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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 22, 2015 1:00am-3:01am EDT

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all law enforcement, saying stay on the lookout. because clearly this kind of activity will get a response. when it was noticed that these individuals were missing, that information was sent to the task force in dallas about him specifically. that information -- i have been critical of the fbi in the boston bombing and not sharing that information. the fbi did its job and a properly share that information with the police. i understand what you are referencing, that there was breakdown in further communication beyond the part of the local. >> we were never informed -- rep. mccaul: police officers were advised of mr. simpson. mr. cook: are there any lessons
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to be learned from that event or is that just the way that system works? are there lessons to be drawn? rep. mccaul: they were all on such high alert, they came out with their van and they were automatically taken down. they were kind of waiting for them. if there was any breakdown i could analyze, it is that, typically, the argument is that they would share information. in this case, the fbi did. it would be an issue of locals sharing it with their counterparts. the model, when it works well, works well. sometimes you have breakdowns. i went say it broke down in that case, but if there was, it was on the part of the locals.
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>> is there any reason to think that these guys were activated ordered it to do this? or was itself inspired? rep. mccaul: it is a matter of semantics. what they were trying to do was activate through calls to arms over the internet. they identified the contest, and they went to their followers on twitter, and this is the do age of terrorism, where they send out a directive, and hope that out of those thousand people they will get one person to sign up. mr. cook: we are about halfway through. paul, aaron, anna, shawn daniel. >> can you talk a little bit about your business in iraq?
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was he -- the prime minister -- acknowledging how bad the situation there was? giving assistance to the kurds? was he asking for more time? rep. mccaul: he is a shia. he asked the administration for more military assistance, and my judgment was not given that so he had an issue. in our state department, we were over there. we were very much against the idea of bypassing baghdad and funding, arming the peshmerga and city tribes, because they thought that goes around baghdad and undermines the central government, therefore undermines the unity of government, therefore splits up the three
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different kurds, shia, sunni state. that was a state department line. the speaker, a sunni, the speaker of the parliament, had a different version. they would like to see more direct funding. with the kurds and peshmerga mosul -- they want -- what they see is these weapons we are sending go through baghdad, not given to the peshmerga, the kurds, or to the sunni tribes, but rather the shia militias. from their perspective, they see the prime minister as a proxy of the militia. the militias are a proxy of iran.
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they completely inflame and disenfranchise, which is very contrary to what we did, where we would bring these tribes over to fight al qaeda and iraq. right now, the strategy is now working that way. it is pushing them away. just two days ago, they were saying -- with the shia militias here, we have leaders staying out of the fight. i see that as a real political disaster. there is a diplomatic peace to this -- piece to this, that is a failure of the administration. they don't have a choice.
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>> is the prime minister in denial about that? rep. mccaul: they are incapable now of defeating isis. he feels like he has to bring in the shia militia, but they are not getting that -- the kurds and peshmerga are not helping as much as they should. there is a greater issue here -- the arab nations have a responsibility. they are never going to go into syria and iraq to fight isis, as long as they know they are helping assad. as long as assad -- look at yemen. operating freely in yemen, that
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is all right. they are al qaeda, but they are sunni. been saudi arabia wakes up -- we have a problem. until we find a safe exile for mr. assad that can bring in a more stable form of government i don't know if we will ever get the arab league nations in. they could put a fighting force in there, a ground force, but they will never commit to that if they think they are helping assad. >> there is growing concern about terrorist threats to the -- talking about backing up the system with transformers and an expensive process. do you think it is threatened in
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any way and what should be done? rep. mccaul: it is always vulnerable. this -- on the internet, you can be completely safe if you disconnect yourself from the internet. cyber is an ever evolving threat. i think the legislation -- it passed in my community -- gives us another issue. that has bipartisan support. the president would sign it. what it does is we make homeland the lead civilian portal to the private sector. 80% of it is the private sector, making sure -- across private
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sector lines. only then can you patch or networks and have the keys to lock the door. that is not happening right now. in particular, the private sector is not happy. the only thing that can make it happen is to provide protection. they are not incentivized to share with dhs. if they don't know they would be protected. we provide that. it had broad-based support from private sector and the chamber of commerce, and also privacy groups. we think it is the right place for this information sharing. dhs can't prosecute you and it
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can spy on you. it is the outreach to state, local, and private sector infrastructure. we feel that will go a long way to help protect our power grids, our financial institutions. every day, russia and china -- with the sony attack, it happens on a monthly basis. sudden warfare is a serious concern. they could shut down the power grid. now even the cyber jihadists are getting in. mr. cook: erin kelly. >> what is happening with your lawyer security -- is that something you want to come to the floor soon?
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rep. mccaul: i still wanted to go to the floor. the criticisms were that it didn't have interior forcing. my committee was comprised of a political compromise, isis within dhs has jurisdiction over that. there were criticisms -- judiciary has no marked out and passed their bill, so mr. gimlet and i had a discussion. they want the homeland approach bill out of the way because that is creating problems. the bogeyman, so to speak, is not in the room anymore.
