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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 26, 2015 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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health care infrastructure and not in physical equipment but in talent. the africa systems are sorely understaffed. what we've seen is by providing what is essentially inexpensive talent, we can around very specific issues, whether it's malaria, tuberculosis, h.i.v., etc., their rate of improvement is extraordinary. so in states like river state in nigeria where we've seen a 300% increase in 12 months of mothers on treatment, or another state where we've seen 160% increase, that's done by inserting people that health commissioners can use to mobilize their people and train their people in the right way. mr. stavridis: senator, i'd say very quickly i'd take a significant chunk of it and do what you see in this panel using state and aid that have the bureaucracies, leverage the
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private-public partnership and you see at state and a.i.d. small numbers of people who are expert at doing that. then i have to give a shoutout within this account for the peace corps. i think it's undervalued and underfunded. our largest cohort every year works in the door and they're peace corps volunteers. i hear their stories and know their impact in the world. it is so wildly disproportional to the tiny amount of resources they get. thank you. mr. ford: i'd just -- you don't have to spend it all, you could put it to work in credit. credit is the life blood of commerce and credit is what is dried up and missing. the u.s. banks have withdrawn completely from financing anything like what we do. our coffee business are funded by individuals, happens to be from the state of arkansas and the state of texas, who just care. and otherwise it's the chinese that have come in.
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so if you've got access to that kind of money, credit could use it too. senator leahy: preach to the converted, all of you do. sen. graham: amen. senator daines. senator daines: i want to thank you, i want to thank you each for your passion, your compassion, your generosity, your kindness as well as your vision. i am grateful for that this morning. mr. gates, i heard rumors you had a background in technology and i have great respect and watch what had you have done for our country and the world. before i came on the hill, i spent 20 years in the private sector as part of cloud computing. people back then thought cloud was to do with the weather. we found out it was something
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different than that. i'd be curious about your thoughts of how do you see technology affecting global health over the next 15 years? you've called that the big bet for the future. mr. gates: the main thing, how quickly these innovations that are initially designed to be used in rich country, how quickly they can become very powerful tools in the poor countries that we're talking about. we're looking at using cell phones to track the supply of medicines. it's been difficult to run supply chains in these countries. so often when you want malaria medicine or h.i.v. medicine or reproductive health tools, they're just not available. and so we're going in right now together with usaid and others and looking at this supply chain capability and saying we should know whenever there's a stock out.
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and as soon as you have that kind of information system you're able to raise the reliability very, very dramatically. a lot of challenges in health care have to do with workers showing up and the quality of their work. by simply tracking the activity, having them take a photo when they come in in the morning, to show that they are there having them taking a photo of what's in the clinic, that it's well maintained. we see a way to very efficiently improve the quality of the services delivered. and so this digital realm is giving us the unbelievable gift of patient tracking, supply tracking, labor quality. then of course over in the biological realm, creating new vaccines, new drugs, giving us the tools that will give us a chance to say that malaria after we finish polio, will be
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the next disease that we'll go after eradication. without that help of new technology, many of the goals that we have just wouldn't be realistic. because of breakthroughs that are -- some funded by n.i.h. some funded by foundations like ours. most funded by the commercial sector where it's simply a reuse of the same cell phone or internet technology. that's why we can be so optimistic about what a little bit of aid money can do to help these countries. senator daines: you mentioned polio. as a rotarian i've been excited to be part of that effort and what you all did there, we're very, very close to eradicating polio in the world. how can that story of the eradication of polio be a model for future success, when we look at other public health issues that need to be tackled in order to bring parts of the world out of poverty and into economic success and stability? mr. gates: polio has been an amazing campaign and rotary has
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been the life blood of keeping the energy there. even as it proved to be more difficult than was expected back in 1988. today, we haven't had a case of polio in africa for over six months and the only two countries we've seen cases in in the last six months were pakistan and afghanistan. even there where it's difficult, the government, the army, the n.g.o.'s are coming together , and so we are very optimistic that in the years ahead we'll see the end of polio. there are a will the of lessons about how you orchestrate people and it's a commitment of the polio eradication campaign that we'll not just get rid of this disease but leave behind far stronger health systems, for example, in the case of nigeria, as we did polio eradication there, we saw that the basic structure of the way they budgeted, the way they managed the supply chain, wasn't handled very well.
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and now through polio funded initiatives that's being put on a much, much stronger basis. and so the success of polio will let us pick other diseases including malaria, to go after with the confidence that we've learned how to do it. senator daines: thanks, mr. gates. mr. megrue, i was struck by your testimony as well as being a voice for the voiceless, the h.i.v. babies now born h.i.v. free. regarding the public-private partnership that's been described, we'll be discussing the funding and expanding our thinking beyond the funding side of this, what other barriers do you see we could work to remove or incentives to create, to foster more of what you all are doing? mr. megrue: i think there's two
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pieces of that corporate investment and philanthropic investment. the u.s. does have a chance to accelerate the match funding ideas they've experimented both with other governments as well as with corporations and large foundations like mr. gates's. because there is a big leverage point to have leadership like the gates foundation can provide to make sure not only -- which he does with his investments but that he can do in a highly leveraged way with the u.s. government's funding. so we see that in many countries, we're working right now and moving into kenya, uganda, and angola and other places. but the u.s. government's investment and time and energy
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there has been central to creating the kind of dialogue that allows us to leverage what somebody like we can do. senator daines: thank you. mr. ford, given your background as well as in the private sector and jumping into what you've done, any thoughts on that as well, other barriers we could work to remove, incentives to create to foster what you're doing? mr. ford: it's a bit of a stretch but the u.s. banking system from what i can see, i know a lot of bankers, we did the largest l.b.o. that had ever been converted to a sale in the history of the u.s. in one check. i knew about every banker in the country. none of them would go with us to africa and they all pointed to the regulations facing them that caused them to say we don't know how to comply and so we don't know what they are and we're withdrawing. i had them tell me that face to face, one after another after another. how that factors into what we're talking about here today is not clear to me but it's the reason we had to revert to gap fund big
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-- funding individuals with projects like this. senator daines: thank you. mr. chairman. sen. graham: senator merkley. senator merkley: you started talking about the vaccine initiative. the basic numbers translate to about $25 per vaccine. i've heard the international vaccination effort described as the single most cost effective way to influence global health. is that a fair way to put it? mr. gates: absolutely. there's two things we do by vaccinating children. one is that we save lives. and as you said that comes down to less than a few thousand per life saved. but also for every life we save, there's about four children who would have grown up malnourished, that is, their brain and body would not have fully developed. if you look at the burden on the
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countries here, it's not just the level of deaths, it's the level of sickness. even when those kids do get a chance to go to school or eventually participate in the economy, the fact that their health has been so poor completely holds them back. and so the vaccine investments would make the top of the list in terms of enabling them to support themselves. senator merkley: so the u.s. contributed, or pledged $1 billion, as you mentioned. was that the amount you hoped for or should we have done more? mr. gates: we were very pleased the u.s. made an increase. in that case, every five years the -- that fund gets replenished. we're a big contributor to the fund. we got a lot of other countries to step up in a big way. actually, the u.k. is the single biggest contributor to that we're the second, u.s. government would be third.
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so there's always room to do more but we were pleased with the increase. senator merkley: thank you. that was diplomatic and well stated. [laughter] mr. affleck, you've been traveling to east congo since 2007, i believe, how did you get engaged in the challenges of central africa? mr. affleck: you know -- i've done plays, i should be able to project. [laughter] back then there was a lot of activity going on, and i didn't know about it, and i didn't want to be a dilettante, i started doing a lot of reading and studying and meeting with folks and then i was shocked to see the degree to which the scale of which wars in central africa particularly in congo, the great war of africa, was dwarfing what was going on in sudan. not to diminish that, obviously but that it was -- i figured a if i had never heard of it and b, it was as big a tragedy as was being described, you know
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that ought to be a place i should get involved. and so i started, whitney williams and i, started this organization, started traveling there and we went around to about 11 countries around congo and started looking at it and thinking without the assumption that, well, i'm a celebrity i must be able to help, i thought, well what can i do? what can be done? ultimately we decided that we want to foster a lot of these community-based groups that weren't able to get the money from the united states. we wanted to be dexterous and we wanted to be nimble and really once i had been to congo a few times there was no turning back. you see a people suffering as much as these folks are suffering, fighting as hard as they're fight, i thought i'd get there and find people cowering and on the ground, instead you find people going to the market, trying to get a job, trying to take care of their family in the midst of, senator graham was there, and grenades going off
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and stuff. life flourishes and people try. people exhibit kindness and compassion and want to take care of their families. so i was moved by that, that spirit, that i thought this was the place i wanted to try to do everything i can. senator merkley: i want to celebrate the model of, is there something i can have an impact on? we are part of the global community and to take it as seriously as you've taken it, to look for real solutions, you've said in your testimony something that caught me offguard. i would have said really? and that to was a country that could feed a third of the world. could you expand on that? mr. affleck: it's got the second biggest rain forest in the world. congo is a massive country. a lot of it is underpopulated this huge jungle, hydroponics there could power southern africa.
