just isil. we have al qaeda, isil, aqap, this is geopolitical whack a mole. we have to have a strategy to get to the bottom of why are young people joining these organization s organizations? how do we counter their message that is attracting people into this radical death oriented philosophy? so i think i would urge the administration, you have to deal with the current crisis. i understand that. i think isil is a threat. but we also have to deal with, okay, what happens if the iraqi army doesn't stand up adequately and what happens if our troops that we trained in syria are unable to really take the fight
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to isil? the third question which i think is important is, we've got to have a longer-term more broad strategy to deal with this threat. otherwise, this is going to be a 100-year war. i just don't think it's in anyone's interest to contemplate such a terrible outcome. again, i want to thank you gentlemen and your testimony has been very helpful today, both of you. >> thank you, senator king. senator? >> thank you both for your service and being here today. secretary hagel, much has been talked about the role of turkey and concerns about foreign fighters using their territory to cross in to aid the fighting. when you were in turkey last week, what can you tell us about our engagement with turkey to stream the tide. turkey hasn't committed publically to what it will do as part of the coalition. what can you tell us about their intentions with regard to this effort? >> thank you, senator.
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i know, as you have expressed and other senators the importance of turkey here. we agree. first, you know that isil is currently holding 46 turkish diplomats. in my talks with all the senior leaders, this, obviously, was at the top of their priority list, which it would be. secretary kerry was there a few days after i was there. now, that said, turkey recognizes as much as any country the threat that isil poses as other extremist groups. they are working with us now, will continue to work with us. obviously, in an open hearing, i have to be careful that i can't go too far down into this.
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we would be glad to, in a closed session, give you more. >> also, the oil on the black market. huge financing stream for them. >> it's another issue that we talked to them about. they are not unaware of that. they know that it's a threat. they know it's a major funding source of isil. they are moving to deal with some of these same issues. our interests are common and clear. i think it's important to recognize, again, that turkey has been an invaluable member of nato, still is. we have a nato base there. we have a lot going on with turkey, as do other nato countries. so their interests are clear and they understand that in this fight. >> many of the members of this committee have talked about the effectiveness of arming the moderate rebels. there was a line of questioning about what agreements do they
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have with them. certain questions about what information the moderates may have given to isil about their son said the sotloffs. i'm concerned about how we -- when i met some of the opposition fighters the last time i was overseas, they wouldn't even agree to locking down and securing chemical weapons when they were found and turning them over to an international body. so how can you engage them? how can you truly vet them and how can we have any hope that if they do agree to fight isil on some level, not just assad, that they will continue to do so and not align themselves with isil when they feel like assad is in their sights? >> i think a couple of points need to be re-emphasized to answer your question. general dempsey has talked about it today. i have. in both our testimonies. first it goes back to a couple of recent questions that were asked here in the last few
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minutes. the united states cannot do any of this alone. this is why the local people, the local efforts, local organizations has to be involved in this. second, confidence and trust in their governments. when you really look at -- with some intensity here what's going on in syria, how did this happen, why was it allowed to happen in iraq, how did the sunni tribes just walk away from the government, three divisions dropping their weapons and running, why did all that welñ, general dempsey -- i know it's complicated, but he made a very important point. when people are disenfranchised, they don't trust their government. they don't have confidence in their government. their will to fight and to do the things that you are talking about won't be there. to re-establish trust and confidence coming from the locals, helping the locals, helping sustain them, build
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them, development is as much the answer to your question as anyone thinks. >> the moderate fighters, their goals are to unseat assad. that is their reason for fighting. if we add that additional mission to them, we are going to help you, but you must help defeat isil, i don't know what makes them trade off one mission for the other. i don't know what hook you have that says, you have to help us defeat isil and we will assist in this in a way that they don't at some point say, no, our goal is to defeat assad, the way to defeat assad is give the weapons you gave us to these better fighters that are represented by isil. >> i don't think they see it as an either or. isil is a clear threat to them. what isil has done to them, to their people, their families, decimated villages, atrocities that isil has perpetrated on these people in syria. so it isn't a matter of we'll fight either isil or assad.
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what i believe and i think we have clear intelligence on this -- the responsibility that we all have of understanding the people first is it's pretty clear they want a future for their families. they want to live in peace and stability with possibilities for their families, jobs. one of the points made here earlier this morning, i think general dempsey made it, until there's clarification on the millions of disenfranchised young men in north africa, in the middle east with no jobs, no possibilities, nothing, no hope, despair, then one country isn't going to fix this problem. this is a deep, wide problem. i think it does reflect back on your question. we can't do it alone. it is a long-term effort. but the threats to us are so clear now and to these people
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that we have to deal with it. >> thank you. >> thank you. i want to clarify one number. you both used the 5,000 goal for the dod train and equip program. this is an if. it is reported -- as published reports indicate there's a covert program -- i'm saying if -- any numbers involved in that covert program would not be involved in the 5,000, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> thank you. we thank you very much for being here, for your testimony. we stand adjourned.
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military situation in ukraine. california. mr. mckeon: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise to offer an amendment to house resolution 124, to provide authority to train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the syrian opposition in order to defend the syrian people from attacks by isil and to protect the united states and our friends and allies. isil is a clear and present threat to our allies across the northeast and to the united states. -- across the middle east and to the united states. the president has asked for this authority because none of the existing department of defense trained and equipped programs fit the circumstance. specifically, the president had -- has requested the ability to train and equip nongovernmental entities fighting in non-u.s. lead operations in syria. there's no doubt that any strategy to defeat isil must
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contain a syria component. i believe that there are options to defeat isil in syria short of a major u.s.-led combat operation. the window of opportunity is closing. that's why i'm supporting the president's request and agreed draft an amendment to the continuing resolution based on a modified version of the administration' initial proposal. my amendment would allow the secretary of defense to provide assistance, including training, equipment, supplies and the sustainment of the vetted opposition. the provision is intended to authorize activities necessary to facilitate such training and equiping activities, including the appropriate modification of existing facilities and establishment of expeditionary facility suitable for such training and accommodation as well as payment of stipends to trainees.