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i think -- the number one issue is when are you going to get border security? i think we are to the american people being done. i see an opportunity -- i talked to the speaker about it. they are trying to galvanize members, a countermovement to at least start the process where -- let's put the border security bill on the floor and get that passed out of the house. mr. cook: maria. >> i was going to ask about security -- i have texas questions. i wanted to follow up on what senator sessions, one of your problems last time, i know he is in the other chamber.
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since this is my one shot, i want to ask you about the five texans running for president and if you are supporting them. [laughter] rep. mccaul: there are five of them now? [laughter] >> jeb bush, native texan, carly fiorina. rep. mccaul: i will take the first question. >> he runs the christian movie studio or something. >> [indiscernible]
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rep. mccaul: first of all -- yeah. i set down with him in good faith and explained -- it wasn't what was in my bill, it was what wasn't in my bill. i explained to him what wasn't in my bill was in judiciary's jurisdiction and i explained jurisdiction to him. i hope he understands that now. now with goodlatte's bill out there, it would resolve the issues that he had with the bill. but i know that there -- people want this done. every day i have members on the floor coming up to me, saying we need to get that bill on the floor. it is not easy.
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to think it would be an easy thing to do, but people raise all sorts of issues. you can never pass a board of security bill. my concern is not immigration, it is a security bill, first and foremost, to protect americans from the threat. back when i was at counterterrorism prosecutor, even back then. i saw the potential threats. terrorists today are always on the road. you have a lot of bad elements coming in -- drug cartels, a lot of bad actors. the people down there, coming to work, they will be on the violent side. the president is right -- it is
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way too early. i will tell you what i would like to see -- someone who can unite and not divide. there is a lot of division going on. i like more of a reagan type person, not being a polarizing divisive figure. i would also love to see someone with experience. i am not going to go through the litany of names, but someone with experience. the number one issue today is national security and foreign policy, and that will be the issue front and center in front of clinton, who will tout turk credentials as a foreign-policy expert, but if we don't have a guy who was nominated who has little to no experience in foreign-policy, how can we possibly take her on?
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>> you spoke about the iraq -- about iraq and the forward operating bases to the syrian border. you have become a student of this war, given your expertise on the committee, and i would love for you to paint a picture of that. we have been at this war for 10 years -- should it be another 10 years? just as long as it takes to get this done, because it is such a priority? how much blood and treasure is worth that? i would also like to ask you about the jade helm exercise. it was last month -- rep. mccaul: taking over texas right? [laughter] >> the government was worried about those troops.
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rep. mccaul: it is a great question. there was an isolationist movement from even in my party prior to isis. if they hadn't be headed the american journalists, i'm not sure the american people would even be paying attention. but that is the demise. it is hard to sit back and watch a force like that grow. intent on killing jews christians, latin americans, jordanian pilots -- that type of barbarism, and the potential for -- it can't be left to fester. i am not an isolationist. as a nation, we have gotten into
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trouble and i think churchill was right. you have a policy of appeasement, weakness invites aggression. i think it is a mess. we want the problem to go away -- and the question would you do anything differently had you known today? the right question is -- would you have pulled out precipitously, not negotiating status of forces, if you knew what you know today? by doing that -- germany, japan, korea, we didn't have that in iraq, which i think was responsible. -- was the responsible. yeah, we should not have done that. if we had a residual force in iraq i don't think we would be talking about this.
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we beat al qaeda in iraq, and all the constituents died over there, we beat them, and we left the stable country. it became destabilized because of a lack of engagement, by withdrawing completely, by not engaging maliki. clinton went to baghdad one time in her tenure as secretary of state, for three hours. that shows you the level of disengagement in iraq. and that, i think, created isis. >> do you think -- would you say another tenure, that we should just stay there as long as it takes? rep. mccaul: we are not some monolithic giant. ramani was pretty scary.
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if we came up with a military strategy, a political one that was aggressive and serious about destroying and defeating them, not containing them, that we could do this in short order. we did it with al qaeda in iraq. isis is very similar to what we saw with al qaeda. the problem is -- destabilization of that region not only matters in the middle east, but also in northern africa. in places like saudi, they don't understand the foreign-policy, why are you letting the muslim brotherhood -- they think it is my decision and it is not.
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there is no certainty and foreign-policy. with that, there is a lot of confusion, a lot of destabilization going on. you have failed states destabilized, becoming power vacuums. i agree -- that will be a great national debate, probably in the 2016 election. i do think most americans see isis for what it is -- one of the most evil forms of barbarism we have seen in our lifetime. mr. cook: i'm sorry -- >> did you talk to the pentagon? rep. mccaul: i am a big supporter of the u.s. military. [laughter] >> what does that mean? rep. mccaul: our united states military is not our threat, isis is our threat.
