tv Washington This Week CSPAN November 1, 2015 1:00pm-3:01pm EST
the same obligation last time i was before you. sen. mccain: as we speak russian , aircraft are bombing moderate syrian forces in syria while we de-conflicted. do you believe we should be there believe we should be protecting those young people that go -- young people? secretary carter:: we have an obligation to protect them. they have not come under attack forces or thed's russian forces. mr. mccain: i am asking about the moderate syrian forces that are there, some of whom we trained. i am asking the question about some of those we train and equip, moderate syrian forces, that are now being bound by russia. secretary carter: with respect to the title x courses that the department of defense trains and equips in a syria, they have not come under attack.
mr. mccain: none of the moderate of forces have come under attack from russia? secretary carter: not in our title x program. mr. mccain: that is fascinating. secretary carter: let me be clear, chairman, the russians attackde -- assad do moderate forces. one of the reasons why the russian approach is so -- mr. mccain: are we going to train these young people? of a going to send them into syria to fight? are going to protect them? anyone we send in an train, we are going to protect from russian air attacks. secretary carter: we have an obligation to do that and we have made that clear right from the beginning. mr. mccain: we haven't done it. we haven't done it. i promise you the have. you will have to correct the record. and formerronius
secretary kade, and now we understand secretary clinton, have all stated that they think we should stop the barrel bombing and that we should train and equip. zones should have no-fly or aircraft exclusionary zones. as complicated as it is, we were able to do northern watch and southern watch rather successfully in iraq. although it is not exactly the same. are you recommending that we should stop the barrel bombing? stop the barrel bombing to provide a -- an aircraft exclusionary zone in order to protect the innocent civilians that are being driven into refugee status in the greatest refugee situation since the end of world war ii? general dunford: chairman, we
have, as i indicated in my statement, analyzed zones areas. and the humanitarian zones, the buffer zones. i can give you some of the considerations. mr. mccain: and stop the barrel bombing. secretary carter: that would be one of the intense of the no-fly zone. -- intents of the no-fly zone. mr. mccain: i would just like to know whether you supported or not. secretary carter: we have not made that recommendation to the president. he has not taken it off of the table. i can explain some of the reasons for our recommendation. mr. mccain: it is not an issue that has not been examined, secretary carter. it has been recommended for years by some of us. you have to examine it all over again? secretary carter: we have looked at it quite closely. and i'm prepared to describe it. o describe it. mr. mccain: it's an issue that has been on the table for three or four years that i know of. we have received information
when general dempsey said it would cost $1 billion a day or something. it is not a new issue. secretary carter: it is not a new issue. it is a substantial issue mr. mccain:. mr. mccain:you should have a position on it. secretary carter: we have not recommended that. we have presented the alternative. mr. mccain: you do not agree with general petraeus, secretary gates, secretary clinton. secretary carter: we do not have a -- mr. mccain: after all these years we do have a concert of operations? secretary carter: that we are prepared to recommend. senator reed: you have spoken exclusively about forces trained by the department of defense. you can't title x but there are a lot of titles in the u.s. code. there are other forces on the ground that our coalition trained, that have
come under attack by the russians. that is clear. secretary carter: absolutely true. but they have been placed in areas which for many reasons have not been subject to aerial attacks. secretary carter: they are fighting isil. the russians are not. even though they said they were. but the go back. -- let me go back. it has shifted to train individual units to the i sil fight to providing some training to the leader and then some support. this is another aspect of approach which i would like to clarify. individualaders, but
enablers pride people with technical skills that can go in to the deployed units and provide those skills. is that still being done? secretary carter: that is so part of the approach. the big differences rather than trying to form brand-new units we are identifying units already fighting isil, providing them equipment and as you pointed out, after vetting their leadership, providing them with selected abilities that help enablementge our from the air. the program is able to do that and in addition grow not so much units but teams of syrian nationals that can go in as specialists, a whole range of issues. air support, medical support, logistic support and aid.
secretary carter: exactly. we are transactional in this. we are giving some equipment, butng how they performed, these are groups that already exist moving in the areas north of rocca is an example of that. secretary carter: you just returned from iraq and you had conversations with the prime minister. reportsre disconcerting of imitations that the intelligence level with the russians, what is your latest estimate of that, is it something that was a more political statement or is there actual ongoing real efforts. general dunford: i ask that specific question to all bc -- all the senior leaders.
i was assured at every level that would be the case. can i follow up on the train and equip. we suspended the program. i wanted to clarify one point. individuals we previously trained, we are still supporting them when they are in the fight and there i number that are doing the things that you spoke about. support forviding forces fighting isil. reed: we are talking now about the syrian arab coalition and training those large groups. when we seen is opportunities we ought to develop operations.
mr. reed: both your testimonies highlighted the inability of the government in baghdad to fully support sunni forces. some of that is historic mistrust. from your testimony you are considering having american advisers not at the company level but higher up. one function they could perform is to be an honest broker which would allow the payment of troops, the government of magnetic deal they have some control, and demand on behalf of sunni forces they get a fair share. there are four: reasons why you might consider putting forces in a company
role. the first is what you are suggesting, to bring campaign coherence. the other is to ensure logistic support is effective. another challenge is situational awareness and intelligence. that would be another advantage of doing that. then the better delivery of combined arms. there are four factors that would be considered. impact,nal or strategic we could reinforce success. that would be the basic framework of which i made a recommendation. to make the record clear there are coalition supported an american supported forces that are in syria being attacked by russians aircraft. is that true or false? secretary carter: there are moderate syrian opposition forces in syria supported by the
coalition and people that we think are part of serious future and part of the syrian political transition. they are being attacked and that is not iso-and that is why the russian approach -- mr. mccain: and that is why it is immoral to train people m and and fight to go in and watch them being destroyed and maimed and killed. secretary carter: for our part, as i said before this committee we have a moral obligation. making an: you are distinction without a difference for these are american supported and coalition supported men who are going and being slaughtered. >> senator cotton is presiding. we will d return to regular order. senate equivalent
of staff duty. you talked about are nine lines of effort. not all of those are military lines of effort. secretary carter: that is correct. cotton: who are those non-defense lines of defense? of thery carter: one things i have proposed and secretary kerry has excepted, that he and i meet periodically with the other agency heads to have the other lines of effort. his successor, ambassador mcgurk will be there. ,hen i look at this campaign since all of these lines of effort, it is necessary to have moving in concerts, we needed a better effort to do that. secretary kerry has agreed to do that with me. we had four meetings.