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the president's request did not specify the amount of funding that would be required for this effort, and contained few oversight requirements. therefore, my amendment would strengthen congressional oversight by requiring detailed reports. including progress reports on the plan, the vetting process, and the procedures for monitoring the end use of the training and equipment. it would also require the president to report on how this authority fits within a larger regional strategy. this amendment does in the -- does not authorize additional funds. however, it would allow the department of defense to submit reprogramming requests to congress, should the president require funds to execute this authority. it also permits the sec retear of defense to accept foreign contributions. lastly the amendment would state that nothing in this bill be construed to constitute a specific statutory authorization
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for the introduction of united states armed forces into hostilities. there may be a time when we need to have an aumf debate but this is not it. the president has not asked for such an authority. my amendment is narrowly focused on training and equiping syrian opposition fighters to counter isil. this language was drafted in collaboration with the chairs of the national security committees and shared with the minority. additionally, the language for this authority has been reviewed by the department of defense and the national security council. lastly, let me emphasize that this trained and -- this train and equip authority is a necessary part, but only one part, of what should be a larger strategy. it must be part of a larger effort in syria, in iraq, and across the region. let's also remember that it will be our men and women in uniform who will be conducting this training.
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we continue to ask more and more of our military, yet their funding continues to be cut. this is not sustainable, and must be addressed. again, isil is a clear and present threat to the united states and our interests. my amendment is a necessary step to support what should be a larger strategy by the president to defeat isil. mr. speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. smith: i, too, rise in support of this amendment. --re's no question that isil i too rise in support of this amendment, i think that without question, as the chairman laid out, isil is a clear threat to our interests. they're a threat in two clear ways. number one, a large number of foreign fighters are going over to syria and iraq to support
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them. some of those foreign fighters, estimates are sw somewhere in the 100 range have come from the u.s. and thousands are have come from western europe. many of those have returned to that home country and they present a clear threat. as long as isis and isil are there, isis or isil is there to threaten us, the fighters that fight with them will become a threat to the rest of us. but in a broader sense if isil is able to control territory in iraq and in syria and have a safe and secure haven, they will without question plot and plan attacks. they've already said that's their plan. this is exactly what happened when al qaeda had safe haven in afghanistan. denying isil safe haven is clearly in the united states' self-interest. i think the humanitarian aspect of this is also worth stating. as was noted by earlier speakers on the c.r. debate, you cannot imagine a more violent and dangerous and just he donistic group of people. the number of folks they have murdered in iraq and syria,
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brutally and solely because they refuse to pledge allegiance to isis in their twist -- and their twisted view of their religion, this is a group that must be stop the sad fact is, the united states military cannot stop them on our own. this has to be primarily a local fight. the folks in the region have to take up this battle. and i believe they have started to in iraq, but we need to open a front in siria. because the problem is, if isis can hold themselves out as an organization fighting against western imperialism that brings supporters to them. if on the other hand, they are, as they clearly are, a group of murderous thugs who are kill manager muslims than anybody has killed in a very long time, we can build support from the local population, from the sue noah population, to oppose them. we have already seen some success in this in iraq and i think the president was absolutely right to take his time in iraq and wait for a coalition to work with. if the u.s. had come in over the
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top, right off the bat, and started bombing isis, we would have been perceived as choosing the shia side in the shia-sunni civil war and would have strengthened isis. by insisting that prime minister maliki be replaced and that iraq start some sort of power sharing with the sunnis, we were able to build some sort of coalition. we could be in support of them fighting isis and push them out. the great flaw in this theory is the border between iraq and syria is nonexistent, as far as isis is concerned. they can go back and forth across it. if we don't have any way to get at them in syria, it gives them an enormous advantage in syria. we face the same dilemma in syria as in iraq. the dominant issue that started everything syria was opposition to the assad regime a regime very much worth opposing. as the president and many on the floor have said, assad must go.
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he is an illegitimate leader. if we were to come in and appear to be playing the role of assad's air force in syria, that would drive sunnis and the anti-regime elements from syria into their arms. we need a partner in syria we can support that is an alternative to assad and an alternative to isis. right now, we don't have one. we have a small group of people that we've been supporting in a variety of different ways, but we need that group to grow. we need to have a partner to support if we are ever going to hope to contain isis in syria and iraq. and the only way to do that is to start. i've heard a number of complaints, people say, are there really any moderates out there, are there enough to make a difference, what if they switch sides? there are all kinds of problems but the bottom line is, if you believe we have to open a front in syria to stop isis, and i don't see how you can believe otherwise, to give them syria and say we're not going to challenge you there i think
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makes it impossible to even significantly degrade them and certainly tover defeat them. we need to open a front. how do you do that? you can't open a front unless you start the process and that's what mr. mckeon's amendment does, is starts the process. it gives the ability to train and equip a force that will be opposed to assad and opposed to isis. i know americans -- i would prefer this as well -- we would say, look, we'll win this war and win it in 100 days. this is going to be a long process. this is not something that's going to happen quickly. it's simply the nature of the conflict in that part of the world that will take time to find people, train them and equip them. if we do not try then isis will sit in syria unchallenged, continuing to brutally murder civilians of all stripes and continuing to spread their unique ideology of hatred and violence. we have to start somewhere. i think this amendment gives us the opportunity to start somewhere. i also want to note that i like
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the fact that the amendment is only effective until the end of the c.r. and says that this should be contained in the national defense authorizing act. this is an authorizing action. it should be done in an authorization bill. the senate has not acted so we don't have the ndaa yet. but we will in the next month or two, and i think we can then put this language into the ndaa and make it more long term in terms of the authorization. so i appreciate that. and i also feel, as the chairman does, that congress should do a broader aumf on the fight against isis, on what we're doing in iraq and syria. we launched, i think, well in the hundreds of bombing missions against isis. this is something where congress should act. the only area of disagreement i have, the president ought to ask for it. we are the legislative branch. i hear all the time, the president is overstepping his authorities, is he ignoring the law? why does he have to act? if this is what we want to do,
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we're the united states congress, the legislative ought to act. i think the president is right in saying he'll do what he believes he has the right to do under article 2 to protect this country but congress should act. we shouldn't wait for him to ask. we should put together an aumf to broadly authorize this. but in the short term, we need to start a front against isis in syria, and the only way to do that is to build a legitimate local force that can begin that fight. train and equip is the first step, i believe, in this process that regrettably will not be quick. with that i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield three minutes to my friend and colleague, the chairman of the appropriations committee -- committee on appropriations, distinguished gentleman from kentucky, mr. rogers. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. rogers: i thank and congratulate the chairman and mr. smith for their work on
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this issue. and i rise in support of this amendment. it's become urgent, mr. speaker, that we make serious strides against isil. and we must act quickly to curb their influence and to fight back against terrorism of the most brutal sort. chairman mckeon's amendment, which provides the authority to train and equip syrian rebels to fight isil is the right approach. i support its inclusion on the frution. over the past week -- on the continuing resolution. over the past week, the house has done due diligence to ensure this amendment language is appropriate, supporting limited yet adequate efforts to degrade and destroy isil. while providing our commander in chief with the tools he has requested for the near term, language is also included to prevent an open-ended blank check for these efforts.
