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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 21, 2015 3:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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must back his words up with action. that hasn't happened. in fact, just the opposite has occurred. with the administration's attack on the religious freedom restoration act, to tax those who believe those in religious freedom and he is not attacking religious freedom. we have to do it here. we have an obligation to pass on to our children and grandchildren a country that has the same love for liberty and religious freedom as the one we inherited. but this won't happen on its own. we need to stand up and fight. with courage and conviction, fight right here and right now. thank you, mr. speaker. and i yield back. .
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i the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman wished to recognized. mr. moonyie: when the house adjourns today it adjourn to meet at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. under the speaker's announced policy of january 6, 2015, the chair now recognizes the gentleman from virginia, mr. buyer, for 30 minutes. mr. buyer: thank you, mr. speaker. -- mr. beyer: i recognize the accomplishments of mr. albert miller who passed away on sunday, may 10. he was a well-known political and community leader in the city of alexandria one of his crowning achievements was his work with the alexander redevelopment and housing authority protecting and expanding affordable housing across the city. he was a civil rights advocate, mentor, and beloved father. he was also a character, kind interested, ever present, honest hardworking,
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inspirational, and above all witty. mel was the person you wanted to spend time with. he grew up in new jersey but his heart belonged to raleigh, north carolina, where his alma mater st. augustine university is located and his adopted hometown of alexandria, virginia. graduating in history and political science, he remained deeply involved with the school but serving on the board of trustees for 35 years and encouraging alexandria residents to attend his beloved university. after earning his j.d. from howard's university school of all, he was admitted to the virginia bar and moved to compearnta in 1958. early in his life, melvin began the civil rights activism and community involvement by doing probona work on school desegregation issues. this work led him to join an underground association, officially named the secret seven, which met to discuss possible ways to advance civil rights and liberties in alexandria and the surrounding areas. this early local involvement led
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him to become a prominent figure in alexandria's education system and the authority and champion for affordable housing. melvin's work for the department of housing and urban development the alexandria redevelopment housing authority, helped provide housing programs for hundreds of compeancheda's poor. -- alexandria's poor. the ground crowneding achievement was between him and alexandria which had an affordable housing unit that was destroyed to match one for one for new developments. that stands untouched today. he was a tireless mentor for alexandria students and avid high school sports fan. he could often be seen and heard giving advice to local students and cheering at high school sporting events. he also served on the alexandria school board from 1986 to 1993 and then serving as board chair from 1990 to 1992. mel is survived by his daughter erica miller, his son, mark miller, and wife mary grandchildren, max, chris
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zachry, and bennett. daughter laney and a host of other hell -- daughter-in-law and a host of other friends. his wife of nearly 50 years passed away in 2011. she was also a tremendous advocate for education in northern virginia having helped create many programs supporting caregivers and young mothers and local high schools and nova community college. i offer my condolences to his family and all the people who have been affected by the loss of this amazing man. mr. alvin melvin miller -- albert melvin mill certificate a shining example of the effect one person can have on so many local lives. i hope his memory lives on as an inspiration for leaders to come. at his funeral yesterday former t.c. williams high school legendary coach herman boone ended with to remember the titan, melvin miller. i yield back the balance of my time.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from virginia rise? mr. beyer: i move that the house do now adjourn. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on the motion to adjourn. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is adopted. accordingly the house stands adjourned until 2:30
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ents with long waits is about the same and the number of patients waiting more than 90 days has nearly doubled. the administration needs to operate real long-term plan to fix the v.a. on iraq it's been a week now since isil fighters stormed ramadi, the capital of iraq's largest province. hundreds of innocent iraqi men women, and children have been exkited, dozens of u.s. supply tanks and military vehicles have been seized. the white house still insists that no new strategy is needed. said the president's policies have been a success. it just is incredible. things to change.
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a stable and sovereign iraq is vital to america's interests. as i told the iraqi prime minister when i was there before easter, i was embarrassed that the iraqis had to bring the iranians in to help them with fight in tikrit. the president is going to have to scrap his policies that aren't working, lay out a broad overarching strategy to defeat the savage terrorists. what does it look like? to start, instead of placing artificial constraints on our commanders, it's critical that we have a strategy that ensures that conditions on the ground dictate our approach. but i think security is just one piece of this overarching strategy. i think we need to bert engage in meaningful with islamic leaders to address the factors that are driving this radicalization. and we need a plan to combat isil's sophisticated use of social media and communications.
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it's a battle we are losing right now. and any overarching strategy has to put a priority on backing not ignoring america's allies in the region. in the house, republicans are committed to working with the president to ensure that our troops have what they need to carry out their vital missions. sadly, democrats continue to say they won't support a raise and pay for our troops until they get more domestic spending. so as we pause for memorial day to reflect on the great sacrifices made by those who wore the uniform, i hope they'll reconsider their position. after all, the american people sent us to washington to focus on their plyors, not washington's. lastly today is the -- priorities not washington's. lastly, today is the last day my press aide, mr. michael steel, will join me as he departs the capital after spending many
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years working in my office. i want to wish him -- say thanks for a job well-done and good luck. reporter: mr. speaker, could you respond to the hillary clinton emails that have been released to the press so far? did you see anything in those emails that troubled you or that you weren't aware of before? the speaker: i have not reviewed these emails. they are in the possession of the benghazi select committee. i'll let them look at it. reporter: senator cantwell is asking for a commitment there will be a vote in the house. has she contacted you -- the speaker: she has contacted me and i told her i would not make that commitment. reporter: mr. speaker, the white house has suggested it might be increasing support to sending troops and training new members of the iraqi military in iraq to help regain ramadi and other areas. is that enough to you to signal a new change in strategy? if not what else would you like
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-- the speaker: that's what we have been doing. if you look at the troops that we have in iraq, they are there for two reasons. to secure our embassy, and to train the iraqi troops. while we are training troops, i think their hands are being tied because all they are allowed to do is train. reporter: mcconnell did promise a vote on ex-imand you said -- the speaker: i don't believe that to be the case. reporter: something had to have been indicated. i think it seems like you and mcconnell, with the patriot act and other issues, kind of working in parallel universes. the speaker: no, no. that's not the case. i have my issues here in this chamber. he has his issues in his chamber. i've got 435 members who have their opinions. and he's got 100 members who have their opinions. nothing new. reporter: could you explain the difference of opinion on fisa? the speaker: i do think that
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there's a big disconnect in terms of how they view our bill. and i have been surprised by it, but at the end of the day we have to work our way through this issue and i'm confident at some point we will. reporter: can i follow up on that question? because the senate republican leader's, they feel like they have a good shot of passing their straight extension. you're going to leave town while they sort this out. if that's all they send to the house, will you pass it on june 1? the speaker: the house has acted. time for the senate to act. if they act, we'll take certainly a look at what they do and make a decision about how to proceed. reporter: on ex-imyou said you would not guarantee a vote. do you think the bank will expire or do you see a pact to maybe having some type of renewal? the speaker: the only commitment i made was to chairman
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hensarling that if the senate sent a bill over, that there would be an open amendment process in the house would be allowed to work its will. that's the only commitment that's been made. there are a lot of options of what could happen. we have to wait and see. reporter: have you had any time to review -- the speaker: no. i have not. reporter: the state department -- conversations between cuba and the u.s., do you know if the congress is moving to try -- [inaudible] to remove cuba from the countries that sponsor terrorism, do you think it's time to -- the speaker: i do not think it's time to remove the embargo. from what i have watched over the last two or three months, when it comes to cuba, the administration keeps giving and giving and giving, but the cassor brothers are doing nothing.