financing,counter before that, foreign fighter flow into the conflict region and out of the conflict region two-year of, around the world. we are addressing messaging, and sil's effortss -- i to recruit people online. there are different dimensions to this that are not military per se but i believe there are opportunities to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts and i have fought to seize those opportunities with secretary kerry, now with general dunford, and to make sure all of these different efforts are coordinated. they are all important. the other participants are doing important things. i think the whole can be greater
than the sum of its parts. that is the intent. cotton: is that a way saying that there is not a single person? secretary carter: there has not been a single person with that responsibility. general à la how the responsibility for assembling the coalition which you did with great skill and to his credit, ambassador mcgurk, we had a broad coalition. assembling the mechanics of all of the nine lines of effort, that is something i am undertaking to do with secretary and we are gathering in the other parties that are involved. for an organizational change. a few years ago before the major russian movement in syria the united states government requested iran
and iraq close its airspace. how do we transmit that? secretary carter: i do not know the mechanics of that. can i get back to you on that? i simply don't know. mr. cotton: is that something the department of defense would do? the white house? i believe that: would be delivered by ambassador jones in baghdad. mr. cotton: bulgaria accepted it. general dunford: decline the request. mr. cotton: and let russian air
>> they have limited air capability. >> if the united states government requested airspace over russia, surely they would assist iraq. >> it is a sovereign decision by iraq, we are not an interested in it. you raise an important question. is iraq going to cooperate with -- wrongheaded approach in syria. from the primed no uncertain terms, the statement that he will not work with the russians. to bel not allow them partners with iraq in that
regard. we are the preferred partners of iraq. the prime minister has repeated those pledges. i only say that because we feel emphatically about receiving those pledges. we intend to have been implemented by private history body.- prime minister of >> i raise it both with the mr. and france and private mr.. -- and prime minister. nots assured that they had extended that invitation. they don't intend to extend an invitation to do that. our request renew that they exclude russian aircraft from the airspace. our military should be prepared to help with that.
thank you. you.or mccain: thank my question is, what is their in game? theree been bogged down sometime. when i go to west virginia and talk to citizens, -- fax you have to have people feel like they're safe. as the country rebuilds, there are still people there that are basically peaceloving, well educated. we have not made a decision on that. i know that the chairman has asked about that. involvementussia's' -- they are more involved in working with iran to have influence in my valuation. you look at the united states come we are more concerned about iphone -- isil.
endgame, and the what part will we play in this? unless we take on russia or check russia from what they're are doing, unless we have some type of diplomatic relation with them, i see russia as being in the situation to where they are going to be a major broker in that region. iran seems to be -- if you will -- more influential frs in iraq as far as in iraq and syria. isire out there fighting l, we are not protecting the people that put security back into syria. it is a confusing situation. it is hard for us to say what the endgame is. somebody has any explanation
for that and tell me what we are trying to accomplish, i would be happy to hear it. >> i will take that, senator. objective paramount is to defeat of isil. >> that is our number one priority. -- on by : they said they would fight isil, that is not what they're doing. this is just fuels the civil war. >> the united states and russia has two complete different objectives. secretary carter: they say that. >> they are in line with iran when it comes to protecting assad. secretary carter: iran has office -- has also supported assad.
the endgame has to be a transition in which assad is no longer running the country. we would like to see that occur, and as peaceful and promptly as possible. we would like there to be the -- of -- >> is it obviously that russia and iran will have more influence on who the next leader will be then we will? secretary carter: i don't think they could reach their of that -- sure of that. the future of syria will be in the hands of the syrian people. many of those are syria moderate opposition leaders who are being forces withassad's russia's health. help.have -- russia's >> have we been able to identify the peaceloving?
secretary carter: there is a section. there is all the way through moderate to isil. >> it is so hard to go home and explain our involvement unless we have a no-fly. and protect those who want to be there to rebuild. we will not have much to work with. >> the chairman said something important in his opening comments, i think that is exactly what the military campaign is designed to do. that is to provide leverage. i think what we over president are options that will allow us to generate the confidence in the military campaign against isil that will give us leverage. coachese two separate -- approaches. when is we are dealing with is il on the ground.
broadere there are political negotiations taking place to determine the future of the transitional government. i think right now it is clear to me what we should be doing on the military side -- that is taking the fight to isil, generating momentum, giving confidence to the campaign. >> of i could talk to the campaign -- chairman. are the rebels or coalition forces, which we are supporting and syria, are they more intent on fighting assad, or isil. >> the individuals we are supporting -- specifically those in the north are fighting isil. dunford: even though we do have other groups that are beginning to negotiate in the south. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
rules have always been to submit the statements 24 hours in advance. it is really helpful to us if we can get that. i would ask and future hearings to do that. appreciate the fact that both the chairman and you, secretary carter mentioned by name, josh wheeler. he is from oklahoma. -- heone who is certainly was a hero before all of this happened. by his actions he saved 70 lives of hostages and fellow members of the coalition task force. i appreciate very much you talking about him. you are here before, secretary ju, isil still
controls much of iraq despite a year of u.s. airstrikes and the loss of ramadi. russia continues military buildup in syria. they began operations to support iraq. beenforces in syria have joined by iranian support forces from lebanon, hezbollah to support the assad regime. they previously directed attacks on u.s. forces in iraq. we talked about the change in the program which i would like you to elaborate on. and your statement that we got this morning, secretary carter, you said "to be clear, we are not corporate with russia. we're not letting russia impact the face of our campaign against syria."aq, and
last week -- some time ago we had dr. kissinger as a witness, but then last week we had five professors that were there, in one of our early good hearings we had on wednesday or thursday. kissinger when he said, "syria is the latest symptom of a disintegration of the american role in the civilizing the middle east order." do you think that is inconsistent with your statements, secretary carter? secretary carter: i think that the middle east is certainly a oncetumultuous -- but again i come back to our role is to protect american interests in that circumstance. whether it be the fight against , our alliances and partnerships with gulf countries, and israel.
our posture in the gulf. all of that is intended to protect american interests in the middle east. is the middle east mulch with? -- tumultuous? you bet. >> from what i read, it is not consistent with that. ,hat do you think, general about kissinger's statement? >> what i agree with the former secretary is that we have a critical role to play in the middle east. we have national interest in the middle east. we should be decisively engaged in advancing those national interest. ok, i know this is about the middle east, ukraine is another example of what our posture is in that part of the world. a lot of us here were -- i was actually there during last election in october.
years, theyme in 96 don't have one communist and their party. that was a pro-western effort. immediately food and started killing them all. -- and started killing them all. do you agree this is the right response? to maintain what you have always perceived to be our role? >> i don't want to be evasive, but i'm not sure it would be appropriate for me to comment on a issue of policy. my job is to provide military options to our leadership. in support of policy. >> let me asking the question, what is the status in falluja? >> it is being held by insurgents.
that is one of the areas that has been identified for future operations by iraqi security forces. secretary carter, secretary carter, if there is one lesson it seems to me we have -- should have learned in the middle east and north africa by now it's that every time we think it cannot get worse, there is not an in game -- and again, it can. saddam hussein gave us a war. in libya we removed a brutal dictator only to see chaos and extremism rain across what can now only loosely be called a country. two reference senator manchin's
comments that we need to think about it into game -- and in game. i think about many of our colleagues think the solution in syria is to focus on the removal of the assad regime. rather than the focus on isil. fall, thatme was to could create -- without stability, how confident are you that syria would not slip into a more chaotic date -- state, potentially trending our allies, creating new opportunities for , and creating a new wave of refugees that could make the current outpouring look modest? secretary: the endgame we seek , andth the defeat of isil a transition in syria.
