tv Road to the White House CSPAN May 25, 2015 1:00am-2:01am EDT
just so our audience and the committee can understand, we may forget that early on in the move -- rebellion against assad, the momentum was on the opposition force's side. many in this town were predicting the regime would fall. i think we can all recall that. 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 mitchell military. they were stuck with rifles, machine gun, r.p.g.'s and the like. that early encounter for the 2012 was denied, late 2011
early 2012, 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 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. 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 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 -- would become part of the free syrian army but what organization are they going to plug into. it's totally disconnected because the free syrian army is not fighting isis. they don't have the wherewithal 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. but it has nothing to do with isis at the moment. that's how flawed the strategy is in syria. it makes no sense.
we don't have a ground force. and the chairman suggests, it 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. so 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 suggesting to us, we're not agreeing with them, is that what we should deal with bashar al-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 coalition of arabs in the region. and possibly the turks participating also and they and 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. >> i'm going to have to go vote. i'd like to hear from the other witness.
i'm going to go vote. and if someone isn't back after you we will take a brief pause until my return. >> excuse me thank you mr. chair. thank you, gentlemen for being here today. i really do appreciate it very much. i apologize that i had to step out. but i do agree -- i do agree with the panel that we need a comprehensive strategy. right now there is no strategy. as an element -- excuse me. and really as an element, i do want to talk more about arming the kurds. i have been odd vow kating for -- advocating for the administration to fight isis. i believe this is a common sense proposal considering the
peshmerga's willingness tonight. it is truly unmatched by any other group in that region in the fight against isis. the kurdish people have been vital to defeat isis and in providing support to around the 1.6 million displaced person from iraq and syria and also for the past quarter century iraqi kurds have pruvee to be reliarable partners by supporting u.s. interest every time we sought their assistance. i talked to the many men who served up in that region and they always state what great allys the kurds have been to them in their fight. so they are proven to be great allies of ours. earlier in week former c.i.a. and n.s.a. drebtor michael hayden once again spoke for the need to increase the support in the fight against isis. and on 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 and they've been our friends in the area for decades. i would love to ask each of you to please explain that if you do agree with general hayden's assessment or if you disagree and maybe why. so general keen if we could start with you. thank you. >> the problem we have is and they've told you and they've told others that they're not getting the kinds of arms that they need, the quantity of those arms are not there, passing that through the iraqi government. we probably should have continued the covert problem we did have and passing it through
the central intelligence agency but they also need partners because when they're fighting they need coordination with air power to make their ground operation that much more effective. and i would say this, as good as the kurds are they have also a limited interest in what they're willing to fight for in iraq. they certainly are not going to participate in reclaiming anbar province and other parts of iraq. a lot more needs to be done with others as whelm and i'll leave it to my colleagues that have more information than i do. >> right. dr. kagan. >> i agree with general keane especially about the last point. we certainly should help the kurds defend curtis tan. but the -- kurtistan.