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this will help ensure that congress maintains funding authority and oversight over taxpayer dollars and the use of our military forces. and so, mr. speaker, i want to associate myself with the remarks of mr. smith who just spoke, who gave a very eloquent and full explanation of where we are. i support his statement. so i encourage my colleagues to support this critical amendment and then the underlying resolution today or tomorrow. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: i thank you, mr. speaker. i yield three minutes to the gentleman from virginia, mr. moran. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized. mr. moran: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank my friend from washington state, and i want to associate myself with his remarks as well as the remarks of the chairman of our armed services committee and the chairman of our appropriations committee. all three leaders have played a
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consequential role over the last many years in establishing united states military as the largest, most capable, best funded military in the world. in fact, larger than all the other militaries combined. so it's no wonder that the rest of the world turns to us for leadership. but that's not the major reason they turn to us for leadership. they turn to us because they understand our profound belief and respect for human rights and democratic governance and inclusive society. now, isis violates everything we believe in. they're opposed to respect for human rights. they're opposed to democratic governance and certainly to an inclusive society. at's not the reason why we support this amendment, because there are other people like that, but in the judgment of our military, isis is expanding
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at a rate that cannot be ignored, that has to be stopped. isis is expanding in numbers exponentially. they were $2 trillion. they are the best funded, most lethal terrorist organization that we've ever seen in modern history. so we cannot turn our backs on this. and we know that we have substantial assets and particularly personnel in baghdad. they will be targeting baghdad as soon as they're capable of it. we have to protect the capital of iraq. we need to contribute to stability in that region because it's not going to stay static. it's only going to get worse or get better, and so the proposal before us is not to put american boots on the ground but to use american intelligence, to use american trainers, to use american equipment and to prepare
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syrians, particularly, to do the job that needs to be done in their region of the world. they know the geography. they know the language. they understand the cultures, and we are going to prepare them to be the best equipped and best trained to carry out a mission that they must share with us. isis, if it is not confronted, it will grow, it will become a greater threat. that's what we hear from our military. that seems to me, mr. speaker, that our military has earned respect for their judgment. they know what -- how to provide the kind of security that so many americans are able to take for granted. if they say this is the right thing to do at this point in time seems to me that congress needs to show support for them. so i stand in support of the mckeon amendment. thank you, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield four minutes to my friend
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and colleague, the chairman of the committee on foreign affairs, the gentleman from california, mr. royce. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for four minutes. mr. royce: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in strong support of this amendment. today we face, as we know, a great and growing threat from isil. never has a terrorist organization controlled so much territory, a safe haven, as well, to plan future attacks. never has one had access to vital natural resources. never has a terrorist organization possessed the cash, the heavy weaponry, the personnel that isil possesses. and we're late in responding. at least two years ago the president had a proposal on his desk to arm those under threat inside syria. it was backed by his secretary of state, backed by his defense secretary, backed by general petraeus, then head of the
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c.i.a. if the president had accepted this recommendation coming from his entire national security team years ago, we might be in a different position right now. but we are where we are, and the question is -- syria continues to spiral out of control, assad has hung to power and isil has risen from a terrorist group to a terrorist army, that's where we are. and caught in the middle has been the civil society types, those who are trying to defend themselves from the barrel bombs coming down from above from assad while at the same time trying to defend themselves from isil attacks on the ground. they've been left to fend on their own, and these are the individuals. i'll remind you for those that remember the tapes, who remember the programming at the time chanting "peaceful, peaceful," as they were protesting the assad regime,
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assad soldiers opened up with automatic weapons fire on them in the streets of damascus. after assad began this slaughter they took up arms to defend themselves. the question is, will we give them the wherewithal to fight back against the isil attacks that are right now on the borders of alepo? in july, the foreign affairs committee heard testimony from syrian army defector named caesar. he showed our committee pictures of the atrocities. tens of thousands of people tortured. men, women and children by assad. assad has killed over 200,000 people now. nd the fact is that assad is a protector of no one except himself. that's the bottom line. and where isil operates, they've gone on a horrifying reclaiming my time page, killing, beheading. some of you heard about the crucifixions there. so in the meantime, assad is no
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fool. his regime has pursued a strategy to avoid confrontation with isil, focusing his efforts on wiping out these rebels in alepo that we're talking about supporting, who are fighting isil. indeed, the assad regime continues to purchase crude oil from isil, giving them ready cash, an average of $2 million daily for that terrorist group. his strategy is to present the world with a choice between the regime and the isil extremists. friends, we do not have to play his game. what we can do, what this amendment would do is give the syrian opposition what they desperately need, training and equipment. we're looking to aid these individuals who have risked their lives to combat the assad regime and to combat the isil terrorists that they're fighting today. but these fighters aren't starting from scratch. they've been in the fight for several years.