you are right, the sooner that occurs, the more likely it is that the structures of syrian society are not completely destroyed either time that transition occurs -- by the time that transition occurs. that is why they are trying to get a thought out -- a sod out and now the forces opposing a ssad. the sooner that occurs the better. that is why we are supporting a political transition. at the same time we have to defeat isil. assy point with respect to ad, we need to think about what comes next. i believe that he talks that secretary kerry was having with various parties are precisely deciding what the
contours of the political settlement would be, and what would come after it. one of the reasons why it is so important that this occur quickly is that the structures of the syrian state will be important to the future. we do not want them to disintegrate entirely. the syrian fueling civil war, which is so wrongheaded. >> with respect to the no-fly zone brought up earlier, what would be the limitations? perspective,itary we can implement a no-fly zone. we have the capability to do that. are political, legal, and i diversion of the resources currently fighting isil.
those are among the factors we consider we look at the no-fly zone. >> moving back to you, secretary carter, you're in previous appearance before the committee in july, he emphasized that abadi was doing everything he could to recruit sunnis to the fight. do you still feel this way and can you update the committee on the progress or lack of progress . >> it is still true. is recapture of western iraq going to require sunni forces that participate, of course that keep the peace after it is one. that is why we are so intent on getting sunni fighters into the fight. the legacy of primus or maliki was to make the armed forces more secretary into the fate of
the sunnis. i think that the prime minister is trying, but i think that but honestly they need to do more. if we are going to reverse it, we need to recruit, arm, adequate sunni forces -- equip sunni forces. that is what we are doing with the iraqi forces. that is to be part of the future. the no-fly zone has been studied. i will give you some of the considerations that go into that. the president has not taken anything like this off of the table. you asked if we recommended that, we have not. a no-fly zone would be intended forcevent the syrian air , as the chairman said,
barrel bombing, or otherwise using air powered boat against the civilian population. where they are doing that is over in the western part of the country, not the area where we are flying in now because we are flying and attacking isil further to the east. that area is protected by the syrian air defense system. if we were to fly there, we would need to deal with the air defense system, which is a substantial undertaking of its own that we have -- as the chairman indicated analyzed. we certainly have capabilities to do. be interdicting both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft that are attacking the syrian population. that however most of the civilian casualties forces onby assad's
civilians have been from artillery. this would not do anything about artillery, but our airstrikes. we have analyzed it and made the recommendation to do it at this time. i respect people who are making recommendations for these kinds of zones. there are also humanitarian zones which have been referenced also. those are a portion of syria. congregatee could and be protected. zones would be contested il, so it would have to be defended. it is a substantial military undertaking. the people who live there would therefore take a ground force helping air forces to a college that -- accomplish that.
the people who were protected could be people who lived there, or come i think some people who have moved into turkey, turkey wishes to move back. clear that to keep it safe would require fighting to keep faith. -- it safe. the people who want to terrorize the population would attempt to attack such a zone. you need to think in each case, we have thought through several. who is n, who is kept out, and how the enforcement is done. there are arizona's and ground zones come we have considered all of them. there are air-- zones and ground zones that we have considered. >> anything to add, chairman?
>> thank you, to my colleagues for letting these jump ahead. right,see if i have this we are going to train people inside of syria to fightisil, rather than outside? equip them outside in train them inside, right? new strategy? . >> that is where they are. >> county and for trying to help. do we still want to replace assad? is that our goal? >> yes. a transition from assad to a government of syria that is moderate and together. rice -- smart to let russia fight isil and we stay on? >> russia is not fighting isil. >> that would not be a good idea for us.
click senator, i think we need to be engaged in defending our own national interest. i am not confident that russia is effective at doing it. >> i am 1,000,000% with you. are we going to supply air support for the people we trained to fight isil. to the people want to take assad down? cooks the ones that we support now i supportsil. >> today have the goal to take assad down? >> i don't know. >> what do you mean, you don't know? don't you think people in syria d,nt to fight, destroy assa is that industry? -- a mystery? is russia going to fight for assad? >> russia is. >> will iran fight for assad? >> they are doing that. >> when the people we trained to
turn on assad, which they surely will, we fight with them to replace assad? >> i cannot answer. >> can you answer, secretary carter. that day is coming. where the a scenario people in syria do not take on assad? carter: the people that we are equipping are the people who live and come from isil occupied territory. >> did they want to take assad down? secretary carter: for the most part they are focused on -- >> have you asked them? secretary carter: we know what their intent is. it is to fight iosil. >> both of you know the average syrian wants to destroy isil, but they are intent on
destroying assad. here is the question for this leverage -- how do we assad leaving when russia is going to fight for him, iran is going to fight for him, has the law is going to fight for him, and we are not going to do a thing to help people taken down. -- take him down. you both know that. when kerry goes to geneva, he is turning syria over to the russians and iranians. is there any credible military threat to assad now that russia, ezbollah, are on his side? >> i think the balances of forces are in assad's advantage. >> he is secure as the day is long. this is is what happened, the strategy is falling apart. hezbollah willnd
fight for their guy. and we are not going to do a thing for the people who want to change syria for the better by getting rid of the dictator of damascus. do you see a scenario, secretary carter, where we would fight to support an effort to take assad down? we would fight alongside of people who want to take him down? >> that is remotely possible. secretary carter: of our approach to removing assad has been to -- >> doesn't have a military component? -- does it have a military component? secretary carter: our military efforts -- >> are we going to fight with people who want to take assad down? are we going to provide military health -- health? the answer is no. let me just end this. if i am assad, this is a good day for me. the government -- american government has said without saying it, that they are not going to fight to replace me.
the russians and iranians, and hezbollah, this is a good day for them. their guy has no military credible threat. you tell me what kind of deal will we -- we will get, hope. i am sure we will get a really good deal with this construct. what you have done, gentlemen, along with the president, is you turned syria over to russia and iran. you told the people in syria who have died by the hundreds of thousands, we are more worried about a political settlement than we are about what follows. is is a sad day for america and the region will pay hell for this. the arabs will not accept this. the people in syria will not accept this. mccain: since the quorum is present, i ask the committee to consider a list of military pending nominations.
these have been before the committee for the required length of time. is there a motion to support these? is there a second. all in favor say i. >> thank you. secretary carter, you stated that the primary objective of our action as you describe this morning is that defeat of isil. i am going to dig into that. engaged against isil. when we were on -- it during that week of congressional recess the president sent to congress a war power letter indicating be attachment of 300 american troops to cameron to against thetivities boko haram which has pledged lisa and -- pledged allegiance to isil.
have i left countries out that is either isil activity? >> we are watching isil all of the world. as you know, they use the web. we have had, the director has made it clear, americans who have self radicalized. that isa phenomenon around the world -- we're watching -- not just ourselves, but in law enforcement and intelligence circles, that is one of the reasons they need to be defeated. >> in terms of connecticut activities by the military, and my -- kinetic activities by the military, am i right that is currently deploying troops to cameron? secretary carter: it depends on what you mean. >> senator, we do not currently have operations ongoing in yemen.