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it's also extremely wealthy in copper, tin, charcoal, lumber, it has every conceivable natural resource. that may be one of the great tragedies of it, six or seven countries there during the war trying to grab what they could diamonds and -- it's just -- it's an incredibly -- it has incredible potential and you know, it suffered from king leopold and the belgians and others, it's had a lot of bad luck but it's got a tremendous amount of hope and upset. and the people are great people. they're taking step into democracy. they're taking to the streets to demand that democratic changes are transparent. it's an exciting time. but it requires our engagement our continued engagement, a new envoy, continued engagement from the secretary and you know, to
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support these commitments that both folks in the private sector and they are -- the commitment to usaid there is important and morally important that we maintain the continuity of these commitments. senator merkley: thannk you for your huge contribution and i appreciate that russ feingold put forward his expertise to bear. there are elections in a few months? mr. affleck: there are elections. they initially attached the elections to a census, sort of got it through the lower house. they're having this decortage -- they're having this thing to
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carve up the district the long way into provinces, and people are suspicious because they are not ready for it, so they are postponing presidential elections, and the long and short of it is, diplomacy doesn't cost a nickel, and we need to be engaged diplomatically. there's lots of suspicion in many african countries of some of the former colonial powers. there's nothing but a lot of respect and admiration for the united states and our people and we ought to avail ourselves of that diplomatically. senator merkley: thank you. is tremendous, and for the balance of the panel, each of you are doing really important valuable work. so often international aid is framed as why should we be helping overseas when there's challenges here at home? it's a question worth asking. let's look at it the other way given the gravity of issues around the world shouldn't the u.s. as a leader be engaged? and doesn't it contribute to the
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relationships and the partnerships that help address world security issues as well and you mentioned, admiral about the soft power side. while we're going positive things for the quality of life we're doing things that are valuable to the united states. thank you for all of your work. sen. graham: senator murphy. sen. murphy: your work is inspirational. hopefully we will have, in part, a shaming effect on the united states congress as we engage in a debate that will make your work harder. mr. affleck, i wanted to continue talking about, the world food program had run out of money to serve syrian refugees and the consequence of which was pretty clear. these were individuals who had no choice but to feed themselves
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and their family, so if they weren't getting that sustenance from a legitimate source like the world food program, then it was groups like isis itself where they were going to be forced to turn to for a paycheck and for a square meal for them and their family system of as we were battling isis, we were making decisions to underfund humanitarian resources that had the effect of driving people to the very organizations that we are trying to eliminate in the region. and i imagine this plays out in the congo, where you have choices to be made. you have militias from the large resistance armies, m-23, that are offering help to these people in the form of small paychecks and sustenance and if they don't have legitimate sources of income i imagine that that drives recruitment to a lot of these illegitimate sources and create more of these problems that we are trying to solve, so i would love to hear
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you talk more about how this plays into the dynamic in congo. mr. affleck: you see a correlation between increased security and increased development. like hezbollah in southern lebanon when they step in and fill those roles, it creates problems. and if you look at, i was talking about the f.d.l., they essentially are present in areas where our coffee manufacturers and cocoa farmers are present. now if this all goes away, right, if the funding is removed, if we're not there, it creates a different environment. people have to flee, whether it's them or the dplr or the many, many militias, oftentimes people are forced to join militias to protect what meager things they have. and if they just have a job or a purpose, they will stick with it, frankly, under really, really difficult circumstances
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and it is when people run out of options that you can work for slave labor in some mine or be exploited or engage in the kinds of activity that we collectively understand as abhorrent or virtually sort of slave labor. it's really, really important that we support the civil society that's burgeoning in these countries and support the economic growth so people have a place to go. i think you make a very good point and you know, congo, as it becomes better developed will no doubt become more peaceful. sen. murphy: admiral, one of the challenges we have is figuring out who to fund. we have an interest to fund people with the best purposes which means we have to fund really well organized nonprofits but in the end we have an interest in good governance and so there are reasons to run the money through local governmental institutions. i know the answer is different in each place, but as we look at some of the most dangerous
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places in the world, parts of africa that we're talking about today or the middle east, what's your recommendation and guidance as to the source of this funding? mr. stavridis: thanks, senator i think you hit the nail on the head, it is different in each of these venues but as a general proposition using an agency like a.i.d., millennium challenge or state as a betting authority can be very helpful. secondly, depending on the individual state and most recently, for example, afghanistan, we've had a lot of controversy about whether this should flow through kabul or go directly out into the field. there are even microclimate, you will, wherein you can be confident in sharif in the north, relatively confident in the west but you ought to be a
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little more concerned as you get down toward orazcan province or into kandahar. so the point is, there's no substitute for local knowledge and local expertise. you should turn first to the u.s. government as a vetting authority. and i want to close by saying i'm very encouraged by some of the reforms that rod shaw put in place at a.i.d. to increase that capability of this particular and a very important aspect of things. senator murphy: i want to close with a question to you, mr. gates. you are obviously a technology expert as senator daines noted but you also know something about marketing. we're in a position where most americans think we are spending and yes we're spending only 1% but if you go back to the peak of foreign aid, the marshall plan, at that point we were spending .3% of g.d.p. on
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foreign aid. a program that i think everyone agrees has a good deal to do with the world order we're living in today. we got a 94% decline in foreign aid spending as a percentage of g.d.p. since 1950, and yet people still believe that it's much bigger, a much bigger share of the budget than it is. what's your quick recommendation as to how we change people east perception? what are the two or three most salient points from a marketing perspective to make people understand, make our constituents understand, that we've got to be dramatically increasing the share of the federal budget, or at least the portion of the federal budget we're spend on well run programs? mr. gates: most people grossly overestimate what portion of the budget is going to these things. if you ask them, what portion should go, they'll say, two or three percent, our response is great, we'd settle for that in a second. that would be a gigantic increase. in terms of share of budget or share of the economy, the u.s. is relatively low compared to
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other countries. in fact, the u.k. as an example raised their level up to be over three times what our level is at a time where they had very substantial deficits. and it was a decision that the relative impact of the aid dollars was very, very high. it's unfortunate that the historic picture people have is clouded somewhat by aid given in the cold war where it's more about the bad guy who is our friend than the humanitarian impact. today the aid budget is not burdened by those things. and we're able to go in with the same business-like thinking that i applied at microsoft and said, hey, is this money being spent the best way it possibly could? and the percentage of the usaid budget where our foundation is doing something in partnership with the u.s. government is very, very high. so we get the analytic capabilities of usaid that are better today than ever combined with ours and other people and so there's a lot of learning
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that's going on, areas like agriculture and livestock. it's very exciting the new things, we are finding how to get new seeds out and we raise the productivity and how to create self-sufficiency and so if people knew how small it was and how careful we are to make sure that there's impact, i think we get strong support for the modest level that we're hoping to maintain. senator murphy: thank you to all of you. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. graham: senator moran. senator moran: mr. gates, nice to see you again. we've had a conversation for several years about the eradication of polio in my role and capacity on the labor h appropriations subcommittee. it seems we're making significant progress, thanks to your organizations working with rotary international but there's been outbreaks of polio in kenya, i understand.
