tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 27, 2015 3:00am-5:01am EDT
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 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 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 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. >> 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 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 -- 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. 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 ncicap.org] in her mayhem, alabama to talk about efforts to target abusive
actions by payday lenders. later, the homeland security secretary testifies about the budget. >> jeremy jacobs previews supreme court arguments that will decide whether the epa should have considered compliance costs before instituting strict power plan emissions standards. they discuss the future of paternity's. then a roundtable discussion on membership in the u.s. with the washington post reporter. as always, we will take your calls, and you can join the conversation at facebook and twitter as well. live at 7 a.m. eastern on
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political corruption, and environmental decay. saturday morning a discussion on the last major speeches of abraham lincoln and martin luther king junior, and the 1964 meet the press interview with martin luther king, junior let us know what you think about the programs you are watching. collis e-mail us, or send us a tweak. -- tweet. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. >> on thursday the senate armed services committee heard from the leaders of central command and special operations forces. they discussed threats posed by terrorist groups and the potential risk in operations due
to decreased funding. this hearing is just over two hours. >> good morning and welcome. senator the committee meets to receive testimony. g 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. 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. 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 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 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 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 operationa 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 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 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 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
afghanistan.at 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 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. 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. 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 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. 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
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 continue to demonstrate absolute selflessness. they make enormous sacrifices on behalf of the mission. thank you sir. senator mccain: thank you, general. i asked the witnesses, do they 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 in the region, iran is the greatest threat. i would say the most pressing threat now is isil. and the one we have two defeats in the near term. senator mccain: general rodriguez? commander rodriguez: i agree. senator mccain: general hotel? -- votel? 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 conversation right before they took action, so it was shortly before. senator mccain: right before they took action. that is interesting. you were talking about how we are defeating isil. right now the battle is stalled
and 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 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 from that., sir.
senator mccain: so the fighting is being done by iraqi forces? commander austin: sir -- senator mccain: i only have a few minutes. maybe you can shorten the answer. commander austin: it is being done by iraqi special operations forces and the federal police -- senator mccain: why do we see pictures of soul amini leading and orchestrating this effort? commander austin: those pictures were from before. as you know, the effort from sola money has stalled. senator mccain: so the shia militia is no longer in the fight?
are they still in the fight? commander austin: no, sir. they are not part of the clearing operations into crit -- in tikrit senator mccain: so the airstrikes we are carrying out our only in support of iraqi military activity? commander austin: that is correct. preconditions for us to provide support, we had to know exactly who was on the ground. we had to be able to conflict our fires. 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. 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 and the president does we know there are no boundaries. to say that you are going to have a strategy for iraq first and then syria of course is sophistry. right now, of the 12,000 sorties, 3000 actually drop weapons. is that true? commander austin: i think that is right, sir. senator mccain 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 sorties fly around in circles and then return? commander austin: the hours flown to deployed 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, where you had infrastructure that you could attack with preplanned sorties, then that ratio -- certainly you would have a greater ratio of hours flown. the enemy we are facing, started out as an extremist element that led to behave like an army. because of that, we were able to attack mass formations early on. he barely -- but it very quickly resorted to behaving like an irregular force. as he did that, it became more 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 when only one out of four actually drop a weapon. that is not a viable or a good use of the taxpayers dollars. commander austin: i would make the points, compared to what we have done in afghanistan, it is equal to that because it is the same type of fighting. the ratios are comparable. the ratios in oir 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 reid? senator reid: 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 reid: 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: special operations forces and federal police, yes sir. senator reid: it appears that this fight would succeed, simply with the mobilization of forces the shia militias would have added a significant or at least rhetorical claim. now it appears that they cannot effectively 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. it is the way that 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. they did not have precision fires to support this effort. trying to go about the difficult task of clearing a place like to -- tikrit caused them to stall. what we have done is number one highlighted a number of preconditions that must be present before we promote isr or employ fires. once those conditions were met which included the shia militia not being involved, we could proceed. i would like to highlight, three tours 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. with our support is that , accurate? commander austin: yes. senator reid: commander votel. do you have any views about establishing operation policies? do you work with the council 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 osd 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. we are getting oversight. senator reed: you talk about in your remarks the campaign for global special operations. which of necessity has to interact with the plans for north, south,, etc.. can you comment on how you manage this plan this quickly? because my time expires. 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 fully involved. all of those things that joe does about allocating forces all support my plan. senator reed: my time is expiring. are you comfortable with the interaction? >> i am very comfortable.