we do not have operations against libya against isil. isrsupporting cameron is support. >> we can get you what we are doing in each country. >> i don't want to get into asking about non-title activities that. i think the public record about activities in most countries is playing. we are watching isil in other countries. is it fair to assume, based on your joint national judgment continues to mutate and find adherents in other countries. we may have to contemplate dod activity against isil and nations other than those that i mentioned. secretary carter: it could come to that. that is why we need to kill the source. that is in syria and iraq. >> it is fair to assume -- is it
fair to assume -- we pray this is not the case, that the death of sergeant wheeler might not be the last death of an american servicemember in this campaign? secretary carter: i think we need to be realistic. positions will be in -- they are right now every day. there are people flying right now. there are people training and advising forces there. they are in harms way, there is no doubt. quickly have lost service personnel before sergeant wheeler, not necessarily in direct combat, but as you say they were in positions of danger because of their support for this mission against isil. secretary carter: make no mistake, they are in harms way. >> in your professional judgment , your notion that the primary objective is defeat of isil. how long will it take? secretary carter: it needs to be -- i can't tell you.
i think that it needs to be soon. which is why we are so intent on strengthening our effort. that is why we are working with the iraqis and trying to get them to strengthen our training and equipping of the sunni forces. that is why we are prepared to do more with those forces in iraq. the president has indicated that. willingness for the chairman and me to make recommendations in that regard. to enable the sunni forces so they can take back the sunni territories of iraq. in syria it is rocco. the coalition forces that are intent to get back to the question -- they want to iraq -- attack rocco. that is occupied by isil. they therefore deserve our risk -- support. >> when you say soon, let's be
realistic, are we talking -- with all the countries we mentioned, and your acknowledgment the leader could be more -- are we talking about an effort that is likely to be a multiyear effort? secretary carter: and that is probably the case. the reason is that the strategy is an important part of the strategy. support capable and motivated that can retake and hold territory. that is the only way for a lasting victory. it takes time to identify those forces, to motivate those forces, to train them. it depends on the political circumstances in both iraq and syria. it does depend on a political circumstances. ist is not something that
anything other than a very real factor there. that is necessary for a lasting defeat. to be defeated, but to stay defeated. the people who live there need to govern themselves and restore peace and order. that is what takes time. to develop forces. it is hard work. that is what we are doing in iraq. it will take some time. >> mr. chair, i will conclude and say that i think that answer about the complexity and the fact that this, under any circumstances go to take the time is irrelevant one for us. -- a relevant one for us. the administration that gave the authority to wage this war was based on authorization passed on system or 18th, 2001, before many of us were here. it specifically said the
president is authorized to use ,orce against those who planned authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on september 11, 2001. i would renew my observation, i think it would be far beyond contemplation to members of congress who voted on that at the time. it is certainly beyond the contemplation of those of us who did not vote at the time that those words would be applying 15 years later to an effort in the countries i just mentioned. you take the other countries by the admission of our witnesses today, likely to take a good deal more. i think it is very much time that congress revisit the question of this authorization. try to provide underlying legal justification for the ongoing military action. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary carter, which you a south -- would you assess isil
to be one of the most capable groups on the battlefield? secretary carter: i would. they are ferocious. they are extremely cruel and brutal. forcesse some of these that are not trying to brutalize the population, but trying to fight assad are, as has been indicated, more moderate syrian forces. they do not behave that way. that is why they deserve to be and will be part of the syrian political future after assad. >> are you concerned that the russian and romanian attacks will further polarize battlefield. we will see more moderate fighters cooperate with isil, and al nusra. secretary carter: that is precisely the point i am a to the russians. the way i put it, they are pouring gasoline on the civil war in syria by supporting iraq.
the are going to enhance very extremism that they say they fear. they have every reason to fear. now isil, and other groups, oppositionyrian groups are turned against russia. russia has had bitter experience with extremism in their own country. their actions are not consistent with their words. i keep using the phrase, wrongheaded. they are doing one thing, there are other. >> have you told russia not to attack units trained by the u.s. or avoid certain areas where u.s. affiliated groups might be operating? have you indicated to the russians in any way that the united states will respond to such attacks? secretary carter: we certainly indicated that we continue our ice -- counter isil plan
unchanged. >> you have communicated to the russians that if there are attacks on u.s. trained troops or unit in any way that we will respond? secretary carter: i said earlier in this testimony, publicly, we have an obligation to our forces that we have trained and equipped to protect them. we intend to do that. >> that does not include the coalition trained units, is that correct? secretary carter: we don't control all of the opposition forces to assad. our train and equip program of the department runs is oriented towards fighters whose principal occupation is fighting isil. there are others fighting assad, they do come under attack by the russians. some of them deserve to be part of the syrian political future,
that is a serious mistake on russia's part. >> would it be a serious mistake on russia's part to attack any units that have been trained by other agencies besides the department defense? would we have a response in that case? secretary carter: that is something we would have to talk about separately. secretary, they stated in article two of the constitution allows the president to use force against assad if he attacks syrian rebels trained by the u.s.. i would assume that a similar determination has been made with the spec to using force against russian plane if they attack u.s. trained rebels, is that true? carter was letting ricky what i said -- let me repeat what i said -- for the department of defense forces that we are training and equipping in syria, we have an obligation to protect them. they are fighting isil, they are
far from the territory that is contested to where the russians are operating. we do have an obligation to defend them. with respect to other syrian opposition forces, that is something we would have to do discuss -- discussed. >> with the united states take action against russian airplanes if they were attacking u.s. units? secretary carter: just to repeat -- we have indicated that we have an obligation, we have options to protect our people from whom we have trained against attack. >> i would appreciate if you could provide us with more information for the records, specificallyf the unit states forces have the legal authority to intervene if assad's forces attacked u.s. trained fighters, but not if russia attacks such fighters?
if you could provide some clarification there, specifically legal authority. secretary carter: will do, but the short form is, we have an obligation, i believe we have legal authority to do that. i am happy to put that in more detail meant. there are other aspects you are alluding to that we would have to talk about in a closed section -- session. >> thank you. before senatory, graham again his important line of questioning i wrote in my notes, the opposition will never push a thought out as long as russia and iran are all in. i think that is the reality. is, what do we do about that? heinrich: we cannot say there will be a political solution and negotiations. the negotiations will fly out of the military situation.
