tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 29, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT
my first instinct. you cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. a super power understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength. although not in government service i was totally against the war in iraq. very proudly. saying for many years that it would destabilize the middle east. sadly, i was correct. and the biggest beneficiary has been iran who is systemically taking over iraq and gaining access to their very, very rich oil reserves. something it has wanted to do for decades and now, to top it off, we have isis. my goal is to establish a foreign policy that will endure for several generations. that is why i also look and have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas, rather than
surrounding myself with those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about, except responsibility for a long history of failed policies, and continued losses at war. .e have to look to new people we have to look to new people because many of the old people frankly don't know what they are doing even though they may look awfully good writing in the "new york times" or being watched on television. finally, i will work with our allies to reinvigorate western values and institutions instead of trying to spread universal values that not everybody shares or wants, we should understand that strengthening and promoting western civilization and its accomplishments will do more to inspire positive reforms around
the world than military interventions. these are my goals as president. i will seek a foreign policy that all americans, whatever their party, can support. so important. and which our friends and allies will respect and totally welcome. the world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies. that we are always happy when old enemies become friends, and when old friends become allies. that is what we want. we want them to be our allies. we want the world. we want to bring peace to the world. too much destruction out there. too many destructive weapons. the power of weaponry is the single biggest problem that we have today in the world. to achieve these goals americans must have confidence in their country and its
leadership, again. many americans must woppeder hy our politicians seek more interested in defending the borders of foreign countries than in defending their own. americans -- [applause] -- americans must know that we are putting the american people first again. on trade -- [applause] so true. on trade, on immigration, on foreign policy. the jobs, incomes, and security of the american worker will always be my first priority. [applause] no country has ever prospered that failed to put its own interests first. both our friends and our enemies put their countries above ours. and we, while being fair to them, must start doing the
same. we will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism. the nation state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony. i am skeptical of international unions that tie us up and bring america down. and will never enter -- [applause] and under my administration we will never enter america into any agreement that reduces our ility to control our own affairs. [applause] nafta, as an example, has been a total disaster for the united states and has emptied our states -- literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs. and i have just got to see it. i've toured pennsylvania, new
york, so many of the states. they have been cleaned out. their manufacturing is gone. never again. ly -- i have to say this strongly. never again. only the reverse will happen. we will keep our jobs and bring in new ones. there will be consequences for the companies that leave the united states only to exploit it later. they fire the people, take advantage of the united states, there will be consequences for those companies. never again. under a trump administration, no american citizens will ever again feel that their needs comb second to the citizens of a foreign country. i will view as president the world through the clear lens of american interests. i will be america's greatest
defender and most loyal champion. we will not apologize for becoming successful again but will instead embrace the unique heritage that makes us who we are. the world is most peaceful and most prosperous when america is strongest. america will continue and continue forever to play the role of peace maker. we will always help save lives. and, indeed, humanity itself. but to play that role, we must make america strong again. [applause] and always -- always, always -- we must make -- and we have to look at it from every angel and we have no choice. we must make america respected again.
we must make america truly wealthy again. and we must -- we have to -- and we will -- make america great again. and if we do that, and if we do that, perhaps the this century n be the most peaceful and prosperous the world has ever, ever known. thank you very much, everybody. i appreciate it. thank you. thank you very much. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national able satellite corp. 2016]
captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption contents and accuracy. visit ncicap.org >> this morning house democratic leader nancy pelosi will hold her weekly press briefing. ive at 9:15 eastern. >> defense secretary ashton carter says as the u.s. continues to battle syria and iraq he is becoming
increasingly concerned about the political and economic challenges each country faces. the administration's strategy and tofertse combat the terror group. joint chiefs of staff chair general did you knowford also testified. -- dunford also testified. >> good morning. the committee meets this morning to receive testimony on the u.s. strategy in the middle east. and tofertse counter so-called islamic state. i thank our distinguished witnesses for appearing before us this morning and for their continued service to our nation during a time of war. please convey the gratitude and
appreciation of this committee to all the men and women you lead. since our witnesses last appeared before this committee we have seen a steady increase in operational activity in iraq and syria. air strikes have steadily increased and improved. new capabilities such as the a-10 and now attack helicopters have now been added. efforts to train and equip forces have been slowly expanded and troops have been periodically deployed to the fight, a few dozen and a few hundred at a time. these operational adjustments have resulted in some operational gains. we have seen security -- iraqi security forces make modest gains against isil and anbar forces and small numbers of sunni arabs take territory across isil across parts of northern syria. all the while united states and coalition special operations
forces continue their daily degraded of isil fighters in iraq and syria. these gains are real and encouraging, and testify to the excellence of our military leaders and troops on the ground. the purpose of this hearing is certainly to review those operational issues but more importantly to try to put them into some strategic context. too often it seems policy maker politicians and the media all want to engage at the operational level. i understand. military operations are important and interesting. but i worry that we are staring at our challenges in the broader middle east through soda straws. we need to lift our sights. at a more strategic level we see a middle east descending into chaos. in the words of henry kissinger, and i quote, there is a struggle for power within states, a conflict between states, a conflict between ethnic and religious groups, and an assault on the
international system. while the eeps center of this conflict for power and eye dentedty is in iraq and syria, where isil established its califate, it is a growing contagion that affects libya, egypt, yemen, parts of east and west africa, afghanistan, and beyond. and as we have seen from paris to sbeshsbern to -- san bernardino to brussels this group is increasingly capable of targeting us as many of us predicted that it would. yet at this strategic level we always seem to be a day behind, a dollar short. while many in the administration and yet in the congress too sought to micromanage isil excuted a strategic counter move launching sophisticated attacks into the heart of western civilization and deepening its presence in libya, in a country that america helped deliver a
five years ago and then abandoned we now see thousands of terrorists in training camps and reports of external attack plotting. all the warning signs that existed in afghanistan on september 10, 2001. the administration increasingly appears focused on this problem but once again the response has been reactive, slow, and insufficient. similarly with raunch. last year, flad -- russia. last year putin attempted to fill a vacuum in the midde east. russian forces moved into syria, doubled down on the assad regime and decimated the moderate syrian groups that americans and our allies said e were supporting. despite prediction of a russian
quagmire, putin has instead used limited military means to achieve distinct political goals. despite putin's pledged withdrawal from syria, assad's forces backed by russia now appear poised to retake alepo. meanwhile, advanced russian capabilities remain in syria, enhancing putin's ability to project power beyond the region. once again, once again, the u.s. response has appeared confused, reactive, and inadequate. none of this is happening because our adversaries are ten feet tall or somehow more capable than us. instead, as sophisticated and ruthless as isil is, it has major strategic abilities not least the communities it seeks to oppress. putin is playing a weak hand economically and demographicically but he is
consistently playing it better than we are playing ours. so too with the iranian regime. even with a windfall of sanctions relief, tehran remains militarily and economically weak. but it is aggressively expanding its maligned influence and subverting our long-term partners. put simply, too many of our leaders appear involved in the tactical fight. the incremental calibration and escalation of military operations. and not enough in the strategic fight. and despite the real tactical gains we have made, we must ask ourselves, is this working? are we winning? are we getting ahead of the threats and problems we face? or are they getting ahead of us? what enduring objectives do we hope to achieve across the middle east? a region that is expeerpsing greater turmoil and at any time since the collapse of the otmon empire. how will we achieve those goals? and on what time line and at
what cost? i understand the american people are frustrated with washington. i know there is a belief out there that we invaded and occupied iraq and failed that e intervened but did not occupy in syria and that failed too but what ties all of this together is that we left. we left. or we never engaged in the first place. we pulled away and stood back and tried to convince ourselves that everything would be all right. and look at the result. no new order has emerged in the middle east, only chaos. and the vacuum we left behind has been filled by the most extreme and anti-american of forces. isil, al qaeda, iran, and its terrorist proxies. and now russia. we cannot afford to believe that this is not our problem. it is our problem.