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out of sheer commitment and determination, they've hung on, but with greater u.s. training and supplies they will be bolstered. as an ultimate boost, this force would be supported by u.s. and coalition airpower and that puts real spying into a fighting supports which will be needed to confront and defeat isil. our military has provided this type of training around the world for decades. let's do it here. let's go on offense against isil. i ask for the support for this amendment. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: i yield four minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. schiff. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for four minutes. mr. schiff: mr. speaker, i thank the gentleman for yielding. isil poses a threat of extraordinary significance to the united states in its size, its wealth and barbarity, it is in fact a threat to civil society. we fight the ongoing isil and
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that is the training and equipping of the opposition in approximate syria. -- opposition in syria. it pales in comparison to the larger question facing congress and the nation and that is, should we authorize the president to use our armed forces in syria and iraq? unfortunately, it appears we will not be considering that larger consider before we leave town in advance of the election. this, i believe, is a mistake of constitutional dimension. the administration has acknowledged that the military campaign we're about to embark upon amounts to war and will likely last years. if congress' power to declare war means anything, it must us compel us to act under circumstances such as these. if we sit on our hands, we set a precedent for future administrations that they may wage war without congress approval and the declaration clause is no more than excess verbiage in our constitution
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from a bygone era. the president has broad authority to defend the united states. as one formal constitutional law professor and then-senator barack obama said in 2007, the president does not have power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. the administration has acknowledged that isil does not yet pose an imminent threat. nonetheless, it has asserted it has the authority to act based on the 2001 authorization to use military force against al qaeda. passing the days immediately following september 11. this reason -- this reasoning is tenous at best. that authorization addressed to a different enemy at a different time at a different place does not provide the legal foundation for a war on isil, an organization that tself is at war with al qaeda.
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today i've introduced a tailored resolution that does not deploy ground troops. it includes an 18-month sunset clause so congress can insist on its oversight rule. it also immediately repeals the rule to use no, sir iraq and provides the same 18-month sunset for the 2001 authorization to use force, to harr monoize the legal authority we provide to wage war against any foe and to ensure that no future president can claim to use it as a basis for unilateral action. matters of war, congress is not some suitor that needs to be asked by the president to dance. requested or not, congress must exercise its responsibility to decide whether to send the nation's sons and daughters to war.
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we should not go to war, let alone adjourn, without a vote. i thank the gentleman and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: thank you, mr. speaker. to respond to my good friend from california, we have adjoining districts and we agree on many things, we disagree on a few things. i would like to say i agree with you. this is something the congress should address. for 20 years, i've been here 22 years, whenever a president has asked for this, we've addressed it. we have not addressed it without having the request from the president. this is something we had quite a debate a few weeks ago about what previous presidents have done or not done and what shorts they have or don't have. and some of it has not been decide by the supreme court.
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the president says he has the authority he says he needs this additional authority to help in syria. that's the question we're addressing here today. i think that we're bound to have this discussion. i know the speaker wants to have it. mr. smith said he wants to have it. i want to have it. i think one thing we should really probably consider in all of this, this is not going to be a one-month or two-month, probably eavep one-year or two-year commitment that we're making here. isil is very serious about this and we're going to be in this fight, as we've seen in the past, for a long time. and it is a new commitment. so i'm thinking that as close as we are to the election, there's going to be a lot of new members here that are going to be living with this discussion, debate this vote potentially for a long time. i think those are the people
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that probably should make that decision in january or as close as they feel comfortable to having that debate. mr. speaker, at this time, i yield four minutes to my friend and colleague, the chame of the defense appropriations subcommittee, the distinguished gentleman from new jersey, mr. frelinghuysen. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for four minutes. mr. frelinghuysen: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise in support of the mckeon amendment but with serious reservations, reservations that have nothing to do with the substance of the amendment. i applaud chairman mckeon for his diligent work to craft an amendment in response to our commander in chief's proposal to address the very real, serious threat we face in a thoughtful and responsible manner while preserving congress' constitutional authority and oversight in these matters. let me be clear, the islamic state of iraq and sir -- in syria poses a serious throat the
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united states, our homeland and friends and partners in the middle east and around the world. the president has proposed he be granted authority to train and equip syrian opposition groups and hope they'll use their training and turn their weapons on isis, a truly savage and cruel cult of extremists. we all watched the president's television address last week. that address left this member and many constituents with more questions than answers. the strategy the president announced is not so much a strategy as a continuation of a counterterrorism policy that relies on others to be on the front line to protect united states national security interests when their motivations, interests, and capabilities may or may not align with our interests. i have to state here and now that i'm concerned that the president's plan is first of all very late. secondly, may be based on unrealistic assumptions. we have been told that there's a
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comprehensive strategy and a multinational coalition of the willing -- that are willing to fight the terrorists who have gained massive amounts of ground in both syria and iraq. today -- to date, neither the congress nor the american people have been told all the details on that strategy or how it will be implemented. the president repeatedly claimed there will be no american boots on the ground but our constituents should not be misled. there are american boots on the ground currently in iraq and there's a strong likelihood there may be boots on the ground in syria and in the skies above, planes and those who fight will remain in harm's way. the white house is relying on so-called moderate rebel groups to fight isis, groups that do not and will not exist in any great numbers, whose primary target is the syrian dictator, president assad. how do you reconcile those competing goals? indeed, there are many complicated questions, it's a