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how close are we and what more is it going to take to finally put this circumstance to an end? mr. gates: yeah, the first half of 2014 was a concern because we had cases that had come up in syria cases that had come up in somalia, and they spread to ethiopia and kenya. fortunately those outbreaks are now under control. the country we thought would be the last, nigeria, hasn't had a case since july 24. and so if we're lucky, if we go another six months without finding a case, then we'd be quite sure. africa may have seen its last case. and so the focus now in pakistan and afghanistan is very intense, taking some of the same tactics that worked in nigeria and we have a period of relative stability where the area up in where the taliban controls that kids weren't being vaccinated because the pakistani army is in there, we are able to vaccinate
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enough children to make a difference. so we're hopeful that the polio budget, which is a combination of a foreign assistance account and the c.d.c. budget, that has made a huge difference. there was an increase there. c.d.c. is an amazing organization, a great partner. i was down there spent today with tom frieden, talking about ebola and how we work together. very impressive and the extra resources are making a difference. sen. moran: congratulations on your success and thank you for
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your commitment. let me ask just the panelists generally, what has been the consequence of the effort by the united states and the world community in regard to ebola? what are lessons that are learned? what does it tell us we ought to know to prevent circumstances such as this from occurring with this disease or any other medical health affliction? what can we learn from the world response to the arrival of ebola in west africa? mr. affleck: i think that is you, bill. [laughter] sen. moran: my press staff will be disappointed that i didn't get an answer from ben affleck. mr. affleck: you made the right call. mr. gates: everything we do to build up stability, reaching out to the poorest, most rural areas, when you don't have good primary health care, that means an epidemic can get started without the global awareness to go in there and intervene at the early stage. infectious diseases are exponentially explosive, the six months that we missed in guinea because we didn't know -- in
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that's what led it to -- to it being a gigantic outbreak. the cdc has done a phenomenal job. the u.s. military came in with the logistical capabilities that were lacking. it was invaluable. we are likely to see sometime in the next 20 years and far worse happened a -- a far worse pathogens and ebola. it really underscores the investments we've made and they need to do better on the surveillance from -- front. >> there is a role, i think, for
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military. this is a classic example of soft power. the military have not only were power capability, but enormous logistical muscle, capability directly affecting the medical field. i think there is little for the military. i will add steve is really the key, particularly if a pandemic more's the way mr. gates is talking about. there are examples of delaying the real world but infection that tell us we need to be ready for this. >> i appreciate you indicating that, because i think the initial response from many americans when the idea of the military going into battle ebola was, that is not we -- what we
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trade and military men and women for. why are they being called on to do that? >> a good way to think of that is an on and off switch. we don't find this magnificent military just to be in combat or to sit in or in a ship time at a peer -- tied to a pier. it is a balance between hard power, but also to bring this logistics and intelligence to their in a crisis like this. it's a very cost-effective way to use our military. >> i would use this opportunity to thank kansas guards members who were called to duty in the problem -- in the fight against ebola in africa. i would reiterate what you said about cdc. all federal agencies are subject
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to criticism. i am a fan and supporter of dr. frieden and the efforts in ebola and many other aspects of what cdc is doing, including prevention in the united states. thank you to the panel for being here. >> thank you, chairman graham, and i would look to follow on the line of questioning. i have the opportunity to visit liberia for the third time in december, to visit with our troops, missionaries doctors many of the troops from the 101st, and to see the work they were doing on the ground and the impressive impact of the collaboration between significant private sector donors, between consonant-wide organizations and between grassroots community groups. i would like to explore two points. mr. gates, as he referenced, we
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may face a pathogen more lethal and more rapid in its spread then ebola. it is likely we will. we've made significant progress in vaccines, as well. we've made significant progress in vaccines as well, developing a field test for ebola and making progress in vaccines for ebola brings hope about this particular episode coming to an end within the next few months. in addition to the importance of having an african c.d.c. for early warning, how do you see the path forward on vaccine development and strengthening the capabilities for rapid characterization and rapt deployment of vaccine in the face of a more lethal pathogen? mr. gates: it's amazing to me how lit they will world has prepared for a serious epidemic. the u.s. has done more than any other country, but even there we haven't done enough. the ebola vaccine and the treatment called zmapp was
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partially ready but the time it took even using very unusual regulatory approval and trial processes, the time was too long for likely to have any impact on this particular epidemic. and so our state readiness wasn't as strong as it needs to be. we do need to draw in other countries to contribute to these efforts. we do need to take the various agencies of the u.s. government to work on this and make sure we have an overall strategy. one thing i called for is that we ought to do in the same way we do war games to simulate challenges, tugging at us on the military front that we ought to do germ games where we look and see how we would respond. the last time that was done in the united states, 2001, dark winter looked at a smallpox epidemic and the resources proved inadequate. in that case. so there's a good foundation, there's a lot of good science, n.i.h. is the lead for the many
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of these things. and so the idea that tools could be created quickly that is a possibility. but we're not there yet. to give -- to say that we're prepared. >> i think there's important lessons for all of taos learn here both about the strength of community health system the capabilities of community responders, and the huge cost we ended up having to invest and the significant loss of life that could have been avoided. i hope we take your advice and work together in a responsible way. let me talk about natural resource exploitation. as you know well, ben, the eastern congo has been exploited for natural resources. wildlife trafficking has caused problems in the congo basis and other plays on the continent. illegal mining and extractive misuses of natural resources. we're increasingly focused in a
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bipartisan way in the congress on how that funds extremism and transnational, both criminal and terrorist organizations. i'd be interested, mr. affleck if you'd speak to what you've seen in eastern congo about this, and admiral stavridis, how these things have been put on the radar for national security issues. mr. affleck: senator, thank you very much for the work you have done. one of the great unsung heroes on these issues. maybe partly sung. i don't know how sung you are. senator coons: i sing offkey so not very well sung. mr. affleck: as you point out, there's a tremendous amount of oh resources there, gold, it goes on and on. almost all of them are dominated by militia groups and quasi-military groups, that has the same effect of encouraging people who are not doing great things. i talked ability the adf in the north, there's the fdlr, the
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people who committed the genocide in rwanda and the organization they've funned and maintained inside congo which they're taking on halfheartedly. what happens is, when these industries are unregulated they're controlled essentially by local mobsters who have allegiance to higher level organizations and you have a country that's consistently been in the top 10 list of failed states. so you have a security sector situation that's wide open to be exploited and manipulated. i think there's two things to do. one is to try as best we can to help them regulate these industries which is going to meet with a ton of resistance. and two, to try to really examine, look at these group see where the money is doing some of them, one is an extremist muslim group. others are just as violent and
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hideous but subscribing to different religions. the truth is, it's there. it's happening. and none of these extremist organizations, none of these militias survive even though the cost of ak-47 there is 40 bucks, none of them survive without these resources. even -- i don't know if you saw the movie, that park which is fighting for its life literally, one of the things that's undermined them is a huge charcoal trade which is ill list and makes money. timber. things that wouldn't expect. all the resources that are there are being swallowed up by illegal organization who pay tariffs to the various powers that be and it's one of the things bedeviling this country and preventing it from achieving real progress. senator coons: absolutely. thank you for your leadership on combating this and making it
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better known. admiral, how are we doing in bringing together resource in the fight against wildlife trafficking and illegal mining? mr. stavridis: as mr. affleck correctly points out it's the corruption and the financing that comes out of it that then undermines these fragile democracies and creates ungoverned space and leads directly to security challenges which are global. and of course it's not just in the congo, it's in latin america and the caribbean, it's in afghanistan. it's in the caucuses. and we tend as always to look first to the hard power solution but this is a case where many of the soft power things we're talking about career ating jobs, education, opportunity, you play the long game and you have a better chance of creating security. i'll close by saying another aspect of this is the routes that come out of it system of if you're moving natural resources that you've stolen or you're moving cocaine or opium, these routes create the opportunity to move weapons, extremists and at
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the really dark end of the spectrum, weapons of mass destruction. that's another shrimp on the barbie of concern i'll throw out there. thank you. mr. coons: mr. chairman, would i be overstaying my welcome if i asked a last question? >> not at all. mr. koontz: mobile telephone technology as transformed the possibility of connection to the modern economy through mobile banking. realtime knowledge about everything from incidents of violence, campaign -- incidents in kenya were first documented using an open source platform. some realtime knowledge about the spread of ebola and being able to do tracking was significantly facilitated through cell phones which have now penetrated 70%, 80% of of many of the countries of africa. how do you think we might partner with african nations to
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both unlock the potential of access to resources and empowerment of small holder farmers and women's cooperatives and how might we strengthen the ability of citizens to engage in the fight against corruption against wildlife trafficking against extremism through the platform of mobile commube cases? any member the panel who chooses to answer. >> is this a technology question? mr. coons: that does suggest a first answer. mr. gates: it's exciting what we'll be able to do over the next decade. i'd say we're just at the very start of that. in the case of ebola, we weren't able to track movements as well as we would have liked to. having in place the ability to look at the data and make sure
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we weren't violating people's privacy wasn't set up. i think now that we've, in a delayed way, looked at that day that, what we have known better, that's a great impetus to move forward. in terms of the congo, the technology that's even more basic but more critical is satellite photography. the u.s. military of course funded the creation of those technologies. now in civilian hands, people like digital tpwhrobe are able to show us, you know, knowing the population of d.r.c. knowing where the farming is taking place, we're doing a lot of funding people to do surveys like that we have medicines for things like sleeping sickness and figuring out where are the people and how do we get it out logistically, which is incredibly difficult. it's only because of these digital satellite platforms and over time the increased penetration of cell phones we think even in countries like that we'll be able to get in and do great things. as people are able to do digital transarkses on the cell phones things like remitances, getting back with lower fees, countries being able to understand their
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economy in a much better way taking goth payments in an efficient and fairly corrupt before it gets out to the recipient. if it can be done to the woman's cell phone that make a huge difference. there's a ton of pilot programs involved in this. many of them are involved in what you said preventing corruption by actually documents what's going on when it goes on. if you have to go back and say did this seminar take place or was this pamente made? the paperwork of when it really did and when it didn't, it's not easy to distinguish. but if you get photos taken while things are taking place, it's very possible to make it almost impossible for the money to go astray. there's a lot of promise. senator koontz: thank you. i appreciate the answer.