as general david petraeus wrote last week, "the attacks and other activities of extremists will not be confined to the areas or regions in which they are located. rather, as in the case of syria, the actions of the extremist groups are likely to spew instability, extremism, violence, and refugees far beyond their immediate surroundings. " we cannot go on pretending that we can avoid these problems or that the current approach of trying to treat the symptoms of the disease rather than its cause will work if only we give it more time. it will not. we need to stop fixating on military details and look at the bigger picture. no one believes there are easy solutions. after the past seven years, this much should be clear -- walking away isn't the answer. time is not on our side. enator reed?
sen. reed: this morning's hearing to update the committee n the status of operations against the islamic state and iraq and isil is timely. the president, secretary, and both of you continue the review of our ongoing efforts as part of operation inherent to resolve the. the military tasks that can be accomplished in the months ahead. in recent days, the department announced two deployments, one for iraq and syria. that should change the focus of coalition as it turns to isolating and making sure that our allies on my work on the ground can continue.
it looks to bring together the sunni, shia, and kurdish elements in iraq, a complicated eality in display. the prime minister shuffled his cabinet amidst thousands of protesters threatening to storm the parliament. as we consider our policy in iraq, it is important to remember that the coalition is there. ignoring that reality risks damaging our broad strategic goal of lasting political solutions for iraq, and the defeat of isil. this has seen a growing number of violations in the coming ays. in aleppo and his running regions. in march president putin announced he was withdrawing its forces from syria.
that is often the case with him, the public message is not consistent with the reality of events on the ground. according to reports,'s four sources are beginning to mass around of aleppo. these actions do not portend well for this conflict. i felt the secretary and chairman will provide their updated assessment on the military actions of the regime. before the committee is a request to extend the dod authority to equip the syrian defense. without them, to recapture ities, and a number of other towns and villages it would not have been possible. i hope the secretary and chairman will speak to the -- importance of this request. and iraq and syria i hope they provide their assessment of isil's growing influence in libya. some suggestions that others may follow as the committee
moves toward a markup of the authorization bill it is critical we have the dod view on the threat emanating from libya. ec. carter: chairman mccann, ranking member reed, thank you for those statements. and for this hearing, and for the range both the geographic and in terms of tactical operational and strategic that you are asking us to speak to. i thank all of the members of the committee for being here, and above all, chairman, thank you for thanking the troops. it means a lot. you have many opportunities to carry that to them directly, but i will try to do that to. i will briefly in my opening statement address all of the aspects of the subjects raised n your two statements.
obviously, our campaign to defeat isil, and more broadly our military strategy in the middle east. i appreciated this is my seventh appearance before this committee, the fifth focused on the middle east since i became secretary of defense. the timing is fortuitous in the sense that i just returned from a two week trip to the asia-pacific, and the middle east was the both regions are critical to u.s. and global security. men and women in uniform are deeply engaged as they are all over the world. it is emblematic why with all the challenges going on, particularly five challenges i listed last month and my budget testimony russia, china, north korea, iran, and terrorism. especially isil, dod can't choose between one or the other.
or between acting in the present, and investing in the future. we have to do them all. there was much i could say about the asia-pacific i will focus my comments here today on the middle east. there our actions and strong military posture continue to be guided by our northstar of what is in america's national interest. these are several things. they include dealing isil a lasting defeat. that was the principal purpose of my visit to iraq last week when i conferred with our commanders and visited with our troops and met the prime minister and defense minister. i spoke to the kurdistan regional government and announced a number of key next steps that president obama has directed to further accelerate the defeat of isil. more on that in a moment. when i appeared before this committee to discuss our counter-isil campaign we had embarked on a major acceleration of this campaign.
after the chairman dunford and i had recommended that, it consisted of multiple steps. first, there were a number of immediate accelerants. we deployed additional strike aircraft, supporting an extended air campaign to get target illuminated by refined intelligence. we deployed special contingent forces to syria, and expand the equipping of syrian arab forces in the fight against isil. the found committed local forces in southern syria also, and enhanced to jordan's border control and got advisors to help take sinjar, cutting the iraqi side between isil's power centers. he an expeditionary targeting force. we work to improve our ability to target isil's leadership beyond iraq and syria. we expanded the campaign to every area including cyber.
all of these were marshaled against a clear military campaign plan focusing on operations on three objectives - one, destroying isil's parent tumor in iraq and syria. it is necessary. second, combating the metastases of these worldwide wherever they appear. it is been noted by the chairman and senator reid. our most important mission which is to help protect the homeland. in addition to accelerating the campaign with additional u.s. capabilities, we renewed our outreach to coalition members. over the last three months i convened my counterpart several times in paris, brussels, last week in riyadh, to brief them on the coalition command plan but above all to urge them to contribute more and in more meaningful ways.
since we embarked on that acceleration, results followed and have continued even in recent weeks. in iraq, the security forces we took ramadi. and then begun operations to isolate and pressure mosul, with the attempt to collapse isil's control over the city. cutting off to significant lines of key medication and raqqa including one of the last major arteries between there and mosul and between isil and yria and iraq. lives in results on targeting isil's leaders and finances. we have systematically eliminated isil's cabinet. taking at the ministers of war, and finance. we removed external plotters from the battlefield and took out the isil emir for southern mosul.
on the economic infrastructure from oil, to cash storage, to financial leaders, it is putting a stranglehold on their ability to pay its fighters undermining its ability to govern and making it harder to get a new recruits. these are the result in our coalition. they are also result in our train and equip efforts as well. so far, with your support in congress, we have trained over 20,000 security forces and provided six full brigades worth of equipment to the iraqi army. with at a critical supplies donated by more than 20 countries. for our part, ranging from ammunition to small and medium to heavy weapons. in addition to the local forces we are working within iraq and syria, 90% of our military
coalition partners, 26 countries in all, have committed to increase their contributions to help accelerate the defeat of isil. all this has been necessary for putting isil on a path to of a lasting defeat. but it is not sufficient. i have consistently told you where looking to do more as we take advantage of opportunities we are generating new ones, and in seizing those opportunities to repeat this cycle -- reinforcing success. this has been our intent and is consistent with our strategic approach to allow capable, motivated local forces to recapture and hold and govern territory tyrannized by isil. based on the results we have had and our desire to continue accelerating isil's defeat we are conducting the next plays of the military campaign.
they are stabilizing iraq's provinces, and generating iraqi security forces to envelop mosul, and a developing more local forces in syria that will isolate. providing more firepower and sustainment and logistical support to help them collapse isil's control over the cities. to facilitate this, we're taking a number of key actions in both iraq and syria. president obama and i announce them over the last week and a half. the president has approved all of the actions that chairman dunford and i have recommended to him. in iraq, our actions are in support of the iraqi security forces operating to isolate and pressure mosul, and of all been approved by the prime minister. as i told our troops in baghdad last week, we will place
advisors down to the brigade and the brigade and battalion levels. we will be leveraging apache attack helicopters to support iss effort to envelop and retake mosul. we send additional high marks, and will provide financial assistance up to $415 million to bolster one of the most effective fighting forces against isil. to do all this we will adjust how we use u.s. forces already and iraq, and bring in 215 more of them. in syria, our actions are to help our local partners continue isolating and pressuring raqqa. we are increasing u.s. forces there from 50 two 300. these include special operations forces to help expand our ongoing efforts to identify, train, and equip capable, motivated anti-isil forces inside syria. they will serve as a hub to incorporate partner special
forces from european and golf partners. that will augment our coalitions counter-isil efforts there. in addition to training inside syria, we are continuing to train and equip other syrian forces outside of syria. keeping our focus, as we have in recent the, on battle hardened anti-isil leaders whom we can make more capable as enablers and amplifiers of our effects. in this context, the section 1209 program is central to our ground campaign in syria, and are carrying out a different approach than before. instead, one that we have used to train and enable local elements that have proven themselves against isil on the battlefield. we need your support to fully
overcome them. focus on the program as it is now, and in particular release 1209 funding currently blocked by congress. mr. chairman, i understand you elp to intend to clear these funds with the committee, and i hope other committees will follow suit. the fact is, for our commanders to be agile in accelerating our campaign against isil, we need a similarly agile funding process. we are required to submit reprogramming requests as you all know to the for congressional defense committees. so far, we have received differing responses on differing timelines. sometimes with conflicting demands, the must get this working better going forward. i would urge you and the other
three defense committees to consider ending the reprogramming requirement for syria. so that it is on equal footing with how you structure our oversight of our training and equip programs and iraq and afghanistan. the current setup invites troubling micromanagement of a wartime effort and risks inhibiting results. beyond iraq and syria we are addressing isil metastases in afghanistan. we authorized our forces to conduct targeted strikes in a degraded the terrorist groups elements in that country and in libya. we have continued to follow isil activities closely undertaking a successful strike last year in which we took out a key leader in the country. in of a strike in february against an isil training camp post of as the libyan government gets on its feet will support it in the fight against isil and work with partners were ever isil tries to get a foothold. whether yemen, west africa, or southeast asia.