they will not negotiate as long as they think they are solidly in power, which they clearly think they do. on the other hand, a no-fly zone with ring us into direct conflict with the russian air force. that raises questions. give me some more thoughts on senator graham's line of questioning. let's be realistic, wishing is not we make a policy. assad will be there as long as russia and iran are willing to stay all in. how do we change that? without a significant committal of military power. ,ecretary carter: first of all assad isan support to having the effective increasing and catalyzing, and motivating the opposition to assad. both thebelieve that
russians and syrians will see the effects of that on the battlefield. they will be conditioned by the military situation on the ground. with respect to political transition, at what point russia will recognize its actions were civil war ands the extremes of -- extremism fears, i can't speak to. that is what secretary kerry is exploring with the russians. >> i cannot tell you if they will reach that conclusion. isis ishave to tell if a bigger threat or the loss of assad. i agree with you, that is the narrow diplomatic opening. they seem to right now trying to have it both ways. as you say, they cannot. as long as they propped up
assad, they are essentially propping up isis. secretary carter: there is no question. i have said that from the day it started. why it is so wrongheaded, their approach. at what stage they will recognize that, i don't know. i commend secretary kerry for talking to them and trying to find a different way. they have to reach that recognition. part of that will be learned of the battlefield. part of it will be learned in terms of extremism, and how it is turned on russia. >> the question the of ministration has to address is how do we put pressure on assad to change the military calculus in such a way that it will move that population. -- calculation. both of you use the term with the regard to the iraq he army, capably motivated to iraqi forces.
is there any likelihood that that is changing? >> there are some, but not nearly enough. for example, the counterterrorism service, which is anined by the u.s. effective, capable, motivated force. what we lack enough of in iraq are capable, and motivated sunni forces. the type of force that is in short supply. that is why it is so important that the government of iraq continue to recruit sunnis, pay them. we will equip them and train them and support them in the .utfield -- in the battlefield it will require sunni forces to retake sunni territories. he give lip service, does he understands this?
if he does not, we are sunk. secretary carter: he has been consistent in what he has told us. heinrich by -- mr. heinrich: but his actions? prime ministerr: al-abadi does not have completes way over everything that happens in iraq. we have insisted anything we do to support horses must be by and through the government of iraq. very clearly, you see it, there are militias of various kinds. shia militias that are inadequately in control of the government of baghdad. the forces that we support are those that are under control of prime minister abadi. believealked to him, i he is sincere in wanting to do the right thing.
wanting to do the right thing and having complete authority are two different things in baghdad. his authority is growing in that regard. we do not have the sunni forces recruited, paid, enrolled, trained, and so forth that we need and want. >> i certainly hope we will use our influence to the maximum. if that does not happen, this whole enterprise is all for not. thank you. >> it is a difficult time, i was in theater with a handful colleagues. i was disturbed by what i see going on in the ground. >> you said music continue the
momentum -- you said we need to continue the momentum. we actually have to have momentum to continue. right now the only group i see in iraq that is fighting isil that have momentum is the .urdish press mar they have been great allies to us. over the past several months we have had prestigious form of military commanders and government officials such as the petraues.general betray all of them agreed we need to enhance our support to the iraqi kurds as part of a more copper has a strategy against -- competence is strategy against isis. i am concerned right now our the weapons,emeals
equipment, we have various types of calibers of weapons going from our coalition partners in the united states to the kurdish. transporter, as a supported those forces, our forces in iraq, i know how difficult this would be for any army. --meali soe dealing muchng. what is our strategy to develop a more capable force for the long-term fight for isis? carter: you are absolutely right. are an excellent example of motivated ground forces they have taken and held territory. in the operation
conducted this past week. them,espect to equipping and you know from your logistics background as you indicated very certainty of supply are important to them. we have a policy of routing equipment to the kurdish peshmerga through the government of baghdad. i think that is where the hinge turns for your question, for the reason to get back to what senator mccain was asking, our approach to iraq is to try to support a multi-secretary and government in baghdad. we are trying to do both, supply the kurdish peshmerga, and al-abadi.ime minister in the early days that issue led
to some delay in our supplies to the kurdish peshmerga. those delays do not occur now. not just the way it is us, there are more than 14 other countries that should be tons of equipment. i do not believe that there now is a bottleneck in our supply for the kurdish peshmerga. we still do go through the shipping through and with the permission of the government of baghdad for the very simple reason that we need to stick up for the principle. >> i do believe we need to do a better job at this. general, if i could turn to you, forcesthe iraqi security or army -- how to their fires and effect unit compared to the kurdish peshmerga's units?
general: i think the best of the iraqis we trained compare favorably to the kurdish peshmerga. they have confident forces. they are comparable. >> we are utilizing them to the best of our capability? general: we are. that is important because the one thing the commanders told me is that those brigades we put through training, there is a qualitative difference in their performance. there are two brigades surrounding ramadi, those have performed at a higher level than other units. as well as this c.t.s. has performed well. that training and advising and assisting low the division level will be important in any future operations? general: from a training perspective in particular, yes. >> i do believe that needs to be
a part of our decision-making process as we move forward. thank you, mr. chairman. >> and your testimony he went over a number of areas we need to focus on in our fight to defeat isil. you said that we need to do more to cut the flow of foreign fighters to isil. can you briefly describe what we're doing now, and what more we need to do in this area? secretary carter: we have a team on the ground. - general: we have a team on the ground. we have mostly a military view of foreign fighters. when i sat down and spoke to the team, one of the challenges clear is that we do not have amongst all of the coalition the kind of common view of where the foreign fighters come from, how they move back and forth, but more importantly, not much of a track on where they go once they leave back to their home country.
from my perspective, this is an area that the secretary and i spoke to secretary kerry about last week, we need you much more. -- to do much more. the legal,maximize military, and political tools that are available to us to cut off the flow of foreign fighters. >> is this an area that we will see some kind of measurable improvement? general: when i came back there are two areas we need to focus on to move the campaign. i engage on our foreign fighters and intelligence. appreciableee some -- measurable improvements. i know you cannot talk about the intelligence side of things in this setting. , you saidcarter that the timeframe for defeating isil better be same.
-- soon. understand,ing we this whole area of the world is a very located. it is, i realize, difficult to what ahone in on reasonable timeframe maybe. with regard to assad, there were indications he was about to collapse. his regime was going to collapse. now that russia has come in to bolster that regime, how long do you think that assad can be propped up by russia's actions? putin think that vladimir is looking at a long-term scenario where assad stays in place? is he more interested in the stability of syria for russia's interests? secretary carter: i cannot say what vladimir putin is thinking
about assad's future. i can tell you about his behavior and what it suggests. does want tohe support at least for now. assad. avoid the collapse of the syrian , ite, which as you indicated think he believed could occur. that was one of the things that support for assad. i told you what i think about that. i think it will backfire. i think it will have the opposite effect he is seeking. it enhances the opposition to assad. it also enhances the extremism he says he fears. it is not sensible. that appears to be what his behavior suggests.