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when you look -- dastor -- castor brothers are doing nothing. when you look at their record of human rights violations and how they run their economy into the ground. it's time for them to come forward. there are conversations in the house about what we can do to stop the president's actions. i had a meeting this week with the members who were interested in stopping this progression toward normal retions with cuba until such time as they begin to make serious changes in terms of the way they run their country. reporter: what's your understanding of what happened at the n.s.a. and elsewhere if congress doesn't come up with some kind of solution before the deadline? the speaker: i would refer you to the dodge -- d.o.j. letter that came out yesterday? reporter: what are your concerns? the speaker: the house has actedment time for the senate to act.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] ms. pelosi: good morning everyone. as congress proceeds with its agenda it's important to observe what is happening under the formula of trickle-down economics failed republican approach and middle class economics, which is there to turn our economy around by supporting bigger paychecks for the middle class. this week republicans continue to double down on their trickle down priorities at the expense of the middle class, with the latest completely unpaid for permanent deficit exploding tax measure. yesterday $182 billion for an
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unpaid permanent r&d tax credit earlier it was $269 billion. $269 billion. more than a quarter of a trillion dollars for 5,400 families estates, in america. 5,400 families benefit over a quarter of a trillion dollars to pay for that tax break. combining the 269 182, and other little some here, some there, we are now past $600 billion, adding $600 billion to the deficit in unpaid for permanent tax measures. really this is not trickle down. this is turning into a real storm practically. a tsunami on the -- that
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hardworking families in america have to pay for. it also presents us -- prevents us from making the investments that we need to make to continue to be number one. at the same time, the republicans would -- contending this is about r&d, we are all for r&d tax credits. our innovation agenda a few years ago, which became the competes act we said we had to modernize and make permanent r&d tax credits, but to do so in a responsible way. we tried yesterday in the motion to recommit to have this apply to small businesses, start-ups, which it does not. so how could it be that on the very same day that they are adding $182 billion to the deficit that they at the same time are ransacking the competes
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act which is about research and development? their bill that they have put on the floor attacks science and surrenders u.s. leadership and innovations. i feel very personal ownership of the innovation agenda and the competes act. it is one of the first major initiatives we passed upped president bush and he signed the bill. the republican leadership in the house opposed it, but we got a majority of the republicans in the caucus to support the bill. it's a great bill. now, what they are doing -- what they did yesterday cut energy efficiency and renewable energy r&d by $496 million, nearly 30% below last year's appropriated levels. cuts arpa-e, that is a very significant initiative. arpa-e, by $140 million. 50% below the level in the energy and water appropriations
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bill. signed last week. past last week. yesterday they got -- passed last week. yesterday they cut 50% out of arpa-e 50% lower than what was in the bill last week. they tried to silence climate denial and environmental and social science republicans. yet they just don't want to hear about all of that. and now they are adding, as i said $600 billion to our deficit. it really does violence to our ability to invest in the future and hardworking american families. for example, on monday marked the 50th anniversary of president johnson signing the head start act into law. a landmark commitment to our children's education and the future of our nation. if republicans have their way in their budget they have proposed in their budget, they will cut $421 million and 46,000 children from head start.
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tax breaks to 5,400 families to the tune of a quarter of a trillion dollars. we have to explode the deficit by $182 billion without really helping start up companies and ransacking all of our research and development bill, and now we are taking $421 million out of head start. in contrast to that perhaps you were there, this week, democrats put forth a strong start bill. it expands head start and early learning programs, so important. funded preschool for children below 200% of poverty and created an innovative 10-year partnership to expand and improve early and full day learning. anyone can tell you that this earliest childhood education is very important investment with a very big payoff. but we are cutting it by nearly
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half a billion dollars. the same time they are apparently unable to plan for their future of our country in another way. the ex-im bank's charter expires on june 30. just 16 legislative days from now. this ex-im bank sustained 160,000 export related jobs just last year. created and sustained 1.3 private sector jobs since 2009. and with no cost to the taxpayer. and yet they have said it is corporate welfare and they are not going to pass the ex-im bank. hopefully whatever's happening on the floor of the senate now will come up with a compromise and initiative to send a bill forward. again, while we are givingway
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all these tax breaks and all the rest we cannot have a highway bill unless you can come up with a pay fors for it. $182 billion unpaid for their r&d, $267 billion to 5,400 families unpaid for. and now they are saying well, we can't have a highway and transit trust fund unless we can find the payfors. and while the -- they took over the house since 2011, the ways and means committee has not had a single hearing on financing. the highway trust fund. the highway bill. not one single hearing. again, we need bigger paychecks, better infrastructure for every hardworking family. so monday is memorial day. we remember what has been given up to protect our country.
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they died to keep us free, to make us free. it's really a very solemn, unifying occasion. and we are so grateful to all of our men and women who risk their lives, the families who made the supreme sacrifice a very special day in our country. any questions. questions? no questions. ok. reporter: a couple days ago speaker boehner called on president obama to essentially reset on the authorization for use of military force. said that the president needs to come up with a new strategy to fight isil, isis. what was your reaction to the speaker's comments? what do you think about the debate going forward in the congress? ms. pelosi: for nearly one year we have been asking for the congress to take up the authorization of the use of military force. in the summer we were asking the speaker, can we do this, come back in september? can we get ready for this?
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the speaker said no. he wasn't going to do it before the election. we'd have to wait. and then we had to wait because he said it has to be an initiative, the president should put something on the table. the president did. we discussed this before. three areas of decisionmaking. the geography, how extensive it is in terms of geography. the timetable. how long is this authorization for? and the scope. what is the definition of the scope? the white house put very clear authorization on the table for us to act upon, to a congress to make -- work its will, to expand or limit in any of those categories that will add them. so the idea it should be after the election it's well after the election, the initiative should come from the white house. it has. how could it be that all of this is happening and congress has refused to have this
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conversation on the floor of the house? so i don't know what's different about what the speaker said. he has said the president should put something on the table. the president did. reporter: the powers he has with the 2001 aumf. ms. pelosi: then congress can act, can repeal those. congress can act. the congress can say we think this geography's too broad or narrow. the timetable is too short or long, and the scope is too aggressive or not aggressive enough. and if he thinks that that -- existing authorizations that are there should be repealed, then act upon it. act upon it. i don't really quite understand why they are saying you have more authority because we gave it to you. and we can take it away.
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but i don't know the continuation of that sentence. i think the ball is definitely in our court to take up this issue and to make some decisions as to how we go forward. there should be an authorization for the use of military force as we go forward. it's long overdue. every timeline and every requirement that the speaker has asked for has happened. now it's up to us. yes, sir. reporter: madam leader, do you have a reaction to senator paul's talk-a-thon on the floor of the patriot act? ms. pelosi: i missed the whole thing. i know. that has happened. you use the term talk-a-thon because it clearly doesn't
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qualify as a filibuster. but what i would say is that what we did in the house was a very positive nonpartisan, bipartisan initiative, the freedom act. when you can bring conyers and goodlatte and sensenbrenner and nadler together as co-sponsors of the bill, and a strong vote 338-88. some people opposed it and i don't have an objection to some of senator paul's objections. but where is his bill? move something forward. go to conference. as you know our bill ends government bulk collection of metta date -- metadata. that's a good thing. it replace it is with a new process that requires the government to get approval on a case by case basis with the court record, a fisa court order before asking phone companies for specific records. it strengthens privacy and civil liberty protections. we always want more in that regard but it doesn't -- it makes great progress in that regard. it increases transparency through a panel of amicus briefs
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legal and technical experts, to provide guidance on privacy and civil liberties technology, etc. these are bipartisan -- nonpartisan in their nature. both sides of the aisle have these concerns about civil liberties and privacy. and it also enhances public and congressional reporting requirements and requires declassification of fisa court opinions. so this was, again, -- do we want more? do you think we can build upon that? certainly. but to have nothing? if we have nothing in just a matter of days this friday? this weekend? then all the metadata collection will stop but without a replacement for how we can, with a court order get the information. i'm not a fan of the metadata collection.
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i'm so glad that our bill will end that. i would say put something on the table. go to conference. get something done. yes. reporter: madam leader, what are your lauts on uam? -- uaem ambassador, what are your thoughts about him and how often do you speak with him? ms. pelosi: i don't speak to many ambassadors. for a reason. there are really a lot of them and i couldn't do my day job. it would be a wonderful ceremonial thing to have the benefit but really, you can ask the speaker the same question. we have this conversation. it would be its own full-time job. appreciate your question.
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reporter: cuba and the united states there are two requirements from the cuba first one is off the list of sponsors of terrorism. can you identify any movement within the congress to try to block the imposition? and also regarding the embargo. cuba insists that the congress should lift the embargo. do you know any movement within the congress to try to remove the embargo? yesterday there was the senate meeting where some republican senators were very strong -- ms. pelosi: that action on the part of some senators in the senate. i will say this, i salute the president for his courage in going forward in terms of trying to normalize relations with
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cuba. since his announcement and that of president castro in december had been there on a could he dell in cuba and the excitement in cuba about the prois -- co-dell in cuba and the excitement in cuba about the prospect. i think that the president made the right decision to remove cuba from the -- it changes its name all the time. terrorist, countries of concern, rogue nation, whatever that list is. i think you made the right decision to take cuba off of that list because they are not engaged in the activities that would warrant them being on it. the deadline for action in the congress to overturn the president decision and announcement is may 29. no, i don't see -- i don't see everything, but i don't see anything that could be accomplished by may 29 to overturn the president's decision in that regard.
