tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 29, 2015 12:00am-2:01am EDT
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, specifically if 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. as you you ndaa is something that reflected asked to give that was going to say. we need and i believe the department of defense and the department of defense needs budget stability greater than a one year horizon. a foundation of base funding. >> secretary nobel committee disagrees with you. that's a well-worn path discussion that goes all the way back to sequestration but i found it remarkable given the circumstances we are now in the testimony today that we would take a step back what we continue to fight that fight because that's going to require a willing administration one thing is clear to me this administration is not willing to confront the challenges that these men and women have been uniform today. taking a step back in these dangerous times i don't think make sense and i respectfully disagree with your recommendations. thank you mr. chair. >> if i can just say i will tell
you what i think we need. what we need is what i hope is going in now which is a true budget agreement where washington comes together, behind an honest straightforward budget for some multiyear horizon. that's what the department deserves and that's what i have been saying for months and perhaps that is occurring as we speak that i can only be honest and say what i think is the best for the department and that's honestly what we need. i realize that no individual member for individual committee can deliver that. it requires a coming together in a gridlocked washington behind an overall budget deal. i fervently hope that occurs. another some indication over the last couple of days but that might occur. in fact it's what i have been urging ever since march and i fervently hope.
that's what the troops deserve and that's what the world needs to see. >> i would point out that oco will be part of this agreement as well. secretary if you want to complete your answer please continue or have you completed? >> just one other aspect that i would ask the committee also apropos ndaa. there are a number of reforms that we have requested now for several years that have been denied in the authorization bill and i would ask. >> for example? >> some having to do with health care, some having to do with readjustments and force structure. these are things that are relevant armed services have determined are the optimal use of their resources and the authority to carry out those reforms has been denied. i just appeal to you not -- to allow those reforms because it
is the professional judgment of the department of defense that better use for those funds can be had and in years where it's difficult to find funding for the federal government and i understand all the reasons for that, we have to use every dollar we do get are the best to use. we are not able to do that for some of the restrictions that are in the ndaa and that's another reason why would ask you to reconsider some of these provisions. thank you for the time to elaborate on that senator. >> i would also point out that there are is about $11 billion in savings proving a 7.5% reduction in headquarters staff which we would be glad to show you the threat dramatic growth in those details in many of the reforms that have been made and i look forward to looking at further reforms with you as we
begin new hearings when we resolve this issue and very necessary reforms that we feel are called for. i'm i am proud of the reforms frankly that are on a bipartisan basis. i am proud of the fact that we have dramatically revised the retirement system. i am proud of the fact that we are finally trying to get a handle on the cost overruns characterized acquisition practices so you may have some concerns. i can tell you after being on this committee for nearly 30 years how proud i am of the bipartisan product that we have produced and i hope that maybe sometime you might recognize that. senator blumenthal. >> me i just, i think you personally. i don't mean to say the reforms have not been enacted. there are some additional ones at that like to have but i salute the committee and the
only way we could ask the taxpayer to give us more money for defense which we need is if they can also show that we use every dollar well so i appreciate your leadership in that regard. >> i thank you secretary. we do look forward to it. we will have hearings beginning this week on restructures, restructuring that i think are necessary. we want to work closely with you and i'm very proud to work very closely with a graduate of west point. senator blumenthal. >> thank you chairman and i think both of you for your service to our nation and your candid and forthright answers today in an area that is exceedingly difficult. as you may know i am working with a number of colleagues who both supported and opposed the joint comprehensive plan of action to strengthen the united states policy toward iran, in other words to improve and
strengthen that agreement. among other ways by providing more military assistance to our allies and anticipating some of the financial windfall will go toward increased extremism and even terrorist violence in the area said to bolster the defenses and military of our allies in that region this legislation will reassert the united states policy that a nuclear-armed iran will never be permitted. will reaffirm our dedication of opposing sanctions related to terror financing and human rights abuses and will ensure that our allies most especially israel will be provided with the asset that they need so that their defense will be bolstered and they will be able to deter iran. general dunford you just visited the area.