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>> can i add a practical example of what mr. gates just said is in afghanistan, where we pay $35 -- we pay 352,000 afghan troops but moved that to a mobile system. they don't have to go back to their village to take a tattered stack of currency and b, it's document the corruption piece washes out. mr. stavridis: and another thing that's interesting is unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, which have a bad rep far will the of reasons but here's a place they can be used effectively to do the kinds of surveillance that mr. gates is talking about in africa and other areas, to look at crop, look at tracking, to look at who is trying to go after the black rhino, etc. thanks. >> i think there's huge p ten rble for taos make a difference. mr. affleck: as mr. gates said earlier, existing cell phone technology is extremely potent from what i've seen. it's a question of training. and exploiting what's already
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there. and it makes a big difference. one of the steps that we've seen in congo that's been proposed and i think will be incredibly helpful is to use a kind of a cell phones for banking. so if you're a soldier the money gets to you because it's transfered to you. the way it works now you make literally no money. you should see the bar -- barracks, they're tent cities. guys are stealing pots and pans, that's why you have this impunity. these guys, and this is not evil people. they want to be soldier, they're put in this position. but if the pay didn't have to go through seven officers who all took the cuts and the guy before the soldiers who took the final cut, you'd see a revolutionized
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-- it would revolutionize the way armed forces work there and they would go from being a really protective force to a pernicious force. that's just one i know of. i'm sure there's many, many more. mr. coons: i want to thank the whole panel for their contributions today. and mr. chairman, i want to thank you for your leadership over many years and appreciate your calling this hearing today. mr. graham: we've got a hard stop at noon but senator blunt is here so he'll be our last. inquisitor. mr. blunt: thank you. we had the secretary of labor at our hearing who wasn't nearly as popular as your panel. i have some questions for the record. let me just say that for the work this panel represents, the great private sector partnership that are going on out there with what we do in areas like pepfar, the mother aids transmission successes are incredible. the ag resources -- research successes are incredible. what's happening in the congo.
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this really brings a level of attention to your leadership and the work we're doing here and also the importance of finding successes that we can talk about where we started a program, we worked with local partners and at some point we were able to walk away and leave that program with somebody else. it's the kind of thing that creates an understanding and an appreciation for the importance of what this subcommittee does and the partnerships here are incredibly important in encouraging our role to make a difference around the world. thank you, chairman, i'll have some questions for the record. senator graham: thank you, senator blunt. you've been on every trip i've put together. s that great subcommittee. mr. blunt: i'd like that struck from the record. mr. graham: and we've gone to great places like the congo. places that -- i think most
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people appreciate you going because it means a lot to us. and in two hours we're going to vote to cut this account in half so this is a perfect day for you to be here. you made a compelling case scott, we need some financing we don't have today. i think i've learned a lot from the hearing. you've made a compelling days case, we're inside the 10-yard line, we're inside these problems. congo may be turning a corner. polio, we've got this stuff on the run. in two hours, the congress, the senate will have a chance to gut this account by 50%. only in america. only in washington. so in about 30 seconds apiece, tell me why that would be a good idea or a bad idea. scott? mr. ford: the footprint that america has in africa which is the only place i've got any direct experience and the good
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will that we have there through the public and private sector engaging with the rwandan leadership and the gong lease leadership -- and the congress lees leadership, to -- and the congo lembings se leadership, to withdraw right before we win the game is to throw a pass on the 1-yard line. mr. graham: i'm sure you just made yourself a big hit in seattle. admiral? mr. stavridis: we ought to look hard at what's efficient here. the tiny cost of this account is represented in the president's budget is pennies on the dollar. it's like preventive medicine which we've talked about a lot today. do you want to spend money on massive treatment once the disease has taken place? or would you rather have a program that's prevent i have that looks at health on a
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day-to-day basis. that's soft power. it is much less expensive. you need both. there are times when you have to have hard power. but that balance between hard power and soft power, that's smart power. let's be smart and not cut the development and diplomacy tools, they are absolutely necessary. thanks. >> thank you senator. one of the most basic business tenets we learn early in our career is don't withdraw or blink when you're past the tipping point of success. mr. megrue: we've heard today national security and others. senator murphy asked earlier how to we explain this to the american public. i think part of it is explaining some of these incredible
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successes, whether it's polio or what we've been able to accomplish in malaria or mother to child transmission or so many others. i think it's getting that message out there that will cause people to step back and realize that making a cut like you're talking about or proposing a cut like you're talking about, this is the wrong time to do it. and that we will be -- the local governments will be picking this funding up on their own as they have been. >> i think it would be politics at its worst. mr. affleck: and really, truly shortsighted. what i have seen personally are people who now have a job that didn't used to have a job. who are moving into the marketplace. it's a model. even more so than 10,000 farmers. you would be destroying a model in its earlier most -- earliest, most nascent phase. that is saying business and investment is strong and powerful aid. it gives people self-confidence and a sense of meaning in their
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lives and brings goods to the market. practice of which has built this country and has proven beneficial to producers, to consumers and to the people who live in those communities. and that model that's now starting to be practiced would be diminished and that, i think, would be a real tragedy because ultimately that model is not only going to save the american taxpayer a lot of money, it's going to bring the american taxpayer, it's going to elevate the economy of the american taxpayer. it would be a crying shame because we're really onto something great. mr. gates: i'd go back to something senator graham said at the beginning which is that the impact per dollar in this budget particularly the health and agriculture pieces that i know best is probably more impactful than any money the u.s. government spends. yes, there should be a very high bar for spending money outside
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the united states in terms of the benefits to the people back here and to the impact that money has. but if you cut, say, $3 billion from this budget, we're saving lives for 1,500 -- for $1,500 per life saved and even better benefits for survivor. that's over two million children a year that would die for lack of those resources. something like three billion a year and the cut being proposed is way larger than that. that matches all the money that our foundation spends in this area. we get a lot of visibility but people should understand that u.s. government, through its broad set of programs that we're partnering with is about 10 times in its total foreign aid budget than the money we've spent. that's the underpinning of why we're seeing progress we're seeing. and it's the foundation for making sure that a mass epidemic is caught at an early stage. >> can i just say one more thing briefly? there's a sense that if we do this, this is what we're doing these are not priorities. my wife does extraordinary work
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with early childhood education and the central valley of california. mr. affleck spks -- mr. affleck: that's something she's very passionate about. i do work in the congo. we can do both. we can do all these things. we can apply our values to our relatives, to our neighbors, be they outside our national borders or be they within. i believe that's what america is. senator graham: each of you in your own way represent the best of our country. in two hours we're going to go fight for this account. thank you and the hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> coming up tonight on c-span the senate armed services committee examines global threats from isis and other terrorist groups. then president obama is in birmingham to talk about new efforts to target abusive actions by payday lenders. later, a discussion on charges against army sergeant bowe bergdahl who was held in afghanistan for five years. >> on the next "washington journal," legal reporter jeremy jacobs previews supreme court arguments that will decide whether the epa should have considered compliance costs before implementing strict powerplant emissions standards. also, the future of fraternities. a roundtable discussion on union
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membership in the u.s. with michael morgan from the bureau of labor statistics. as always, we will take your calls. you can join the conversation at facebook and twitter, as well. >> outgoing food and drug administration commissioner margaret hamburg talks about the lessons she learned during her tenure at the agency. she will address an audience of the national press club friday at 1:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> here are some of our featured programs for this weekend on the c-span networks. on book tv, saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern, peter wallace and says government housing policies caused the 2008 financial crisis and that it could happen again. at 5:00 saturday, the director of the earth institute at
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columbia university on a development plan to tackle poverty and environmental decay. then a discussion on the last major speeches of abraham lincoln and martin luther king jr.. sunday afternoon at 4:00, the 1965 meet the press interview with martin luther king jr.. find our complete schedule at -- e-mail us, or send us a tweet @cspan. like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. >> illinois representative aaron schock gave his farewell address to congress thursday. the 33-year-old congressman resigned his seat effective march 31 amid allegations of