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in terms of the -- i almost said blockade because when we were in cuba they kept calling it a blockade. it's not a blockade. it's an embargo. a blockade is different. they kept calling it that. there was some sentiment by some of the leaders we met with in cuba that the president had the authority to lift the embargo. he does not. that is an act of congress that requires an act of congress. i have not myself been involved in any of the activities to lift the embargo, but i would certainly be very supportive of them as they materialize. because it is really important for us to lift it. i hope that on the part of cuba it's not a requirement to normalizing relations with the united states. it's something that normalizing relations could lead to lifting the embargo. but it's a relic that has not been useful and has certainly --
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it's time for the embargo to go. we are going to have a complete conversation on cuba we -- the speaker will be coming in here in a minute. i think guantanamo should be closed. if you ask me should be returned to the cubans, i'm not getting involved in the details of the negotiation. i think guantanamo should be closed. reporter: madam leader, the n.s.a. question, it's important not to have nothing. the senate republican leaders pretty confident they can defeat the house bill that passed and they have a two-month extension on the table. would house democrats back a straight two-month extension if it appears that could come right on the deadline? the house isn't back until june 1 which is the deadline. ms. pelosi: they should face reality and come up with a bill. why are we having a two-month glay? is this a surprise to anybody over there that this is happening?
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really has to act in a more timely fashion and substantive way. i don't know -- we had a large number of house democrats who voted against us, 43. it was half and half, 88 votes. 43 democrats -- that would make 45 republicans voted against the extension. i think people just want to say act your will upon this or come up with your own bill. what is two months going to get us? what's going to happen in two months? what is two months going to get us? what is two months going to get us? what is the point of going to two months? all these two-month things, all of a sudden in two months of which half of it we are not even here, they are going to come up with a bill. just do it or take a look at this bill and again make your suggestions on how to change it. but this was a very important
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bipartisan -- piece of bipartisan piece of work that was done in the house. it addresses the different aspects of it. the nature -- ending the collection. what replaces it. where it's domiciled. considerations about privacy and civil liberties. it's a very fine bill. what part of it don't they like? write your own bill. or amend it. or do something and go to conference. but we get really kind of impatient with these two-month formulations as if something is going to happen. what's going to happen in two months? they are going to extend it for another two months? i think we have to have some certainty to the extent that we can in how we go forward, whether it's a highway bill, whether it's a freedom act as
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this is called. whatever it is. the two-month excuse is -- is that even enough time to get anything done? if they were on the verge of a bill, it would be one thing. so i lose patience with the two-month timetable. i think i have to give up the room because the speaker will be here right now. you can ask drew. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> saturday night at 8:00 eastern, editorial cartoonists, including "doons bury" jerry trudeau discuss their role as satirists. here's a look at some of the program. >> papers a form of -- quality
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control. you're still being effective. everything you do, you must be doing something wrong. >> it shows you're still dangerous a little bit? >> or that you touched a sore point for that particular community. not only smoking mr. butt strips made it into north carolina papers. when i wrote about frank sinatra i went dark in las vegas. jerry brown, same thing in california. so there are going to be regional -- most recently i did something about jeb bush and the dallas paper threw it out because it was too political. too political. the man's running for president. >> doonsbury's gary trudeau is joined by molly crab apple which took place three months after the terrorist attack of the charlie hebdo magazine in paris. saturday night at 8:00 eastern.
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islamic state militants today moved to take over the entire syrian city of palmyra. "time" magazine writes this puts isis in control of more than half of the country's territory and it raises fears among experts that its sliders will begin slashing ancients sites. palmyra's ruins date back centuries. on capitol hill today, two retired generals said the administration's current strategy on isis in iraq and syria is not working. retired generals john keane and derek harvey were among the witnesses before the senate armed services committee. this is about 2 1/2 hours. >> the committee meets today to receive testimony on u.s. policy in iraq and syria.
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i want to thank each of our expert witnesses for appearing before us today on this critical and complex topic. senator mccain: before i go any further, the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint chiefs were invited to appear admittedly very short notice, and we will be asking them to appear after the recess is over depending on whether the bill is on the floor or not, but we certainly would like to hear from the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs. today we have general jack keane, former vice chief of staff for the army and chairman of the institute for the study of war, and general keane, we are pleased you could take time from your duties on fox news to being with us today. dr. fred kagen, who is -- that's a joke. dr. fred kagen, -- kagan
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director of the critical threats project at the american enterprise institutes. colonel derek harvey, u.s. army retired, director of the global initiative for civil society and conflict at the university of south florida. and bryant who is the senior fellow at the center for american progress. i point out for the benefits of my colleagues that general keane and dr. kagan were key elements and the individuals who went over to the white house in 2006 to talk to then president george w. bush concerning the need for a surge. that the strategy in iraq was failing at that time and they were two of the major architects. and i know they give credit to many others, but two of the major architects of the surge which turned out to be a great
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sacrifice of american blood and treasure. a success. the black flags of isil are now flying over yet another major iraqi city, ramadi, the capital of iraq's anbar province. and reports overnight suggest that isil controls the syrian city of palmyra as well. this hearing does not -- is not about the fall of any one city as important as those losses are, but rather what it's revealed about the limitations of an overly constrained american air campaign. the weaknesses of iraqi force, the growing maligned role of iran and it ineffectiveness and inadequacy of u.s. military support for iraqi and syrian partners. but most concerning it highlights the shortcomings of the administration's indecisive policy inadequate commitment, and incoherent strategy. this misguided approach has failed to stop if not foster the
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expansion of isil to a dozen countries. the loss of ramadi once the symbol of iraqis working together with brave young americans in uniform to defeat al qaeda must be recognized as a significant defeat. isil's victory gives it the appearance of strength and boosts its ability to recrew more fighters while reinforcing iran's narrative that only it and its proxies can rescue iraq. the fall of ramadi and capture by isil of american supplied military equipment is another setback for the united states and further undermines our credibility as a reliable strategy partner in the region. -- strategic partner in the region. yet the obama administration seems unwilling or unable to grasp the strategy -- strategic significance. as isil terrorists ransacked ramadi the pentagon's news page ran a story with the headline,
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quote, strategy to defeat isil is working. secretary of state john kerry said, ramadi was a mere, quote target of opportunity. two days ago when a review should have been well under way to correct an incoherent strategy that is woefully underresourced, the white house press secretary said are we going to light our hair on fire every time there is a setback? i would point out for my colleagues that maybe his hair isn't on fire, but there are bodies on fire in the streets of ramadi as we speak. the disas trer of ramadi should lead to a complete overhaul of u.s. strategy. the president has stated, quote our goal is degrading an ultimately destroying isil. but neither strategy nor resources support this goal. our efforts in iraq may actually be aggravating the conditions that gave rise to isil in the first place by relying on brutal iranian backed shiia militias and insufficiently empowering
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sunni iraqis. at best this increases iran's maligned influence. at worst it reinforces isil's rhetoric that it is the only force standing guns violent sectarian iranian backed militias. sunni iraqis that we think we support iran and shiia iraqis think we support isil. but the situation is far worse in syria. the iran backed assad regime together with iranian proxies like hezbollah continues the slaughter that has killed more than 200,000 syrians and displaced 10 million more despite this tragedy, the administration has defined its policy in syria more by what it will not do rather than by the end state we aim to achieve. although the u.s. military is trained and equip program for moderate syrian forces is finally providing assistance to the fighters, the administration
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still has not decided whether it will defend syrian opposition against assad's barrel bombs upon their return to syria. refusing to support the forces we train is not only ineffective, it is immoral. while it is still unclear what president obama's willing to do in syria it is clear our partners do not draw confidence from statements of what we will not do. ramadi's fall should lead our nation's leaders to reconsider its indecisive policy and incoherent strategy that has enabled isil's expansion, undermine regional stability, strengthen iran, and harmed america's credibility. what we desperately need is a comprehensive strategy, decisive application of an increase but still limited amount of u.s. military power, and a concerted effort by the iraqi government to recruit, train, and equip sunni forces. this will require discipline thinking, clear priorities, a strategy supported by adequate