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complicated region of the world with ever-shifting allianceness and loyalties. but this is where the terrorists who want to do us harm have taken hold. despite reservations and questions, we must take action. the threat is real and isis must be con fronted now. i support the mckeon amendment because it will provide the experts in the department of defense the authority they need to put together a clearly defined and realistic strategy and address unanswered questions for both this congress and our constituents. that, however, does not, and must not mean that congress will cede its constitutional obligations. we must exercise our responsibilities and not give the president a blank fiscal check. i commend chairman mckeon for recognizing that congress must be informed and a full partner with the administration. this amendment does not provide the administration with a blank check they originally sought. in this measure, we provide
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authority for a limited train and equip program with strong congressional oversight this does not allow any funds, appropriated funds or foreign partner funds, without prior approval in accordance with standard reprogramming procedures. this amendment does not, i repeat, does not provide an authorization for the use of military force. indeed the amendment includes language that makes it explicitly clear that this train and equip authority is not an authorization for the use of military force. i ask the chairman for an additional 30 seconds. mr. mckeon: i yield the gentleman an additional minute. mr. frelinghuysen: i support this amendment. isis needs to be confronted and sooner rather than later. however, in the weeks and months to come this house must use its oversight powers under the constitution to monitor the
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strategy and demand changes when and if it faulters. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: i yield three minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. garamendi. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. garamendi: thank you, mr. chairman. i listened with considerable interest in the exposition just given by our colleague and i find myself in agreement with much of what was said, particularly the concerns. the unknowns. and the fact that this amendment is going to wind up in a c.r. and we're going to be voting on the c.r. and the amendment whether we like the amendment or not or we shut down government that causes me great concern. my real concern is beyond just this amendment. limited as it is, and i thank the chairman for making this as limited and sometime in
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december, i think december 11, that's good. the fact that the reporting is there, that's good. the fact that we are going to find ourselves right smack in the middle of a civil war that's gone on for three years and the previous three we couldn't figure out which side we wanted to be on and who we wanted to work with, aparently we now know who we want to work with, or we'll find out who we want to work with. a lot of unknowns here. a lot of concerns. the big concern is this. that is that the administration presently does not intend to have the congress of the united states carry out its constitutional responsibility to declare war or not. they have figured out a way to avoid having the congress deal with the most fundamental of issues. they claim that the 2001-2002 authorization to use force in afghanistan and in iraq is sufficient to carry on what may be an unending war in iraq and quite possibly in syria.
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the war powers act has been pushed aside, we don't need to worry about that, says the administration. we don't have to vote because they have these other two authorizations to use force still in effect. this is not right. s that new war. a continuation of the problem that's existed in this area for more than 1,400 years. so now it's in far dime, we're going to be in for many, many dollars and many, many people. my plea to the congress my plea to all my colleagues, is, this is not the step. this is but one small little movement toward a much larger and will we have the courage to carry out our constitutional responsibility and take up the larger issue of what to do with air strikes and beyond. for me, we ought to be voting on that larger issue and i i believe the administration is
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dead wrong in sing they don't need to come back to congress for a larger issue of an authorization to use force. with that, i yield. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from washington reserves. the chair would remind all members to direct their comments to the chair and with that, the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mckeon: i yield three minutes to my friend and colleague, the vice chair of the committee on armed services, the distinguished gentleman from texas, mr. thornberry. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. thornberry: i rise in support of the chairman's amendment. i am very much in sympathy with the comments that have been expressed here on the floor that we should have a larger debate about the authorization for the use of military force. that is not, however, what is before us with the chairman's amendment. and i understand some people would like for it to be. but what we have before us here is a specific request that the
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president has made for train and equip authority for certain syrians to help provide ground forces against isil. and i think it's important to remember that the united states has been involved in training and equiping security forces in over 40 countries. we haven't got intoon a war in all of those this is something we know thousand do and we do it competently all around the world. but i completely agree with those who say this is a very complex, volatile situation. and there are considerable doubts about whether the president's approach is going to be successful. and there are especially doubts about whether his policy will be carried out with a seriousness of purpose and a perseverance that is required against such a formidable opponent. and i confess, i share those doubts. but, at the same time, two facts
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seem clear to me. one is that isil is a significant threat. it's not the junior varsity. it's the best equipped, best trained, best financed terrorist organization and has several thousand people with western passports that are a part of it. secondly, that a threat like this will not be eliminated from the air. and so what that means is, you're going to have to have some sort of forces from the ground. some of them need to be the kurds. some of them need to be iraqis. but you have to have some sort of competent ground force in syria as well or else it becomes a safe haven. and so that's where this train and equip authority to help develop that competent ground force inside -- from syria is important. but it is only, and i think everybody acknowledges this, it is only one small part of what needs to be a much broader strategy.