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>> senator cornyn, your former colleague, proposed a deal where it would transition more slowly. the data would go back to the foreign countries more slowly over two years, and there would be safeguards built in to ensure that that is working, that law enforcement can still get that data quickly. perhaps a requirement that phone companies hold onto data. it sounded like a pretty reasonable offer, given senators prior positions. do you think a deal can be reached around that fairly quickly, so if there is any expiration -- rep. mccaul: i think that worked
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for john for four years. he was always very thoughtful, rational. i think that puzzle is sound -- that proposal is sound. you were not giving them enough time to make the transition, and i think that is a creative proposal that could bring the house and senate together. i just don't know what will happen. and that is an idea that i would support in the house. mr. cook: mr. strauss? >> i wanted to ask you -- jeb bush and all the attention last week to whether we should have gone into iraq or not. you talked about being
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interested in someone, supporting a candidate with foreign policy leadership. was the former governor's response a sign of political acumen on foreign-policy? what would your answer have been to the question -- if we know now what we didn't know, would you have authorized -- rep. mccaul: you think you would be prepared for that question, but i would have answered it differently. we are already in. my goal was to make sure that we stabilize, then responsibly get out. mistakes have been made all throughout the conflict, in the post invasion of iraq was not handled well. they made a lot of mistakes. all these people wouldn't have joined, because they were thrown out on the street.
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some of them are still in isis. >> how would you have answered that question? rep. mccaul: the question is you can't change the past. you can learn from it but you can't change it. the question is how do you deal with iraq in the present. i would have had the status forces agreement. that was a mistake, too. dealing with it today, how are you going to stabilize that region again? can we afford to leave a
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destabilized? can we allow isis to flourish? it is going to take one big attack and people say -- why weren't you there to stop it? i would not allow the safe haven to flourish, so how do you deal with it in the present? there are things we could be doing tactically, but we are not being aggressive. whether it is airstrikes, in betting special operations with the iraqi armed training, arming the peshmerga, trying to get assad so we can galvanize the forces that we know are in our backyard.
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societies don't like isis. we know that qatar and kuwait are funding a lot of the operations, and that is a weird phenomenon. that is a whole other issue. >> i just wanted to ask you about major companies, including apple, google, cisco, protesting in cricketing -- backdoors to getting secrets to data. where do you stand on this issue, and where do you think that congress will ultimately go? rep. mccaul: it is called dark space. it's what i referenced earlier. it is a tricky issue and it is controversial on some levels. it is controversial when you talk about encryption and the ability to backdoor into that. where i don't think it is controversial are the platforms the terrorists used to
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communicate and dark space, and that is primarily these platform servers. i have seen the communications between the terrorists and who they are trying to radicalize. what they say is -- let's go into dm, and that is the message box. then they go into that box. if we don't have coverage, we can't view that content. but if we do, and in many cases we do, -- but they are smart. they start communicating there but then they jump into another platform, platforms that we can't get access to, and that is dark space. they can communicate freely -- freely in securecom to launch an attack against the united states.
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there is no way our law enforcement and intelligence communities are completely incapable of picking up those communications -- that is a threat. foreign fighters are a threat, but i would argue that is one of the biggest threats to the homeland. it is what needs to be fixed. the only way it can be fixed is legislatively. mr. cook: i want to thank you for being here. we appreciate it.
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>> here is some of what we are covering on c-span tomorrow. at 10:00 a.m. eastern tomorrow, joe biden delivers the commencement address at the naval academy in annapolis. later, the cato institute hosts a forum on community policing and law enforcement of baltimore. have a look at the role of federal jobs programs and whether police body cameras can help regain public trust. live coverage at noon eastern on c-span. >> the new congressional directory is a handy guide to the 114th congress, with color photos of every senator and house member, plus bio and contact information and twitter handles, also district maps, a folder map of capitol hill, and a look at congressional committees, the president's cabinet, federal agencies, and state government. order your copy today -- it is
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$13.95 through the c-span online store at >> at a senate hearing, to retired generals say that isis is failing. they were part of the panel of military analysts testifying before the senate armed services committee. isis fighters recently captured ramadi, the capital of the racks largest province. john mccain chairs this two and a half hour meeting.
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>> the committee meets today to receive testimony on u.s. policy in iraq and syria. 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 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 kagan, who is -- that's a joke. dr. fred kagan, director of the critical threats project at the american enterprise institutes. colonel derek harvey, u.s. army
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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 sacrifice of american blood and treasure.
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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 expansion of isil to a dozen countries.
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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 recruit 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, quote, strategy to defeat isil is working. secretary of state john kerry said, ramadi was a mere, quote
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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 disaster 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 shia militias and insufficiently empowering sunni iraqis. at best this increases iran's maligned influence.
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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 shia 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 still has not decided whether it will defend syrian opposition
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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 resources, and most of all the leadership and resolve of the president to succeed.
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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. 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 take up the fight against isis?
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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 earth and this is being
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threatened now. we know what isis does to these antiquities. we are about to perhaps, unfortunately, see another destruction and obviously irreplaceable historic heritage site 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 distinguished colleagues. obviously i know fred kagan very
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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 catalyst 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 united states public policy -- senator mccain: could you give me a second.