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miss spending campaign funds and ethics violations. mr. schock: six years ago, i entered this chamber and raise my right arm to take the oaths of office. representatives. i remember feeling so excited about the opportunity that lied ahead. i remember vividly this chamber and all that it meant to me and to the country. the men and women debating the issues of the day, not always agreeing, but always fighting without pie -- without apology for what they believed in. over the past six years i've come to understand that this institution is far more bigger than any one person and that freedom itself is even more important than this institution. some of the world's greatest debates have occurred right here in this chamber, for what happens here effects more than just the people of my district or even my country. over those six years, i've done my best to contribute constructively to the process and to serve the people of my
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district and high country. my guiding principle halls been rooted in the belief that -- has always been rooted in the bloof that washington should only do what people cannot do for themselves. i fought awe and opposed the billion-dollar stimulus bill the government takeover of our health care and the massive new regulations put on small businesses. but more importantly, for the people of my district, so that -- i fought that their voice would be heard and respected among my colleagues. i heard that voice in every vote that i have cast. but i also knew that being in the majority was key to making a difference. and so i'm proud of the work i've done to contribute to a republican majority here in congress. to begin to scale back the overreaches of a bloated federal government and to begin to bend the curve on out-of-control spending. that has only happened because of a republican majority and i'm proud to have played a role in building it. during this time, i saw how
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slow the federal government can be and how frustrating congress can get. i also learned that one man can make a difference. working with my republican colleagues and across the aisle with my democrat friends, we've been able to pass legislation that helped businesses across america create millions of jobs. some of them have been located in my home district, but many more across this great country. there was, is and will be so much to do and i'm honored to have played a small part in making a real difference. but these accomplishments come with some frustrations as well. that this body doesn't move quickly enough or as efficiently as it could to confront the challenges facing our country. i regret that i won't be here when we finally pass a smarter, simpler tax code so that every hardworking taxpayer in my district and across the country will know that washington not only cares about them, but respects them and their
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sacrifice. and i will miss joining my colleagues in saving and strengthening social security and medicare, that will directly improve the quality of life for millions of americans for generations to come. to my constituents back home the good, hardworking taxpayers whom i've had -- been lucky enough to call friends, i will never be able to thank you enough for the opportunity you gave me to serve. together we have tackled some of the big problems at home, like economic development projects helping businesses expand improving our locks and dams along our riverways, and so much more. projects that have helped improve the quality of life in our community. we've also tackled some small problems. but big problems to the people who have been facing them. folks looking for help adopting children overseas or simply trying to get answers from an unresponsive bureaucracy here in d.c. solving those individual cases
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has been extremely fulfilling. and i'm particularly grateful to have played a role in helping so many veterans get the respect they deserve and the benefits that they earned. i'm proud of the good work that my team has delivered to the tens of thousands of constituents who have turned to our office for their time in need. my staff delivered for me because they delivered for you every day, 24/7. i was never more excited than the day i walked into this chamber six years ago. i leave here with sadness and humility. for those whom i've let down, i will work tirelessly to make it up to you. i know that god has a plan for my life the good book tells us that before i formed you in the wombers i knew you -- womb, i knew you. i also know that every person faces adversity in life. abraham lincoln held this seat in congress for one term.
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but few faced as many defeats in his personal business and public life as he did. his continual perseverance in the face of these trials, never giving up, is something all of us americans should be inspired by especially when going through a valley in life. i believe that through life's struggles, we learn from our mistakes and we learn more about ourselves. and i know that this is not the end of a story, but rather the beginning of a new chapter. thank you for the honor to serve. i look forward to keeping in touch with my friends in this chamber and my friends across the 18th district. may god continue to bless this awesome institution and the important role that it plays for america and the rest of the world. with that i yield back the balance of my t
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>> on thursday, the senate armed services committee heard from the leaders of u.s. central command, u.s. africa command and a special operations forces. they discussed threats posed by isis and boko haram and the potential risk to operations due to decreased funding. this hearing is just over two hours. senator mccain: i extend our appreciation to all three of you for your long and distinguished service to the troops and families who defend our nation every day. from somalia to yemen and libya, the old order across north
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africa and the middle east is under siege. the social order within state is collapsing, and no vision has emerged to take its place. unfortunately, the lack of clear u.s. strategy and lack of strong leadership has confused our friends and encouraged our enemies and created space for influence to flourish. despite the fact dr. kissinger testified that the united states now faces a more diverse set of crises, the looming threat of sequestration serves to compound that threat and help create a leadership vacuum that fuels the chaos of our current predicament. retired general jim mattis told this committee, no foe in the field can wreck such havoc on our security that sequestration is achieving today. i couldn't agree more. our witnesses are uniquely positioned to describe the increased risk due to
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sequestration. to navigate this chaotic time we must have on ambiguous national security priorities, clarity in our thinking, and an unwavering commitment to the resources required to support the necessary courses of action. general austin, let's hope your job performance is not measured by the number of crises you have to juggle but how you handle them. my fear is you are expected to juggle with one hand tied behind your back, whether it is sequestration or a directive from above not to upset iran, yours has to be one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. i'm deeply troubled by comments from senior officials on iran. secretary kerry recently said -- i'm not making this up -- that the net effect of iran's military action in iraq is "positive." the chairman of the joint chiefs general dems he said, as long as the iraqi government remains committed to the inclusivity of
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all groups inside the country i think iranian influence will be positive. that is in the category of "i'm not making this up." general austan, i know you do not suffer the dangerous delusion that somehow iran can be a force for good. in your position, you can't afford that fantasy. i want to discuss our strategy to address the situation on the ground as it is rather than as we wish it to be. general david petraeus gave a realistic picture in a recent interview, which is worth quoting. "the current iranian regime is not our ally in the middle east. it is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. the more the iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the islamic state." i will be interested if our witnesses agreed with that assessment from general david petraeus.
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iran is not our ally, yet we learned yesterday that the u.s. is providing air support in tikr it, which media is reporting is being fought by shiite security forces. i have many concerns and questions about how and why we are doing this, which i hope you can answer for us. in yemen, a country that president obama recently praised as a model for u.s. counterterrorism, a success story, and i'm not making that one up either, the prospect of radical groups like huthi rebels -- airstrikes stem from their perception of america's disengagement in the region and an absence of u.s. leadership. in a scenario you cannot make
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up, while our arab partners conduct airstrikes to halt iranian proxies in yemen, the united states is conducting airstrikes to support the offensive of iranian proxies in tikrit. this is as bizarre as it is misguided, another tragic case of leading from behind. a complex intertwining of isis and iranian problems in iraq and syria challenge us in an area the administration has poorly handled. the ability to prioritize and deal with multiple crises simultaneously. we are also seeing increasing links between isis and groups in africa, including a growing presence in libya and a newfound relationship with nigeria's boko haram. adding to the rising terrorist threat across the continent africa remains plagued by long-standing conflicts that have resulted in long -- large displacements of people and rising instability. it is obvious from our
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discussion this week in my office that none of this is news to you. despite a growing array of threats, africa command suffers from significant resource shortfalls that impact your ability to accomplish our mission. one of the key components of our efforts to combat global terrorism is the team of men and women in special operations command. the general has said our special operators are deployed in more than 80 countries and are often our first line of defense against an evolving and increasingly dangerous terrorist threat. they defend the nation by training our partners and requiring -- when requiring special operations. demand continues to far exceed supply, placing an enormous strain on readiness. compounding the strain, the looming threat of sequestration, which will not just a grade the capabilities but also the service provided.