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mr. speaker, despite all the doubts and concerns, having a competent ground force inside syria with whom we can talk, with whom we can work, whatever the course of events there, has got to be a useful thing. but for the moment, between now and december 11 or so, giving the president this authority that he's asked for so he can take advantage of some offers from other countries, so he can begin the preparation nrs training, seems to me to make sense. we give him this authority with all the checks and oversights that have been described and are very important. we give him this authority and it's up to the president to make it work. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: thank you. i yield three minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. rangel. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for three minutes. mr. rangel: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. rangel: let me thank you so
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much for giving me this opportunity to address this. i think today and tomorrow may be recorded in history as one of the most serious decisions that this congress has had to make. personally, i don't know enough to see where the president needs authority to do what we e about to allow him to do because of the threat to these united states of america. i have talked with everyone that's willing to listen to me in my congressional district, and they have given me a whole lot of things that they're concerned about. but i haven't come close, as much as they love this president of the united states, in convincing them that
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training people overseas that we don't know to fight isis is in their best national interest. the point that i ask to come to the floor is that it's so easy to try to bring justice to a doesn't cause you anything or any nconvenience -- cost you anything or any inconvenience. already we lost over 6,000 lives in this area and i don't think we have yet to declare war. hat i'm suggesting, drafting legislation, if it does reach time that this honorable body is prepared to discuss all of the issues and determine whoo any enemy is a threat -- whether or not any enemy is a
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threat to the united states and we are going to go to war with them, that we should attach it at two provisions that would force every american to evaluate whether or not they believe they're prepared to make sacrifice. one of them, of course, is a war tax. these last wars, the only people that have suffered were those people that had boots on the ground or those people that know people or those people that went to the funerals. certainly those that have gained profit because we need it, their service is overseas, they haven't made any sacrifices. when it comes down to discretionary spending, what i consider a threat to the united states of america is our failure to provide money for research, for development, for
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education, for jobs, for infrastructure. but if we attach the two things to any bill where we're prepared to debate or determine whether our great nation is being threatened, then i don't think it's asking too much of americans to be able to say, yes, and we're willing to pay taxes for it and, yes, we're ready to have mandatory recruitment of young men and women who are prepared to say if our nation's in trouble we all should be doing something. but all these people that are willing to fight for other people's kids i think it's not the standard this august body should have. thank you very much. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield three minutes to my friend and colleague, the chairman of the armed services subcommittee on readiness, the
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distinguished gentleman from virginia, mr. wittman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized for three minutes. mr. wittman: mr. speaker, i rise in support of today's amendment, to authorize the training and equipping of elements of the syrian opposition to combat the islamic state of iraq and syria, better known as isis. i've been to the border of turkey and syria and met with refugees which now total more than two million people and i've seen the ramifications of standing on the sidelines of this conflict. such as increased risk to our national security and interest, regional instability and immense human suffering. isis poses a serious and grave threat to the united states, and it must be destroyed. this action alone will not topple isis, but it is a foundational element of any broad effort to root out this barbaric terrorist army and
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prevent its followers from taking further hold in the middle east in one day as they have threatened to do, bring their brutality here to our homeland. ongoing efforts by the brave men and women of our u.s. military in coordination with regional partners have blunted isis' territorial gains in iraq and have granted some reprieve to persecuted christians and other ethnic minorities. but fully destroying isis will require striking at its center of gravity, which includes eliminating safe havens and bases of operation in syria. supporting those in syria who are also committed to this fight is a necessary step. i believe today's amendment does establish strict parameters and rigorous oversight to ensure that training and equipping syrian opposition forces does not aid the assad regime or undermine the mission to destroy isis. recent events have reminded us
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ll that barbarity, evil, uncertainty still exists in the world. isis is the latest front to the civilization's struggle against radical extremists and now is the time to act. i want to make sure, too, that we bring to bear the weight and might of our strong nation in cooperation with our partners to destroy isis and the threat it poses, understanding that we must continue to request and receive more specifics on how these efforts will be prosecuted. this resolution, i must remind folks, does not authorize the use of military force, only the training and equipping of these forces. it is the first step of many steps in which congress must be involved in addressing this threat. that is our constitutional responsibility. today's effort is that first step, but we must not forget that we have to continue to remain involved as a congress in the future efforts this nation takes against this
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extremist threat and others around the world. mr. speaker, with that i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: i thank you, mr. speaker. i don't have any speakers right now. so i want to address one issue. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. smith: on the subject of boots on the ground, it came up. i think this is really an important point for why this debate has been so divisive. so many people concerned about this action. i think what we want to do is we want to confront the threat that is isis that has been well described. the violence this group has perpetrated on people in their region and foreigners is unimaginable. and make no mistake about it, if they're allowed to spread that violence, but there is concern about the u.s. again getting engaged in that part of the world because of iraq and afghanistan. a number of my colleagues raised the issue, gosh, we put
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150,000 troops in iraq, we left and two years later it had fallen apart. we're in afghanistan. there's still a raging violence, war going on there. here we go again, basically. have we not learned our lessons? and i believe the boots on the ground comment shows in an odd way that we have learned our lesson. we are not going to do a full-scale military commitment to iraq. now, i think a lot of people are against isis. i think a lot of people mistake that we're not going to do that not so much because it wouldn't work because we just don't want to do that. we don't want to spend the money and risk the lives. that's really not the case. the reason we're not going to do a full-scale u.s. military commitment is because the lesson we learned in the last 12 years is the limitations of the ability of the u.s. military to bend cultures in this part of the world to their will. it doesn't work. that's why we're not going to send in the u.s. military, because then you set up a situation where you have a
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fight between in the minds of the people in that part of the world, the evil west and islam. if you set up that dynamic, we cannot win. now, that means that we can't do the full-scale military commitment, but we can do is we can enable partners. i know there's considerable concern about the fact that we spent a lot of money, supposedly, enabling partners in iraq. when isis came rolling across the border of syria, they simply melted away. now, two things. number one, i would submit to you they melted away because of what the maliki government had done to alienate the entire sunni population. it wasn't they couldn't fight. it's they chose not to because they did not want to fight on behalf of what was essentially a sectarian, corrupt shiia government. the sunnis would not fight on behalf of them. i point out we have successfully trained militaries around the world. you look at the horn of africa and the threat we faced in somalia. we trained ethiopia and kenya