can you tell us what additional assets we can providing can you commit and secretary carter i ask you to join in this question that the united states will in fact bolster assets going to israel and our other allies in the middle east and comment on legislation. thank you. >> sir i can't talk to the details now. i can tell you the minister of defense from israel is here today meetings with secretary carter. we will have dinner with him this evening and she probably know they are developing their perspective on what cooperation further we might have with them to include the details of capability development that i had initial discussions with itchy for defense minister of defense and prime minister last week during my visit. >> in the conversations that preceded our votes on the agreement i was assured and i
think other colleagues were assured that in fact israel will receive all the assistance to make sure that its qualitative edge is not only maintained that enhance. is that the policy of united states? >> qualitative military in israel is the important part of our overall policy driven middle east east and that's exactly what i'll be talking to along with the chairman and defense minister of israel about that and of course that's one ingredient of our overall support for israel and also i should add other gulf partners and allies and i also need to add you estimate that they ran nuclear agreement and the military option, which we are charged with continuing to do and i continue to pay personal attention to that. i believe the chairman does as well. and her efforts to counter
iranian maligned influence around the region and protect our friends and allies. there are a lot of dimensions to what we do there in all of that which is our twiki remains unchanged with this iran agreement. all of those things, the military option and support to other gulf countries in this long-standing support of an just in the gulf and we will continue to do that. >> i realize the policy is the same but the military activities will have to be increased won't they? >> we will be doing more with israel and that's one of the subjects of my discussion with the defense minister as it was when i visited there a couple of months ago. he he hosted me and i will be hosting him over the next couple of days. >> can you tell us whether you are satisfied with the progress that has been made? >> he and i have a very good relationship so these
discussions are discussions among friends. we do things with israel and have a closeness there that we have with very few other countries around the world. they can't go until the details here but we can share them separately. it's a very close alliance and defense relationship. >> i would have for she -- appreciate your sharing those details in a different forum. i would be interested in the discussions underway now and i want to be satisfied that you are fulfilling the commitments that were made to myself and my policies in the course of our discussion for the iran agreement book. thank you very much to you both create. >> senator sullivan. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you gentlemen. like chairman mccain statement today general petraeus was here recently and in his testimony he cited in the middle east there
are no easy answers but inaction has costs whether it's others filling the vacuum like we have seen in the middle east in this area or whether u.s. credibility is undermined especially when action contradicts policy statements. i think most of the members of the committee see this as a significant problem not only in the middle east but beyond. general dunford do you believe inaction has its own cause and how does the u.s. military way the cost of an action of doing nothing when you are presenting options to the president for options and what we should be doing in the middle east? >> first of all senator i absolutely agree that inaction is unacceptable and only talk about protecting our national interest there's no question about that and with regard to when we provide military options
absolutely. i think it's my responsibility to clearly articulate the opportunity costs and the risks associated with not taking action against that particular issue. >> secretary carter many members of the committee have been concerned about u.s. inaction in another part of the world in the south china sea and a lot of this on this committee saw that inaction was raised in costs and undermining u.s. credibility. there were a number of us who were complimentary of your speech at the shangri-la dialogue. i was going to express concern about that pledges read in the paper about the freedom of the navigation operation that we evidently conducted inside a 12-mile zone of a chinese ireland just yesterday. is that churro? did we do that lacks. >> we have made a commitment and i appreciate your support as part of our rebalancing of the
asia-pacific which is so important to america's future. we are doing more etsy. we are doing more in the way of presence and to give a general answer to what you said, we have said we are acting on the basis of saying that we will fly, operate wherever international law permits. there have been naval operations in that region in recent days and there will be in weeks and months. >> inside the 12-mile zone? >> it's all over the press right now. >> i'm sure it is but we reserve the right to conduct. >> if we do that within a built-up islands that was undersea submerged rock is that within consistent with international law? >> yes it is. >> should we be doing that on a