even as we do more, we are continuing to marshall our friends and allies across the counter-isil coalition. hen i met with my counterparts from the gulf cooperation council last week i emphasize the importance of their country's doing more. not only as saudi arabia has been doing, but also olitically and economically. that is because sunni support for stabilization and reconstruction will all be critical to ensuring that isil stays defeated. r. chairman, i want a second the point you made that in the region in my conversations their parties already beginning to look beyond the defeat of isil and ask what their situation is at that point for this reinforces the need to think strategically.
next week, in germany, i will be convening my fellow defense ministers from the major contributors to the military campaign to discuss ways we can continue to accelerate our efforts. that said, while the military momentum is gathering, and isil is struggling to resist our multifaceted pressure,, i'm increasingly concerned about political economic and other challenges in syria and iraq effecting the pace of the military campaign. in iraq, as the isil threat has diminished, political aspirations of created discord. in some instances, ethnosectarian conflicts have increased. iraq struggles with physical challenges due to the lower rice of oil and a huge reconstruction bill as it retakes cities from isil. in syria, competing agendas are inhibiting the coalition and coalescing of isil forces. we are focused on this ntently, but we need support
from you in congress to help ensure that military momentum is matched with political and economic momentum. and that the military defeat of isil will be lasting. i have articulated a clear strategy with the end state eing a lasting defeat of isil. that means it must be achieved by local forces. we can collapse isil's control f cities by bringing to bear the full might of the u.s. military with some of our unique capabilities like precision air campaign and ffense of in cyberspace.
training, or just ask, sustainment, and equipment. enabling local forces -- not substituting for them -- is necessary to ensure a lasting defeat. sometimes, that means our pace is predicated on that which local forces can absorb our enemy. some seem to suggest we pursue different strategies. there are alternative strategies. i have addressed these alternatives in previous testimonies. we don't recommend them. here is why -- one alternative would be to leave the complex and chaotic middle east and try to contain isil's danger to the united states and target terrorists from offshore. an approach of this sort has attractions -- it avoids complexities. as such a containment approach simply cannot succeed in today's world. don't recommend it. nother alternative would be to
introduce a significant foreign ground force. hypothetically international, but certainly preponderantly american. here are several problems with this approach that led me to not recommend it either. in the near term, such an pproach would entail significant military undertaking that, much as we would wish otherwise, realistically we would embark upon largely by ourselves. it would concede our competitive advantage of mobility and firepower. instead, fighting on the enemy's terms of ground combat a midst a local population that has previously responded violently to such an approach. o westernize the effort from the populations of iraq and syria we might turn those local people fighting isil, who are inclined to resist their rule
into fighting us instead. as chairman dunford has said, isil would love nothing more than a large u.s. presence in iraq and syria civic have a call to jihad. lastly, in the long-term, there would remain the problem of securing and governing the territory recaptured, which in the end must be done by local forces. the bottom line is this -- we can't ignore this fight, that we also cannot win it entirely from the outside in. that is what we are helping capable local forces in every way that we can without taking their place. finally, i want to conclude with some words about resources. i have serious concerns from one of the proposals to nderfund dod's overseas were
fighting account and spend that money on items we did not request. i have to say this approach is deeply flawed and the troubling. i have detailed my objections yesterday. today, in this context, i want to highlight the danger of underfunding our war effort. gambling with funding in places like iraq and syria. i cannot support such a maneuver. indeed, it is important we provide our troops and commanders in the field with all the resources they need to succeed. i know that with your support, and the continued dedication of our people and our partners, we will deliver isil a lasting defeat. thank you. chairman mccain: thank you, mr. chairman, general dunford? general dunford: chairman mccain, ranking member reed, thank you for allowing me to come here today.
secretary carter provided update in overview of our strategic approach before taking a questions i want to briefly share my perspective but where we are in the military campaign, and where we are going. isil is a translator threat from southeast asia to west africa. our top priority remains to disrupt attacks against the homeland regardless of the source. we continue to assess the most dangerous threat remains isil in iraq and syria. i've received a campaign update from our commanders in iraqi leadership. i had the opportunity to visit with our troops and visit our forces at their training site. there is no shortage of political and military challenges, i was encouraged by what i heard and saw on the ground. i don't believe isil has the momentum any longer. i will summarize by saying that the forces and sunni tribal
forces will reduce isil's territorial control and undermined its brand and destroyed much of its were fighting capability. enemies resources and freedom of move and have been significantly reduced. more importantly, the progress of the last seven months has nstilled confidence in our iraqi partners. they believe they can defeat isil. currently, they are continuing operations while simultaneously shaping operations to isolate mosul. in the month ahead, iraqi forces will bring increasing pressure to bear against the enemy and mosul. we will look for opportunities to reinforce success as a secretary carter has said. you'll seize any opportunity to take momentum. similarly in syria, the
pressure we put on isil has degraded their capabilities and their freedom of movement and their resources. the local kurdish and arab forces have retaken a significant percentage of the territory previously under isil control in northeast syria. other opposition forces are currently fighting along the turkish-syrian border putting additional pressure on isil in stemming the flow of foreign fighters into syria. the recent authorization of additional u.s. forces will allow us to increase to capacity and can ability of indigenous ground forces and set the conditions for operations. in closing, i believe will move the campaign forward over the previous months and the progress is real. that said, we are not satisfied or complacent about where we are. once again, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning. i look forward to your questions.