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and uganda. across the red sea in yemen, we've trained them as they confront al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, not clearly as effective as we had in the horn of africa but nonetheless they contained the threat. on a much smaller scale i was in the philippines back where we tried to contain various threats down there. it has been effective. just because it wasn't effective in iraq doesn't mean it can't be effective to train an indigenous force to effectively fight the fight we want them to fight. but it can't just be the u.s. military. now the final point on the boots on the ground issue that i think is misleading, we're all searching for that clear-cut way to say, we'll do this but won't do that. we don't go that far to make us a big military engagement. there is no way to define that. there's no way to say, ok, if we step across this line, then there's no going back. in fact, i heard the concern
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raised, wear sending in advisors and, gosh, we send in advisors and next thing you know you have 5,000 troops and 70,000 soldiers dead. that's what happened in vietnam. it doesn't have to be that way. the boots on the ground issue i think is relatively simple and straightforward. we are in some instances going to -- we already had boots on the ground but we are not going to make this a u.s. military-led fight because it cannot be. it would not be successful if it was. this is going to be an effort to train and equip and advise, to build a force that can confront isis. because right now in syria, it's the choice between assad and isis for too many people. don't read into the fact that some people are joining isis, the belief they're absolutely aligned with them. they oppose assad. isis is in many cases the only game in town. we need to give them another option. a sunni-led indigenous force
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that we train and equip to help begin the process of getting to the point where they can be a legitimate force. it will not be a short process. it just won't. it will take time. isis needs to be confronted. this is the first necessary step in doing it. we can't do that without local partners taking the lead. this is the first step. i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. i'll speak from the well. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, there are many who support this amendment. there are many who feel like it's not enough. i'd like to just relate a couple of instances. i just returned from the middle east. i met with leaders of israel, jordan, egypt, morocco, and one
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of the things that i think needs to be addressed and the people -- the people need to understand this who isil is. in about 600 a.d., people moved, arab people moved into the area that they called levant. they controlled that area, took them about 50 years to concur it and they controlled it -- conquer it and they controlled it from 650 a.d. to about 1,500 a.d. when they were defeated by the ott mon empire. that -- ottoman empire. that area comprised what we now know as part of egypt, israel, lebanon, jordan, iraq, iran. it was a huge area. and isil wants to go back to that same area. they want to control that same
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area. they want to set up a caliphate that they can then export terrorism around the world, and they're going to be brutal about it. they have great designs. they are willing to do anything it takes to win that. i don't know why we -- the president, it seems like when he talks, the first thing he says is no boots on the ground. as was just mentioned by the ranking member, there are boots on the ground. we have over 1,000 forces right now in iraq. iraq, as he explained, their army kind of wilted for the reasons that he gave, but i talked to general petraeus the other day and he said their army will fight, but there are certain things they need that only we can provide and that's what we can provide without entering into the combat, ithout putting in what i guess
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the reference to boots on the ground is a certain number. i don't know what that number is but we're not going to do that. that's not what we're talking about, but saying we're not going to have boots on the ound, it's kind of not being totally truthful with the american people. there are boots and will continue to be boots on the ground. they will provide training. they will provide leadership. they will provide i.s.r. they will provide the intelligence, the things that are necessary for the iraqis to be successful in pushing isil out of the ground that they have conquered and they have taken, they will be able to take it back. what we're talking about is the ability to go in and train syrian forces so they will be able to take back territory that they've lost in syria, and by doing so, that will deprive isil of having a safe haven so
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as they're pushed out of iraq, they won't be able to go into yria. we need to envelop them and their mission right there, don't let them get into lebanon and jordan and these other countries around, don't let them squeeze out into those countries. we need to stop them now. the leaders in that area told me how big this threat was. they said, don't think the oceans are going to protect you now. they will not. and we all know that one of the big threats over there is foreign fighters entering into those -- into this fight and a lot of them have passports and will be able to enter back into europe or come to this country and do a lot of serious things we don't want to see happen. we would rather fight them there than here. and that's the purpose of this amendment and the thing that we're talking about right now. so isil is a dangerous threat right now and we need to address
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them right now. they're growing very rapidly. very well funded. well led. they're fighting as an army, not a little terrorist, ragtag group. we need to address them that way. with that, i would yield at this time to my good friend from arizona, a member of the armed services committee, two minutes, mr. franks. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. franks: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise in support of his amendment. mr. speaker, last january, isis retook fallujah. eight months later, president barack obama told americans, quote, we don't have a strategy yet, unquote. it was seven years ago, mr. speaker, that george bush warned that, quote, to begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would mean surrendering the future of iraq, unquote.
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mr. speaker, he could not have been more right. if you delete all the things mr. obama so very unwisely said, he would not do, most of what remains of his plan is in keeping with the bush doctrine. mr. speaker, i sincerely believe president obama owes george bush and apology along with the men and women who freed iraq and watched their blood-bought gains evaporate while this administration stood by as women and children were beheaded, crucified, raped and sold into slavery. we must make no mistake about it, mr. speaker. it was the vacillation and the tepid and inept leadership of president barack obama that brought us where we are today. and now, even though this administration is still inexplicably unwilling to admit it, we do indeed face a jihaddist enemy that's more dangerous than ever and it's now more vital than ever that this congress, the president of the united states and the american
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people commit ourselves to doing whatever is necessary to destroy this enemy before its insidious hand reach into the heartland of america. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. without objection, the gentleman from california will control the time. the gentleman from california. the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: i yield three minutes to my friend and colleague a member of the committee on armed services, the distinguished gentleman from colorado, mr. lamb born. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. lamb born: i rise today in strong support of the mckeon antidepressant to authorize the training and equiping of appropriately vetted members of the syrian opposition. i believe that chairman mckeon has crafted language which strikes the appropriate balance between giving the president the authority he hasst requesting while also ensuring that congress maintains oversight of our efforts to combat isil.
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however, let me be clear. we are only here today because of president obama's weak and failed leadership. my criticism of the president is not about party politics or about his style of leadership, but -- but is based simply on his failed foreign policy. syria is a case study in obama's failed policy he drew an arbitrary red line and spectacularly failed to enforce it. we also lost the opportunity to support moderate dissidents in syria when it would have done the most good. next door in iraq, president obama raced for the exit for political reasons instead of recognizing that the threat from islamist extremists could quickly return without some sort of counterweight he didn't end the war in iraq he, merely abandoned it. the bottom line is that isil was a regional threat that's metastasized into a threat to our allies in the region, including israel, and to us here
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at home. unfortunately, the president's failed foreign policy is not isolated to isil. the president's reset with russia was worthless. obama's leading from behind intervention in libya has created another haven for terrorists there our allies in yurp are threatened by russia and our allies in air force base are threatened by china. iran doesn't seem to be slowing its efforts to destroy israel. none of these are easy problem bus president obama has failed to provide clear and strong american leadership in each case and in each case, america and the world are worse off as a result. let's provide training to moderates who will fight isil and hope the president's slowness of action hasn't made it too late. thank you, mr. >> on the next washington journal, we will talk with dr. scott gottlieb about the ebola outbreak.