>> that appears to be his immediate goal. i think that's why mayor smart enough to figure out if he wants stability in syria, he might be -- get get it as -- not it as long as assad is in power. if ado we need to do no-fly zone is declared in syria, what do we need to do to sticks?e that that zone either one of you. general: we have now for quite a while, preceding my time as secretary of defense -- have now carter: we for quite a while preceding my time as secretary of defense analyzed no-fly zones. int would require operating a country where we are not conducting operations now, and where there are syrian air
defenses. if we are going to put aircrews met environment we would have to take care of those defenses. that is a substantial military undertaking. >> one thing could be that assad -- would not abide by that? secretary carter: you have to assume that the no-fly zone would be contested by assad because the intent was to engage his the air force -- his air force. a have not undertaken to take -- have u.s. forces engaged assad's forces in a war for control. >> that is probably one of the reasons. with that scenario it is probably one of the reasons we hesitate. secretary carter: is a new military undertaking. likewise, zones on the ground would have to be defended as well. there are military evocations --
invocations. we have not made recommendations. >> thank you. are unable to: we establish a no-fly zone to protect people from being barrel bombed by assad and russia. that is embarrassing. secretary carter: we could do it. senator mccain: people like petrauesfo could do it0 history shows that they will not do it if they get shot down. senator: secretary carter said that the russian presence in syria has not affected the pace or scope of u.s. operations there. is that because the pace is slow any scope is narrow? how does that happen when we
have the administration saying that we are not going to have any sort of conflict with russian air presence in syria? it seems like it is affecting the pace and scope. i do. because we are focused on isil, and the russians are conducting operations, we are not operating in the same area. we have had two or three incidents. those proceeded the memorandum of understanding. >> that goes back to what chairman mccain said. that is because we are not providing support to those who trained. >> we are operating in two different areas. iraq, i wouldin like an update on the iranian
presence. secondly, i have only been here for 10 months. the discussion about having the thei government reengage sunnis is already a broken record. there any tangible evidence they have actually acted on the words? general dunford: there has been some progress. in the andy barr province, there is an agreement to train and equip sunni. there have been those that have been recruited. slow progress. mr. sullivan: is that more of a transactional win? are you saying -- seen
systematic changes? general dunford: i cannot say i have seen systemic changes. senator sullivan: what about the presence right now? general dunford: may have forces. the number have been bounced around to read you say 1000? i think there are more than 1000 iranians underground in iraq. mr. sullivan: and in syria? lessal dunford: we think than 2000, our assessment. mr. sullivan: i appreciate you mentioning sergeant wheeler. i know he was from oklahoma. he and his wife and four sons including a three-month-old lived in north carolina. in that particular operation, you made a comment those are operations that are probably occurring frequently. if not on a daily basis,
frequently. american soldiers are at risk. i think the -- would consider that a combat operation. do consider it a combat operation? secretary carter: he was killed in combat. that was not the intent. when he saw they were running into trouble, he heroically way the report suggested spell the difference between the success and failure. mr. sullivan: i want to start with general dunford. did you consult with the president before he vetoed the aa? do consider the nda positive or negative to men and women? general dunford: my job is to
fulfill -- figure out the requirements we need. mr. sullivan: those requirements are not going to be fulfilled unless we can come up with a solution. secretary carter, where you consulted by the president before he told the nda? what was recommendation? myretary carter: determination was to support his veto. i supported it. i will tell you why. two principal reasons. i started saying this in march. mr. sullivan: i'm going to be out of time. the degree the chair will let you can can you come defer. are you telling me the theident's veto leaves military better off than with it? mr. carter: the president's veto
thate ndaa is something reflected two fax. one, we need and i believe the department of defense needs budget stability greater than a one-year horizon. mr. sullivan: nobody disagrees with you. that is a well-worn path. i find it remarkable given the circumstances we are in now and the testimony, we would take a step back while continuing to fight that fight. that requires a willing administration. this demonstration is not willing to confront the challenges these men and women have in uniform today. taking a step back in these dangerous times doesn't make sense.
if i can just say, i think what we need is what i hope is going on now. a true budget agreement where washington comes together behind an honest straightforward budget with our multi-year horizon. that is what the department deserves. that is what i have been saying for months. perhaps that is occurring as we speak. i can only be honest and say what i think is best for the department. realize no individual member or committee can deliver that. i fervently hope that occurs. i know there is some indication over the last couple of days that might occur. that is what i have been urging ever since march. i hope that can occur.
those with the troops deserve and the world needs to see. if you want to complete your answer, please continue or have you completed at? mr. carter: one other aspect i would ask the committee, there are a number of reforms we have requested for several years consecutively that have been denied. mr. mccain: for example. secretary carter: some having to do with health care, adjustments in force structure. these are things the relevant armed services have determined are the optimal use of their resources. the authority to carry out those reforms has been denied. to allowpeal to you
thereforms because it is professional judgment of the department of defense that a better use for those funds can be had. in years when it is difficult to find funding for the federal government and i understand the reasons, we have to use every did for the best use. we are not able to do that with some of the restrictions. that is why a would ask you to reconsider. thank you for the time to elaborate on that. senator mccain: i would also point out there is $11 billion in savings. staff, which will be glad to show you the dramatic growth. many other reforms that have been made. i look forward to looking at further reforms with you as we
hearings and further, very necessary reforms that we feel are called for. reformsud of the frankly. proud that we have dramatically revised the retirement system. that we are finally getting a thate on the cost overruns have characterized acquisition practices. you may have some concerns. committeeg on this for 30 years, i cannot tell you bipartisan am of the reform. >> i think you personally. i don't mean that reforms haven't been enacted.
there are additional ones we would like to have. theonly way we can ask taxpayers to get more money for defense which is what we need is if we shall we use the dollars well. i appreciate your leadership. mr. mccain: i think you. we do look forward to it and will have hearings beginning this week on restructures that i -- and i am glad to work closely with a graduate of west point. senator blumenthal: thank you for your service to our nation and for your candid and forthright answers. as you may know, i am working with a number of colleagues who supported and opposed the comprehensive plan of action.
by providing more military assistance to our allies in the area and anticipating some of the financial windfall will go toward increased extremism. this legislation will reassert our dedicationrm to imposing sanctions and assure that our allies, especially israel, will be provided with so thatt that they need their defense will be bolstered.
you have just visited the area and you tell us what additional assets you can provide. carter, i ask you to join in this question. the u.s. well bolster assets assetso israel and other in the middle east. comment on the legislation. thank you. >> i can tell you the minister of defense is here. we will have dinner with him. they are developing their perspective on what cooperation we might have with them. to include the details of capability development. i had initial discussions with their prime minister during my visit. >> in the conversations that the agreement, i was
assured and other colleagues were assured in effect israel would receive all the necessary assistance to make sure it's qualitative edge is maintained and enhanced. policy?the >> this is an important part of the overall policy toward the middle east. that is what i will be talking to. along with the chairman, the defense minister, about today. that is one ingredient of the overall support for israel. add, other golf partners and allies. ask, since you are mentioning the iran nuclear agreement, the maintenance. i continue to pay personal attention to that. i believe the chairman does as well.
our efforts to counter iranian influence. a lot of dimensions to what we do. all of those activities remain unchanged. the military option. support for israel, other gulf countries. that is long-standing pursuit of american interests and we are going to keep doing that. >> i recognize the policy remains unchanged with the military aspects will have to be increased. >> we will have to do more with israel. that is one of the subjects of my discussion. as it was when i visited a couple of months ago and he hosted me the way i will be hosting him. >> can you tell us whether you are satisfied with the progress? >> we have been -- have a very good relationship.