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resources, and most of all the leadership and resolve of the president to succeed. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on these important questions. senator. senator reid: first let me thank the chairman for calling this timely and important hearing, and also thank senator nelson for acting as a ranking member today. mr. reed: i have two appropriations committee, one appropriations committee, but bank committee markup and i apologize can i not be here. with that, with your permission, mr. chairman, i'd like to yield to senator nelson. senator nelson: thank you, mr. chairman. what i'm going to do is just put my statement in the record so we can get on to it. what you underscore is certainly accurate. the fall of ramadi what is the government going to do? do they have the capability of getting sunnis to come in and
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take up the fight against isis? and so we need as you-all testified to us, how far are we along in implementing the counter isis campaign in iraq? what has the government done to empower the sunni tribes to resist isis? and what does ramadi mean about retaking mosul? and will these events force iraq's political leadership to overcome their differences in their attempts at government? so with those questions thank you, mr. chairman. senator mccain: thank you, senator nelson. one of the historic places on
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earth and this is being threatened now. we know what isis does to these antiquities. we are about to perhaps, unfortunately, see another destruction and obviously irrepolicible historic -- irreplaceable historic her taje site t would be another great tragedy along the lines of the destruction of the buddhist statutes years ago. welcome to the witnesses and general keane, we begin with you. general keane: thank you, chairman mccain and ranking member reed and senator nelson. distinguished members of the committee. appreciate you inviting me back to testify. was here a few months ago dealing with global security challenges facing the united states. and i must say i was pretty impressed with the bipartisan support for the challenges our country's facing and the way you are willing to work together to come to grips with it. i wanted to be here with my
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distinguished colleagues. onously i know fred kagan very well. long and close associates. as much as fred and i may have had impact on the previous administration in changing their strategy, and there were others working towards that end as well harvey sitting here was the katjalies for understanding the enemy. he was pushing against the intelligence group think that existed at the time. and he defined that enemy better than anybody did in this town. and that was the beginning of understanding what was happening to us. why it was happening. and what fred and i thought we could realistically do about it. i'm honored to be here with all of them. i got some maps up there you may want to use to get a reference. it's always good to see where things are happening to understand the scale and magnitude. approximately nine months ago the president announced the
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united states public policy -- senator mccain: could you give me a second. i don't think we have -- general keane: approximately nine months ago the president announced public policy that along with our coalition partners, the united states would degrade and ultimately destroy isis. weeks later he changed destroy isis to defeat, more appropriate term. a strategy was crafted to accomplish this objective which consisted among some things as humanitarian assistance, undermining the isis ideology, counter the finances, providing military assistance to our iraqi partners to include air strikes into syria and assist in the iraqi government politically to move toward a more representative government, which actually obviously led to a change in governments. i cannot address undermining the ideology and finances in this testimony. it's beyond my expertise. while there has been some
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progress and some success looking at this strategy today we know now that the conceptual plan is fundamentally flawed. the resources provided to support iraq are far from adequate. the timing and urgency to provide arms, equipment, and training is insufficient. and as such, we are not only failing, we are in fact losing this war. moreover, i can say with certainty that this strategy will not defeat isis. as to the concept isis who is headquartered in syria recruits, trains and resupplies in syria, controls large swaths of territory in syria, and you can look at your map there to take a look at that. to include the entire euphrates river valley in syria from iraq to the tirkish border. it connects now to the euphrates river valley which leads to the suburbs of baghdad and currently
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expanding to the west as far as damascus, and they just seized, as the chairman mentioned, palmyra city and air base in central city -- syria, aligning the central east-west corridor from iraq all the way to homes in the west and syria. and yet and yet we have no strategy to defeat isis in syria. we have no ground force which is the defeat mechanism. yes, we have airpower and despite the success at kobhani and yes we have degraded isis command and control in syria and we have killed many isis fighters, but airpower would not defeat isis. it has not been able to deny isis freedom of maneuver and the ability to attack at will. syria is isis' sanctuary. we cannot succeed in iraq if isis is allowed to maintain that sanctuary in syria.
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we need a strategy now to defeat isis in syria. as you can see on the map that deals with the global rings, take a look at that many isis -- on that isis map, isis is expanding beyond iraq and syria into sinai, yemen, libya, and afghanistan. this is where they actually have people on the ground and they have actually provided resources and they have actually have a contract, written and signed, with the people on the ground who are affiliated with them. and they are also inspiring and motivating radical sympathizers throughout the world which are depicted in that map on yellow as we are painfully aware of in europe and the united states and australiaa -- australia. yet there is no strategy with our allies to counter that expansion. i would go further to say there is no strategy to counter the destabilization of the middle east. as to iraq, it certainly makes sense to assist iraq in
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reclaiming lost territory and avoid deploying u.s. ground combat units. however, isis, despite some setbacks, is on the offense. with the ability to attack at will any place any time and particularly the fall of ramadi has exposed the weakness of the current iraq strategy. it is more than just a setback. politically, the administration deserves credit for helping to usher out the maliki government and bring the new government in. however abaddy is isolated, undermined by maliki who is still and remains a nefarious character and others within adadi's own party. he's unduel influenced by iran and the united states is not nearly as consequential as it should be. a u.s. objective should be politically to reduce iran's influence. we need a focused diplomatic and
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political effort with the abadi government with the best people we have available to do it. militarily, clearly the iraqi army is a serious problem. while somehow have fought heroically, many have not. there are serious leadership discipline, morale, and competence issues. this will take time to fix. but if we believe that iraq is important to u.s. security, then we must help them fix it. and it will take many more trainers and a much more concerted effort to put in the best leaders available. the sunni tribal force is almost nonexist inter. yet we -- nonexistent. yet we cannot reclaim the sunni territory that has been lost, particularly anbar province and mosul, we cannot hold the territory after we have reclaimed it if we do not have a sunni tribal force. the abadi government must
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authorize this force and the united states should arm equip and train it. they must know that the iraqi government and united states is behind them. right now they know the iraqi government is not. their families are being killed by the hundreds, eventually by the thousands, and they are disillusioned by the united states in terms of its lack of support. the they are skilled, will, they will fight. they need arms and they need advisors down at the fighting level to assist them with planning execution and call in air strikes. the shiia militia a largely protecting baghdad. most of what isis owns is sunni territory. if we use the shiia militia to reclaim that territory and hold it iran has undue influence in iraq as a result of it and the sunni people will suffer under the hand and gun of the shiia militia. we must in fact reduce their influence. the role of the advisors, advisors are only at brigade
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headquarters and above currently. this is flawed. advisor teams must be with the units that are fighting at least at the battalion level which is what we did in the past so successfully. advisors as the name implies helps units plan and executes and also builds their confidence in themselves. they are also forward air controllers and can direct airpower as well as attack helicopters. the war in iraq is largely close combat urban warfare which demands the bombs be guided from our airplanes to the ground by people on the ground. 75% of the sorties that we are currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target. forward air controllers fix that problem. special operation forces direct action teams.
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should be employed not as an exception, which is what we successfully saw this last weekend in syria with the raid, but routinely in iraq and syria against the isis leadership and critical infrastructure. similar to what we have done in iraq and afghanistan in the past during the surges, when fred and i were there, as well as colonel harvey, we averaged the surges in iraq and afghanistan, we averaged somewhere between eight and 10 of these oopprations a night. -- operation as night. when a raid was taking place in pakistan there wra nine going on in afghanistan that very night. we should also do large-scale raids. what does that mean? we should use elements like rangers to conduct attacks at night over critical infrastructure that kill isis fighters who are difficult to dig out with airpower at altitude. these are surprise attacks.