but the kurds cannot fight on behalf of the arabs. although the kurds -- i don't want to put them in the shiah militias and they do not behave that way if you saw large kurdish forces in mosul you would find that you would have an epic war in 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 watched to. i would only add that although we agree that the kurds have been very eliabled a lies fighting on the ground against our common enemy they have been less than helpful and they are still being less than helpful including demands for oil revenues and various other
things. we should try to get them to think of iraq as whole a whole are -- from a political standpoint. >> i agree with what has been said on this issue. i would add that the sunni arab communities along the green lies the fall lines are tremendous numbers of friction points about territory about past grievances. so we would have to be very careful about how they would be employed. and i think, you know, that's about making sure that there are red lines about how far they could go in coordination where they are willing to fight along the frontiers. we do not want to further polarize these communities more than they are already. but arming them effectively and developing a mechanicism to accommodate baghdad's interest about knowing what's being
delivered but making sure that it gets delivered we have to make sure we get that done and coordinate that. but deliver those weapons that are going to be very important to the defense of those kurdish lands. >> thank you. >> very quickly senator. it's an idea worthy of consideration. in my recent visit the divisions that consider in the divisions having separate lines of control to actually implement that effectively they'll need to deal with those divisions. you have actors in the region including us, beyond us regional actors who have overed the support and sometimes it's been blocked by baghdad itself. there's sensitivities because it leads to the question are you trying to break down iraq? the more that the united states or other actors within the region invest in sub national
actors or nonstate actors for the benefit of trying to defeat terrorist organizations like isis there are advantages to that because they're more cable as we've seen with the kurdish peshmerga. and the frag member tations of states could accelerate if we're working in the short-term to defeated threats and to deal with a capitaranian issue. and again, i'm not arguing against it, it's just a phonetial downside risk that there's the notion that we could further inadvertently fragment these entities. >> thank you very much. i pressure it very much where i'm coming from is that we simply have no strategy in that region, no one that has been communicated clearly to any of us. so i think establishing at least a safe zone, i do believe
that the peshmerga in kurdistan is moving time-out iraq. but at least establishing a safe zone that is free of isis is a step in the right direction. i think we need 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 to expand not just within iraq but also globally. any thought on what we need to do or how we could work with the administration on developing a strategy, one that will work. >> i would stress again where i work on which are the regional
aspects. i think what the u.s. can do more my colleague talked about is beyond my expertise. the fact that the anti-isil coalition has a military one, one on countering ex-terrorism on counter terrorism funding. i would suggest they're a great template but that they've not been used effectively. i think it's wise to actually try to channel the resources an tevers of others to much more constructive ends. we need to do more that's clear. and i think we need to lead. but using these mechanicisms more effectively having more follow up on things like, we often think it's soft but it's not the countering violent extremism everies it's not extreme for me to have a conference without any clear precise follow-ups. and i mean i think they're talking about it but we need to
have great clarity to our regional partners and knowing nose the coalition of ok this is what we're going o do in the way that the general and the doctor and harvey have talked about in military steps we also need a campaign that are multifaceted. those are things that nests at its core but partnership with others. >> thank you. >> i think that given the president's strategy in line of operation, i don't think those were ever given an opportunity to succeed. even though because i thought they were insignificant to the task when he declared them, they have not been adequately resourced or executed today. and again as i said in my opening statement that's here in washington, d.c. at the agency level as well as in theater. so if we're not going to be determined to achieve results and have leadership that drives
the inner agency and makes it this a matter or urgency and criticality to the united states then we won't get where we need to go. first you need to be determined to achieve results. two, we need to think about some core objectives here when we can fight isis and contain iran and seek to develop an independent iraq. in order to do that we need to support sunni arab, engagement and it will cal inclusion. without adequate force structure on the ground and commitment you cannot get out there and engage with the 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 theet irand to go with what general keane said we need probably two brigades. we need aviation, mixed aviation brigade. you need some artillery. you need enhanced direct action soft operational capabilities for direct action, direct action brings you the intelligence which you then hair and allows you to go after those networks. the islamic state has not been stressed across the syrian border up along the kurdish green line. there are tremendous vulnerabilities they've had the nive actives because they have not been pressed along those frontal areas. >> you believe 15,000 additional troops and aviation assets to directly engage isis as a combat -- >> i'm welcomed to be there to provide the enablers support