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i don't think we have -- general 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 progress and some success, looking at this strategy today
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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 turkish border. it connects now to the euphrates river valley which leads to the suburbs of baghdad and currently expanding to the west as far as damascus, and they just seized
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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. we need a strategy now to defeat isis in syria.
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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 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 reclaiming lost territory and avoid deploying u.s. ground
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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 abadi is isolated, undermined by maliki who is still and remains a nefarious character and others within abadi'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 political effort with the abadi
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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 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 authorize this force and the united states should arm, equip, and train it.
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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 reclaim that territory and hold it, 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
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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. should be employed not as an exception, which is
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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 operation at night. when a raid was taking place in pakistan there were 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. they are not intended to stay. they are in and out maybe one night we stay at the most a
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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 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 is increased u.s. political and
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military involvement in iraq which begins to shore up many of the weaknesses of the current strategy. while i belie 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 some serious contingency planning for the introduction of ground combat both u.s. and allies. 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 succeeding. you and your predecessors took a
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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. 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
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problem. i receive every day a superb 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 themselves if they think that's
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a reed we want to rest 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 abidi 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 military style map which shows isis maneuvers, because they are great deal of skill.
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it is not an accident that ramadi fell other the weekend and palmyra fell yesterday. it is not an accident that there were prison breaks and ramadi with decisively attacked and taken. this was a planned out and well executed plan. 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. i want to talk about the threat isis is one of the most evil organizations that has ever existed in the world. we really have to reckon with that.
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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 committed to the destruction of everything decent in the world, and the evidence of that is the destruction uncalled for even by their own ideology of antiquities thousands of euros -- years old that represent the heart and the emergence of the american civilization in the west. this is a group that self captives into slavery. it is a major source of financing for them. this is a group that engages in mass rape. this is a group that conducts mass murder. this is a group that encourages lone wolf attacks, and it will soon not just be lone wolf attacks in the united states and
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the west. this is a group of an -- unfathomable evil. they are extremely effective. they have 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, let them kill each other. this is unacceptable from a u.s. national security perspective to just watch a group like this succeed in this way. i want to make the point that of course any criticism of the white house today is received at least from our side, is received as a partisan attack. i want to make the point that if that was the case, i must of been a democrat in 2006. we were attacking the bush
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administration would be chairman and a number of members of the committee as aggressively or more aggressively than we have critiqued this white house. the fact is is what matters is the strategy is failing as it was in 2006, only we are in a much worse position than we were in 2006, because it is 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. their minister of defense 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 advisory to the supreme leader was in damascus and beirut talking with bashar al-assad, no doubt
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coordinating lands -- coordinating plans for deployment in syria and possibly asked us on what his plan was given the circumstances. those are senior leaders, i don't know if we have sent senior leaders of that rank or close to it to speak to prime minister of body -- abadi. senator nelson asked what this means for the counter isis campaign. it means that the campaign described by the administration and the officers is derailed. i do not believe that there is any reasonable prospect that it would be possible to retake muzzle this year. i think the fight of ramadi will be hard enough. i think these operations
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demonstrate these forces at current levels are not capable of even defending their territory against determined isis attacks, let alone clearing a safe haven for isis. our campaign strategies completely derailed in my view. i think it was the campaign strategy as the chairman pointed out that it was limited success as it was. it is over. my colleague derek harvey will speak in more detail about what kinds of troops are required. i agree with general keane i am even willing to put a number on the table, i think we need 15,000-20,000 troops. i think anything less is simply unserious.
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i think we really need to do that. i think otherwise we are looking at an isis state it will persist. we are looking at an isis state that will continue to govern territory, continue to have resources that we sadly cannot afford to let an evil enemy of this friday have. i think it is a major u.s. national security priority to respond to this, especially as it becomes clear it is beyond the capabilities of the iraqis. you cannot argue for a forceful strategy in iraq and defend the sequester. our armed forces have been damaged by the sequester. it needs to be removed. the armed forces forces budget needs to be increased significantly. we are at war whether we like it or not. the longer we refuse to address
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it, the worse it will be. lastly, we need to be strengthening our abilities to collect intelligence, and not weakening them. this is not the moment to dismantle our capabilities to see what the enemy is doing, this is the moment to be engaged in reform of the oversight of the intelligence community. it is ironic that one of your colleagues spent yesterday arguing for the elimination of a program important to national security. i think there are things the ministration could do and congress could do but it will be a tough fight. i think the committee for listening to me. senator mccain: colonel harvey? colonel harvey: members, thank you for having me here. i appreciate the opportunity.