these are discussions among friends. israel ands with have a closeness there. that we have with very few other countries around the world. i cannot go into all the details. defense ery close relationship. >> i would appreciate you sharing those details in a different form. i'm interested in the discussions underway. i want to be satisfied we are fulfilling the commitments made to myself and my colleagues in the course of the discussion before the iran agreement. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you gentlemen. general betray
petreaus was here recently. whether u.s. credibility is on the line. especially when an action contradicts policy statements. most of the members like many see this as a significant problem that only in the middle east but beyond. believedunford, do you in action has its own cause? military wayu.s. the cost of doing nothing when you are presenting options to for options on what we should be doing in the middle east? >> first of all, i absolutely agree. in action is a next double when we talk about protecting our national interests. with regard to whether we options,ilitary
absolutely. it is my responsibility to articulate both the opportunity cost and risk associate with not taking action. >> secretary carter, many members of the committee have been concerned about u.s. in of thein another part world. the south china sea. a lot of us on this committee andin action raising costs undermining credibility. there are those who are called --m entry of your speech complementary of your speech. ofust read about the freedom didgation operation that we yesterday. is that true? did we do that? secretary carter: we have made a commitment and i appreciate your
support. as part of the rebalance to the asia-pacific. are doing more at sea. we are doing more in terms of presidents. answer, we areal acting on the basis of saying we will fly, sale, and operate lawever international operates. >> did we send a destroyer within the 12 miles own? secretary carter: they have -- there have been operations in that region. i don't want to, rate -- comment on a particular operation. >> if we do that in a built-up island undersea, submerged rock. is that consistent with international law?
should we be doing that on a regular basis. in terms of freedom of navigation. fly,tary carter: we will operate, and sale wherever international law allows. region knowbe whether the press reports are accurate. another area where it seems like in action seems to be inviting more russian aggression. operations are changing facts on the ground. you talked about the arctic. a major area of importance to the u.s.. strategically and economically, in the future, but you said it is fair to say we are late to the recognition of that. it is also fair to say the russians are not linked to the recognition of that. since your confirmation, the russians have done the following in the arctic. a new arctic military command.
14 new operational airfields in the russian arctic. announcements of up to 50 new airfields by 2020. a 30% increase of russian special forces in the arctic. 40 icebreakers. we have two and one is broken. huge and claims. increased patrols. a major military exercise in march that cut the military off guard. 3000 militaryover vehicles. 41 ships. 15 submarines. hundred 10 military aircraft. airborne troops in that exercise. a lot of this concerns the committee. which the president
vetoed, we had a unanimous agreement to create an operations plan for the arctic. tot is an important step picture we have good operations. i give me your commitment to work with this committee on a robust plan that will enable us aggression ina's the arctic and maintain adequate ability in that area of the world, given that that is in the ndaa? secretary carter: you have mine, and i appreciate your leadership. the arctic is an important region for the u.s. and the entire world. we need to do more there. that youate the fact are a champion of that and consider me a supporter. we will have a chance to discuss that in alaska later this week. >> general dunford?
sometimes here in this committee, we have a sense of frustration. about a reports are u.s. destroyer. naming the destroyed. going inside the 12 miles own. around the islands. why would you not confirm or sincehat that happened all the details happened? this is what frustrates the committee. it is out in the media. and he will not even tell us. maybe you understand our frustration. secretary carter: i understand your frustration. i match it with my own frustration. these are operations we should be conducting normally. mccain: the american
people should know about it. he refused to confirm or deny ?omething over the media you come before the committee and say you will not comment on it? why? secretary carter: i am not going to be point. i don't like in general the idea of talking about military operations. what you read in the newspaper is accurate. but i don't want to say more than that. i don't want to say when, weather, and how we operate anywhere in the world. mccain: i don't to key asked you when and how. confirm.her you can secretary carter: i can. >> i want to get back to syria. some of the question is the chairman was asking about save zones. we seem lost. we seem lost.
confusion about what to do next, unable to put any real marker down. any plan for success. the people are voting and voting with their feet. they are leaving. there are refugees all over the world. for safehe opportunity zones. i hear we are worried about the russians. at what point do we put a plan together? and tell them, stay out of the way? i distinguish a safe zone from a no-fly zone. a safe zone is on the ground. we have analyzed them and discuss them with partners in the region. they are instaly not in -- principally not in regions where we would expect them to be contested.
they have to be defended against that threat. that is the military undertaking. in the region, we have not made that recommendation. people have to leave before we make that decision? senator, ifrter: you create a zone like that, you do have to ask who was going to come into the zone. are there people who have left syria who are going to return to syria? from turkey or europe? occupy a zone from which they did not come? to there other people coming that zone? you have to ask yourself, for whom would it be attractive? secondly -- >> probably some of the folks in germany who would have rather
stayed in their own country. secretary carter: if they wish to return the part of the country for which the zone is created. it would depend on where it was. we have talked about this time after time again. why are we unwilling to send a that if heassad continues with barrel bombing, we will stop him? secretary carter: we have not undertaken to engage as the u.s. military, the syrian military. we have not taken that step. >> have you ever stop the barrel bombing? carter: the way the civil war in syria, and to go back to what we have been saying repeatedly, is for a sod to depart. ssad to depart?
i can see, he has had three or four additional allies on board. the calculation is his cards are getting better. carter: our combat has this priority has been to combat isil. >> in the process, does the u.s. as another nation barrel bombs the people we are trying to protect? carter: we have sought for some time and continue to do a political transition in syria that it would end the civil war. we have not pursued a military solution. expert, we seem lost.