chairman mccain: secretary carter, it is frustrating to a lot of us as you outlined the options that we have. the option you left out, which is entirely doable, i know this for a fact, is if we had 10,000 of 100,000 person contingent of which the sunni nations would contribute that would go in on the ground and take the cities. any talk about the territorial gain you forget to mention that he second largest city and iraq is still in isis hands and their no strategy so far to retake it. t is really frustrating when the set of this strawman that the only alternatives we have is to walk away, and the other is a ponderously american force. that is not true. we have been pushing for months and months and years for an international force of which
the united states would be a small component of. that is doable. when i keep hearing this that we only have these two choices -- i say it is intellectually dishonest. on the issue of reprogramming, yes i was blocking the approval of the reprogramming until yesterday when i had an excellent briefing from general dunford that cleared up concerns that i had. why did i have those concerns? when we spend a couple hundred illion dollars last time the entral command testified before this committee that we had four or five people left after expending a couple of hundred million dollars in what i believe would have been an abysmal failure. which was making these people
ledge that they would only attack isil. my question is -- is that still the case with this force? are they prohibited from responding to being attacked by syria? sec. carter: thank you, chairman. i will dress both of your questions and ask the chairman to do the same. i described two bookends, if you like and there are various gradations in between. ou are absolutely right. with respect to the option that you describe of a 9-1 ratio of international forces to u.s. forces, that would be a highly desirable circumstance to be in. i do not doubt of that. i have no indication from those countries despite a lot of effort a willingness to do that. he second point of the like to
make and i will leave that is, the, as i was describing the possibility of foreign forces entering iraq and syria, i tried to describe the welcome that they might receive and the remaining issue of sustaining territory once it is taken and eld. i think that is the principal strategic issue with a large foreign force -- whether american -- chairman mccain: i will. sec. carter: on the 1209 program, thank you for that, chairman. i want to acknowledge we made a disappointing start to that and no bones about that. e have changed the approach to that, fundamentally. i believe the chairman has described that give you. that is the basis on which you indicated a willingness to
upport it. to be brief about what the difference is -- we were trying when the program was initiated to make a new forces to counter isil in syria. our approach now is to identify -- this is where the special forces have been valuable -- forces already fighting isil who we can enable with the great might of the american military. that is our new approach. chairman mccain: do you believe that the cease-fire is collapsing? general dunford: chairman, i do believe there is some ifficulty. chairman mccain: we know what happened the last time before the cease-fire. that was that the russian air was bombing the daylights out of the moderate forces, many of which we trained and equipped. what are we going to do with the collapse of the cease-fire, a resumption of russian bombing
of american trained forces. what is going to be our option? general dunford: if our forces are attacked by regime forces via the authority to respond. chairman mccain: will be give them the ability? service to air capability? general dunford: it is not mean that, chairman. chairman mccain: well, i guess i have to go back to the roblem that we face. that is that with the cease-fire breaking down, with millions of refugees, with at least 300,000 people killed, and the presumption of hostility with the russian air practicing indiscriminate ombing, what are we going to do about that situation? can we count on a couple of thousand american trained and
equipped forces to reduce, or counter, what is clearly a consolidation of power on the part of assad? i hate isis, but it isn't isis that has killed 300,000 or driven millions into refugee status. it is assad, i wonder what you believe our options are in this deteriorating situation, which means a resumption of the slaughter and flow of refugees. sec. carter: may a start then hairman can chime in behind? we are intent upon fighting isil in syria because our principal and paramount responsibility is to protect the american people.
and isil is trying to attack the american people. i agree with you about the assad regime, that is why he can't be part of the future of the country because of what he has done to his people. and i agree with you that while the cessation of hostilities has had an important effect in both the north and the south in permitting the humanitarian ssistance, it is not being ompletely abided by. that is especially by the syrian regime, and finally you mentioned russia. i will just remind you of what i said to you before. the russian said they were coming into syria to fight isil, and that is not what they did. they supported assad, prolonging the syrian civil war. that is a tragic situation. secretary kerry is trying to work on that and i can't describe it the full extent of
ur efforts with respect to the assad regime, but i go back to our focus in the department of defense. it is protecting americans. hat means destroying isil. chairman mccain: my time is expired, but obviously the situation in afghanistan is deteriorating. isn't it imperative that we revisit the decision on reducing the number of troops in afghanistan by half? should we do that before these important meetings in june and july? general dunford: chairman, we are constantly reevaluating the situation in afghanistan. hairman mccain: we had to make a decision. will the president be making that decision? sec. carter: i think the president will be making that decision. he has expressed a willingness to adjust to circumstances there and to ensure the
success. chairman mccain: you agree it is important our allies know that? sec. carter: i do. chairman mccain: i apologize to the committee for overstaying my time. >> in this complex region, ometimes with difficulties with our allies and turkey has been both a supporter and also someone who has not been completely cooperative. can you comment on what you would like them to do more and what they are capable to o? sec. carter: thanks, and it is a timely question. by dint of geography they are the single most important of
the nato question family of countries that can have an influence on the situation in syria. they are doing more, and i am grateful for the are doing along the border. they're helping us to operate n some ways i can go into. and, i am very grateful for that. i would like them to do more. i wanted them to do more for some time. but we continue to work with them. they are an important party and an important ally for the bacon make an important contribution. sen. reed: the spectrum of ossible operational approaches that you laid out, the one that is being adopted now is rather light footprints. air, going in and trying to degrade both isil and more would require an adjacent
country providing operational and political support. o you have any indication to that being accepted, or tolerated? sec. carter: turkey has allowed us to operate for enormous amount of the air campaign. they are willing to let us operate against isil. with respect to the special forces in syria, i want to distinguish that from the iraq. in iraq we have thousands of americans doing all kinds of things that are necessary. logistics, because this is iraq he army needs to be sustained. it needs to have lines of communication sustained as a goes up the tigris river alley.
there are a lot of pieces to this. the reason for the special forces present in syria is not their numbers themselves. it is their ability to go in, identify groups that are willing to go after isil and bring down like the funnel of a tornado the great weight of the american military power through those forces and amplify their effect. that is what they are so good at. sen. reed: the point is those operations -- special operations -- i been supported by adjacent countries. is there indication they would support a large land force mobilizing? sec. carter: i don't have any indication from the turks that they would do that. en. reed: let me shifted years for the many on the committee have been urging we take a much more proactive approach to the
cyber presence in that conflict. i wonder, if either of you could comment on the cyber operations? sec. carter: very generally on it. i asked the chairman a number of months ago, admiral rodgers our cyber commander and the nsa director to take on the war against isil as the first major combat operations. he has done that. the objectives are to interrupt isil command and control and ts ability to move money around. interrupt its ability to tyrannize and control populations. interrupt its ability to recruit externally. all of that it does in a cyber-enabled way. we are talking about cyber operations and syria and raq.
my feeling is very direct which is we are bombing them, and will take out their internet and so forth as well. in the modern world, that is necessary to defeat an enemy. this is the first big test of that. i very high expectations they can be successful. general dunford: the overall effect we are to achieve is virtual isolation. this complements the physical actions on the ground and it particularly focuses on external operations that might be conducted by isil. > secretary, this week we have been talking what the additional troops that will be deployed. how many boots do you have on the ground now. sec. carter: in iraq the total is around 3500. want to remind you, that is
the force management level. the special operations complement we multiply that sixfold is from 50,000 to 00000 and syria. sen. inhofe: talk a little bit about rules of engagement. it can only include defensive activity in certain areas. where are they now on that? general dunford: are you talking about our forces on the ground? umber one, they're going after isil. they are unrestricted and going after isil. if they are under attack and it was positive identification of an enemy, they are authorized to engage. sen. inhofe: my second question is all the activity. we have during the course of
this hearing not talk about anything outside of syria and iraq, but other things are happening. we talked about the islamic state is extending its control of territories in libya. our director recently warned that isil is spreading in europe and have allowed isil to get sleeper cells. general rodriguez has said that the isil force in africa has grown to 6000 in the past year with a major presence in eastern cities. e are talking about libya, tunisia, algeria. now, it is going down further in sub sahara africa in nigeria. even in central africa and the eastern congo it is becoming
apparent. my question is this -- it was developed without resources. they have to get their resources from other places. that being the case, what is happening right now i think if e say we had a strategy to contain isil, that the strategy did not work. we talk about our troops, what they are doing up there, the training programs, but what about these new areas? ow can we resource them? sec. carter: i will get tarted, but the chairman has been working on this. you are right, we have seen -- i am not familiar with the specific testimony but i'm sure it is absolutely right. you also know africa extremely
well, senator. there are two things going on, one is a rebranding of existing extremist groups. the other is newly inspired or newly funded nucleus, both of those are a concern. nd wouldn't say containment, i would say destruction of isil whatever it emerges is the right strategy. it can't end with syria and iraq. that is necessary, but not sufficient. we are following those developments closely and taking some actions, some of which we can discuss here that will turn to the chairman at that point. sen. inhofe: is rodriguez right when he talks of the 6000
number? general dunford: i agree with that assessment. right now, they're conducting operations in africa and east africa and libya. general rodriguez developed the concept of operations for support for the libyan government. we have as a result reallocated resources. the secretary made that decision about a month ago to reallocate resources to africomm to development of what we would need. we are working closely with the french in west africa with the coalition in east africa. sen. inhofe: in sub-saharan africa? eneral dunford: we have isr in that area. sen. heinrich: secretary carter, before i get to a couple of different questions i just want to bring to your attention an important issue facing our national security at the moment in terms of the availability of domestic trust and supply of state-of-the-art microelectronics.