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they are not intended to stay. they are in and out maybe one night we stay at the most a couple days depending how much of a fight we are getting into. we desperately need enablers to assist the iraqi security forces. this is crucial support that helps them succeed on the battlefield. what is it? robust skpwens capability. we have some -- intelligence capability. we have some but we must ramp it up. increased u.a.v.'s, not assist airpower which we are currently doing in terms of surveillance but to assist ground forces. that's a different application and it's a different type of u.a.v. we need attack aviation. that's apache helicopters. and we need other helicopters to assist the ground forces. c-is 30 transports to move troops and supplies and other logistic support. and we need increased u.s. command and control headquarters to help control the increased of trainers advisors, and others that i'm suggesting here. obviously what i am suggesting
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is increased u.s. political and military involvement in iraq which begins to shore up many of the weaknesses of the current strategy. while i believe we can still do this without u.s. and ally combat brigades, it is much more difficult now than what it was nine months ago. . i believe we have to to some serious contingency planning for the introduction of ground combatbury gadse both u.s. and allied. finally, we need to get past our political psychosis on iraq, which is defined by the requests, should the united states have gone into -- by the questions, should the united states have gone into iraq in 2003? should the united states have left iraq in 2011? while they were crucial u.s. policy decisions, there is -- and there's much to learn from them, and we have we've got --
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we've got to get past it. isis is much more than iraq. our forces should be what the -- our focus should be what the president started out with, defeating isis. that will take political will, and war is a test of will. it will take accepting risk. it will take accepting casualties. it will take focus and it will take increased u.s. resources -- resources and it will take honest evaluations and assessments. what i fear is this -- i hear a disturbing and frightening echo of the summer of 2006, when administration -- when a different administration, senior government officials, and military senior generals came before this committee and in the face of compelling evidence that our strategy in iraq was failing, these officials looked at you and defended that strategy and told you that overall the strategy was
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succeeding. you and your predecessors took a strong bipartisan exception to those opinions. many as a result of it wanted to give up on iraq. others wanted to do something about fixing the problem. i hope you choose the latter and get on with helping to fix the problem. i look forward to your questions. thank you. senator mccain: dr. kay began. -- dr. kagan. mr. kagan: thank you for calling this hearing and thank you to so many for attending. it shows a concern about this problem in this committee that's hard to detect in the rest of the administration. i'm grateful to the committee as always for the opportunity to speak, but for the attention it's trying to focus on this problem. i receive every day a superb
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daily rollup of activities in the region, produced by the team. i can't read it all. it's too long. it's too long because the region is engulfed in war. it's sort of hard to tell that from the isolated headlines that pop up and fade away, but we -- this is the regional war. this is the beginning of the regional war. it can get a lot worse, but this is a war that is becoming a sectarian war across the region. it is a war between saudi arabia and iran, fought largely by proxies but now dismayingly, also directly. there are some people who think it's a good thing that the saudis and others are acting independently. i would suggest that they take a look at the historical efficacy of saudi military forces and ask themselveses if they think that's a reed we want to rest
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our weight on and i think we can focus too heavily on what the iraqi security forces are doing or not doing, as we have in the past. they're not doing enough, prime minister abecause dee is in a box. we have helped put him there with our policies. so it's not sufficient just to look at and criticize what the iraqis are doing. we really do need to look in a mirror and look at what we are doing or not doing. as i follow the daily reports, i see a coherent eni strategy across the region. i see deliberate enemy operations which you can actually depict on a map, and i commend to you a terrific report called "isis captures ramadi" which has an old-fashioned military style map which shows isis maneuvers because they are
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maneuvering. this is not a terrorist organization. this is an army that's conducting maneuvers with a great deal of skill. it is not an accident that ramadi fell other the weekend and palmyra fell yesterday. it is not an accident that there were isis attacks in -- that and at the refinery, that there were threats against the pilgrimage in baghdad and then rah mue dee was attacked and taken. this was a coherent campaign plan, and a very intelligent one, very well executed. this is a serious threat. what i can't discern from the daily operations, let alone from the statements of the administration is any coherent american strategy to respond to this threat. and i want to talk about the threat for a minute. isis is one of the most evil organizations that has ever existed in the world. we really have to reckon with
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that. this is not a minor annoyance. this is not a group that maybe we can negotiate with down the road someday. this is a group that is committed to the destruction of everything decent in the world and the evidence of that is the wanton destruction uncalled for even by their own ideology, frankly, of antiquities thousands of years old that represent the heart of the emergence of human civilization in the west. this is a group that sells captives into slavery, it's a major source of financing for them actually. s that group that engages deliberately in mass rape. this is a group that conducts mass murder. and this is a group that is calling for and condoning and supporting and encouraging lone wolf attacks and it will soon, i think, not be just lone wolf attacks, in the united states
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and the west. this is a group of unfathomable evil and they are extremely effective and have a degree of military capability, not terrorist capability, that we have not seen before in an al qaeda organization. this is not something where we should be spectators. this is not something where we should just say, as some people do well, just let them kill each other. this is unacceptable. from a moral perspective and from a u.s. national security perspective, to just watch a group like this succeed in this way. i want to make a point that any criticism of the white house today, at least from our side, is perceived as a partisan attack and i want to make the point that if that was the case, i must have been a democrat in
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2006. because we were attacking the bush administration with the senator -- with the chairman and a number of other members of the committee, as aggressively or in fact more aggressively than we've every critiqued this white house. the fact is, what matters is that the strategy is failing, as it was failing in 2006, only we were in a much worse strategic position today than we ever were in 2006 because it's not just iraq. i note that, to speak of the issue of urgency, the iranians seem to feel a certain sense of urgency about this as well. and their minister of defense, general dagan was in baghdad over the last few days, signing defense cooperation agreements, ostensibly, but surely working to coordinate iranian support on the ground. the foreign policy advisor to the supreme leader was in damascus and beirut talking with
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bashar al-assad, no doubt coordinating plans to, i assume, maintain and increase the military deployment of hezbollah forces in syria and possibly ask assad what his plan is given the circumstances. those are very senior leaders. i don't notice that we have sent senior leaders of that rank or anything close to it to speak with prime minister abecause dee and of course we have no one to speak with, effectively, in syria. senator nelson asked about what this means for the counterisis campaign. it means the campaign that has been described by the administration and our general officers is completely derailed. i do not blove that there is any reasonable pross -- believe that there is any reasonable prospect that it will be possible to retake mosul this year. enge the fight for ramadi will be hard enough. i think that these operations in
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and around ramadi demonstrate that the iraqi scufert forces at current levels of u.s. support are not capable even of defending their territory against determined isess attack let alone clearing a major isis safe haven. so we are -- our campaign strategy is completely derailed, in my view. i think it was a campaign strategy as the chairman pointed out, that was of limited likelihood to be successful in any event because it addressed only part they have problem and left a major safe haven effectively untouch. but such as it was, it's over. my colleague, derek harvey, will speak in -- will speak in more detail about what kinds of troops are required. i agree with general keane and i'm willing to put a number of the -- on the table, i think we need 15,000 to -- i think we need 10,000 to 15,000 troops to
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have necessary forces in the area. and i think we need to do that. i think otherwise we're looking at an isis state that is going to persist. we're looking at an isis state that is going to continue to govern territory, that is going to continue to have resources that we simply cannot afford to let an evil enemy of this variety have. i think it is a major u.s. national security priority to respond to this. especially as it's become clear that it's beyond the capabilities of the iraqis. lastly, i want to make two larger points that are directly relevant to this committee. one is you cannot argue for a forceful strategy in iraq and defend the sequester. our armed forces have been seriously damaged by the sequester. it needs to be removed immediately. in fact, the armed forces budget needs to be increased significantly. we are at war whether we like it or not and the longer this president refuses to address it,
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the worse it's going to be when we become engaged. we need to be preparing for that now. lastly, we need to be strengthening our abilities to collect intelligence and not weakening them. this is not the moment that this -- to dismantle our capabilities to see what our enemy is doing. this is the moment to be engaged in wise reform of oversight of the intelligence community and so it is ironic that one of your colleagues spent yesterday arguing for the elimination of a program important to our national security. so i think there are things that the administration can do and things that congress can do but it's going to be a tough fight. i thank the committee for listening to me this morning. senator mccain: colonel harvey. mr. harvey: senator, members of the committee, thank you for
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having me here. i want to begin by focusing on the islamic state and the trends in iraq. i believe that even before the fall of ramadi, the best that could be said is that baghdad was holding the line. even with the success in tikrit there's great difficulty in holding that terrain. even in areas that have been cleared earlier in northern diyala province, isis has worked their way back in. they changed their profile, went to ground and now they're infiltrating back in and conducting atacks and rebuilding capabilities. over the past month, they've continued to do shaping operations in the baghdad area, western baghdad, and one day, just a couple of days ago, they were eight i.e.d.'s and several small arms skirmishes in baghdad itself that, that's to say nothing about what's going on in abu ghraib and other areas around the belt of baghdad. they continue to hold the line
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along the kurdish front north in the anyone ve area around -- in the nineveh area, and they've expanded successfully in other areas, particularly syria. they're very good at shaping operation. they are taking advantage of their entiror lines of communication. they are well armed, well resourced and well lead. i think the fall of ramadi should lead to questions about the progress asserted by the pentagon and the administration. there are two strategically important sunni ashe cities in iraq, mosul, the second largest city, a former ottoman capital andra mahdi, the capital of the largest -- and ramadi, the capital of the chargers province. the full of ramadi renews the sense that isis has momentum which is important for rallying sunni ashes who may be on the fence in this fight and could aid with foreign fighter recruitment and some funding.