for the iraqi security force first direct access of the special operation forces for indirect flyers, advisors embedded with iraqi security forces or ministry of interior elements in a way that gets us on the ground in bringing in capability. i'm not advising that we put troops on the ground in combat outposts in ramadi clearing streets, you know, and communities and neighborhoods. we need owe be providing support for sunni tribes and 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. >> i would agree with that. i would also state though that any time you do engage more of those types of troops on the ground you may say that it is a
training, an assist mission and that may be heavier on the assist mission but we are engaging in combat at that poifpblet i don't think there's any way that you avoid that and i don't want to mislead the american people because certainly there's danger any time that 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 pers speckity -- perspective. >> senator, i want to second what derek said and agree with you about the forces. i know that derek does that. it's the purpose of talking about train, advise and assist is not to imply that the american troops are not going to be in combat. of course, they are if we're doing our job. but the point he's making is
that we're not anticipating putting american brigade 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 flation defeated as long as we do not have the will to fight this war. and i would assess this war right now we seem to be showing that we do not have the will to fight this war. until an unless beginning with the president there's a demonstration that we have the will to fight, we are going to lose this war. and so what congress has to do -- what we all have to do is find any way that we can to persuade the president, to own this fight, to recognize that it is a war, to recognize that we must win and to help develop the will among the american people to fight this. >> thank you very much. >> the other thing i would add is that you do have to lock at
this strategically. hen you think the world trade center in 1993 was directly against the united states not using proxies as the iranians did in 1980. and that was followed by embassy bombings in africa, the u.s. -- uss cole and 911. we've never developed a comprehensive strategy despite all of that killing, despite all of the aggressiveness and assertiveness that this enemy has shown, we have always looked at this narrowly. and we're more sophisticated than that. we yrks the solution is right in front of us. when you look at this map this is just isis. if i put al-qaeda on the map
it would be worse. this can only be solved by those country -- countries affected be this. this is about the united states as opposed to shaking hands and slapping everybody on the back which we did. we should have hosted a conference that came without 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 a strategy. we can develop a strategy that undermines the ideology that does take their finances away and that does meet this threat militarily when where it does need to be met. we cannot do this by ourselves. we have no comprehensive strategies. 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 as we've all been saying we have no strategy
to -- effective strategy to deal with this issue in iraq and syria. so i agree with you that is 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. listen, they -- we have their attention. iranians are forcing their attention and 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. >> yes. general, you brought up iranian influences and since i've come into the summit i have been very, very concerned about the iranian influence with the shiah militia. and here we have the shiah militia purring back against isis.
and i would love to hear a little bit more about that iranian influence with the shiah militia. where do we go from here assuming that we do care of isis the shiah are controlling areas but their intent, i think could easily turn against american influences, american soldiers that might be on the grown there? so as we look at arming the shiah militia, if we talk about that engaging with them just remembering that they are remembering that they are being influenced heavily by the iranians, what would your thoughts be on that? general keane: i don't think the iraqi shiah are the problem. and there are elements in the popular mobilization forces and so force that are not pro-iranian and do not desire to be discover governed by iran. we've seen this repeatedly. and of course this is the grand
view of the grand ayatollah sistani is this iraq is an arab country. it's not a persian country and they do not want to be dominated by persians. however, the most effective shiah militia forces are part of the iranian military defacto. they are run by hadi al-almawri to take hezbollah run by mohandas reports to their commander of the coast force. and we have seen this repeatedly. it's not a shiah problem, there are no longer even proxies. they're extensions of the iranian military forces and throws the lems that are leading the charge into ramadi which is unacceptable. they also help get us off track by launching the attack onity crit -- on tikrit which then
failed and we had to bail them out which is an enormous positive turning point because it demonstrated the iranian-controlled militias to take this fight to the enemy. we just not only undone that benefit that we gained from that but moved many steps back. and if in fact, these are successful in taking part of ramadi when the troops that we backed failed it will demonstrate the viability of these elements within iraq in a catasstroic way that will undermine any lem administer, any independence the i.s.f. might have an be a significant extension of iranian military power not just political influence in the region. >> thank you. my time is way over, senator. >> i was going the say i'm glad we've had this encounter, i hope you'll have them over to your house for dinner. >> i would love that.