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 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? 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 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. 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? 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. 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? 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 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. >> 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 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. 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 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 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 these things take time because we work with indigenous forces. we are using iraqi security forces to conduct the ground operations. as you pointed out, we have also said that you cannot do this with just power alone, and has
to be a complement of fires and maneuver forces on the ground. our approach is to generate those forces by training and equipping iraqi security forces. we are -- as we have halted isil's advance into iraq we started the business of training and equipping new iraqi security forces so that they will have the ability to train and take back their borders and secure their sovereign spaces. roger wicker: is there any prospect of saudi forces being there in numbers that will be significant? uae, jordanian forces, to have a police force and not much else. general austin: they all have some capability. not all of them have volunteered to come forward and put boots on the ground in iraq.
iraq needs to want to be able to take that on and take those forces in, but this point, as you look at what saudi is dealing with in yemen, it is currently focused on that. to answer your question, there is capability with the countries in the region, but none -- no countries have come forward to volunteer to put boots on the ground in iraq. roger wicker: thank you. good luck to you. i appreciate your determination and resolve. i hope you are successful as you believe you will be. general austin: we will be successful, sir. joe donnelly: can you talk about
the psychological component of your preservation of the force and family program? general votel: we are looking at a variety of things. we are looking at peer-to-peer programs to provide access to family members to reach out and talk to their friends and their peers about that. i think this is a comportment -- i think this is an important component. we to make sure our chapters of all trade in the ability to identify those behaviors that we take our related to stress which can lead to suicide. third, i think one of the most important things we are doing is
trying to send a clear message across the entire force that it is absolutely normal and expected to ask for help when you need it. and you can do that without concern of stigma or any concern about your standing within the command. we are putting -- we are working double time to put effort on that particular theme and message. the real census of our program is to empower people by communicating early and often by trying to enable them, to give them easy access to programs and resources so they can get help. joe donnelly: will you work with us to help us take the lessons you have learned and work with the other parts of our military? general votel: absolutely. joe donnelly: thank you. it appears that efforts in tikrit are stalled at the moment.
one of the areas i am looking at is how do we empower cities -- sunnis? the concern would be why do you want to team up with the shiite militia when isis is also sunni? they may be like the back cousin that shows up at the event, but they are still your cousin. how do we empower the moderate sunnis? do see this as a key to success in iraq? general austin: i believe that getting the sunni population involved is really, really important in terms of being successful going forward. you are right. the previous operation in tikrit did stall because i think the wrong approach was taken.
many forces that were being employed were not controlled or supervised by the ministry of defense or the government of iraq. that has recently changed. as of the last several days. yesterday, we started supporting this effort, we think that this effort will begin to move forward with the employment of the special operations forces in the help of our enablers. i think it is absolutely key that the government has to be accommodating to both the sunni and the kurd population. we have to increasingly get the sunnis involved. joe donnelly: can you help make that happen? a lot of the folks surrounding him or so from the previous administration. you had extraordinary experience
with all the service you have done with our country. can you help to identify the key sunni moderate leaders to make them part of this? is that what is going to -- you look at you say -- we think we are going to get it right this time -- how do you think this turns out? general austin: to answer both of your questions, we continue to encourage the leadership in iraq to be more accommodating to the sunni population. and do some things that are demonstrable. that increases their confidence in the leadership -- and the government. and you may know that we are helping the iraqi security forces in the government of iraq reach out to the tribal elements and bring in some of those elements to train and equip them
general votel: i think all commanders constantly balance risk. i think that is what i am principally paid to do. as a move forward and continue to deal with changing conflict situations, i think it gets down to prioritization. for us, what we will attempt to do is offset the risk that is associated with increased operations by ensuring that we prioritize operations that we will have the biggest impact to support the broadest national objectives. deb fischer: is libya a place where we will accept risk? general votel: from my perspective, we are looking at the things we can do to address
threats in libya. deb fischer: rodriguez, in your opening statement, you say libyan risk is going. if left unchecked i believe they have the highest potential among security challenges on the continent to increase risk to u.s. and european strategic interests in the next two years and beyond. you also described libya as a merging of a safe haven where terrorists like al qaeda and the labonte affiliated groups can train and rebuild with impunity -- lavevant-affiliated groups can train and rebuild with impunity. you think our approach to libya is not adequate? are we accepting too much risk? general rodriguez: thank you senator. to make sure everybody is clear on what we are doing in libya,