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with all of -- without an alternative, sunni ashes -- ashe tribes and peoples in the region, without someone to protect and lead them, are going to fall into the camp of the islamic state, particularly as this campaign becomes increasingly polarized and the movement of shia militias, popular mobilization units into anbar province will contribute to this polarization. i fully expect that the islamic state in the near future will try to conduct operations to further inflame this fight. that is part of their major strategy, to polarize this fight between the different communities. now i would note that isis has many challenges and weaknesses but the problem is that isis is not losing. i believe that the u.s. has continued to underestimate the islam exstate, which i suspect shows a lack of understanding about the islam exstate its capabilities strengths, and weaknesses, and how it sees the
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fight and a path to victory. we've seen this story before. it's like deja vu for me. we focus too much on our own activity, our own programs, our own budget, but we're not focusing on the impact on the enemy and the enemy has a vote. from public statements, we're not looking at the right things. and the metrics and measures that are asserted by the military, the pentagon are not really appropriate. the number of air strikes is interesting but irrelevant. what is the effect on the enemy? and its capacity to fight? stating that isis has lost 25% of the territory it conquered is interesting but not really relevant because isis did not control eastern saladin or some of the other areas, because they're still there. they're contesting and rebuilding and they're shaping. so that's a false metric that's been put out. striking oil infrastructure in syria is a good thing. it's been degraded but the enemy
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has a vote. it's -- their efforts -- their efforts there are have been complicated, they've reduced production but they've adapted and creatively, they've developed miniature mobile refinement capabilities even using blow drier air heaters to make refined product. it is crude, yet it's a sophisticated adaptation. crude is still going to turkey and they're reproducing enough fuel for their own requirement. they're still learning millions of dollars every month from oil in syria. it's been degraded but i think the lower cost of oil on the markets has had just as much of an impact as any operations we have conducted and again, they have adapted. the same for funding and foreign fighter flow. they are still very resilient and adaptive in working around the actions that have been taken and the actions that have been taken on foreign fighter flow and going after finances have
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been weak and not very assertive, not well resourced and i'll talk more about that. isis is excelling at a hybrid war. they're fighting conventionally if needed, they're adapting and they're employing terrorist attacks, coercion, assassination, subversion as necessary depending on the terrain. it is showing that it can hold key terrain, fight hard, and synchronize operations across space and time. and they respond with the tactical and operational advances as we saw in rah mue dee. they are effective and -- in ramadi. they are effective and well led. they are skilled, and they have professional quality leadership and command and control, and they know the geography, they know the terrain and they know the human terrain in these areas very, very well. they are ruthless and they are committed and determine. they are exhibiting the will to fight. they're fighting for power, they're fighting for ideological
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region -- reasons, but for many sunni ashes angered about their condition in life, they are fighting for their land, their families and their future. they are not motivated by a hard line anilingsist agenda but they're fighting anyway because they're fighting for their own lives and their own future. and they're fearful. there are many sunni military age males to date who have not taken sides in this fight. it's just a matter of time if this polarization continues and we let this drag on that isis will gain more and more recruits. from the iraqi population base. the iraqi fight with isis is not dominating by foreign fighters. this is a homegrown fight. we have to keep that in mind. isis, as fred mentioned, maintains operational freedom in moat of -- most of the sunni
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provinces and they appear strongly because importantly, relatively, their opposition is very weak. now, the sunni ashe political and tribal leaders are weak and divided and seem as -- and seen as illegitimate by many within the sunni arab provinces. too many sunni ashes are on the fence, they've been given no reason to come onto the side of the baghdad government or to come to us. prime minister abecause dee's government is weak and divided and is increasingly undermined by shia opposition. same for the iraqi security forces that are small, weak, poorly resourced, and not well led. and it will take far too long to train and rebuild them to make a difference this year. moreover i assess that there's a concerted effort to undermine the efficacy of the iraqi security forces by shia militias iranian proxies and some members within the government. particularly some members in the ministry of interior.
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they seek to weaken the iraqi security forces and provide alternative institutions of power that they control. and again, the coalition is weak and we can talk about that, but there's not a lot of allied cooperation and resources put into this fight. lastly, the u.s. lines of operation for the most part have been poorly resourced, both in theater and at the interagency level here in washington, d.c. i do not see the urgency or the resourcing within treasury or the intelligence community or others to really energize and aggressively go after this fight in this region. so although u.s. air strikes i believe, have complicated the isis operations, the air campaign has not been decisive. it's been relatively small and limited and the islamic state,
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as i mentioned, has been adaptive and creative. importantly, they remained well armed and well resourced and our lines of operation be it counter finance, counter foreign fighter flow, delegitimizing the brand, the training and building of the i.s.f. and the military campaign at best appear disjointed poorly resourced and lack an effective framework to bring it all together. i think we need to relook this and with that, i look forward to your questions. mr. mccain: thank you. mr. catullas. mr. catullas: thank you mr. chairman senator nelson, senators. mr. chairman, your efforts to raise our national security debate have been incredible and everything that the members of the committee have been doing. i have been very important for our country as we look at the
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world and not just the middle east. mr. chairman, i prepared written testimony, with your permission i'd like to submit that for the record. mr. mccain: without objection. mr. ca -- -- mr. katulis: what i wanted to do this morning with my remarks is try to complement their insights with my own work, which is looking at the dynamics within the region and strategic dynamics and the problems of isis and syria within that. mr. chairman, you said at the outset beforehand that you'd like to discuss concrete steps. while i give my analysis of what i think is happening in iraq syria, the region and more broadly, i'll offer some ideas that i hope we can discuss some of which i think members of the panel have proposed in legislation.
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the way i see the challenge, and i don't disagree with much of what was said here earlier, the challenge of isis, i think, operates on three different levels or three concentric circles. the first is iraq and syria, obviously. that's where the devastation has been astounding over the last few years. and many of the steps, i think, that have been proposed here in terms of security measures and security cooperation measures is something that i frankly, it's a little outside of my expertise to evaluate. i look at the political and strategic dynamics. but i do think inside of iraq, no matter what we've done or what we do, in the coming years every type of security assistance should be implemented with a close eye to internal political power dynamics. at this stunning moment, and what happened in ramadi i think should shock everybody, we should keep an eye on these measures of what we need to do to help our iraqi partners on the security front but understand what we have learned
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over the last 10 years plus is that the political dynamics are terribly important. in those regards, what i think we need to do, and the obama administration needs to do, is hold the iraqi government accountable for a lot of the ideas that have been discussed in terms of arm suge nee tribes, building a national guard. if you look at what the obama administration did last summer, and i was -- i'm a supporter of this somebody, using security -- of this measure, using security as a -- as leverage to get a different type of government, we need to continue that process. when the police in ramadi were not being funded, when concepts like the national guard were still stuck in parliament, it makes it hard for any number of u.s. trainers to actually do their job if those mechanisms aren't in place. second, i think we need to start entertaining, i know people are discussing this, the notion of
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greater decentralization inside iraq, greater decentralization of authority. some of the proposals people have discussed about mechanisms for getting arms to sunni tribes or kurdish forces. i think we should consider that and balance it against the overall objective of trying to keep iraq together. the second component obviously is syria. and this in my view is the weakest link in the overall approach in this first circle. mr. chairman senator keane many others have highlighted this but we need to do something about this. the gap between the obama administration's stated goals and what we're actually doing to shape the veerment on the ground is alarming. in my view, we need to accelerate that which the administration proposed and you funded. the training and equiping of third way forces. we need to link these efforts to the broader regional dynamics. what's happening in syria right now is a complicated engagement
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by actors in the region. if you see not only isis' gains but the gains of al nusra al qaeda's front, these gains don't come from in where. they're being offered support by actors in the region. the main thing is, the end state in syria, often described by the administration in ways that our tactics don't link up with what we want to achieve. but the overall point in this first circle, iraq and syria, which i hope you take away and i think we need to discuss some more is how do you link these problems and how do we address them? what worries me is quite often we look at a challenge in iraq, or a corner in iraq, but don't link it to the broader problem of iraq and syria. last summer, isis effectively eroded the borders between these two countries. what we've had other the last year or so is a debate over a series of different tactics some of which have been implemented and some have not.