thank you very much gentlemen. john: before i turn to senator cain -- and apologize for this disjointedness for the vote on the floor maybe general keane and general harvey can respond to this. i don't know if there's a real logical argument that would counter what has been said here today as far as the assessment of the overall situation is concerned because i think the facs on the ground would indicate that there is strong support for this argument or the position that you have stated. but yet we have members of the military who have many years of experience who have naught iraq and afghanistan and yet as military spokesmen or even military leaders make
statements that are totally divorced if not, i won't say reality, but certainly is directly counter to the testimony that you've given here today. i do not understand it. maybe colonel harvey, could i begin with you? colonel harvey: sir, what i find is quite often our commanders an leaders are misreading the operational environment that they're dealing with. they don't understand the hen mi well enough and part of -- the enemy well enough and par of the problem is the reporting of information is not being put in context in a very insightful and deep way to understand how they are organized, how they really think tactically operational and strat teenically. it's reporting history rather than thinking who they are. john: does that account for statements like "we're
winning"? colonel harvey: in order to get the context, you really need to have the deep dives and focus and quit looking at this on a day-to-day basis. you to have a operational construct. you have towns who the enemy is and how they're going to win. and probably we need better alternative analysis and be truthful to ourselves about how we're doing in our lines of operation. john: so this is an argument for team b. colonel harvey: in part, yes, sir. in may of 2006 we were being told that everything's on track. john: i remember it well. colonel harvey: they get built-in assumption and they're focused on what their mission is. where is the order to impose our will and defeat the enemy? how are we going to align and partnership with allies and folks on the ground that we can
count on to build momentum, to impose our will to establish security? we don't think in those terms anymore. we talk about management rather than break the will of the enemy. john: general keane? general keane: we just had a spokesperson last week, i think that's probably what you're referring to who made a >>, you know, to the american people at large that we in fact were succeeding isis. and that they're only cable of conducting maul attacks against -- small attacks against us. that hasn't been true since we started. and certainly isn't true now. so one, how do we -- these committee members when i provided testimony in 2006 and we were pushing against the
narrative at that time by senior generals and secretaries of defense etc., we were asked the same question. how -- how could that be? how could cable people well intentioned be so wrong in general sense is the issue? i think once we make up our minds that we're going to do something inside this military culture, we drive towards it. and we have a tendency to a fault to see those thing that contribute to what that mission's success is and to disregard not wholly but to minimize those things that are really pushing against it. that's inside our culture. how do you fix that? one way and one way only, competent leadership fixes that. you don't permit that to happen because you're driving honest, tough, deep dive assessments of what's taking place. these are the four things we
said we're going to do. how are we doing that? how could you ever come to the conclusion that's is is losing if -- isis is losing if it enjoys freedom of maneuver, a principle of warfare and it can attack any time of its choosing. if a force has that capability of doing that and get results as a manifestation of that, then that force, in fact by definition is winning. and so the leadership should say to those subordinates, say what are you talking about? none of that makes any sense. twhazz this force is doing. this is what they're capable of. we have got this wrong. and how are we going to fix it? that's about competent leadership. >> senator cain. >> i'm jealous of my clegg's 13 minutes. i hope my other colleagues
don't come back and i try your patience. you said we should not be spectators. you are -- you are going through the atrocitys that i saw in in committee and who they are and how dangerous they are. we should not just be spectators. we are spectators. congress -- congress has been a spectator since august 8th, we've been a spectator. absent the one vote in september that we took to arm syrian moderates there is no evidence that congress is concerned about aisle none -- isil. our allies have no ovet that congress is concerned about isil. isil has no evidence that congress is concerned about isil. but most tragically the thousands of people u.s. men women, service people who are
deployed fighting this battle every day, they have no evident that congress is concerned about isil in the least. we've been at war since august the 8th. everybody calls it a war. the president calls it a war. within two weeks the article to mission to defend the embassy and the consulate were pretty safe. said we got to go on the offense and the president said that was the dividing line between the article power in one chief and article two where they have to authorize military action. but now for nine and a half month wes have failed to do what is our fundamental job what only we are supposed to do. there's been no house committee action. there's been no house floor debate or vote. there was one committee vote in the senat foreign relations committee in december. but there's been no meaningful