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i want to begin with focusing on the islamic state in the trends in iraq. i believe even before the fall of ramadi, the best that could be said was that baghdad was holding the line, even with the success into credit there is difficulty in holding that terrain, even in areas cleared earlier isis has worked their way back in. they change their profile, and are infiltrating act in -- back in. over the past month, they have continued to do shaping operations in the baghdad area. in one day, just a couple of days ago there were eight iuds, several small arms skirmishes in baghdad itself that is to say nothing about what is going on in other areas around baghdad. they continue to hold the line along the kurdish front north
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around most of -- mosul. they have expanded successfully into syria. they are good at doing shaping operations. they are taking advantage of their interior lines of communication. the are well armed, resourced, and led. i think the fall of ramadi should lead to questions by the pentagon and administration. there are two cities in iraq, most soul -- mosul and ramadi, and isis controls rakka in syria. the fall of ramadi renews the sense. --
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without an alternative, sunni arabs tried, without someone to protect them and lead them, they are going to fall in the can't of the islamic state particularly as this campaign becomes polarized. the movement of shiite militias is going to contribute to this polarization. i fully expect the islamic state will have tried to conduct operations to further inflame his fight. that is part of their strategy to polarize this fight 20 different communities. i would note that isis has many challenges and weaknesses, but the problem is isis is not losing. i believe the u.s. has continue to underestimate the islamic state, which i suspect shows a lack of understanding about the islamic state, its capabilities,
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and how it will fight in a path to victory. we have seen the story before. we focus on our own programs and budgets, but we are not focusing on the impact of the enemy. the enemy has a vote. for public statements, we are not looking at the right things. the measures asserted by the military pentagon, are not appropriate. the number of airstrikes is interesting but irrelevant. what is the effect on the enemy and its capacity to fight? stating that isis has lost twice i percent of the territory conquered, is interesting, but not relevant. isis did not control some of the areas, but they are still there, they are rebuilding and shaping. that is a false metric. striking oil infrastructure in syria is a good thing.
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the enemy has a vote. their efforts are complicated. they have reduced production, but have adapted and creatively have developed miniature mobile refinement capabilities even using blow dryer air heaters. it is crude, yet sophisticated at adaptation. they are producing in a fuel for their own requirements. they are still earning millions of dollars every month from oil in syria. it has been degraded, but i think the oil on the markets has had just as much impact as any of the things we have done. the same for foreign fighting and funding. they are still resilient in working around the actions that have been taken. the actions that have been taken have been weak and not assertive.
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i will talk more about that. isis is excelling at a hybrid war. they're fighting conventionally as needed, they are adapting and they are employing terrorist techniques assassination subversion as necessary depending on terrain. they are showing they can hold key terrain, fight hard, and synchronize operations across the sometime -- across space and time. they are very effective, there will lead. they are skilled, and they have professional quality leadership and command and control. they know the geography, terrain, and the human terrain in these areas very well. they are ruthless and committed, and determined. they are exhibiting will to fight. there are fighting for power and ideological reasons.
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for many who are angered about their condition in life, they are fighting for their land, families, and future. they are not motivated by a hard-line annihilation is agenda, they are fighting because they are fighting for their own lives and future. they are fearful. there are many sunni military age males that have not taken sides. it is just a matter of time if this polarization continues that isis will gain more and more recruits from the iraqi population base. the iraqi fight with -- with isis is not dominated by foreign fighters, this is a homegrown fight him a we need to keep that in mind. isis, as fred mentioned, maintains operational freedom. they appear stronger the coast relatively their opposition is
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weak. the sunni arab political and tribal leaders are weak and divided and seen as illegitimate by many. too many sunni arabs are on the fence. they has been given no reason to come to us or go to the baghdad government. the iraqi security forces are small and not well led, it will take far too long to train and rebuild them to make a difference this year. moreover, iss there is a concerted effort to undermine the advocacy of the iraqi security forces by shia militias iranian proxies, and some members of the government particularly some members of the ministry of interior.
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they seek to weaken the iraqi security forces. again the coalition is weak. we could talk about that, but there is not a lot of ally cooperation and resources put into this fight. lastly the u.s. lines of operation have been poorly resourced both in the enter agency level, i do not see the resourcing or the urgency within treasury or intelligence, or others to really energize and aggressively go after this fight in this region. so although it u.s. airstrikes i believe have complicated the isis operations, the air campaign has not been decent -- decisive. it has been a relatively small and limited.
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the islamic state has been adapted and creative. they remain well armed and wrote well resourced -- and well resourced. the military campaign seem disjointed, poorly resourced and a lack an effective framework to bring it together. i think we need to relook this. with that i look forward to your questions. senator mccain: thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and all of your distinguished colleagues. your effort to elevate the national security debate has been incredible, and very important. everything that the members of the committee have been doing, i have -- have been very important
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for our country as we look at the world, not just the middle east. mr. chairman, i prepared written testimony. it is really an honor to be with the co-panelist who i have great respect for. senator kaine: what i want to do this -- fellow katulis: what i want to do is look at dynamics within the region. mr. chairman, you said at the outset before hand you would like to discuss concrete steps. while i give my analysis of what i think is happening, i will offer some ideas that i hope we can discuss, some of which members of the panel had proposed legislation. the way i see the challenge, and i don't disagree with much of
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what was said earlier, the challenge of isis operates on three different levels, or three concentric circles, the first is iraq in syria. that is where the devastation has been astounding over the last few years. many of these steps i think that have been proposed here in terms of security measures, and security cooperation measures are something that i, it is outside of my expertise to evaluate. i look at political and strategic dynamics. inside of iraq, no matter what we have done or what we do every type of security assistance should be implemented with a close eye to internal political and counter dynamics. what happened in ramadi should shock everyone. we should keep an i on these measures of what we need to do to help our iraqi partners on the security front but
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understand what we have learned over the last 10 years plus is that the political dynamics are terribly important. in those regards what i think we need to do in the obama -- 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 arming sunni tribes, building a national guard. if you look at what the obama administration did last summer i was a supporter of this measure using security assistance as leverage to help the iraqis create a different type of government. we need to continue the process. when the police in ramadi were not being funded, when concepts like the national guard still -- remain stuck in parliament, it makes it hard for any number of u.s. trainers to actually do their job if those mechanisms are in place. i second measure we need to start entertaining is the notion of rater decentralization inside of iraq.