you maybe aware there was a recent sale of ibm's boundary which had been dod's leading supplier for a decade. i think that raises some serious concerns about the future stability of dod's trusted microelectronics ource. certainly, the capable state-of-the-art industry suppliers here in the u.s. we could fill that void. i just want to urge you to take a hard look at that. sec. carter: we have, and we do have a mitigation strategy. i would be happy to have somebody come over and discuss that with you. we need a trusted source. microcircuits, especially for
special and essential functions. sen. heinrich: i look forward to that. to the issue of the day, we all recognize that isil continues to be a very serious threat. there have been some positive signs of progress since last year. according to media reports, new foreign fighters joining isil, those numbers are at a significantly lower rate this time than they were last year. the news reports suggested that they are on the order of 200 a month from something close to 2000 a month a year ago. are those numbers in the media actually accurate? to what do you attribute the sharp decline? is cybercomm having a role in that as well? sec. carter: we do observe that
trend. i think it is hard to be precise with these numbers. i think that trend is run the intelligence community does say is a very discernible. at the same time, from my point of view, any is too many. we are not done until there are none. but i am told that trend is observable. general dunford: i am with the secretary in terms of specific numbers. i think the reduction is for a couple of reasons. one is, for fighters come from 145 countries and a many of those have come together to share information. it is not what we wanted to be but it is much better than it was a year ago. we do have a specific organization that has been established to bring those
nations together to exchange information and to be proactive about foreign fighters. our visibility on foreign fighters has increased. the turks have been helpful in that regard. the efforts they have taken have reduced the numbers of foreign fighters thatin go back-and-forth between turkey and syria. in both areas, we have much more work to do. we are not satisfied with the level. it has proven to make an impact. sen. heinrich: we appreciate that you don't intend to let up until the job is done. have we had any success in utting off the ability of isis to reach into suburban communities in the united states and create a demand for a number of us had news reports where kids in our communities suddenly decided to try to get to syria. how is that process going?
are we able to cut off that electronic foreign fighter source? sec. carter: our effort in iraq and syria is aimed at making it more difficult for them to operate out of those locations, including by trying to lure americans into acts of violence. i have to say, the law enforcement community has an enormous effort here. i don't want to speak for them, but they're working extremely hard on that. that is not our area of responsibility but it is essential. they're working the other end of the problem. eneral dunford: i was going to say, one thing that is encouraging, the talk about the
appeal of isil worldwide -- there has been a fair reduction in that. hat narrative of invincibility has been shattered over the past year. the less success they have on the battlefield the less appeal there is to be a global caliphate. >> general dunford, as chairman mccain just pointed out, most of the fatalities and civilian casualties are caused by assad's barrel bombs and air attacks was the you agree we have the capabilities to take out assad's air force? general dunford: i do. >> why have we not? general dunford: we have not declared war. >> you are not saying it would take a congressional declaration of war? general dunford: it would take the president directing us to do that.
sen. wicker: why has the president not distracted us to prevent these civilian fatalities and casualties by taking out assad's air force? general dunford: the directive he is given us is against sil. specifically, as to whether to attack the regime? sen. wicker: to take up the air force causing the majority of the civilian casualties. general dunford: i prefer not to get that recommendation in public. that is a policy recommendation that i was going to provide that i would provide that to he president in private. sen. wicker: ok. secretary carter, you said assad cannot be part of the future. is that the explicit view of the president of the united states? sec. carter: yes, it is. that is why secretary kerry is working on a political transition to a regime after
assad. we haven't undertaken to change that regime by force for a number of years. we have not made that undertaking our focus in syria. the department of defense is fighting isil because of its irect threat to americans. but with respect to the tragedy in the civil war in syria, we're working on that political transition. but it is a political transition fustanella leadership has indicated that it necessarily involves assad removing himself from the scene because of everything he has done to his people what you just cited. sen. wicker: voluntarily removing himself? sec. carter: no, here is where the russians would do well to make what they do correspond to
what they say. that is to move the political transition forward. use the leverage that they have and have gained by intervening on assad's side to end the civil war. while keeping some structure to the syrian government that can then mary up to moderate opposition who we support and create a life and the government for the people of that shattered country. en. wicker: let me just ask, there were reports last december. there was an article in bloomberg that obama no longer seemed sure that assad should go. i think what you're are saying is that is not accurate. let me just make sure -- is the president ruling out somehow working with the assad regime against isil in the short
term? sec. carter: we have not worked with them, they have shown no inclination. sen. wicker: is there a debate within the administration? sec. carter: i have not heard that idea broached. sen. wicker: a number of european parliamentarians i spoke with have told me in private that they wish europe had worked with us on syria ack in 2013. frankly, i wish congress had been more resolute in that regard, also. sen. cotton: was a voice in the wilderness at that time. and now that our nato allies face the chaos of an unprecedented migrant influx, do you believe nato could help in substantive action against isil? sec. carter: i do believe they
could be. and it is a more helpful because the nato countries without exception we mentioned turkey already. they are working along with us and helping us with the same campaign plan. nato as nato has not been asked yet by the european countries. we favor that. there are reasons why nato as nato is more than the sum of the parts. i think they could make a contribution, that is being discussed with the secretary-general right now. with respect to the refugee crisis, the european preference has been to use the european nion and not nato as their chosen instrument for addressing the refugee crisis. that is their choice. and, so they have not asked for
nato to be a big part of that effort. we did take a step to assist when i was in brussels to bring the greeks and the turks together to get some naval operations in the agean sea aimed at deterring smugglers to bring people from turkey to greece. the europeans have wanted the european union not nato to address the refugee situation. sen. gillibrand: secretary carter, thank you for being here and for all of your hard work. last week, and an advocacy group detailed inaccurate information was provided to his committee during a hearing
in 2013 and follow-up letters about sexual assault cases and civilian prosecutors refusing to prosecute. the chain of command insisted they be tried as opposed to simply approved. the report by a follow-on in-depth investigation by the ap alleged that the 93 cases the department highlighted to prove the toughness of commanders were inaccurately described. i'm very troubled by these allegations, specifically the military provided misleading information to congress with the intent of defeating legislation that i and others introduced. these reports suggest an effort by the military to undermine its committee and congress's responsibility to do oversight and determine policies. if you look at this, the
testimony given was quoted verbatim by several senators. when you give testimony, senators listen to what is sad. they will repeat it. if you are giving false information, then senators are repeating false information which is not in the interest of justice. they throw into question the veracity of other ommittees. have you looked into these allegations yet, and if not, do you plan to? sec. carter: thank you, senator. two things, the first is absolutely essential that we give accurate information because it is important that we use accurate information to defeat this scourge and i appreciate all of your information and support in that egard. admiral withheld -- admiral winifeld is extremely knowledgeable and i haven't asked my staff to confirm the numbers that he gave and i will
of course report that to you if i can just say on a somewhat ifferent note since you raised it, is sexual assault -- it is sexual assault prevention month and later in the afternoon, i ill be recognizing six tremendous sexual assault response coordinators around our country in the bases here. i just want to put in the word for them and they are super and you had something to do with creating that role, but i will have to ask my stuff to confirm those numbers and it is very important that we do so. ms. gillibrand: it is more about the numbers, if you are aware, it it is about the characters. sec. carter: absolutely. ms. gillibrand: what the "ap" said that because commanders insisted that these be done, they were done.