regular basis? >> in terms of freedom of navigation? >> we will operate wherever international law permits and whenever our needs are required to. >> it would be good for the committee to know what the press reports are accurate in what we did. let me ask another question about another area in the world where it seems like u.s. inaction clearly seems to be inviting more russian aggression where russian actions are changing facts on the ground. mr. secretary in your confirmation hearing you talk about the arctic is going to be a major area of importance to the united states but strategically and economically in the future you said it's fair to say that bear lake to the recognition of that. i think it's also fair to say that the russians are not to affect the mission of that. you are confirmation the russians have done the following in the arctic. for new arctic brigade combat
team's 14 operational airfields in the russian arctic announcements of up to 50 new airfields by 2020, 30% increase of russian special forces in the arctic, 40 icebreakers. we have to. one is broken. huge new land claims in the art that, long-range air patrols with the bear bombers the most since the cold war image of military exercise in march that cut the u.s. military completely off guard, 45,000 troops come over 3000 military vehicles, 41 naval ships, 15 submarines, 110 military aircraft, numerous elements of russia's military district and elite airborne troops in that exercise. a lot of this concerns the committee and ndaa which the president vetoed we have a unanimous agreement here to
decree an operations plan for the art take. that's an important step to ensuring we have continued good options in the arctic. can i get your commitment, both of you, to work with this committee on a robust military plan that will enable us to check russia's aggression in the arctic, keep our options open and maintain our credibility in that important area to world? >> you have mine and appreciate your leadership in this regard. the arctic is an important region for the united states and actually for the entire world. and, so we need to do more there and i appreciate the fact that you are a champion in that and consider me a supporter. we will have a chance to discuss that in alaska later this week. >> yes sir thank you. general dunford.
>> yes sir. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> secretary, sometimes here on this committee we have a sense of frustration. the news reports all day are up out a u.s. destroyer naming the destroyer, going inside the 12-mile zone around these islands. why would not confirm or deny that happened since all the details and the action happened. this is what frustrates members of this committee. when it's out there in the media saturating the media and you won't even tell us. maybe you understand her frustration here. >> i do understand your frustration. i match it up with my own frustration which is that these are operations that we should be conducted normally. >> the american people should know about this and where their representatives and you confirm or deny something that is all
over the media and confirm by everyone and you come before this committee and say you won't comment on it? why? >> i'm going to not be coy. i don't like in general the idea of talking about military operations that you have read in the newspaper is accurate but i don't want to say more than that and i don't want to say when and how we operate anywhere in the world. >> i don't think the senator asked you that when and how. he just asked you whether you could confirm it or not. >> i can. >> thank you. senator donnelly. >> thank you mr. chairman. i just want to get back to syria and some of the questions the chairman was asking about safe zones. we seem lost. we seem lost at confusion about
what to do next, unable to put any real marker down or have any plan for success. the people are voting and they are voting with their feet. they are leaving. there are refugees all over the world now and we have the opportunity to set up safe zones and what i hear is we are worried about the russians. we are worried about all of these things. at what point do we put a plan together, execute the plan, tell them what we are going to do and say stay out of the way? >> with respect to save, save zone is done on the ground. we have analyzed and discussed them with partners in the region they are principally not in regions where we would expect them to be tested. by isil and al-nusra and
therefore we have to defend against that. it's a military undertaking. we have not made that recommendation. >> how many people have to leave before we make that decision? >> senator let me go back to come if you create a zone like that then you do have to ask who is going to come into the zone. are there people who have left syria who are going to return to syria from turkey or europe to occupy a zone from which they didn't come? are there people elsewhere in syria who are going to come to that so? you do have to ask yourself for whom would they attracted in such his own. >> probably some of the folks in germany and other countries who would rather have stayed in their own country. >> if they wish to return to the
country in which the zone is created, but again it would depend on where it was. >> let me ask you we have talked about this time after time. why are we unwilling to send a message to assad that if he continues with beryl bombing we will stop them? >> we have not undertaken to engage the u.s. military, the syrian military. we have not taken that step. >> so how do you ever stop the beryl bombing? >> the way the civil war getting back to what we have been saying repeatedly is. [speaking in farsi] to depart and for there to be a -- >> why would he depart? >> because the opposition to him