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decentralization of authority. when he to discuss mechanisms to giving arms directly to kurdish forces. i think we should balance that against the overall objective of trying to keep iraq together. the second component is syria. this in my view is the weakest link in the overall approach in this first circle. 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 are actually doing to shape the environment on the ground is alarming. in my view we need to accelerate that which the ministration proposed and you funded. we need to link these efforts to the broader regional dynamics. what is happening in syria right now is a very complicated
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engagement by actors in the region. you see not only isis gains, but the gains of al qaeda's front these gains don't come from nowhere. they are being offered support from various actors in the region. the main point is that the in-state in syria, often described by the administration in ways that are -- our tactics don't link up with things we want to achieve. with iraq in syria, how do you link these problems in how we address them? what worries me is we look at a challenge in iraq, but we don't link it to the broader problem of iraq and syria. last summer, isis effectively eroded the borders between these two countries. we have had a debate about a series of different tactics some have an implement it, some have not. i think we can all bring our
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thinking together and talk about how we actually have an integrated strategy that actually focuses on isis in iraq and syria. the regional level, here i hope we can speak a little more. over the last four or five years, the middle east has slipped into this. of fragmentation. not have only iraq in syria and structures collapsed, we have seen yemen also feel the strains. what is going on is the struggle between the regional powers, iran and saudi arabia, but there are other actors as well. the conflict is multidimensional , it is multifaceted. our resources matter, but iran, saudi arabia, others have been funding their own. i think what is missing in terms of u.s. leadership 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? since 2000 and three -- 2003, when we made the decision to move from dual containment of iran and iraq, i think we have been struggling for a overarching strategy in the middle east. the broader picture of what is the united states trying to do in the region, i think 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 and it is an important opportunity, one that has not been. fully seized by the administration. it is -- it's engagement has been episodic. the questions of what been after the summit remain unanswered to
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a large extent. last week was a very important summit with the gct nations, i think it was a important communique, as with everything in life and administration, the follow-up will be important. those commitments not only to iraq, but the broader fight against isis, there needs to be implementation. finally, the question of equilibrium in the broader region. the obama administration often speaks of its engagement with iran and its double medic engagement on the nuclear front as an opportunity to achieve some new type of equilibrium in the region. i share that aspiration, but we need to be clear eyed about how hard will that be at a time when iran and other actors in the region are actually investing in a number of proxy wars. we need to be clear about how realistic that is, and what we
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are trying to do. on a final point on the international level, i will close here quite clearly, this problem of isis is connected in ways that is more complicated by the fact you have more than 15,000 foreign fighters and perhaps number is higher. i would suggest at the international level, the debate about isis is terribly important, but it is moving very quickly. the debate many people are having on syria is the fight between iso--- isil and a number of different actors. nearly 14 years after 911, if you look at this landscape, this new trend towards jihad-ism is something we have not wrestled with. we need to widen the landscape
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and keep focused on it to assess what we are doing, and whether we are applying resources to meet those threats. in conclusion, i hope the events of the last week or so and the being today is a constructive wake-up call about what we can do to combat in what i think is a largely combative and tactical approach over the last decade. i hope the events can motivate all of us, including you and your leadership to drive towards a sort of unity. a national conversation that reinvigorates our sense of purpose. this is a very dangerous adversary, we have not yet created the holistic strategy to actually defeat them and we can. thank you. senator mccain: a vote is on. if you would like to go and come back, please do so. i will try to do -- i will try to continue the hearing.
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i know that you have questions for the panel. maybe we could work it that way however you like. i would like to begin by picking up a little bit on what mr. could to us just said -- mr. katulis just said. it seems to me one of the reasons we are not acting more aggressively against assad has got to do with this idea or in my view an illusion that once we conclude the nuclear agreement there will be a whole new relationship with iran in the middle east, which my
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conversations with our friends in the sunni arab states scares the heck out of them. maybe i could asked the panel 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 there is we are training, we were not told the ministration has said there is no policy yet about when we send these young men we are training back into syria whether we would protect them from barrel bombing. it seems to me there is a degree of immorality associated with training people and not protecting them from being killed when they go back in, and
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that they are only to fight isis, and not the sod, the father of isis. i want to begin with you general keane, i don't think americans are fully aware of this contradiction here. john keane: i agree in principle with what you are saying here. just so the audience understands, we may forget that early on any the rebellion against the sod, the momentum was actually on the opposition forces side. many people in this town where predicting the regime was going to fall. senator mccain: i was testimony before this committee, yes. john keane: that opposition needed additional arms and ammunition's to deal with the conventional military.