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enge if we can all bring our thinking together to talk about how do we actually have an integrated strategy that focuses on isis, both in iraq and syria. on the second level, the regional level and here i hope we can think a little bit more about this but for essentially the last four or five years, the middle east has slipped into a period of fragmentation. not only has iraq and syria -- syrian state structures collapsed, we have seen syria and yemen feel this strain it's a struggle between the regional powers, iran and saudi arabia but there are other actors too. much of it is sectarian but the conflict is multidimensional. it is multifaceted. our resources matter but iran, saudi arabia, others have been funding their own proxies. and what i think is missing in terms of the u.s. leadership on all of this is accounting for all of these efforts. how do we actually better
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organize and come up with a better strategic conception. essentially since 2003 and the iraq war, when we made the decision to move from a strategic posture of dual containment of iran and iraq, i think we've been struggling for what is our overarching strategy in the middle east. we made some gains at certain periods as was noted in the surge in iraq in 2007-2008. but the picture of what is the united states trying to do in the region i think, still, that question has not been answered. i think the obama administration rightfully has taken some positive steps in the right direction. the building of an anti-isil coalition that has 62 countries in it, including key stake holders in the region is an important opportunity, one that i don't think has been fully seized yet by the administration. its engagement in that coalition effort has been ep sod ex. in february, we had a counterering violent extremism summit and the questions of what then after the summit, i think,
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remain unanswered to a large extent. just last week was a very important summit with the g.c.c. nations and i think an important communique. as with everything in life and with this administration the followup is going to be very important. the commitment in syria and iraq, there needs to be implementation. finally, one last point on the equilibrium point is the question of equilibrium in the broader region. the obama administration often speaks of its engagement with iran and diplomatic engagement on the nuclear front as an opportunity to achieve some new type of equib librium in the region. i share that aspiration but we need to be clear-eyed about how hard that will be at a time when iran, when other actors in the region, are actually investing in a number of different proxy wars. we need to be clear about how realistic that is and what we're
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trying to do. and on the final point,en the international level, and i'll close here, quite clearly this problem of isis is connected in ways that the problems that derek and general keane dealt with in the previous decade it's much more complicated by the fact that you have more than 15,000 foreign fighters flooding into and perhaps the number is higher. what i would suggest at the international level and our analysis is that the debate about isis is terribly important but it's moving very quickly. the debate that many people are having on syria right now is the fight between al nustra and isil and a number of different actors. 14 years of after 9/11, nearly 14 years if you look at the broader landscape beyond iraq and syria, iraq and syria as the epicenter, this new trend toward jihadism is something we haven't wrestled with. we need to widen the landscape
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and keep focused on it to assess what we're doing and whether we're apply regular sources to meet those threats. in conclusion, i hope the events of the last week or so, and i hope our discussion today is a constructionive wakeup call to move from what i think has been a largely reactive crisis management and somewhat tactical approach to the problems that not only over the last year or two but over the last decade. i hope the events can mote rate all -- motivate all of us include you with your lead ship, to draw toward the source of unity. it reinvigorates our sense of purpose because as derek and others have described this is a dangerous adversary. we have not yet created that strategy to actually defeat them and we can. thank you. senator mccain: could i mention to my colleagues, a vote is on. if you'd like to go and come back, please do so. i'll try to continue the hearing, i may have to pause,
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but i know that you have questions for the panel so maybe we could work it that way. however you'd like. and i'd like to begin by picking up a little bit on what mr. katulis just said. this is the whole idea of the perception of iran and what the prospects are because it seems to me that -- and the necessity to be clear-eyed about it because it seems to me that one of the reasons why we are not acting more aggressively against bashir assad has got to do with this idea or in my view illusion, that once we conclude the nuclear agreement, there will be a whole new relationship with iran in the middle east
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which my conversations with our friends in the sunni ashe states scared the heck out of them and so maybe i can ask the panel about, it seems to me in my view that it is a real impediment to any real significant action in syria. for example, the free syrian army, what little areas we are training we have not told -- the administration has said there's no policy yet about when we send these young men that we are training back into syria, whether we would protect them from bashir assad's barrel bombing. it seems to me that there's a degree of immorality associated with telling people you're going to train and equip them and then not protect them from being killed when they go back in and
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that they are only to fight isis and not bashir assad. the father of isis. so maybe begin with you, general keane, because i don't think that americans are fully aware of this contradiction here. mr. keane: i agree in principle with what you're saying. just so our audience and the committee can understand, we may forget that early on in the move against assad, the momentum was on the opposition force's side. many in this town were predicting the regime would fall. senator mccain: there was testimony before this committee by the secretary of defense and joint chiefs of staff. general keane: they needed arms specifically antiaircraft weapons to deal with conventional military, they were stuck with rifles, machine gun
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r.p.g.'s and the like. that early encount for the 2012 was denied, late 2011, early 012, and then the c.i.a. became convinced that we could actually vet the free syrian army and i will say that the institute for the study of war had some impact on provide them information that assisted them with that conclusion, and general petraeus would admit that as the director at the time. he presented a briefing to secretary clinton and panetta and dempsey, general dempsey and they agreed with him that this force could in fact be armed, equipped and trained robustly. but the administration did not do that. and tragically as a result of that, the free syrian army now is a mere shadow of its former self.
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it is frankly -- there's frankly not much of it left. senator mccain: and could i add in desperation isn't it true they've joined forces with al nusra, an alchi affiliated orlingnyization? is that true? general keane: organizations that were part of their organization have broken from them. they were -- islamic organizations, not radicalized, and they have joined with al-nusra who has gain master's degree territory, is more aggressive an has had more success against the regime than any force-out there. so that is true. what we're doing is, and i know the committee has been briefed on this, we're attempting to train 5,000 people that have become part of the free syrian army but what organization are they going to plug into in it's totally disconnected because the free syrian army is not fighting isis. they don't have the wherewithal
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to fight isis and the regime. they're fighting the regime. so we're training forces that will join free syrian army in theory and indeed they will fight the regime forces. it has nothing to do with isis at the moment. that's how flawed the strategy is in sir yasm it makes no sense. we don't have a ground force. and the chairman suggests, doesn't make any sense to train these forces, arm them and equip them and provide them leadership and then put them back into the fight against assad's conventional military which will bomb them and attack them with conventional artillery mortars barrel bombs and the like. that strategy in syria is flawed. and obviously the only way that isis will eventually be defeated in syria is with some kind of ground force. our allies in the region are
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suggesting to us we're not agreeing with them is that what we should do is stay with assad, change the momentum against assad by shutting down his air power, using no-fly zones and buffer zones to achieve that end, and that change in military -- in momentum militarily on the battlefield can shift the political equation to get some kind of settlement. now listen, that's arguable whether that's acheeable or not. but sitting here and doing nothing and permitting this to go on, i think that's quite irresponsible in terms of the humanitarian catastrophe that's taking place there and also that isis is expanding and gaining in strength in syria every single week and month. so the syrian strategy needs to be thought out, it needs to lead to a situation where we have our ashe -- where we have a coalition of ashes in the region and possibly the turks participating also and they
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would likely ask taos participate in a coalition to deal with isis and syria. i do think we should listen to them about dealing with assad and that regime first in some limited capacity to change the political equation. senator mccain: i'm going to have to vote, i would like to hear from the other witnesses senatorerness, if someone isn't back after you, we'll take a brief pause. >> thank you gentlemen, for being here today. i apologize that i had to step out. but i do agree with the panel that we need a comprehensive strategy. right now there is no strategy. senatorerness: as an element --
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senator ernst: over the past couple of months i have been advocating for the administration to increase support to the kurdish government in iraq to fight isis. i believe this is a commonsense proposal considering the peshmerga's willingness to fight. they're willing to fight. in close combat. and it is truly unmatched by any other group in that region. in the fight against isis. the kurdish people have been vital in supporting our coalition efforts to defeat isis and in providing support to around the 1.6 million displaced persons from iraq and syria and also for the past quarter century, iraqi kurds have proven to be reliable partners by supporting u.s. interests every time that we have sought their appearance -- their assistance. i have spoken with many of the men who have served in that
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region and they always state what great allies the kurds have been to them in our fight. so they are proven to be great allies of ours. earlier this week former c.i.a. and n.s.a. director general michael hayden once again spoke for the need to increase resources in the fight against isis. on tuesday general haden said, i -- hayden said, i would double down on the kurds, their military has the virtue of showing up when it comes to a fight and they've been our friends in the area for decades. i would tend to agree with him. but i would love to ask each of you to please explain that, you do agree with general aden's assessment or if you disagree, and maybe why. so general keane, if we might start with you. thank you. general keane: yes certainly aagree with that. the problem we have, and they told you and they've told
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others, that they're not getting the kinds of arms that they need, the quantity of those arms are not there. we're passing that through the iraqi government. we probably should have continued covert program we did have with passing it through the c.i.a. and we probably would have had them armed by now if we did it robustly. but they also need adviseors. when they're fight they need coordination with air power to make their ground operations that much more effective. i would say this, as good as the kurds are they have also limited interest in what they're willing to fight for inside iraq. and they certainly are not going to participate in reclaiming anbar province and other parts of iraq system of yes, we have to do what we should for the kurds but we also need to recognize that a lot more needs to be done with others as well.