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general vogel, i look to you to update the committee on the impact of sequestration on the men and women usually and the increased risk to the troops who would be forced to withstand. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses. senator reid? -- reed? mr. reed: thank you for your extraordinary service to the nation. you represented combatant commands that are most engaged in the fight against al qaeda and isis and threats that don't know geographic boundaries and
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require a regional and sometimes translational approach to effectively dealing with them. the rise of military capable isis threatens to a race boundaries between iraq and syria, and the areas under isis control provide a training ground for foreign fighters who threaten to spread violence upon returning to their homes in europe, asia, or the united states. in iraq, there is recognition of the need for factions to overcome their divisions. the iraq he minister has taken steps to begin addressing grievances, and he needs our support. one could argue that ultimately the issues in iraq have to have a political solution and that military efforts will buy time. in syria, addressing the root cause that helped lead to the rise of isis requires providing conditions for a political arrangement. the growing influence of
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shia-dominant militia in iraq, many taking orders from iran, threatens to alien it the liberated sunni community. reports of abuse may cause some sunnis to conclude they are better off with isis under the control -- then under the control of iranian-backed militias. general austin, i would be interested in your assessment of the efforts to train, advise and assist iraqi security forces to build up the capability of the kurdish peshmerga as they take territory from isis. i'm interested in your views on the growing influence of iran and the threat it poses long-term to iraq's stability. overnight, as the senator indicated, in yemen, you are given the additional task of supporting gcc operations in yemen. i hope, general austin, you can give us an update on those
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operations. of course, on additional concern is the outcome of the nuclear framework negotiations between the p5 plus one and iran. we are approaching a deadline. the implication of success failure, or something in between will have profound impacts in the region. in afghanistan, our military forces are focused on training afghan security forces, conducting counterterrorism operations and solidifying hard-won gains we all had the probably of listening -- hard-won gains. we all have the opportunity to listen to president ghani. general rodriguez, you are facing challenges that are located in adjacento -- that are located adjacently. operations challenge you in attempting to build the capacity
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up of the nations in that region. also, to work with our european allies very effectively to present a united front. again, your efforts are critical . let me commend you and your forces for the resolve with respect to the evil outbreak and what you are able to a couplet. senator mccain has made this point clearly. under sequestration, all of these efforts, civilian and military, will be hammered if it is allowed to prevail. i hope you can provide an assessment, not just for africa on the effects of sequestration and your ability to operate. general votel you are working across the globe. your missions are critical, but once again, i think it would help us if you could indicate where the effects of sequestration would actually undermine current and projected
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operations. one of the points you made is that you are sort of a global force, but you rely extensively on the base operations of the united states army. and some civilian agencies. that would be hopeful to point out -- helpful to point out. let me commend you for all of the operations use undertaken in the last 13 years. there is no fourth that does more stressed, no group of individual men and women and their families who give so much and go so often to battle. thank you, general. please communicate that to the men and women you lead. mr. mccain: general, we begin with you. gen. votel: good morning, chairman mccain, ranking member reed. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the current posture of the united states special operations command. i'm especially pleased to be
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here with my mission partners, general lloyd austin and dave rodriguez. socom was created by congress to make sure we had capable soft forces to meet the nation's challenges. our ability to address these challenges is due in large part to the strong support we get from congress, especially from this committee. i would like to start out by commenting on the amazing actions made daily by our special operations men and women. operators, largest visions analysts, and many others, military and civilian, the total soft force, alongside our conventional force partners, six -- the 69,000 professionals are committed to values and excellence in service to our nation. today, roughly 7500 of them are deployed to over 85 countries worldwide supporting geographic combatant command requirements and named operations. we are a force who has been
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heavily deployed over the last 14 years, and our military members and families have paid a significant price physically and emotionally. we are very appreciative of the support we have received from congress to address the visible and invisible challenges, and we never forget people are our most important asset. socom in conjunction with its partners supports the geographic combatant commanders and omissions they are assigned by the secretary of defense and the president. if they are successful, we are successful. if they fail, we fail. the united states is faced with many challenges -- the spread of technology and the diffusion of power are not only being used by responsible leaders to better societies but unfortunately by wicked actors to orchestrate terror and violence regionally and globally, nonstate actors like al qaeda and isis and other extremist organizations menacing state actors like north korea, the stabilizing actors like iran, and the colors of
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actors like russia are just a few examples of the entities affecting the strategic environment in which soft forces operate. we are affected by the growing use of cyber capabilities which make it easy for adversaries to communicate coordinate, execute, and inspire their actions. the fiscal environment is of concern. while we've been well supported in recent years, i remain concerned by the impact of another round of sequestration and not only how it impacts socom, but how importantly it will affect the four services upon whom we are absolutely dependent for mission support. to address the challenging security environment soft provides a portfolio of options for our leaders through small footprint operations and by relying on a network of partnerships. soft provides a comparative -- network focus and a rapid
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response to crisis situations. while we support military operations across the spectrum, soft abilities are uniquely suited to operate in the gray zone between normal international competition and open conflict. it is in this area that we see our best opportunities to help shape the future environment. to enable our efforts, i have established five priorities. we must ensure soft readiness by developing the right people and skills to meet current and future requirements. to this end, we want to ensure effectiveness now and into the future with the very best soft operators and support personnel enabled by the best technology and capabilities we can field. we want to make the best use of unique funding authorities that congress has granted us. we must help the nation win by addressing today's security challenges. we strive to provide coherent and well integrated soft forces with the geographic combatant commanders focused on optimizing our activities.
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nearly everywhere, you will find forces working alongside and often in support of their conventional force partners to accomplish security objectives. we must build purposeful relationships to improve global understanding and awareness to create options for our leaders. we don't own the network, but we are an important part of it. working with our partners will provide the best options for our nation. we have to prepare for the future security environment to ensure soft is ready to win in an increasingly complex world. our goal is to match exquisite people with cutting edge capability and the very best ideas and concepts to help our nation succeed against the looming challenges we will face. finally, we must preserve our force of families to ensure their long-term well-being. it is in this area we are specifically focused on a holistic approach to address the invisible challenges of the stress of suicides that are affecting our servicemembers and family members.