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plus, lmi congressman luis gutierrez joins us to discuss immigration. ourill continue conversation on higher education and the big ten conference. provostty of illinois will be our guest. washington journal is live every morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. we will take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. >> the 2015 c-span student cam video competition is underway. open to all middle and high school students to create a five to seven minute documentary showing how a policy, law or action by the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the government has affected you are you community. there are 200 cash prizes totaling $100,000. for a list of rules and how to
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get started, go to studentcam. org. >> general philip breedlove talks about russia's intervention in ukraine. general breedlove says the u.s. nearly considered planned trip reductions in europe. he also spoke about the role of nato in combating the islamic state in iraq and syria. this is 25 minutes. has changed in europe, particularly in the east. the security environment has and it is up to nato to
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reevaluate relationships, specifically our relationship with russia. it also gave us an opportunity to reaffirm with each other our steadfast commitment to mutual defense. as i stated last time i was here, it is indeed a momentous time in europe. with the support of our partners and allies in europe and nato, we will face these challenges like we have in the past, together. work toward our vision of a europe at peace. , from theast 70 years and war to kosovo, the u.s. nato adapted and overcame huge obstacles and challenges on our path to these successes. we individually and collectively became stronger. collectively with our allies and partners, we will encounter any aggression or threats directed at our alliance. the public can be assured that
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with their support, we will continue to succeed. as many of you know, i spoke at the atlantic council about how nato was going to change. i will be glad to go over those high points and anything you want to discuss. despite the great work of our predecessors over the last 70 years, europe has become a region under tension. russia has changed borders of several countries by violating their territorial sovereignty. russia has illegally annexed part of one of them, something we will never acknowledge. russia has used asymmetric warfare to further elicit transgressions, which is a danger to their neighbors and the safety and security of europe. russian propaganda spread a names that no
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longer exist and have no legal standing or international recognition, and danger not only the state they affect but the people who are with them. -- in them, excuse me. additionally, europe faces the prospect of foreign fighters bringing their distorted worldview and terrorist skills back to their native countries. the u.s. will take active measures with coalition partners to prevent this scenario from playing out. u.s.-european command and nations will play a significant role in these coalition and u.s. efforts to rid the world of this threat and the score job isil. for an all i have opening statement. i am ready for your questions. update on give us an how many russian troops you still see along the border with ukraine, how many are in ukraine, and your assessment of this cease-fire?
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is it holding, is it tenuous? know, numbers are a hard thing to do. get on rather not numbers. i will paint a picture for you. 10m a peak of well over battalion groups inside of ukraine, i believe we are now down taliban's of probably four -- down to elements of probably four. the russians have been removing forces to the east of the ukrainian border back into russia. make no mistake, those forces are close enough to be quickly brought back to their. they have not left the area that would require them to be either a coercive force or a force used for actual combat if required. insight of ukraine, we see forces that are now with two purposes. one purpose is to keep the flow
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of support and supply to the separatists forces and russian forces in the donetsk area. those avenues of support will remain wide open and i think the russian forces are ready to ensure that. i think we see russian forces are ready to bring greater pressure. currently, there is a large force that threatens -- i think it has one of two possibilities. it can sit there and be a coercive force to ensure that the negotiations for peace fall out along the lines that russia wants them to fall out, or it could also be used to take it if it was there. these forces are ready to allow them to do either. i think it is important to say that, yes, some of the force
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structure has come down. none of it has departed. it is all still available. the forces that remain inside of completely support the long-term effort of the separatists in east and either coerce or force the hand. i think the word you use is probably a good one, it is tenuous. we see fighting still a rough thing. we see the separatists firing on positions. i think the good news in the larger construct, it is much more calm than before. but clearly there are pockets of separatists that may have a different agenda. >> i would like to ask you, you mentioned in your opening statement the threat of isil
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foreign fighters. isil's terrorists attacked the jewish museum in brussels. what could nato do to face that? secondly, how do you see turkey's role in facing or encountering isolate -- isil? >> the example you brought up is one that i used many times. nato,e nations of including our own nation, focused on and thinking about these foreign fighters from our nations and when they might return and what they might do when they return? largely, we were sort of number ofwe have x foreign fighters and when they returned they could be a problem. some of our nato nations thought the same way. when they come home, they are a
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problem. that specific example was a wake-up call. returned to fighter his home country, committed the act and quickly went across the border into another nato nation. freedom of movement is a beautiful thing for a lot of reasons but it completely allowed this individual to move into another nation. the nation's then understood that they have to worry about more than their own foreign fighters. if a foreign fighter returns to a neighboring nation and commits an act or plan, it is easy to get across the borders into neighboring nations. nations saw that this foreign fighter problem was bigger than just a few. agreed to work on this together. it is already working. sharing of information and other things that we can do to enable each other to better understand,
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characterize and fight these efforts are already ongoing. turkey is a key ally in our alliance. turkey is on the border with the nation where a lot of these foreign fighters are being trained and utilized. they will be absolutely key to stopping that flow, or key to being a part of understanding how to address it. we see great cooperation from turkey in this respect. >> general, i wanted to ask a to the question on nato. can you five us a sense about for theational tempo baltic air policing and other planes?ied war how often do russian aircraft are theres, how on encounter between those forces and coming out of wales, the readiness force that
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the member states talked about, can you go through the process decide when,l about what is in that force and specifically what units the u.s. could contribute? >> okay. so to your first question about policing, and what we see there. of balticional tempo air policing will continue as thesee it today as far as nato contributions to baltic air policing. months ago when we first had crimea and this nations,oncern by the my headquarters was tasked to assurance meshessers and they were to be air, land and sea, in the north, center and south. so a comprehensive set of operations. so the air piece is just one of those assurance measures. have done is stepped up such that we used to have one baltic air policing

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