there is a significant effort in libya to prevent that from spilling over. when you look at what is happening in tunisia in niger and chat and egypt, we are working with partners as much as we can to strengthen their capacity to limit the spillover of that effort. we are also working with our european partners to increase their effort there and we are supporting at this point in time the u.n. effort to come to a diplomatic solution and anything past that will require a policy decision. deb fischer: how would you rate the success of the efforts you described, the spillover, the work with european partners? general rodriguez: the work with our partners has gone well with the exception of one or two sensational tactics you read
about in tunisia. their capacities have continued to grow and they can handle that threat every day, as does niger and chad. the work of the european efforts and the u.n. has on have as much progress as anybody wants. deb fischer: general votel if i can return to that idea of moderate risk. over the long term, do you think that if we see risk continue to increase and the smaller problems continue to accumulate, how do we prioritize that? if they are viewed as smaller problems at the time, but if they continue to escalate and become greater risks to this country -- not just the region they are -- how are you going to
prioritize? how are you going to address it? do you have the resources you need? general votel: thank you. i think i have the resources i need to support commanders. what i think we will do for the future -- as i mentioned in my opening comments -- i think sof plays a role in the gray zone. before we get to open conflict. the important piece i bring to the geographic commanders is our ability to come in and help shape and develop partnerships to help build cassidy and support relationships in all of those areas so that we can strengthen partners before big problems go into -- before small problems go into big problems. i think that is the direction in which we should be focusing. deb fischer: general rodriguez do you have a response ec?
general rodriguez: that is done by policymakers. the addition to the risk is what our partners can handle and what they are doing them selves. we prioritize it based on the role of government agency efforts -- who can help most in different places. i could that is what is done every day in the defense department. deb fischer: thank you gentlemen and thank you for your service. claire mccaskill: sechrist ration, we have to be honest about the challenges we have.
we'll have a lot of time in terms of rhetoric -- we are now going further down the road of using boko as a slush fund. if not fiscal accountability, it is not good for restoring face to the american people. and not retreat to rhetoric and gimmickry that is not really true. we are not going to build -- as my colleague said -- we are not going to build a px with oko funds. do you believe that the army can buy back strength with these funds? general austin: i do not, senator. claire mccaskill: can the navy address the shortfalls in shipping? general austin: no, ma'am. claire mccaskill: i think we got to be -- and i know we don't
come to this is clean hands with democrats, because we don't come a we have engaged with gimmickry also -- i know the chairman wants to face this head-on and i know it is a challenge in a political environment. but i did want to bring it up but we have obviously not met the challenge with the government as it is currently configured. i want to specifically ask you general austin, but something troubling to me. i have been told that there has been a determination that operation freedom sentinel is a new contingency operation. you see it as a new contingency operation? general austin: it's a continuation of our efforts senator. in terms of the types of things we are doing, we continue to train and advise and assist the afghan security forces. in terms of how we account for the funding that we are
allocating to that, that is a different issue. claire mccaskill: the reason i ask is i am told that there is an effort on the way of naming a new lead inspector general and afghanistan as opposed to the inspector general on afghanistan and if that determination is made, i just want to make sure everybody understands -- that is going to pose additional burdens and terms of contracting, oversight, i know there is continuity but i don't understand the value right now of changing inspector general's. at this point, the projects are ongoing that the specter general in afghanistan is aware of and is working on -- i don't get it. if there is really a sincere attempt to replace them, by
labeling this as a new contingency, somebody is going to half to have explained to do i think it to me and i hope others on this committee as to why that would be a good idea. are you aware of an effort to do that at this point? general austin: i'm not aware of the effort, but certainly, i will find out, i will look into it. claire mccaskill: that would be terrific. as you know, we work closely with the inspector general in afghanistan, i think the body of work they have done is incredibly helpful to our nations the lee terry as we look at how we honestly confront sequestration. one of the ways as being better stewards of the resources that we have allocated to these efforts. general rodriguez, i understand that most of the service members deployed to africa as part of the ebola response operation have begun returning home. is there any effort to keep track of the number of contractors around this effort and how many of them have been
pulled and how many remain in ebola as we continually try to stay on top of contractor costs? general rodriguez: there is a strict accounting that has been done. we were very cognizant of the challenges with contractor oversight and also paying too much money for contracts. we have a strict accounting. claire mccaskill: we would love it if you would share it with our office. also, general austin, if you could share with us how many contractors have been left in iraq as a result of our efforts against isil. we have gotten to the point will be were just counting contractors in afghanistan and now we are county contractors in iraq, we would appreciate an update on that number also. general austin: i will take that for the record. claire mccaskill: thank you so much. thank you mr. chairman.