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i leave it to my colleagues here who have more information than i do. senator ernst: dr. kagan. mr. kagan: we should certainly help the kurds defend kurdistan, no question about that. and we could be doing more than we are. but the kurds cannot retake ashe iraq on behalf of the ashes. -- retake arab iraq on behalf of the arabs. i don't want to put the kurds in the category of shia militias because they are not, nevertheless if you saw large kurdish forces in mosul for a long period of time you'd find you would have an ethnic war on your hands. that would not be in our interest and would make room for isis or its successor to come in. so i don't think the kurds could actually do what we need them to do even if they wanted to. i would only add that although i agree that we should, that the
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kurds have been reliable allies, fighting on the ground against our common enemies they have been less than help nfl bad dad repeatly and they still are being somewhat less than helpful than they might be on a number of issues including demands for oil revenues and vare other things. i do believe we should assist them in their defense but i believe we should use that assistance as leverage to try to get the kurds to think a little bit more about the interests of iraq as a whole from a political standpoint than they sometimes do. senator ernst: thank you. colonel harvey. colonel harvey: i agree with what has been said on this issue. i would add that the sunnis along the fault lines last tremendous amount of past grievances and thing there is, we have to be careful how they would be employed. that's about making sure that there are red lines bt how far
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they could go in coordination, where they are willing to fight along the frontiers where the islamic state controls land. we do not want to further polarize these communities more than they are already. but ampling them effectively and developing a mechanism to accommodate baghdad's interests about knowing what's being delivered but making sure it gets delivered, we have to figure a way to get that done and coordinate but deliver those weapons that are going to be very important to the defense of those kurdish lands. senator ernst: thank you. >> there are several points -- mr. katulis: several points. the k.u.p. and p.u.k. having separate lines they have to have different divisions. the second thing, you have actors in the region, including us, beyond us, regional actors who have offered some support
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and sometimes it's been blocked by baghdad itself. there's sensitivities to even the proposal because it leads to questions of are you trying to break up iraq? and we need to be careful in the presentation of that, relevant to iraq, syria, and the region more broadly. the other reason they invest in subnational actors for the benefit of trying to defeat terrorist organizations like isis, there's advantages to that. oftentimes they're more capable as we seen with the kurdish peshmerga. there's a potential long-term disadvantage to it in that the fragmentation of states could accelerate. if we're working in the short-term to defeat threats and to deal with counterterrorism issue, but the building blocks we're putting into place actually then contribute to what i've seen especially in syria. and again, i'm not arguing against it it's just a potential downside risk in the
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long-term. the notion that weblingd further inadvertently accelerate the fragmentation of state entities. senator ernst: thank you very much. the idea -- where i'm coming from we have no strategy in that region. not one that's been communicated clearly to any of us. i think establishing at least a safe zone, i do agree the peshmerga, their interest is only in kurdistan. it is not moving out into the rest of iraq. i understand that. but at least establishing a safe zone within iraq that is free of isis is a step in the right direction. i think we need to think about that, we need to pursue that. but any thoughts on where, just your idea of where the administration needs to go at this point? i still see some reluctance coming from the administration on admitting that isis continues
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to expand, not just within iraq but also globally. any thoughts on what we need to do or how we can work with the administration on developing this strategy, one that will work? >> i would -- mr. katulis: i would focus on what i work on. the fact that the anti-icisco ligs has five working groups, one on counterterrorism fund, on foreign fighters and stabilization and others, i would suggest those mechanisms are a great template but also they've not been used effectively. going back to the point i was trying to make in the region, i think it's wise to actually try to channel the resources and the efforts of others to much more constructive ends. we often debate about what we do and i think we need to do more. that's clear. i think we need to lead.
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but using these mechanisms in the anti-isil coalition more effectively, having more followup on things like, we often think it's soft but it's not. the countering violent extremism efforts, it's not sufficient to me to have a one or two-day conference without a clear, precise followup. i mean, i think they're talking about it, but we need to have great clarity to our regional partners and knowing those in the coalition of, this is what we're going to do. in the way that general kembings ane and eric and dr. harvey have talked about in military steps. we also need a campaign that's multifaceted in those regards that nests at its core what we do but in partnership with others. senator ernst: yes, sir. >>ic given the president's strategy i don't think those were ever given an opportunity to succeed. even though i thought they were insufficient to the task last
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summer when he declared them, they have not been adequately resourced, organized or executed to date. mr. harvey: again, as i said in my opening statement that's here in washington, d.c. at the interagency level as well as in theater. so if we're not going to be determined to achieve results and have leadership that drives the interagency and make this is a matter of urgency and criticality to the united states, then we're not going to get where we need to go. you need to first be determined to achieve results. two, we need to think about some core objectives here. one, we can fight isis and still contain iran and seek to achieve an independent iraq that is not a client of tehran. in order to do that, we need to support sunni ashe ebb gaugement and political inclusion. without adequate force structure
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on the ground and commitment, you cannot get out there and engage with the sunni ashes, you can't move around the battle space, and they won't believe you're serious unless you put enough skin in the game. and to do that, we're going to need in my judgment, about 15,000 or more enhancement of u.s. force structure in theater. and to do with what general keane said, we immediate probably twobury gadse, we need aviation, mixed aviationbury gade. you need some artillery, you need enhanced direct action soft operational capabilities to -- for direct action. direct action brings you the intelligence, which you then share, and allows you to go after those networks. the islamic state has not been stretched across this large perimeter it has along the syrian border. they have tremendous vulnerabilities but they have had the initiative because they
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have not been pressed along that large frontal area that they have. senator ernst: to be clear, you are stating that you believe 15,000 additional troops and auation assets to directly engage isis as a combat -- mr. harvey: i want them to be there for direct action of the operations forces, indirect actions, advisors embedded with iraqi security forces or ministry of interior elements in a way that gets us on the ground and can bring in our capabilities. i'm not advising that we put troops on the ground in combat outposts in ramadi, clearing streets and communities and neighbors in a direct action way. we need to be out there enabling and providing support for sunni ashe tribal militias helping
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them grow and develop. that gives us influence that can reach into the political domain and the provinces but also in baghdad. it's hard to have influence if you don't have skin in the game. senator ernst: i agree with that but i would also state, any time you engage more of those types of troops on the ground, you may say it's a train and assist mission and that may be heavier on the assist mission but we are engaging in combat at that point. i don't think there's any way you avoid that and i don't want to mislead the american people because certainly there is danger any time we put troops on the ground. so i'm -- so i'm not saying i would support or not support that measure, but i do believe that you are correct, sir, and that we do need to engage, if we expect others to engage, we know that the air strikes are not doing it. so thank you for that perspective. >> senator i want to second
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what derek said and agree with him about the need to deploy forces. i know that derek also does that. it's the purpose of talking about train, advise, and assist in this context is not to imply that american troops are not going to be in combat, of course they are. mr. kagan: i think the point is, we are not anticipating putting americanbury gadse in ramadi and having them clear house to house the way we had done previously, that's not what we're looking at. i have to say, we as a nation are defeated as as long as as we do not have the will to fight this war. and i would asets right now, we seem to be showing we do not have the will to fight this war. until and unless the begin -- beginning with the president, there is a demonstration that we have the will to fight, we are going to lose this war. and so what congress has to do,
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what we all have to doe do, is find any way that we can to persuade the president to own this fight, recognize that it's a war, to recognize that we must win, and to help develop the will among the american people to fight this. >> the only thing i would add is that you do have to look at this strategically. the world trade center 1993 was the introduction of radical islam against the united states not using proxies as the iranians did in 1980. mr. keane: that was followed by embassy bombings in africa, the u.s.s. cole and 9/11. to date, we've gone through three administrations and we've never developed a comprehensive strategy to deal with it. we're sitting here today without one. despite all that killing. despite all of the aggressiveness and assertiveness this enemy has shown, we have
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always looked at this narrowly and it's tragic that we do. we're more sophisticated than that. yes, the solution is right in front of us. when you look at this map, look -- this is just isis. if i put al qaeda on the map it would be worse. this is a regional and global problem that can only be solved by those countries who are being affected by this. either directly or indirectly. this is not about the united states dealing with all of this. this is about the united states when we're hosting a conference like we just did as opposed to shaking hands and slapping everybody on the back which we did, we should have hosted a conference that came out with a strategy on what to do with this. plans on what to do with this. what is the level of contribution that's going to deal with this? we don't drop that strategy. together we can design a comprehensive strategy that does underline -- undermine the ideology, that does take their finances away, and that does meet this threat militarily
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where it needs to be met. we cannot do this by ourselves. we have no comprehensive strategy to deal with radical islam to include isis. we have no strategy in the region to deal with the morphing of radical islam as defined by isis and al qaeda and we certainly have no strategy immediately to -- effective strategy to deal with this issue in iraq and syria. i agree with you, that's the stark point that we should have to deal with this problem and then you start to put underneath that, those things that make sense and we've got to bring our allies into this in a very cohesive way. we have their attention. iranians are forcing their attention, isis is forcing their attention at the spread of al qaeda. we have to help them organize to do this effort and bring the means to deal with that and not all of that is kinetic and certainly most of it is not united states military power. senator ernst: yes, thank you
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very much. you brought up iranian influences and since i've come into the senate, i have been very, very concerned about the iranian influence with shia militia. and here we have the shia militia pushing back against isis and i would love to hear a little bit more about that iranian influence with the shia militia. where do we go from here, assuming that we do take care of isis? the shia are controlling areas but their intent, i think could easily turn against american influences, american soldiers that might be on the ground there. so as we look at arming the shia militia, if we talk about that, engaging with them, just remembering that they are being influenced heavily by the iranians and what would your thoughts be on that.
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>> senator, i'd like to say, i don't think the iraqi shia are the problem. and there are elements in the popular mobilization forces and so forth that i think are not pro-iranian and do not desire to be governed by iran. dr. kagan: and of course this is the view of the grand ayatollah and the people who follow him, that iraq is arab country and they don't want to be dominated by persians. however the most effective they are part of the iranian military, the corps reports to the commander of the kurds' force. there are reports to the force. and we have seen this repeatedly.


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