floor debate and no meaningful senate floor action. how strange it is, we're in a congress that loves to punch this president as an emperial president, threaten lawsuits when he does stuff with congressional approval. we have been silent. >> i call it extra league or illegal. the president himself in his own
it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. you congress has come up with one excuse after another to avoid taking action. the first excuse was this. the leaders of both parties of both houses went to the white house in june and said do not make us take action on this war. do what you want. do not make us take action before the midterm elections. congress adjourned with an ongoing war six weeks before a midterm election. the earliest and we did nothing about it. after the midterm election then it was the senate is going to change hands so we should not do anything as a lame-duck senate. then we waited until january. we should not do the article one job because of the president had not sent a draft authorization. i personally criticize the administration for not sending
in the override when they started this illegal action. the fact that they did not does not excuse them. and now there is an authorization pending since the 17th of february more than three months and we still have not done anything. i don't know what the excuse is now. you can only conclude we don't want to take it up because we are either indifferent to this threat the real reason is we don't have the backbone to take it up and do the job congress is supposed to do. what that means is there are others doing their job and we deployed thousands into the theater of battle. violence off the deck of the theodore roosevelt crashed a plane on take off the other day. we are deploying thousands and they are risking their lives. we have had the death of american servicemen in connection with american
resolve. they were held hostage. i sold it not start executing hostages until after we started bombing them on the eighth of august. we've had american deaths as a result of this law. we still have not done anything. and now the cost passes the $2 billion mark in april and we still have not done anything. it's just -- i never would have contemplated before he came to this body that there would be a situation where congress would tolerate an ongoing war and just stand back and say, i guess the president can do whatever he wants to do. it's not supposed to be that way. one reason i'm glad the chair called this committee today as i'm hoping the challenging events of last weekend if you go into the details of that special
forces authorization, we are lucky that we did not lose lives in that up there is a nation -- and that operation. it will go on for a very long time. i just wonder how much longer congress will be a spectator. we can criticize the white house and the administration strategy. we should keep doing it if we do not like it but we have not earned the right to be critics as long as we stand back and don't do the one thing that congress is supposed to do. >> i know there is a question there somewhere. senator graham. >> does the current strategy in iraq and syria have any chance to succeed? >> that has been the basis of our testimony. >> i did not hear it. >> we will gladly say it again. i respect to asking the
question, quite frankly. the answer is no. >> does everyone agree the answer is no? and the current configuration presented direct threat to the homeland? >> yes. >> yes. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, i had a conversation with the cia director who echoed that sentiment. failure in iraq and syria is putting the homeland at risk because so many foreign fighters are flowing in and they have the ability to hit us all at home. is that correct? >> yes. >> general keane, you describe the strategy is not enough. >> it is far from it in we all collectively laid out details to support that. >> do you see any way to defeat them without a substantial army
involved? >> if we deployed tens of thousands of troops ourselves we could defend isis and syria but i don't think anyone here would recommend such an event. people with a vested interest should be involved. they have said as much but we have to do something to change the momentum of the assad regime. >> is a fair to say that they are not going in unless one of the objectives is to take down a sod? -- assad? >> they will not just fight isil and give the place to assad. >> what we are seeing is increasing levels of support of various pervert -- varieties as an alternative. >> i went people to understand
that the radical sunni islamic group rather than having an army on the ground made up of allies. is that fairly accurate? we are choosing to work with terrorists. there is a vacuum created by -- >> some people are choosing to work with terrorists because of the vacuum. i do not think that was determined to be our policy. >> our allies in the region are supporting a terrorist group as a last resort proposition because america is a wall. at the end of the day, do you see a scenario of dislodging isil taking assad out, but does not require effort to put syria back together? >> no, i don't see it. >> we are talking years and billions of dollars.
>> i believe so. >> if this were keeps going on, do you worry about jordan and lebanon being affected? >> especially jordan, a country of lived in and studied as a fulbright scholar. it is feeling the force of not only -- >> we would be losing one of the trip most trustworthy allies in the region. i was told that there are more syrian children in elementary school in lebanon than lebanese children. does that surprise anyone? >> and does not surprise me but it should shock people. >> there are more kids in elementary school and lebanon from syria than lebanese kids. if this were continues in its current fashion, it will create unending chaos that will change the map for generations to come. do you agree?