general austin: the forces that are clearing tikrit are special operation forces and police. as of this morning, when i took my commanders, the shia lucia and the pmf have pulled back. i am sure they are still in the area, and there are probably forces on the east side of the river and, as you know, the city
of tikrit is on the west side of the river. to my understanding he was not in tikrit or in that area. mr cotton: -- general austin: we caused the iraqi security forces to develop the new birth that can effectively accomplish the mission of clearing the town. our fires are supportive of that effort. so we are focused on that. we always do everything that we can to ensure that there is not excessive collateral damage.
at focus is on the isf forces be are supporting. >> would you consider all lateral damage to include -- in the vicinity of an airstrike? general austin: i would consider that unintended consequences. >> -- freedom of movement in iraq? general austin: i believe he does, senator. >> six month ago, president obama cited yemen as a success is ample as a counterterrorism example. you think yemen is a success? general votel: it certainly put us in a different posture right now. it is much more challenging today than it was when we had people on the ground. >> general austin, do consider it a success story? general austin: jim is a very
troubled country today with the challenges it is facing in the activity of the houdis, i think the country is in turmoil. >> general austin, approximately 10 months ago, the president released five taliban commanders in exchange for -- by history to command, i believe the agreement expires in two months, is that correct? general rodriguez: i believe that to be correct. >> in qatar when that expires? general austin: i don't know senator >> will do have freedom inside and out of qatar? general austin: i think we would have to consult the carter government. -- qatar government and also our
government would discharge with monitoring the movement of these elements, i cannot answer that senator. i cannot take that for the -- i can take that for the record and do research on that. >> i would like to get answer for the record. think you, general austin. given the situation in yemen, if their actions by militants there to block the mendez straight, i assume that american forces would immediately act to reopen that straight? general austin: we would work in conjunction with our gcc partners to make sure that those straits remain open. it is one of our core interests to make sure that we have flea flow of con -- general rodriguez: we would work with the host nations of africa and europe to support those efforts. >> make you, gentlemen. -- thank you, gentlemen. senator mccain: for the record,
i would like a response to the question. do you consider yemen a success story? yes or no? general rodriguez: it is not a success story. >> thank you. >> when the president made the statement, he was talking about antiterrorism statements. general votel: i believe the described. >> he was not talking about yemen itself, he was talking but the success of counterterrorism against a q ap. naturally, the deterioration of the situation in yemen has come is that, i follow up question is how much is that copyright? are we able to maintain that effort against a q ap or is that -- aqap or is that pending the dust settling in yemen? general votel: will work in
conjunction with general austin's headquarters and our other partners in the area to look at how we regain situational awareness to understand what is happening on the ground looking at how we can continue to address the threats that emanate from yemen. >> thank you. i want to associate itself with senator mccaskill's comment about sequestration. it obviously doesn't go to the base budget, it is on paid for it is just absolutely the wrong way to approach this problem. i hope that congress can find a more realistic and responsible solution to sequestration. also, general austin, again without being -- because you talk to send it only about this, it seems to me that it is critically important that we use the leverage we have, which apparently was used in the tikrit battle to make sure that this isn't a shiite militia led
offensive because, if this becomes another version of a war of shiites against sunnis, we have lost. this has to be inclusive, and i hope they do relationship with the president of the iraqi government emphasizes that because it is essential a successful outcome in iraq. regardless of the short term strategic advantage in tikrit or mosul. would you agree with that? general austin: i would. i take every opportunity to emphasize those exact points to the leadership in iraq when i engage them. >> it sounds like this airstrike the last couple of days in tik rit were conditional that can a consideration it is that correct? general austin: the operation
had to be in control of the government of iraq. there had to be a force -- once the city is cleared to maintain stability in that city, that force needs to be in iraqi security force and so those things, those conditions were met early on. in terms of the planning and the synchronization, and so we were able to provide some support -- agnus king: icu can argue that a lot of the proms in iraq or because of the maliki governments -- let's turn to afghanistan. we heard a strong, passionate speech from president donnie this week -- president connie -- president ghani -- i assume we are still in calendar status in afghanistan, even of the president is another state 2015, we are still talking about komul
only at the end of 2016. you believe that is going to be sufficient in order to support the afghans with whom we have made such progress. i would just hate to see us pull out in terms of air support authorities for air support, and train and train and direct services. give me your thoughts on that. general austin: i certainly agree that the new leadership and afghanistan causes all of us to be encouraged and optimistic, i think from what i have seen both president ghani -- reaching out to the international community, in terms of reaching out to the folks in the region as well, it is all encouraging. the relationships with the security forces, their support the security forces, their statements of common goals with the united states, i think are all very encouraging.