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they were stuck with rifles machine guns, rpg's, and the like. that early encounter in 2012 was denied late .11, early 2012 and then the cia became convinced that we could actually that the free syrian army. i will say that the institute of the study of war had some impact on providing information that assisted them with that conclusion, general to three us would admit that as director at the time. he presented a briefing and the agreed with him that this force could in fact be armed equipped, and trained robustly. the ministration did not do that. tragically, as a result, the free syrian army now is a mere shadow of its former self trade it is frankly -- there is
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frankly not much of the left. senator mccain: in desperation isn't it true that they joined forces with another al qaeda organization, is that true? john keane: organizations that were a part of their organization have broken, they were islam it, not radicalized they had joined with nusra who has gained four territories and had more success against the regime than any force out there. that is true. what we are doing is, and i know the committee has been briefed on this, we are attempting to train 5000 people that would become part of the free syrian army, what organizational they plug into? it is disconnected because the
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free syrian army is not fighting isis. they are fighting the regime we are training forces that that will join the free syrian army in theory, indeed they will fight the regime forces, that has nothing to do with isis at the moment. that is how flawed this strategy is. it makes no sense. we don't have ground forces. the chairman suggests does it make sense to train these forces arm them, provide the leadership, and then put them back into the fight against assad's conventional military that will attack with conventional artillery. that strategy in syria is flawed . obviously the only way that isis will eventually be defeated as was -- is with some kind of ground force.
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what they are suggesting is stay with the sod, change the momentum against them by shutting down the airpower using no-fly zones to achieve that. that change in military momentum on the battlefield can shift the political equation to get some kind of a settlement. that is arguable that is achievable or not. sitting here and doing nothing and permitting this to go on, i think that is quite irresponsible in terms of the humanitarian catastrophe that is taking place there, also that isis is expanding and gaining strength in syria every single week and month. the syrian strategy needs to be thought out and needs to lead to a situation where we have our -- a coalition of arabs in the region and possibly turks also.
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they would likely asked us to participate in a coalition to deal with isis in syria. i think we should listen to them about dealing with a sod and that regime first in some limited capacity to change the political equation. senator mccain: i am going to have to go vote. if someone is not back yet after you, we will take a brief pause until my return. arts point -- senator ernst: i do agree with the panel that we need a conference of strategy, right now there is none. as an element -- excuse me, as an element i want to talk a little bit more about kurds.
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over the last few months, i have been advocating for the administration to increase its support to the kurdish regional government in iraq to fight isis. i believe this is a commonsense proposal considering the willingness to fight. they're willing to fight in close combat. it is truly unmatched by any other group in that region in the fight against isis. he 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 password or century, iraqi currents have proven to be reliable partners by supporting u.s. interests every time we have stopped there assistance. i have spoken with many of the men who have served in that
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region, they always state what great allies the kurds have been to them in our fight. they are proven to be great allies of hours. earlier this week, former cia and nsa director, general michael hayden once again moke about the need to increase resources in the fight against isis. tuesday, general hayden said, i would double down on the kurds. their military has the virtue of showing up when it comes to a fight, they have been our friends in the area for decades. i would tend to agree. i would love to asked each of you to please explain that, if you do agree with his assist -- assessment, or if you disagree and maybe why. so general keane, if we might start with you. thank you. john keane: yes, certainly i agree with that. the problem we have, and they
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have told you and others, they are not getting the kinds of arms that they need, the quantity of those arms are not there. we are passing that through the iraqi government. we probably should have continued the covert program we did have with the cia and we probably would've had them armed by now if we did it robustly. they also need advisors, when they fight, they need court nation with airpower to make their ground operations that much more effective. as good as the kurds are they have also limited interest in what they are willing to fight for inside iraq. they're certainly not going to participate and reclaiming parts of iraq. we need to recognize a lot more needs to be done.
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i will leave it to my colleagues who have more information. senator ernst: dr. kagan. director kagan: i agree especially the last point. we should certainly help the kurds. the kurds cannot 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 most soul for a long time, you would find a war on your hands that you would -- that with not be in our interest, and would make room for isis. i don't think the kurds could actually do what we need them to do, even if we wanted them to. i would only that -- add that
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although i agree that we should, that the kurds have been reliable allies, fighting on the ground against our common enemies, they have been less than helpful in baghdad recently and they still are being somewhat less than helpful than they might be on a number of issues including demands for oil revenues and various other things. i do believe we should assist them in their defense but i also think 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 arab communities 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 about how
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far 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 arming 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. mr. katulis: several points. the divisions that still exist in the kurdish area 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 and sometimes it's been blocked by baghdad itself.