>> yes. >> yes. >> there's no way to get iraq right until you deal with syria in a manner? they would not last 15 minutes without their help? >> does been critical in sustaining his regime. >> if we gave them $50 billion as a signing bonus that it's highly likely some of that money would go to assad? >> and the rest of his proxies seeking domination in the middle east. >> have you seen anything that says they're changing for the better when it comes to the region? >> they're becoming more aggressive in any facet. >> would you say they're the most aggressive they been in modern times? >> yes. >> are they responsible for toppling a pro-american government in yemen? >> they contributed for sure. >> now that we've lost our eyes
and ears in yemen al qaeda in the arabian peninsula is growing and a threat to the homeland. >> not only that but isis is growing in yemen. >> syria is non-perfect form because there are so many foreign fighters with western passports. >> yes. >> the shia militia on the ground in iraq are controlled by the iranians. >> yes. >> we are doing permanent damage if we allow the shia militia to continue to have dominance on the battlefield. you see any good thing coming from the strategy being continued? >> no. >> it's destined to fail. >> there is a better way. we just have to choose that way. >> senator cruz? sen. cruz: thank you, mr.
chairman. gentlemen, thank you very much for being here, thank you for your service and leadership. i'd like to ask the panel first for your assessment of the current level of success we're seeing in the military campaign against crisis -- isis. >> it is failing, senator. that is the assessment generally across the board. it is failing in iraq, syria, and across the board in the region. >> why is it failing? >> it was ill-conceived to begin with because it focused on iraq and it was badly under resourced and excessive constraint have been put on the limited resources that we were willing to deploy. >> could you please elaborate on the constraint put on our military?
>> we have forces in theater that could made a difference in the fight for ramadi had they been allowed to embed the lower levels have they been allowed to perform functions and bring in air support. some of the aviation we had been used in direct support. had the forces we had in theater been able to go out to the tribes and reach out to them directly rather than relying on the tribes to come to them there were a number of things that even this limited force could have done but the force was probably too limited to be decisive in any event. >> just to add on to that, >>
there are huge problems with that as well. the military component is clearly under resourced the role of the advisors is fundamentally flawed itself. they have to be down where the unit is doing the high at the battalion level because they help to execute and they contribute to their success. they have the capability to call in airstrikes and they have the ability to use drones in support of those to help acquire intelligence for them and they can use attack helicopters as well. therefore, the airstrikes that we currently have that are excellent in taking out command and control, logistic infrastructure facilities, it starts to fall apart very rapidly when you're are dealing with multiple targets.
and then senator, the overwhelming amount of combat that takes place is close to combat in urban centers that are populated and where, our forces iraqi forces get very close to the enemy. you have to guide to bombs from the airplane and that is close air support. that is what we need the forward air controllers for so the effectiveness of the air power is this. 75% of the missions flown come back with their bombs because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target or have no assurances that they cannot do so. that changes dramatically throughput the air controllers on the ground.
i tell you what, if you're fighting as the fighting took place in ramadi and as that fight unfolded. they have prepared for weeks to get to ramadi. this was not due to a sandstorm. this is taking out supporting towns, other attacks that led to finally an assault using suicide bombers' vehicles to do that. if that force had anti-tank weapons, they could have killed those vehicles or apache helicopters, they could have killed those vehicles. they destroyed entire blocks and entire units because the explosives were so heavy. after that came the fighting forces themselves. again, if we had close air support, we could have dealt with the fighting forces before they actually closed the iraqi military, helicopters would vr impacted them and we have a close fight and assuming the iraqi forces could deal with that. but i would tell you this, many
of those iraqiy -- iraqi forces did fight in ramadi and a lot of them fled as they watched suicide bombers get blown out and watch the caravans coming down the road get blome up because we have proper surveillance and we have resources that can deal with that. anti-tank guided missiles and the like. we start to change the dimension on the battlefield very significantly as a result of providing them with the proper resources. these are the constraints that are out there that are manifested itself in the behavior of the iraqi security forces. they have their own problems. leadership, discipline, morale and competence. but there is a lot we can do to make a difference. senator cruz: let me ask, the administration is currently
declining to arm the kurds. the peshmerga are fighting isis and they are effective allies. the judgment, the policy of not arming the kurds makes very little sense. i would be interested in the panel's assessment that should we be arming the kurds and is the current policy reasonable and effective in defeating isis? dr. kagan: i think it's a consensus on the panel we should be helping the kurds defend themselves, but the kurds will not be able to be effective partners in retaking the portions of arab iraq that they control but we should be helping the kurds defend themselves, i think. senator mccain: could i point out that we are not refusing to arm the kurds. the problem is as it goes through baghdad and the kurds continue to complain that there
is not the kind of facilitation of the delivery of those weapons. but the senator's point is for all practical purposes i think correct. senator king. senator king: one of the phrases struck a cord with me. raises the question of intelligence. and general keen, would you comment, do we have adequate intelligence, do we have any intelligence and have we become too reliable on signal intelligence and therefore don't have human beings giving us the information? general keane: it is put to the military leaders when they come
in here because they have the details of it. but this much i do know. my sensing from talking to my sources is the intelligence function is not robust enough. and yes, we are relying on national intelligence sources and some regional intelligence sources. some of that is surveillance and some of that is signals intelligence as well. but there's a lot more that we can do to assist them. we use surveillance a lot to assist the use of air power because it's not controlled by forward air controllers. we need different kinds of surveillance in there to assist grouped forces. when we were fighting in iraq and now finishing up in afghanistan, our maneuver units used different kinds of drones. they are much smaller.