what the "ap" uncovered by talking to these local das is that that is not the fact, she declined to prosecute, it was done collaboratively, so the best way for the military to proceed is not about the numbers, it is about how, what happened, what was characterized, and i also share your faith in the admiral, but i would like to know, are you going to be investigating who gave him those numbers, how they were characterized, were they given to him in report form, and who wrote those reports and who provided that? sec. carter: yes, we will and confirm or not confirm those facts, and you are right on just the numbers in the characterizations of each case and i have asked my staff to look into those numbers. it is important that we get it right. you are absolutely correct. ms. gillibrand: what do think
is aligned at the department of the military should draw with legislation? sec. carter: our job is not to lobby. i think we are here to try to tell you the truth about what we are doing to the best of our ability and to explain the choices that are the for the country and the resources that will be needed for things and our efforts and lobby is not what we would like to use. our responsibilities are to report our procedures and to the best of our abilities to report it. ms. gillibrand: when will i expect your investigation of this to be complete? sec. carter: as soon as i complete it. ms. gillibrand: thank you. >> what are we trying to achieve?
sec. carter: our military efforts in syria are intended to defeat isil and regain for local forces the territory now being tyrannized by isil and being used as a buffer to ttack america. >> are military efforts being focused entirely on isil? not the chaos that is happening? sec. carter: that is correct, we have another effort that secretary kerry can speak to about military efforts. ms. fischer: do you think these fforts will be successful? sec. carter: we have the taking of a dam and the purpose is ultimately why the president
as given us authority to ncrease our numbers there. our objective, of course, is to collapse isil's control over the area. ms. fischer: i am assuming you are referring to the deployment of another 250 troops to contribute to the goal? sec. carter: correct, that is correct. ms. fischer: and if we have an immediate objective to recapture this area, am i correct in restating that? sec. carter: yes. ms. fischer: do you leave the deployment of this 250 soldiers will commit to this purpose? ec. carter: let me talk to
this and this is precisely the reason why we are here ddressing this, those forces and to identify and then an able forces that are local to the region and to want to excel isil to that territory, and along the lines what we have seen elsewhere with the syrian-arab coalition which was enabled by us, expelled isil from that important area, we would like to do that with this region as well. chairman can i clarify? ms. fischer: when you are talking about local forces, are you talking about sunni forces in the area? sec. carter: yes, they are the ones who live in that area. ms. fischer: and are either you or the secretary or the general, how many troops do you believe will make this operation successful at for us
to reach this goal? gen. dunford: senator, i just want to wrap back on the purposes of this special forces increase in the area and it is to do to things, and that to your original question, it is to grow our size on the ground and to increase their effectiveness. there are about 6000 syrian-arab coalition members and we have approximately twice the amount of those numbers in the current vetting process and we expect those numbers to increase. with regards to forces that are going to attack, we believe that will be a combination of both syrian-arab coalition forces but also by the kurdish forces that have been supporting us here over the past year. those numbers are almost 30,000, the kurdish forces there. ms. fischer: and going past the numbers of the boots on the
ground that are needed, are there obviously other capabilities that are going to be required for these forces to have, for example, what kind of equipment do they need and are there any leadership or chain of command issues that you believe need to be resolved before this can be affected? gen. dunford: senator, the answer is yes, and we are doing several things. one, we are assisting in the planning efforts, we are providing logistical support which requires ammunition for the authorities in the area, and that is specific to the equipment, weapons, vehicles, communication and so forth, and that is training as well. those of the four areas that requires them to be successful. ms. fischer: are there leadership concerns or chain of command concerns in those forces, especially when we have troops embedded with them there? gen. dunford: we believe what we have there is sufficient to put additional forces there.
ms. fischer: thank you again, mr. chairman. >> i will recommend senator donnelly. mr. donnelly: thank you, mr. chairman, i will yield my time to my colleague who has a pressing engagement. >> i would like to direct this first of general dunford. the defense department is required to make tough choices in a budget constraints and we understand that. we announce we are sending 250 f our special operating forces into syria and i understand that will be 1.5 million dollars to train each special operator equaling roughly three her $75 million to train those 250. on tuesday, we will discuss the
f-355 program. that will cost $108 million per unit. on tuesday, i asked the general if he things we're spending our money wisely with the f-35. we are on track to purchase many aircraft. knowing the fight we are expected to fight right now in defending our country, conceptually, if we traded 10, just 10 f-35's, we could increase our special operations y 700. in the world we see today, are we concerned that we are sacrificing short term needs for long-term strategies? would 10 f-35's make that much of a difference down the road? gen. dunford: senator, i think you bring up the really important issue that we struggle with, and that is that we do confront a wide range of gen. dunford: senator, i think you bring up the really important issue that we struggle with, and that is that
we do confront a wide range of challenges from iran and north korea and extremism. in fact, the choices you just outlined are the choices that we just made. we did reduce the number of f-35's this year to balance other capabilities in other areas and we did the very best we could to make sure that we could deal with all of those challenges. so we did exactly as you outlined, sir. mr. manchin: i am saying that i guessed i would ask then, i was asking basically about our troop strength, mr. secretary. we are at 980,000? gen. dunford: yes, that is our total. mr. manchin: when i asked the other general how much it would take, he didn't hesitate, we are short. i don't want to go back to west virginia until the people that we are a little bit short on
this one. we are looking at ways to fix this under constraints. you have a job to do and we want to make sure you could do the best job that you can do. gen. dunford: i'll -- i'll -- mr. manchin: what are you -- gen. dunford: we are aiming at -- mr. manchin: i know what you are aiming at, what i'm asking, hat will it take to do the job? gen. dunford: that is the number we are shooting at, and i hundred 80,000 and anything ess than that is inadequate. the general of the armys, their priorities are in fact about readiness and that is the principal thing that's the
eneral and i have focused on in the army. and bringing a total army back to levels of readiness that are necessary. if i can loop back to your special forces point, also, senator, we have a lot more than 300 special forces. not like we have to make these people. we're sending them there. we have tens of thousands of special forces. excellent people, yes, exquisitely trained people. it's not like we don't have them to apply to syria. we're applying them in the number and manner that makes sense at this moment. let me ask the chairman if he wants to add to those questions. gen. dunford: right now in this budget year i was more concerned with the capability of the force than i was the capacity. in other words, i wasn't
satisfied that with the force structure we currently have we had sufficient training and equipment. and that was the priority this year, was to focus on the capability of the forces that we have, as opposed to the force structure. >> i'm just -- i'm concerned in the way you're explaining it, sir, i understand where you're coming from. it doesn't make sense from my way of trying to analyze this. because general millie was clear. he didn't hesitate. i asked him what it would take to defend the nation and face the threats we had. we felt that we were woefully short at 980,000. he truly did. if there's a difference maybe we can talk in a more secured briefing. sec. carter: we can. you're thinking absolutely right. this is a question of balancing investments in structure readiness as the chairman said. that's a balance we all struck, including general millie and the leadership of the army.
i just repeat, that the principle strategic issue that we are trying to address in the army budget is not for structure, it is readiness. that's general millie's and my principle concern in the army. >> my time is expired. we have in this body and on the political dysfunction capitol hill shows we must put our country first in defense of this country versus our politics. it's a shame we don't get a good budget and we don't have to make difficult choices. i'm sorry for that. sec. carter: amen to that, thank you. >> thank you for your appearance before the committee. secretary carter i want to talk about how our counter isis policy has been made. i want to start in the south china sea before we move on. you just returned from a trip to
the philippines, we announced china has began reclamation activities 120 west of subic bay. is it the case if china were to reclaim scarborough shoal they could overwatch all flights out of the philippines and have risk of missile systems. sec. carter: it's precisely those kinds of concerns that i was working with the philippines. they're a treaty ally. we take that seriously. very seriously. that's why we are establishing some new installations from which we can operate. so that we strengthen our own posture there then that's why we're doing the rebalance in general which is not just
working with the increasing number of allies and partners who are coming to us saying we're concerned about china. we're getting more and more of that including places like vietnam. but it's also why we're sending our best equipment to the asia pacific why we're doing more. >> it's why last week i gather there were at least three flights conducted in the vicinity of scarborough shoal by u.s. aircraft? sec. carter: i prefer discuss that -- have you briefed that privately. >> media reports -- there's no question about it, we will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits. we do that around the world and we're not going to stop. >> media reports indicate the flights did occur but they did not occur within 12 miles of that feature which would have been a more assertive action in contest contesting china's claims. i want to leave the south china sea and go to the point of the policy making process. >> could i interrupt?