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there are some cities to even the proposal because it leads to questions like, oh are you trying to break up iraq, we need to be careful with that. that leads to a third point, the more that the united states or other actors within the region invest in subnational actors for the benefit of trying to defeat terrorist organizations like isis, there are advantages to that, because they are 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 long-term. the notion that we could further inadvertently accelerate the
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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
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coming from the administration on admitting that isis continues 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? mr. katulis: i would focus on what i work on. the regional aspect. i think what the u.s. could do more of, it is beyond my expertise, the fact that the anti-ifo association 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 any 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 keane 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. >> i think that given the president's strategy in the lines of operation may have had i don't think those were ever given an opportunity to succeed. even though i thought they were insufficient to the task last summer when he declared them
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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 arab engagement and political inclusion. without adequate force structure on the ground and commitment
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you cannot get out there and engage with the sunni ashes, you -- sunni arabs, 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 -- we need probably, to brigade we need artillery, we need operational capabilities 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 have not been pressed along that large frontal area that they
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have. senator ernst: to be clear, you are stating that you believe 15,000 additional troops and aviation 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 neighborhoods in a direct action way. we need to be out there enabling and providing support for sunni arab tribal militias, helping them grow and develop.
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that gives us influence that can reach into the political domain in these 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 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 what derek said and agree with
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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 american brigades 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. i would assess right now, we seem to be showing we do not have the will to fight this war. until and unless the 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 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. senator ernst: thank you very much. >> 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 always looked at this narrowly
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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 develop that strategy together we can design a , comprehensive strategy that does undermine the ideology, that does take their finances away, and that does meet this threat militarily where it needs to be met.
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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 start 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 very much.
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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. director kagan: we have seen this repeatedly and of course , this is the view of the grand ayatollah and the people who follow him, that iraq is arab country, it is not persian, and they don't want to be dominated by persians. however the most effective shia militia forces are part of the iranian military. defective. the bottom report to the commander of the kurdish force. they take reports to the commander of the kurdish force. it is not a shia problem, it is
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an iranian problem, they are no longer proxies, they are extensions of the iranian irregular military forces. those are the elements now leading the charge into ramadi which is unacceptable. they helped to get us off track by launching the attack on to grit cash -- which failed and we had to bail them out which was a turning point for us. it demonstrated the limitations of the a village the of those iranian controlled iraqi militias. we have undone that benefit we gained, but moved steps back. it is a fact -- if in fact these groups are successful in taking part of ramadi when troops that we backed failed, it will demonstrate the viability of these governments within iraq in a catastrophic way that will undermine almost any
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independence that they may have and be an extension of iranian military power. senator ernst: my time is way over. senator mccain: i hope you will have them over to your house for dinner. senator ernst: i would love that. senator mccain: before i turn to center keen -- senator keen, i apologize for this story at this -- disjointed messness. i don't know if there is a real logical argument that would counter what has been said here today as far as the assessment of the overall situation is concerned, i think the facts on the ground would indicate that there is strong support for the
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argument or the position that you have stated. yet we have members of the military with many years of experience who have fought in iraq and i get after this -- and afghanistan, and yet as military leaders, make statements totally divorced, if not i will say reality, it certainly a direct encounter to the testimony that you have given here today. i do not understand that. maybe colonel harvey, that i begin with you? colonel harvey: serve what i find is quite often, our commanders and leaders are misleading -- this reading of the operational environment. they don't understand the military -- enemy well enough. part of it is the intelligence they get is the reporting of the information is not being put in
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context and a deep way to understand how they are organized, how they think. it is reporting history, rather than thinking about who they really are and what the enemy is doing. senator mccain: does that account for statements like we are winning? colonel harvey: as i said my opening statement, in order to get the context you need to have the deep dive and focus in on this and quit looking at this on a day to day basis. you have to understand who the enemy is, and how they will win. we probably need better alternative analysis of this. we need to be true so to ourselves about how we're doing in our lines of operation. senator mccain: this is an argument for team b. colonel harvey: in parts of -- in part. in may of 2006 were being told
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everything was on track. they get built-in assumptions and air force -- focused in on what their mission set is. how are we going to a line our structure and all of our capability in partnership with allies and focus on the ground to build momentum, to impose our will, to establish security. we don't think in those terms anymore. we talk about management, rather than breaking the will of the enemy. senator mccain: general keane. john keane: i share your frustration. we all share it and talk about it are most ourselves. we had a spokesperson last week, i think that is what you are referring to who made a report to the american people at large that we in fact were succeeding
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against isis, were pushing back against them, and that they are only capable of small acts against us. that has not been true since we started. it is certainly not true now. how do wethese committee members when we were pushing against the narrative at that time by senior generals and secretary of defense, etc., we were asked the same question. how could that be? how could capable people be so wrong? i think once we make up our minds we're going to do something, we drive towards it, and we have a tendency to see those indices that contribute to what the mission's success is.


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