i think this gives us the opportunity -- new opportunities that we did not have before. we really have to thinkwe have to think about what we want our relationship to be with afghanistan going forward. -hope you will counsel the white house to think seriously about what i would consider a modest investment to maintain the tremendous gains. i hope you will urge that they need only those troops.
i think that is going to be crucial. carry that message, will you sir? >> thank you for being here today and to your staff. thank you for your many years of combined service to the united states. i would like to thank you for mentioning not only active duty forces but the reserve and national guard components. your operators and analysts is all one team and one fight. something else you brought up is stress and suicide with active-duty members and our veterans who got off active duty. it's important we consider not
only that they are physically fit for the fight but mentally fit as well. thank you for bringing that forward. a number of us are working on initiatives. i would like to address my question to the generals. last week was the 12th anniversary of our entrance into iraq. we had 4000 american servicemen and women who lost their lives in iraq, and we had another 40,000 that have been injured in that war. i want to thank you for your service. i know you have engaged at one point or another in the war in iraq. many of you will come home with not only invisible injuries but physical injuries that will impact your life for many years. before we entered into iraq, the
iraqi kurds were already engaged in preparing the battlefield before we ever got there. they have been an important part of our effort in iraq. i would like your thoughts and really what their role has been from 2003 forward, if you would address that. >> thank you, senator. i was with the elements in iraq whereas i didn't initially make it up to kurdistan, i can tell you what the kurds were doing in the north was very instrumental to our forces and facilitated
our work there. with our efforts in the current fight against isil, they have done a terrific job. i talked to the president and his staff on numerous occasions about what they were doing and what the requirements were and what they needed to do more. as you look at what they did in the north in terms of inflicting damage on isil, i think their efforts have shaved this fight in a positive direction. they continue to do more on a daily basis. they are a big part of this fight. they have punched above their weight class and will continue to do so. >> general hotel -- votel?
what's a key part has been the relationship with them. they were a key partner and help us address a variety of efforts. i believe a lot of it was the initial success we were able to achieve. we were able to get going very quickly in some areas. to me that highlights the importance of that long-term relationship. >> do you believe our resources would be best utilized if we were directly arming kurdish forces? general votel: that i believe is a policy question. i think they would make good use of any resources provided to them. >> they have an exceptional
force and are allied to our american forces in the region. thank you for your service and to the staff for being here today. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you for your strong testimony this morning. i want to begin with yemen. i was intrigued with the account about the saudi and other action in yemen and in particularly a number of partners that had been part of this. there is press report egypt is involved and perhaps more surprisingly pakistan and sudan. nine nation springing into action to deal with this threat. im gratified by that. i want to see a region that will stand up and try to deal with its own problems rather than telling us quietly they think it's a problem and not doing anything.