is intense and strengthening. >> as far as i can see he has had three or four additional allies come on board. if anything the calculation for him is his cards are getting better. >> again our priority is to combat isil. we are not in the u.s. military undertaking combat in syria. >> let me ask you this. the process of combating isil does the united states stand by as another nation barrel bombs people where trying to protect? >> we have thought now for some time and continue to do a political transition in syria that would end the syrian civil war. we have not pursued a military decision. >> i would say from my perspective we seem lost. i have extraordinary competence
in the leadership at this table but we seem lost then i would love to see alternate plans that may be out there. general dunford i was in iraq a few months ago and was with the sunni tribal leaders and i just want to ask you in your military judgment and spending time with them they said look if you showed an interest in us, if you showed, had a helicopter come by every now and then and show you really wanted to provide us with guidance with logistics and advice etc. and that partnership and friendship we have always felt we will be there. we will get the job done. do you think they have that capability? >> senator senator i do. there are sunnis that absolutely can't take the fight to the enemy and we have seen that in the past. while we try to continue to hope and pray the iraqi security force gets better are we sitting here with sunni tribal leaders
who have individuals who can actually start to move isis out of ramadi? >> i think the central government would do better outreach to sandy we could recruit more train more in support more sunni in the fight to. >> so it's fair to say the team is ready to go, we just need to get the signal to go. >> it would take some work senator but there are people out there that we could put together to fight isil. >> and that's how we start to move isil out i think. thank you mr. chairman. >> i recognize generally. >> thank you secretary carter and general dunford for appearing before committee tape day and your service to the country. the white house is been sending mixed and that sometimes contradictory messages about what our interests are and what threats to our security exists in the middle east. many americans are understandably coming to find our current strategy somewhat reminiscent of the old song says
the president's reaction seems to be defending lawyer -- the situation in the middle east is a very complicated problem for our current posture but it's certainly not to start the aberrational. for more than 100 years this region has been dominated by either external powers or internal authoritarian who have destroyed cultural institutions and disrupted the natural development of societies. the decentralization of power in the states compounded by her radical islamism and ancient sect. amounts to contest it rescue for the kind of conflict and instability we are seeing today intends to threaten our security. we continue to receive makes contradictory reports about the effectiveness of ongoing efforts
to retain, train and equip iraqi security forces. when i ask why we believe it will work this time around i'm usually told by a defense official something like the following, something like well we have a better political heart and are in baghdad now than we did that for me of a partner who will not repeat the mistakes of his predecessor. this is not encouraging as we know how quickly political institutions and political situations and calculations can change in the middle east particularly right now. general dunford i'm more concerned by what you're predecessor general dempsey described as the will to fight factor among the isf and i believe that extends beyond simply having a better leader in baghdad. do you believe the kind of united iraq we have seen for the past century that is with borders drawn by the british and
french and held together either by a western backed monarchy or baathists take tater is something for which the people of iraq have the genuine will to fight especially when they don't have emergency assistance from a coalition like they have right now. >> senator for most people in iraq is a lot more local than it is national and i do think if the central government for example what outreach the sydney in the anbar province and provide basic services that we would get sunni fighters that would fight on behalf of the government. we have seen that in the past. i would like to expand the question little bit more broadly to places like syria or yemen. where current territorial lines may have been imposed. tonight there is no evidence
that i would hope that would indicate that. >> unfortunately we are looking too hard for an easy or simple answer to some of these complicated questions. i think urge my colleagues in the american people to thoughtfully consider options in the middle east before continuing down past that i believe may lead to mission creep into an indefinite u.s. military presence to prop up weak and artificially created states designated around unsustainable boundaries. of defense train and equip program failed by a long shot. to find and train the level of fighters established by congress in the white house. congress put these requirements in place because we were concerned about who would be using u.s. assistance and for what purposes they would be using. secretary carter is the failure
of this program indicate to you that the viable ground force who desire for serious simply does not exist within the parameters that the american taxpayer may be willing to support packs. >> 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. we talked about the kurds as an example of that. the syria arab coalition and in the new train and a quick effort that we describe today we will look to identify and then support capable and motivated forces on syrian territory that are willing to take on isil. we have identified some of them already and the new approach is to enable and train them and