they don't stay up necessarily as long as those that assist the air function and assist the ground commanders. that kind of capability there controlled by u.s. would dramatically make a difference for the ground forces that are in the fight because that would give them the ability to see the preparations the enemy is making and see the execution before it impacts on them and most importantly to do something about it. i think the entire intelligence function has got to be put on the review. we have a tendency to focus on other things that are kinetic, but the intelligence function in this kind of warfare is significant in terms of its enhancing ground forces and air forces to be able to use their capabilities to the fullest. senator king: we continue to be surprised. >> i'm at the university of south florida and we drafted a paper that ramadi was going
tofall lasweekndt looking at dahrnource information. information and how to think about it. the warnings were there. the indicatorwere there. if we could see it at the university of south florida and institutes of warsaw that, we shouldn't be making statements saying ramadi wasn't going to fall and wasn't under threat because that creates another problem of its own and then you have a collapse and looks like there is a real problem in our communication at the most highest levels of our government. senator king: and makes them look invincible and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
you made a strong case for things like close air support, forward controllers, all of those kinds of things. but isn't one of the fundamental problems, we could have all of those assets, but if the iraqi security forces don't have the will to fight and if the local population doesn't have any confidence in this government in baghdad, it's still a very difficult if not impossible proposition. can you give me some thoughts on that. dr. kagan: i agree with the statement that you made if those two conditions are true, then it's difficult to impossible. i don't think it's not true that the iraqi forces don't have the will to fight. as we have seen repeatedly, will to fighton ovmatc mcapalities just as much t that's what we used to do. we are allowing them to be overrun in these circumstances
and that erodes their will to fight significantly. your point about the political accommodation is incredibly important, we need to have an iraqi government that is able to reach out to sunnis. the more we try to subcontract these conflicts to local forces in preference to our own -- senator king: a shia militia and exascerbates the sectarian conflict and makes isis look good to the sunni chiefs in anbar. i don't think they look good to anybody. but if they don't have confidence and isn't that one of the fundamental problems here is that isis has been swimming if not in a friendly sea but a neutral sea? dr. kagan: it is a fearful sea
and terrorism works both ways and these guys are incredibly brutal in dealing with the populations they control. so people are going to require a certain amount of assurance that if they rise up, that they will win. the alternative is they would be completely destroyed as communities. general keane: the other thing is that the force that we had in iraq, the iraqi security force
that took us a while to get them to be effective, to be frank about it. and one of the things that made them very effective during a surge period where general petraeus changed the changes on the battlefield. platoons side by side and that dimension increased the capability of the force because they could see what right looked like. that force grew rather dramatically and we were there multiple weeks throuout 2007 and 2008, the three us on ide of the table. and that was an effective force. and i can tell you for a fact because i saw it with my own eyes, i saw battalion commanders, brigade commanders and division commanders distinguish themselves in combat and under significant stress.