i think the gcc countries are naturally predisposed. they are really driving the participation. i would remind you, i know you are well aware of this, but the night we flew into syria for the first time we had five sunni led arab nations fly information with us, which is really unprecedented. we continue to see them offer support in terms of material support. they have offered to train and equip forces. throughout, they have remained with us in terms of flying
strikes against syria. they have continued to participate as they begin to focus on the yemen problem. we will probably see less of an effort in syria. >> you indicated you thought isil was our most trusting challenge but i ran was our greatest long-term challenge. all of these nations believe iran is the more pressing challenge, and they don't think of isil as the same kind of pressing challenge they view when they look at iran. general austin: i can attest to the fact that they do see eye soul -- isil as a pressing challenge. the geography associated with this is a direct threat to their
homeland. >> each of you work in the military but with partners. the intel agencies. there have been questions about the effects of sequester on the military. to the extent it affects your allied nations and special forces that is also an aspect we need to take seriously if we try to avoid challenges to national security. >> i agree. >> i definitely agree. >> the attack in tunisia was particularly troubling. a small country but kind of a bright spot in terms of how they have come out of the arab spring with the constitution, with islamic parties participating in
democracy, even stepping back from power. what is your observation about the newly elected government reaction to the terrorist attack at the museum? what is your assessment of how we can help them succeed? >> i think their response has been very effective. i think the military institutions are strong. they went through that transition, and we continue to work to build some capacities with our inter-agency partners. those elements were involved in that effort, and we continue to share intelligence with them and we will continue to build up their capacities to ensure they continue moving in a positive trajectory. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
>> thank you, mr. chairman, and gentlemen, thank you for your service. i want to let you know 10 years ago as a marine corps major i had the privilege of serving with general austin, and i can tell you he is one of the finest officers i have ever served with. i am heartened he is in this important position. >> he is not generally very nice to marines, so i am glad to hear that. >> i see he has one on his staff, so keeping in full tradition of respect with the marine corps, i appreciate that. i want to ask you a question relating to some clarification. one of the things i think is very important in congress and the military and the administration is to speak with language that gives our citizens a sense of what is really happening. one thing you hear a lot about now, the administration talks a
lot about winding down combat operations. we have ended combat operations in afghanistan. that has been stated several times. the president of afghanistan mention that in a joint session to congress yesterday. you also mentioned we have a robust ct effort. are we speaking on both sides of our mouth? isn't it the very definition of combat operations? don't we still have combat operations going on in afghanistan? >> counterterrorism with regard to counterterrorism it is a part of it.
>> aren't american soldiers when they are conducting combat operations in afghanistan isn't that the definition of combat operations? they are going in with weapons and killing bad guys, correct? >> we are not doing that today. >> there are no ct operations? >> there are but they involve not only enabling our partners who are helping us -- the conduct of discrete action we are taking like strikes specifically against threats and how we address the overall ideology and narrative aspect of this. >> our operations are not members of the u.s. military in action against military forces. general votel: we are not putting people in unilateral u.s. operations against forces on the ground in afghanistan.
we are supporting our afghan partners. we are doing other operations relating to those networks. >> i think that clarification is important because it seems to me if we have special forces operators in afghanistan in direct combat we said that the american people know. if you are saying that is not the case, that there is no combat going on, there is no direct actions against al qaeda operatives or anything else like that? what's i'm not saying there is no combat going on. i'm saying there is no unilateral u.s. combat going on. we are working through our partners. when we do operations on the ground. quest to have them on the ground in syria or iraq calling in missions. general votel: we have j tax
operating at command and control. they are not accompanying forces doing operations. >> you mentioned the government approach with regard to eye soul. i appreciate the fact you are focused on the military aspects of that, but what are the other instruments of power we are bringing into bear with regard to eye soul? i haven't really seen the administration -- to isil? i haven't really seen the administration address that area i know it's not your realm, but it would be hard to know what other instruments of power we are integrating to the fight with regard to defeating isis. >> there are a couple of important things that have to be done to defeat this enemy. the kinetic pieces one issue --
piece is one issue, but you have to do some things to cut off the ability to resource itself. starting the floor of foreign fighters -- both of those issues have to be worked by our government and they have to be worked in conjunction with other countries not only in the region but internationally. also, there is a need to counter the narrative so i think we have to do more there. i know there are some initial steps that have been taken to begin to do that, but there is a lot of work yet to be done. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, chairman. i want to thank the witnesses for being here. i wanted to ask general austin a questions about yemen. senator