equipment -- equip them rather than trying to create such forces a new which was the previous approach. i do understand why that approach was taken in your right it was authorized by this committee last december and i understand what went into that. i have concluded and the president concluded that approach wasn't working the way it was conceived of a year ago and that's precisely why we have change the approach. we have a different approach that will gain more momentum and in particular to allow us to put the pressure on the city arauca with -- rocco which is a self-declared caliphate. so that is our intent and we are trying to gather momentum in several ways we detailed. >> i see my time has expired
mr. chairman. >> on behalf of senator mccain that may recognize senator mccaskill. >> let me at the beginning give a mention to master sergeant joshua wheeler. this is his 14th appointment. we all mourn his loss and the loss of his family and we support them as they go through this trying time. senator reid asked you about the forces in northern syria. have we resupplied those forces? >> we have senator senator. >> have they successfully called a strike? and can you tell us for the record how many? >> i cannot. i can get that information for you. i don't know the number. >> that would be terrific.
i'm iraq train and equip as you know i have a tendency to read the ig reports. the one that came out september 30 raised several concerns of a more devout. one is asking us to refurbish the conditions under which these iraqis are training. but dlg recommends that the coalition work with the iraqi minister of defense to implement a plan that clarifies the contributions of iraq and the united states to improve their living conditions. evidently the ig said they were having desertions because they are living in such squalor in terms of the conditions under which they are training. billions of billions of infrastructure we spend in iraq and i'm trying to get my arms around every going to go in and fix up something that's going to rot when we leave or is iraq going to step up and do what's necessary to make these conditions palatable for our recruits?
>> senator what i would tell you when this is my perspective and i think this is where we are at right now, our relationship with iraq has to be transactional and there have to be certain conditions they would meet before we would abide supported that absolutely is the framework within which i will provide recommendations for any support of iraqi forces based on their behavior and willingness to be true partners and meet certain conditions that would indicate we headed that direction he described. >> capital expenditures really great on many of us that have watched the amount of money we have wasted on capital expenditures in iraq and that same unquestioning and from afghanistan the same ig report points out there's a row question whether they have the capability of maintaining these emirates going forward. once again are their discussions about who is going to bear the cost of making these mraps that we are giving them actually
operational? >> senator you talk about the mraps we gave to afghan security forces? >> i'm talking about the excess once we are living over. the u.s. is providing 250 mraps to the iraqi army being shipped from iraq to afghanistan. those are the emirates i'm talking about. >> i can't comment but i will get that information for a senator in terms of what arrangements were made. typically only provided equipments and as is condition and i assume that's. >> i want to make sure we are not going to the expense of sending them something that isn't operational that we don't want to have to spend a lot of money to fix up and secondly that they don't have the capability of maintaining. sustainability. secretary carter knows this has been the refrain from the very beginning. does us no good to give them things that they cannot sustain it and of course that's one of
the reasons we are having problems in iraq we have right now. they were politically incapable of sustainability. briefly a separate subject i just want to bring this up and i won't go into details here plan desperately trying to get at helping the veterans that were subjected to mustard gas experiments and i'm having a really difficult time with your folks about this. they're saying even if i had the name of the veteran and the privacy waiver they will not get the information out of your mustard gas date information. why is everyone not opening up these records and doing everything we can to get this to these people. there are a lot of folks out there that were subjected to mustard gas experiments and the va wants to point at you and i'm hitting a wall at dod on this. i really need a commitment from you while today that you will give me the information has to widen 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 that he will work with my office? >> i'm not familiar with this issue but as always we will make sure that we support your request. i will look into it as will the chairman and we will get back to. >> i've been waiting since july for evidence to back up your claim on the justification for the 36 million-dollar, 634,000 square-foot doping in afghanistan. there was a call for discipline for the people who locate that building and i've been asking since july. he said he didn't think secretary carter that disciplinary action was appropriate. i've asked for the evidence that would indicate disciplinary action is not appropriate and i've been waiting since july.