this is the second time secretary carter you've refused to confirm what's well known in the media. that's not fair to the committee. it's all been reported there wee flights into the area around those islands. why you would refuse to confirm that when it's been in the media is i think not the proper deference this committee is owed. sec. carter: i'm only refusing because i believe it's classified information, senator. but i don't -- >> actually, i'm glad the chairman pointed it out. but i think it raises the point that i want to go on to now from your two predecessors secretary gates and secretary pinetta abot the nature of policy. secretary gates said obama's foreign policy is not as bad as it sounds. it's the way it comes out that de diminished its effectiveness. they often end up in the right place but a day late and a dollar short. it presents an image that
president obama is being dragged kicking and screaming to each new stage. it becomes incremental the message is lost. secretary pinetta. quote, i think what i've seen in the last four years is almost as cautiousness and over correction. which makes it appear that the united states is hesitant to take action and that send a message of weakness, end quote. both in our actions in the south china sea where we may or may not be flying missions going inside the 12 mile territorial ring, but also in the most recent announcement that we're going to deploy troops to syria, but only 250 troops. what would you comment on secretary pinetta and secretary gates' position about how this policy is being made? sec. carter: i can't obviously speak for them or for the time that they were secretary. i can only speak from my own experience and ask the chairman to do the same.
i am forthright as i told you you would be when you confirmed me as secretary of defense in giving the president my best advice. i'm also absolutely committed to making sure he gets professional military advice, that's where the chairman comes in. i've never failed to have a hearing for my views. and you asked and -- raised one particular, which i already addressed in my hearing, the additional soft in syria the numbers was precisely what the chairman and i recommended. what i announced last week was what the chairman and i recommended. would he approved in last fall what we call the accelerants of that time was what the chairman and i recommended. that doesn't mean he's going to approve our recommendations. i'm giving you those as
examples. he is the commander in chief. but we tell it straight to the best of our ability. i can certainly speak for myself. in observation i can speak for the chairman as well. i can't speak for my distinguished predecessors. >> i will address one final question general dunford which goes back to secretary gates and pinetta's comments. they attribute this hesitating exercise of american power to te large size of the president's national security staff and the micromanagement secretary gates saying for example it was the operational micromanagement that drove me nuts of the white house and staffers calling senior commanders out in the field and asking them questions of second guessing commanders. general dunford could you comment on your experience both in your current and previous roles about your relationship with the national security staff? gen. dunford: senator, i guess what i'd focus on is my
relationship in access to the president in both my previous role and this role i've had the opportunity to provide best military advice. with regard to the national security staff i didn't deal with the national security staff in my previous assignment. in fact, was specifically prescribed from doing that. as secretary of defense which i think was appropriate. i don't think i should have been deal ing with the staff in my previous assignment. in my current role i don't deal with national security staff except the advisor and principle deputy on a routine basis. i don't go through the national security staff. sec. carter: i don't want to belabor the point, mr. secretary. but to classify the fact that we are sending our ships and airplanes into international waters and have that classified when it should be magnified, throughout the world that the united states is asserting our respect and adherence to
international law, is something that is confusing and befuddling. why would we want to classify the fact we're doing what every nation in the world should be able to do? that's sail or fly wherever we want to. why should that be classified information? >> the -- it's fair point. i'll look into why. what aspects of the operations are classified. i'm respectful of the process i'm not going to talk about the details of operations. there's no question, i say it again today, we fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits. we exercise that right rue routinely. i'll go back and look into it. i'm careful about disclosing identified information or information i believe is classified not to this committee, because you all have access to it in the right setting, but not this setting. the fact that's something's in the newspaper doesn't make it unclassified as we all kno
>> thank you, mr. chairman. for just a few minutes, mr. secretary i want to look beyond iraq and syria. when we've asked you and other witnesses to talk about our strategy against isis, we often get a response detailing nine lines of effort that have been outlined by the president. is it your understanding that those nine lines of effort comprise the strategy to defeat isis, and is it solely to isis or is that our strategy for the global efforts against terrorism? sec. carter: well, there's a lot of good sense to the nine lines formulation that was first made two years ago. i would say that while they're all still valid, they basically
name the parts of the campaign, political economic military, the need to be taken. i would also say we've moved beyond that framework now and have a more operational framework, the one in syria and iraq i've described. it still remains true if you go back to the nine lines of effort, there's things like interrupting isil's finances we're still working with people to do that. it's not the department of defense, but department of treasury, department of state and so forth. foreign fighter flows we have a role in that but other countries and parts of our government have a role. it's a good taxonomy of the total number of efforts. we've moved beyond that in specificity -- >> that the the primary framework for the rest of the global fight against terrorism, the nine lines?
sec. carter: that's a good broad framework. but we've gotten much more operational in our approach, including in individual locations in addition to syria. >> ok. let me ask you some information that just came out today, so you know if you're not familiar with, that's ok. it was reported the truce with the russians is on the vere of collapse. senior administration officials quoted that no clear path ahead in syria, the situation on the ground is murky. we saw that there have been air strikes in aleppo that destroyed a hospital killing 14 patients and staff. we know the syrian air force have stepped up raids against rebel factions. they talked about catastrophic deterioration in aleppo in the last few days. it seems we're further away from a workable plan in syria than a very long time. what are we going to do to try to move this forward? it appears it's heading in the other direction.
sec. carter: that is precisely what secretary kerry is working on. and discussing with all the parties, and i can't speak to overnight developments. but he is both working on the cessation of hostilities itself. and post importantly and to get back to what we were discussing earlier on the political resolution of the syrian civil war. and i'll leave it to him to comment on that. >> i was in iraq about a month ago, right before heat was taken. and we were working with the sunni tribal leaders there. do you see that continuing to move in the right direction? and are we leaving people behind? one of their concerns was the governance in those towns once
they took it back. >> very good question. it is very important that the stabilization take place after the recapture of these cities. that's been going on in ramadi. people getting water back on, these back on, schools -- wired.evil isil people that is essential. when i was talking about the to get back to the nine lives, we are doing all we .an militarily be explainedcannot
. -- the political situation >> i'm about out of time, but i just want to mention again, that in syria you know as we're trying to move isis out of raqqah, trying to accomplish that at the same time that alepo seems to be going into deeper problems, greater flames, more trouble, that whatever secretary kerry is working on the stage seems to be getting -- heading in the other direction instead of moving forward. and then just finally, as an aside, we still hope you can make it to crane. we know how busy you are. in syria, most recent developments, seem to be heading more against our goals than for our goals. thank you, mr. chairman.