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i remain honored and humbled to commend the best special operations forces in the world. i'm proud of each and every one of our team members and their families. i look forward to your questions today. mr. mccain: general rodriguez? gen. rodriguez: thank you for the opportunity to update you on the efforts of the united states africa command. i'm glad to be between joe and lloyd today. let me express my gratitude for your support to our servicemembers and families who underrate our nation's security and a complex world. today, our nation faces strategic uncertainty, risks to our national interests are significant and growing. heart of our uncertainty is our fiscal uncertainty. if sequestration returns, i'm concerned about our ability to execute the current strategy. threats and opportunities to advance national interests are growing in africa. in the past year, we achieved
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progress in several areas through close cooperation with our allies and partners. we have built significant capacity over the years. this capacity has played a major role in regional efforts to contain extremism, including al-shabaab and other al qaeda affiliate. with our support, french original partners have disrupted violet networks, and a small number of our unilateral operations have applied additional pressure. we also achieved success with other partners against other challenges. in liberia, we supported usaid and the liberian nation in responding to the largest ebola epidemic in history. another illustrative example of our support in strengthening the capacity of regional partners, in the gulf of guinea. in central africa, combined military and civilian efforts significantly reduced the
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ability to threaten civilian populations. working closely with our partners, it has allowed us to improve our posture and capability to protect u.s. personnel and facilities. when security in libya deteriorated, we assisted in the safe departure of u.s. and allied personnel. in the central african republic, we provided security that enabled the resumption of embassy operations. we have had a lot of successes but many challenges remain. trans regional terrorist and criminal networks continue to adapt and expand aggressively. while al-shabaab is weak in somalia, it remains a persistent threat to u.s. and regional interests. al-shabaab has broadened its operations to attempt to conduct attacks against uganda ethiopia, and especially kenya. libya-based threats are growing rapidly, including an expanding isis presence. if left unchecked, they have the
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highest potential amongst security challenges and africa to increase risks to u.s. strategic interests. boko haram threatens the ability of the nigerian government to provide security and services in large portions of the northeast. boko haram has extended its reach beyond nigeria's borders to cameroon and chad. in somalia, libya, and nigeria the international community is challenge to implement the comprehensive approach is necessary to advance governance and development. declining resources will make this more difficult. to mitigate increasing risks africa command issue of getting our priorities and improving the alignment of resources to strategy. we are correlating with international and interagency partners to harmonize our efforts. we are seeking to increase operational and programmatic flexibility. we continue to provide our best military advice to policymakers to make informed decisions. thanks for your continued support our mission and the
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dedicated people advancing our nations defense interests in africa. mr. mccain: general austin, welcome. gen. austin: thank you, sir. chairman mccain, senator reed, members of the committee, i want to thank you for the opportunity to appear today to talk about the efforts and current posture of united states central command. up front, i would like to thank all of you for your continued and strong support of our men and women in uniform and their families. i look forward to talking about them and the exceptional contributions that they continue to make on behalf of our command and our nation. i'm pleased to appear this morning alongside my teammates general dave rodriguez and general joe votel. we are prepared to answer your questions. much has happened in the centcom area of responsibilities since i last appeared before this
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committee a year ago. indeed, the central region is today more volatile and chaotic than i have seen it at any other point. the stakes have never -- never been higher. the forces of evil that threaten our homeland and our interests in that important part of the world thrive in unstable environments marked by poor governance, economic uncertainty, and ungoverned or under governed spaces. therefore, it's essential that we be present and engaged and cultivate strong partnerships and continue to do our part to address the emerging threats and to move the region in a direction of greater stability and security. we must be properly resourced to do what is required to effectively protect and promote our interests. at centcom, in addition to doing all that we can to prevent problems from occurring, while shaping future outcomes, we spend a great deal of our time and energy managing real-world
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crises. over the past year, we've dealt with conflicts in iraq and syria. we transition from combat operations to a train, advise, and assist mission focus in the same time , we dealt with a number of difficult challenges in yemen egypt, lebanon, and in a host of other locations throughout our area of responsibility. we actively pursue violent extremist groups, and we took measures to counter the radical ideologies that are espoused by these groups. we also don't with iran, which continues to act as a destabilizing force in the region, primarily through its kuds forces and its support for proxy actors like hezbollah. while we are hopeful that an acceptable agreement will be rich with iran with respect to its nuclear program either way whether we reach an agreement or we don't, iran will continue to
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present a challenge for us going forward. we are faced with a number of difficult issues. i firmly believe that the challenges present commander austin: we make progress by pursuing those opportunities. the biggest threat facing us now is isil. this barbaric organization must be defeated, and it will be fetid. we are currently in the process of executing a campaign plan. we are pleased to report that we are making significant progress. at the outset, we said that we had to halt the advance. we have done that. we said that we have to regenerate and restructure iraq's security forces and reestablish a border.
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we said we would have to help our partners to bolster defenses against isil and we continue to help our friends in jordan and lebanon and turkey. we said we would have to build ground forces to counter isil in syria. in doing so soon. we are making progress. we are about where we said we would be in the execution of our plan, which supports the broader government strategy designed to counter isil. we are having significant effects on the enemy. we continue to deploy forces. we have destroyed training sites and storage facilities along with vehicles and heavy weapons systems. in doing so, we have degraded capabilities.
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also, his primary sources of revenue, namely his refineries. i so can no longer do what it did at the outset, to seize and hold new territory. although he has greater freedom of movement in syria he is largely in the defensive as well. he is having a tough time governing. it is crucial to this claim. he has begun to expand into other areas, namely north africa. which is important, because he knows he is losing in iraq and syria. going forward, we to expect to see this enemy continue to conduct limited attacks and to orchestrate horrific scenes in order to create opportunities. make no mistake isil is losing this fight. i'm certain that it will be
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defeated. however, there is work to be done to get to that point. we intend to continue to execute the campaign. i say that because how we go about this is important. if we don't get things under control in iraq where there is a government we can work with -- if we don't get things right there first before expanding into syria, we risk making matters worse in both countries. done the right way, in light of the limitations that exist, i believe we can and will be successful in our efforts. we can be assured continued progress in pursuit of oracle, which is -- in pursuit of our goal. going forward, we will be required to make tough choices.
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we'll need to find ways to do more with less in the current fiscal environment. i remain concerned by the fact that capability reductions can and will impact our ability to respond in a crisis, especially in a highly volatile central region. flexibility makes the united states increasingly vulnerable to external pressures. i would ask congress to do its part to make sure we avoid sequestration and other limitations. senator mccain, senator reed, i want to thank you for your strong support that you continue to show to our service members. they are the best in the world and what they do. they make enormous sacrifices on behalf of the mission. senator mccain: thank you general.
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to the witnesses agree with general petraeus' comments that iran was not as great a threat as isis? do you agree with that? commander austin: in terms of a long-term threat, you ron is the -- iran is the greatest threat. i would say the most pressing threat now is isil. senator mccain: general rodriguez? commander rodriguez: i agree. commander votel: i also agree. senator mccain: when were you told by the saudi's that they were going to take military action in yemen? commander austin: i had a
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conversation right before they took action, so it was shortly before. senator mccain: that is interesting. you were talking about how we are defeating isil. right now the battle is stalled and we haven't launching airstrikes -- we have been launching airstrikes into tikrit. it's my understanding that there are 2000 iraqi military fighting their and over 20,000 militia members that are doing the majority of the fighting. is that correct? commander austin: it is about 4000 iraqi security forces in the area. currently, there are no shia militia. as reported by iraq today, no
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pmf forces in that area. senator mccain: so there's 4000 iraqi -- who are the others? commander austin: the shia militia that were there have pulled back, sir. senator mccain: so the fighting is being done by iraqi forces? commander austin: sir -- senator mccain: if you could shorten the answers. commander austin: it is being done by iraqi special operations forces and the federal police -- senator mccain: the white we see them leading in orchestrating this effort? commander austin: those pictures were from before. as you know, the effort from solar body cash -- he was no
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longer on the ground -- senator mccain: so the shia militia is no longer in the fight? are they still in the fight? commander austin: no, sir. senator mccain: so the airstrikes we are carrying out our only in support of iraqi military activity? commander austin: that is correct. the precondition to sit -- to provide support was that the iraqi government had to be in charge of this operation. we had to know exactly who was on the ground, we had to be able -- they had to have an incredible scheme of maneuver, which they replant, and they had to be able to talk to folks on the ground.