you could get that on your to-do list i would really appreciate it. and you have several people behind the who ought to help with it. thank you very much. >> on behalf of chairman mccain maverick nice senator graham. >> thank you very much. senator mccain laid out some serious criticisms of how we are conducting our policy in the middle east. i share most of those. i don't think they are a little matter. they are an important matter and i think we have made some mistakes and struggled in ways that are not good. so i will just leave it there. what i would like you to address today is the need for strategy long-term in the middle east. kenneth pollack of the brookings institution several months ago mentioned in a statement it may take a long time so i asked him
the whole problem of extremism in the middle east. this spasm of violence racing throughout the entire region how complex it is and so i followed up. you are saying this could last 10, 20, 50 years and i remember vividly he looked at me and i got an answer you don't often get. yes. that was his answer. and do we need to strategy, long-term strategy that can deal with that? i have asked that question to russell mead and he said he had never seen us as a nation be so unfocused and a strategy, the historian that he is. the entire panel i believe the week before last general keane ambassador another scholar
agreed we need to strategy. we really don't have one and i asked secretary gates last week and 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 and one of the benefits of containment are a lot of disagreement about how to apply it and the wars we fought under it and so on but i will always believe that critical to our success in the cold war was that we had a broad strategy called containment that was practiced by nine successive administrations of both political parties. it had bipartisan support. the general notion of how to deal with this, we don't have anything like that with respect
to the middle east and i think that is wrong so we are dealing with each of these crises individually rather than backing up and say what is her long-term game plan here? and who are going to be our allies? who are going to be our friends? where do we contain and where do we let it run itself a? we haven't really addressed those long-term questions. it seems to me we are thinking strictly in the short-term month-to-month. i know we have got nine-point secretary carter but i don't since sense anyone in the region or anyone in the congress believes that we have a deeply studied and long-term policy for the middle east. could extend for decades. first of all do you think we
need one and do we have one? >> we have a strategy toward the middle east and many elements of it are in fact long-standing, decades longstanding. again our strategy begins with the pursuit of american interests and that involves protecting our own country and our people, defending long-standing friends and allies in the gulf states and especially israel which was discussed already, opposing the introduction of nuclear weapons to the region which gets us to the iran circumstance. in the current matter i saw protecting our people and our friends and allies against isil by defeating it where it began which is in iraq and syria we described today that the
implementation of the strategy in both of those places is to degrade and defeat isil so we are doing that. it is a complicated region. i call it kaleidoscopic in my statement, but american interests are not clear. they are clear and our strategy is intended to pursue those interests and that is what we are doing and strengthening the pursuit of that strategy is why the chairman and i have been describing to you today that the steps we are taking in iraq, and syria and with respect to unilateral actions. >> i know that's the position of the administration but frankly are middle east allies that we talk to don't feel confident that they know what the long-term goals of the united
states are. are they to defend iraq against isil who shares shoulder-to-shoulder fighting for decades? are we going to pull out the troops in afghanistan regardless of the situation? what about red lights and syria? are we going to honor those? you can say that but i think it's clear that complement understanding of where we stand and what we are going to do for the next 10, 20, 30 years is any leader of the middle eastern nation has got to think and as we should think and a great nation, don't think we are there i really believe more work needs to be done. i'm talking to my colleagues in the senate. i believe we can reach a bipartisan policy, i really do. '. one more