i have extraordinary confidence in the leadership and i would love to see alternate plans. general dunford, i was in iraq a few months ago. was with sunni tribal leaders. i want to ask your best military judgment. spending time with them, they said, look. if you showed an interest in us? had a helicopter come by now and then. showed you really want to to provide us with guidance, logistics, advice. partnership, the friendship we have always felt, we will be there and get the job done. do you think they have that capability? dunford: there are sunnis who can take the fight to the enemy and we have seen that the past area while he continued the iraqi force
gets better, are we sitting here with leaders who have individuals that can actually move isis out? general dunford: we could actually\/\/ -- absolutely recruit more. >> the team is ready to go. you just need to get the signal to go. there,e are people out that we can put together to fight i sold. isil. >> thank you, and thank you secretary carter and general dunford for appearing in front of the committee. the white house has been sending mixed and contradictory messages andt what our interest are what threats to our security exist in the middle east. many americans are
understandably coming to find our current strategy somewhat reminiscent of the old warren zevon song. this action seems to be to send in lawyers, guns, and money, when a crisis breaks out. the situation in the middle east is a complicated problem, but certainly not historically aberrational. for more than 100 years, this region has been dominated by either external powers or internal authoritarians who have destroyed alterable institutions and disrupted the natural development of societies. the decentralization of power in the states combined with radical islam is him amounts to a time-tested recipe for the kind of conflict and instability we are seeing today. we continue to receive mixed reports about the effectiveness
of ongoing efforts to retain, train, and equipped the iraqi security forces. when i ask why we believe it will work this time around, i'm usually told something like the following, well, we have a better political partner in baghdad now than we did before, and we have a partner who will not repeat the mistakes of his predecessor. this is not encouraging. we know how quickly political situations and calculations can change in the middle east. i'm moreunford, concerned by what your predecessor, general dempsey, described as the will to fight factor. i believe that extends beyond simply having a better leader in baghdad. do you believe the kind of united iraq that we've seen for the past century, with borders
drawn by the british and french, and held together user by a western backed monarchy or a baptist dictator, is something for which the people of iraq ,ave the general will to fight especially when they don't have emergency assistance from a coalition like they have right now? general dunford: senator, i think for most people in iraq, it is more local than it is national. i think if the central government would outreach and provide basic services, that we would get sunni fighters that would fight on behalf of the government. we've seen that in the past. >> i'd like to expand the question more broadly to places like syria or yemen. do people of those countries have the will to fight for united governments in places where current territorial lines may have been imposed by a
foreign force? general dunford: there's no evidence i know of that would indicate they wouldn't. >> i think we are looking too to some a simple answer of these complicated questions. i encourage my colleagues and the american people to consider options in the middle east before continuing down paths that i believe may lead to mission creep and to indefinite u.s. military presence to prop up weekend artificially created states designated around unsustainable boundaries. the department of defense's syria train and equip program failed by a long shot. congress put these requirements in place because we were concerned about who would be using u.s. assistance, and for what purposes. secretary carter, does the
failure of this program indicate to you that the viable ground force we desire for syria simply does not exist within the parameters that the american taxpayer may be willing to support? secretary carter: i was disappointed in it as well, but i don't draw that conclusion. there are forces in syria willing to fight isil and capable of fighting isil. kurdsked about the syrian as an example of that. in the new train and equip effort that we described today, we will look to identify and support capable and motivated forces on syrian territory that are willing to take on isil. we identified some already. the new approach is to enable
them, train them, and equipped them, rather than trying to which such forces anew, was the previous approach. i understand why that approach was taken. it was authorized by this committee last december. i understand the considerations that went into that. i have concluded and the president concluded that that wayoach wasn't working the that it was conceived a year ago. that is precisely why we've changed the approach. we have a different approach that we think will allow us to gain more momentum and allow us to put pressure on the self-declared capital of the caliphate. , that is our side intent. we are trying to gather momentum in that. >> thank you.
my time has expired. >> i recognize centered mccaskill. >> senator reid, thank you all for being here, and let me give a mention to master sergeant joshua wheeler. there probably is no better runple of someone who has into danger for this country over and over again. i wanted to mention his name in the hearing today. we all mourn his loss and the loss of his family and we support them through this trying time. senator reid asked you about the new syrian forces. have we provided supplies to those forces? general dunford: we have, senator. >> have they successfully called in air strikes? general dunford: they have. >> can you tell us for the record how many? general dunford: i cannot.
i can get the information for you. >> on iraq, i have a tendency to believe those ig reports that came out september 30. they raised several concerns. one is asking us to refurbish the conditions under which the iraqis are training. d.i.g. recommends the coalition work with the iraqi administer of the fence on a plan that clarifies the contributions of the united states to improve their living conditions. the ig is saying we are having desertions because they live in such squalor. i just think of the billions and billions on infrastructure we spend in iraq and i'm trying to get my arms around it. are we going to go in and fix up something that's going to rot when we leave, or is iraq going to step up to make these conditions palatable?
senator, thisd: is my perspective. i think this is where we are at right now. our relationship with iraq has to be transactional. there has to be certain conditions we would meet before we would provide support. i will provide recommendations for any support to the iraqi forces that would be based on their behavior and their willingness to be true partners and meet certain conditions. grate onl expenditures many of us who have watched the amount of money we wasted in iraq. coming from afghanistan, the same ig report points out a real question whether they have the capability of maintaining this going forward. are there discussions about who is going to their the cost of operational?
general dunford: senator -- >> i'm talking about the ones we are moving over. the u.s. is providing 250 two the iraqi army. general dunford: i can't comment on what the arrangements are but i will get that information for you, senator. typically, when we provide that of women, it is as is condition. just want to make sure we not going to the expense of sending something that isn't operational, that we don't want to spend a lot of money to fix up, and they don't have the canola the -- don't have the capability of maintaining. secretary carter knows this has been a refrain from the beginning.
it makes no sense to give them things if they can't sustain it. that is one of the reasons we are having problems in iraq right now. they were incapable of sustainability. i won't go into details here, but i'm trying to get at helping the veterans that were subjected to mustard gas experiments. i'm having a really difficult time about this. they are saying that even if i have the name of a veteran and the privacy waiver, they will not give me information out of your mustard gas database without a letter from the chairman. i don't understand why this is so hard. why is everyone not opening these records and doing everything we can to get word to these people? there are a lot of folks out there that were subjected to mustard gas experiments. i'm hitting a wall on this. i really need a commitment from you today that you will get me the information as to why me
trying to help veterans who may have been exposed to mustard gas, why this should be so hard. would you be willing to make that commitment to work with my office? i'm familiarter: with this issue, but as always, i will make sure that we support your request. with theok into it chairman and get back to you as appropriate. >> i've been waiting since july for evidence to back up your claim that there was justification for the $36 building inr afghanistan. there was a call for the discipline of the people who locate that building. i've been asking since july. thisaid you didn't think disciplinary action was appropriate. i've asked what the evidence is to indicate that disciplinary
action is not appropriate. i've been waiting since july. you've got a helper behind the. thank you very much. >> i recognize senator sessions. >> thank you. mccain laid out some serious criticisms of how we are conducting policy in the middle east. i share most of those. i think they are important matters. i think we've made some mistakes and struggled in ways that are not good. i'll just leave it at that. what i'd like to address today is the need for a strategy, long-term, in the middle east. the brooking institution mentioned that it may take a long time.
the whole problem of extremism in the middle east, this violence we are seeing throughout the entire region, how complex it is -- i followed up and said, so you're saying this could last 10, 20, 50 years? i remember very vividly. he gave an answer you don't often get. yes. that was his answer. do we need a strategy? a long-term strategy that could deal with that? to walterat question russell mead and he said he'd never seen us as a nation be so , theused in strategy historian that he is. the entire panel, the week before last, president obama's national security advisor, and
ambassador, another scholar, all agreed that we need a strategy. we really don't have one. i asked secretary gates last week. this is what he said, that i think is relevant. he said, my concern is that i don't see an overreaching or overriding strategy on the part of the united states with this complex challenge for the next 20 or 30 years. one of the benefits of containment, and there are lots of disagreements about how to apply it, but i will always believe that critical to our success in the cold war was that we had a broad strategy of containment that was practiced by non-successive administrations of both political parties. it had bipartisan support.