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senator mccain: by the way, i totally disagree with you on ignoring syria, there is no strategy for syria and we all know that in isis does not respect those boundaries but somehow you seem to -- we know there are no boundaries. to say that you are going to have a strategy for iraq first and then syria is -- right now of the 12,000 sources 3000 actually drop weapons. is that true? do we not put our pilots in great danger? isn't it the argument that we need to control attacks on the ground if we are going to be effective or are you going to have three out of four fighter
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sorties fly around in circles and then return? commander austin: the ratio is based upon a couple of factors. one is the type of enemy we are seeing, the second is the distance we deal with on a daily basis. if you take a look at an operation like desert storm, and the infrastructure we could attacked with preplanned sorties , you will have a greater ratio and time. the enemy we are facing started out as an extremist element that wanted to behave like an army. the cousins that, we are able to attack mass formations early on,
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but it very quickly resorted to behaving like an irregular force. as he did that, it became difficult -- senator mccain: it should have surprised no one. commander austin: it didn't surprise us, sir. senator mccain: so we are satisfied with the situation where we launch 12,000 sorties where they rarely shop weapons. that is not a viable or a good use of the taxpayers dollars. commander austin: when you compare that ratio to what we have done in afghanistan, it is equal -- it is the same type of fighting. the ratios are comparable. the ratios are even better than what we saw in afghanistan. senator mccain: i would argue that is comparing apples and oranges. but my time has expired, senator
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reid? senator reed: we are operating at the request of the prime minister of iraq. we set conditions as to what we would require before we engage? commander austin: that is correct. senator reed: your comments to senator mccain suggest that the mobilization of forces against the shia militia -- they have pulled back and now the operation is being conducted by iraqi regular forces. commander austin: and the federal police, yes. senator reed: it appears that this fight would succeed, simply with the mobilization of forces
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-- that would have added a significant or at least rhetorical claim. now it appears that they cannot clear the city without the support of the united states. commander austin: that is correct. if i can make a point here, to highlight why it failed. the weight of these forces went about trying to do this. these forces were not controlled by the government of iraq. they did not have a coherent scheme of maneuver, command, or control. it'd not precision fires to support this effort. try to go about the difficult task of clearing a place like to create -- tikrit caused them to stall. it highlighted a number of preconditions that must be present before we promote isr or deploy fires. once those conditions were met
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which included the shia militia not being involved, we could proceed. in three taurus in iraq, commanding forces who were brutalized by these militias, i hope we never coordinate or cooperate with shia militias. senator reed: part of the operation in tikrit will be a prelude to operations in mosul which have always been contemplated to be conducted by iraqi forces. is that accurate? commander austin: yes. senator reed: commander photo -- commander votel. do you have any views about
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establishing operation policies? what is your relationship with the council? commander votel: they provide us with a good forum to put together a number of senior leaders within ost and the joint staff to ensure that we are looking at the requirements for soft forces and ensuring that it is well coordinated within the building. senator reed: you talk about in your remarks the campaign for global special operations. can you comment on how you manage this plan this quickly?
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commander votel: absolutely. the campaign is designed to support my principal task of supporting my geographic partners. it is designed to synchronize soft activities to prioritize resources and where we are putting them in support. it is designed to address the partnerships we need to have in place. it is designed to look at the things we will do to shape the environment. it ensures that we have provided a soft line to those areas they can develop the capabilities they need to best support the geographic commanders. commander rodriguez: when we make our plans, our theater a special operation command is slowing down. it all supports my plan.
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senator reed: my time is expiring, general alston, a quick comment? commander austin: i'm comes with it. senator reed: thank you. >> when senator mccain talked about resources, it is true that you don't have resources. you depend on you, for most everything. commander votel: we also have he and for forces. i depend quite a lot on your capacities. james inhofe: the other things that come up you inherit
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resources to help put out these fires. however, with the restructuring of the european infrastructure consolidation, are you concerned about how that might affect what resources might be available? commander votel: most of the moves have been to the south and east to help the responsiveness of support. the one thing got enacted, i agree with. james inhofe: i don't know where you were when we put together the original effort and that was a wise thing to do, the discussion at that time was where it would had first?
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liberal promoting the idea that it should be in africa. the continent is so huge -- we understand politically that with colonization, the people there would not buy it, but the presidents would. all the presidents in that area thought that would've been a good idea. at the time you put it together, u-com and afri-com, there was discussion that they would consider making that move. >> many african leaders have talked to me about that, but the current assessment -- we will leave it where it is for the foreseeable future. james inhofe: the foreseeable future is beyond us now from where they first put this together. the me ask you -- my first experience with the lra was in
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2001. that is 14 years ago. how is he now? do you think we are getting in a position -- it appears to me -- i think you would agree, most of the stuff now he is doing is trying to move around and avoid hits. our involvement it is working. commander rodriguez: with the civilian organizations and the population to better assist the problems, right now, he is down to about 200 fighters in the impact on civilian population is minimal.
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he is using illicit trafficking to sustain his efforts. but it is tough for him, because of continual pressure. james inhofe: he is being chased around. eastern congo and briefly rwanda, it seems like it was a trail of blood following him and it is not that way anymore. i think we haven't talked about that in a long time. we need to get on the record that some things seem to be working. commander rodriguez: the long-term effort against cody -- kony with moderate resources we have decrease impact on civilian populations. james inhofe: last year you testify that only 5% of your requests were met. has it been any change in this intelligence gathering?
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commander rodriguez: i am at 13% now, that is a great question. we will lose more caps and sequestration than i have in a theater right now, you can see the impact that is going to have on our intelligence and reconnaissance efforts. james inhofe: thank you. >> thank all three of you for your service to our country. i believe sending soldiers and weapons to syria -- i definitely would have supported it. reports emerged from the department of defense that we are unable to account for assistance to yemen, including weapons and equipment. i'm sure you all to the same pictures on youtube that we are getting.
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it is being used against us and our efforts. all of which could potentially fall into the hands of iran or al qaeda. trained rebels -- video was posted showing a captured u.s. missile. these are not just immediate events. we supported individuals in the 1980's and afghanistan. we watched isis capture vehicles and military equipment that iraqi security forces had abandoned. which are millions and millions of dollars being used against us. even after we spent the better part of a decade training, we have history of supplying weapons to those who use them against us. who is responsible for the weapons and equipment that the u.s. has applied in these cases? are these reports accurate? will any action be taken?
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commander rodriguez: with not having the ability to be in yemen currently to monitor the disposition of the weapons we'll have the ability -- we do not have the ability to oversee the safeguarding or the deployment of those weapons systems. the amount of funding that was required for both providing weapons assistance and training, as you know, training takes up -- it is pretty expensive. >> i know about the $500 million requested for syria. is there nobody in our government that is responsible like we give all this equipment to yemen and we see it falling apart? we have no way of retrieving it? commander austin: in a case like yemen, we don't have the ability
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to go back and retrieve it. >> but we see it falling apart. we can't take any actions at all? commander austin: one to provide weapons -- >> it is there. commander austin: yes. we will monitor the use of those weapons and make sure that if they are not being used properly, that we don't continue to provide capability. >> do you all agree with the reports of how much weapons and the lethal volatility of these weapons being used against us? commander rodriguez: i don't doubt -- >> they are widely reported. commander austin: it is reasonable to expect that some material will fall into the hands of people.
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>> the iraqi forces that abandoned them, that was substantial. commander austin: it was. >> than we know about yemen, and we have concerns about whether or not this we repeated and are we taking any steps from what we have seen happen. how can you assure me that syria -- whoever we supported syria -- that won't fall in the wrong hands? commander austin: there's no way we can have slowly assure you that won't happen. what we do is to try to train the folks we work with and providing capability to be responsible as they use and safeguard these weapons. in the event that they are not we quit providing in the capability. >> general hotel, -- general
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votel, special forces groups have fought with success in iraq and afghanistan. had you see the future moving forward go general votel: it is integrated into everything we are doing. on the air guard side. some of our unique abilities will reside in some of it reserved organizations. they are absolutely and totally in agreement with everything we are doing now and will do in the future. >> thank you. mr. chairman? >> when it comes to fighting isil, i appreciate your determination and your military drive. and that is coming through.
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do you question the optimistic note that you have in your testimony because it seems that things are not going as positively as you suggest. you mention the president's announcement this past september -- the key elements as to what the industry should want to do involving coalition partners -- jordan, turkey, and lebanon -- have a partners to assist on the ground. once we do all these things, we have defeated isil through a combination of sustained pressure, systematic dismantling of iso-capabilities, and by effectively expanding regional partners, it is hard to see -- hard to be very encouraged about that happening at this point. i want to ask about our partners. not everything we hear is in
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these big hearings -- we met with the king of jordan, not in the classified setting -- the king of jordan tells us that they can't want this more than the arab neighborhood. i want to ask you a -- we try to get the partners together and make this work on the ground. i think everybody has been saying -- who was on the ground -- those on the ground will be needed to defeat iso-. -- isil. are those boots on the ground going to have to be iraqi boots on the ground? items in the jordanians having the capacity. -- i don't see the jordanians having the capacity. we met with ambassadors from uae and saudi arabia, and they want this coalition to take effect. they want egypt to be a part of
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it. who is that -- who in that whole list of neighboring countries has the capacity to go in and retake this territory. you mentioned that we are doing precision airstrikes but i think we all know that that is not going to get it done. and they talk about the regional campaigns not simply to destroy isil -- although that is our primary objective. how is this going to be wrapped up by troops going in and taking the territory back and the united states not employing boots on the ground? general austin: one of the things we set up front is that


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