>> i want to begin with a compliment, mr. secretary, to you and the president for the quality of the generals you are nominating and asking to lead or military, many have come to -- they've all come to this committee. and a very impressive -- general dunford, on march 19th, there was a marine corp staff sergeant part of blt 26 artillery marine who was killed in iraq. was he killed in action? killed in combat? >> he was killed in combat, senator. >> we had a -- in january, a staff sergeant from the 19th special forces group was killed in afghanistan. was he killed in combat? >> he was killed in combat, senator. >> when our jasock troops conduct ct missions in that part of the world, are they conducting combat operations? >> they are, senator. >> how about when our f 22's, 16's are doing bombings are they performing combat missions?
yes, sir. >> my question is simple, the president, the white house spokesman. whenever they talk about our troops in the middle east, they go to are great lengths -- this is a quote from the president -- they will not involve american combat troops fighting on foreign soil. this is the white house spokesman recently. our troops are not in a combat role. why does the administration go through these crazy somersaults that the entire country knows is not correct to say our troops are not in combat when they're in combat? the chairman of the joint chiefs just stated pretty much everybody in the middle east is in combat. why does the president, not level with the american people, why does the white house spokesman continue to say they're not in combat? i think one thing i'd like to answer that question, but i also think it diminishes the sacrifice of our troops and
their families. to, you know -- we know they're in combat. why can't we level with the american people and say they're in combat? chairman just did. gen. dunford: yeah, i'm going to associate myself with the chairman. these people are in combat, senator, and i think that we need to say that clearly. i can't -- don't know what the statements you're quoting. i can well imagine that the point being made is to describe the strategy that i described earlier, which is to not to try to substitute for local forces, but to get back to senator donly's point to try to get them powerful enough that they can ex expel isil with our support. when we provide that support, we put people in harm's way. we ask them to conduct combat actions, i mean, a pilot flying over --
>> dropping bombs. gen. dunford: -- sec. carter: dropping bombs is in that circumstance. that's what's being gotten at. >> i think it would be useful to pass on from, you know, your two perspectives to the white house, to the president to his spokes people to the people that background the press. last week, 250 new special forces troops going to the middle east, but they're not in combat roles. well, that's actually not true. this committee leveling with the american people is very useful. i know two of you are doing that. pass that message on to the president and his spokes people in the white house that would be useful. sec. carter: can i thank you by the way for what you said about unbelievable officers we -- >> it's not just general dunford, general -- sec. carter: whole bunch of them. the country is blessed. >> i'd like to turn to follow up on senator cotton's line of questionings.
you know, i'm going to hand out a document here that shows a little bit more detail, what's going on in the south china sea as you're well aware, mr. secretary. but there's a lot of concern that the scarborough shoal has strategic significance with regard to what some people are calling a strategic triangle in the south china sea. the chinese have established two legs of that triangle. the fighters and radars are part
of that radius you see around the scarborough shoal. what is the strategic significance, if the chinese do start to build up the military capability on that island, particularly being so close to the philippines? and what are our plans, if they do begin that kind of militarization or even buildup of the island and do we have a plan to respond to the un tribunal ruling that's expected in june with regard to china's excessive maritime claims? there's a lot going on there. sec. carter: there is, and i should say, also, thank you for your role in leadership in this part of the world. it's a critical one. the middle east is in the headlines all the time and justifiably so. but this is the region where half of human kind lives and half of the world's economy. so it's critical. and your map is absolutely accurate. and the -- to get to your various questions. the united states is reacting. that's what our rebalance is all
about. there are many things we work with china on, but there are certainly aspects of chinese behavior that are very disturbing to us. they're deeply disturbing to countries in the region. which has them all coming to us and is having the effect of causing self isolation by china. we are reacting ourselves and we're being increasingly invited to work with countries, long-standing allies and strong allies like the philippines and that's where the sites you see and correctly have on the map. here come in. but also new partners, like vietnam, i was in india a week and a half ago. many of them concerned about chinese behavior. and i'll just -- >> mr. secretary, i'm sorry to cut you off. the strategic significance of the scarborough shoal right now the scarborough shoal right now in the south china sea there's a lot going on. you were just there.
can you comment on that? sec. carter: well, it's a piece of disputed territory that like other disputes in that region has the potential to lead to military conflict. that's particularly concerning to us. given its proximity to the philippines. we have the same view about all the disputes. even though china is far in away in recent times the greatest reclaimer and militarization of disputed features, other countries are doing it as well. i don't represent our diplomatic position. to get back to what you said about the tribunal is that these disputes ought to be settled peacefully and one of the ways of doing that is through the tribunal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> you would support lifting restrictions on provision of weapons to the vets nunesis? -- vietnamese. sec. carter: we have discussed it in the past. yes.
i >> thank you. the rebalance to the pacific is in the base budget. sec. carter: it is. >> i support the european reassurance initiative. i was just there and talked to many of the important military commanders and the european command, important leaders in te european command. i support it. let's be clear, the only reason it's in ocho is because of the budget caps, correct? sec. carter: well, i think it was put into into -- >> the chairman referenced this last year it's in ocho because he said a bank -- sec. carter: the willy sutton. there's something to that. to be fair i wasn't around at the time. when the thing first came up in crimea urgent money was required and money was moved within ocho which is easier to do than in the base.
you're right, the years go on and you say why is this money in eri. >> there's no difference to the rebalance of the pacific and the european reassurance initiative correct? sec. carter: i'm afraid you're right. i'm only -- >> the only difference is an artificial -- let me be clear, the only reason in two different budgets is an artificial cap put on by congress to try to pretend to the american people we're balancing something? >> well -- >> you don't have to comment on that. i wanted that on the record. it is so irritating to me that we can't be honest -- talk about being honest with the american people what we're doing with the base budget in the military. i'm so tired of members of congress saying we want to support the military, and they were shoving all these things in ocho that don't belong there. and the reason they're doing is because they can pretend they're paying for it and pretend they're balancing something. it's so irritating to me.
i wanted to get that on the record first. >> do you feel better now? >> i do. thank you. i know you relate. sec. carter: can i get in this too? i feel better also. >> i actually think the chairman totally agrees with me. we need more people to quit be hypocrites about balancing a budget and be honest about what it takes to be fiscally responsible. sinai peninsula general dunford, i know that you were just with cc. i am worried about the international peace-keeping initiative on the sinai that's there. but to enforce the agreements back in the late 70s between israel and egypt and -- there have been incidents, there have been americans hurt,ing tell me what you can about your sense of egypt being capable of
continuing to sustain and protect this peace-keeping mission? gen. dunford: senator, a couple points. first, i have looked at this very closely over the last few months. and while absolutely committed to remaining in the sinai peninsula to enforce the camp david accords we are concerned about the protection of our forces. we've taken a number of steps to include providing additional equipment and adjusting their posture to increase their force protection level. i am not satisfied where we need to be right now. we're working very closely with the israelis, working closely with the egyptians to take steps that will further enhance our force protection. if i'm not satisfied, that we can properly address our force protection, which really includes two things, senator, it includes adjusting our posture as well as addressing the terrorists that are in that
environment in making sure we have an effective counterterrorism plan on the sinai in conjunction with the egyptians. if those aren't met i'll have recommendations about what we do moving forward. it's sensitive right now, the discussions i'd like to talk to you in private about my conversation with the egyptians over the weekend. and the number of conversations with the egyptians and israelis over the last couple months. we're working very closely because it is a trilateral issue. we're working closely to address those two issues, number one, the immediate posture of our force. but as importantly i think both of these things are necessary for us to be satisfied we've done all we can do for our men and women that are there. the second piece is to have an effective plan to deal with the terrorists in the region. there is clearly a strong presence of the islamic state in the sinai as well as insurgency that's been going on in the sinai for some time. >> thank you, general i'll look forward to that and learning more. i'm concerned about it. finally assistance to jordan. i don't think people realize in america there has been a cry, about 10,000 syrian refugees. there's 1.4 million in jordan. makes up 13% of their population, they closed the
border because of it, the imbalance that was occurring within their country. i had an opportunity to be in jordan a few weeks ago. visited with our military, our terrific military leaders there and also with the jordanian military. i'll worried about the 15,000 people along that border that are now sitting there because they're not being allowed to come into jordan. and i -- as you all focus on northern syria, i'm wondering what, if anything, you can tell me in this setting and maybe this is also for a closed setting. most of what i learned would be appropriate in a closed setting, about the drifting of isis and isil to the southern region, along this border where we now have 15,000 people. just on the other side of the border from jordan? in gen. dunford: thanks i'll say a few things about it. we can talk mo