tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 17, 2015 12:00am-1:01am EST
do you have a game plan for holding afghanistan to accountability on the anticorruption efforts of not just the statement of the president which i think is sincere but has not been backed by action. >> thank you for the question, senator. we are indeed intent on holding the government of afghanistan to its promises to address the question of endemic corruption in afghanistan. just to review aa little bit what has happened so far, we were encouraged by the decision to reopen the investigation into the bank scandal and the effort of the government to recover assets. we were then discouraged by the fact that one of the main co-conspirators was
released from prison and started working on a housing development project. and we understand that he is back in jail and the deal has been invalidated and we will continue to watch that. but the government of afghanistan under pres. president donnie with the full support of the ceo of bella has adopted improve anti- money-laundering regulations, prosecutor judges complicit in the release of the drug trafficker and established a national procurement commission which altered a series of illegal procurements in the ministry of defense and the interior. going forward, we really need to continue to condition our assistance to the updated mutual accountability framework that was decided at tokyo
which will be an important part of our discussions with the government of afghanistan as we prepare for the big conference is coming up this summer, 1st in warsaw dealing with security assistance and then in brussels in october. dealing with development assistance. when it to update the mutual accountability framework and come up with very specific conditions for future assistance. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank both of you for your service. i wanti want to focus on a couple reports of just coming out. >> i was honored to meet with them.
i have to tell you, seven or eight months later it is shocking to see the difference in taking to polaroid shots of the situation. they were getting ready to go in and of course now just last month there was no winter at all. the violence is beyond traditional insurgent strongholds. candies we know about and they just released a report to congress. i want to get from the state department your perspective on not only the report that the situation as it stands right now. taliban attacks have been given higher casualties afghan forces. the afghan pakistani border
a severe description of the picture. but given the situation right now and the fact that we are aiding the military in afghanistan with some hundred 80,000 troops we still have 9800, general campbell one that argument but we are moving to have troops. what does next year look like? how deep is this? there has been a dramatic growth. it is a primary part of any dialogue.
>> thank you for that question. looking back the past few months and i am not really in a position to describe the military response which is the responsibility of my colleague and friend, but, but i will say that it strikes me that a political level the part of the reason we saw such a strong offensive over the course of the past few months is in part a revelation to the death of a below-market. there was intense competition amongst taliban commanders which played itself out in part to increased violence. itit has been very clear and i was just they're last week
, absolutely determined that 2016 cannot be repetition of 2015. and in particular the question of reduction of violence is usually important. in that regard i think this raises the question of a reconciliation process, the heart of asia, we held the trilateral meeting between the united states, pakistan, and afghanistan in which we recommitted ourselves to an afghan led an afghan own peace process during our meeting will end the fighting season which included for the 1st time a commitment language that all parties who refused to come to the table will be dealt with by all means available. so i think that we have to
use the remaining time to work on getting an afghan led afghan on reconciliation process going. there was much more of a meeting of the minds between the president and pakistani leadership on this issue than there has been in some time. we are moving toward a negotiation. there really isn't a strategy being talked about about how to defeat the taliban. is that what i hear? >> to be clear, i would not say that there is no strategy for fighting, but that is not my particular piece of this puzzle. i think that a political settlement is an important element and working toward a political settlement is an important element of our
multidimensional approach to afghanistan. it has been for some time since the speech of may 2012 and even before that reconciliation led by the afghans is an important element. >> i aski ask you briefly, the iranian influence with the taliban has grown this year. can youcan you speak to that? and what is the afghan government doing? as a corollary we know there have been out reaches. can you speak to both of those? >> we have seen the reports with regard to the iranian action. of course we do not understand why the iranians
would be involved with the taliban. we do not think it is productive. and we think that all of afghanistan's neighbors should commit to noninterference and respecting pakistan's territorial integrity. with regard to russia this is also a topic that we have discussed with the afghans. i met last week with my russian counterpart in islamabad. it was a preliminary meeting, but he pledged that he would -- that russia would engage constructively and continue to cooperate with us. we have to test the proposition as we do all such propositions but we will work with the russians were we can.
>> thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. you believe in the limits of american power as a catalyst for change abroad absent a local commitment to do so in the last 15 years, afghanistan is proof of concept. and i'm glad you are here briefing us. but ambassador, he talked about this idea that we are prepared to hold the afghans accountable for their lack of progress on anticorruption efforts. with all due respect i do not think there is any evidence to suggest that that is absolutely true. i don't think over the last 15 years there's any evidence to suggest that the united states is willing to do things and send messages to the afghans the telegraph
that we are serious in any way, shape, or form. wewe seem to have made an independent decision that we have national security interests at stake in afghanistan that we are going to commit the amount of resources necessary to stop afghanistan from becoming a safe haven again for terrorist and that we are going to prioritize that which involves a significant amount of american resources with or without a commitment from the afghan government to sort their own mess out. and it seems to me having gone to afghanistan four times five times, having heard the same story over and over again about how we're pressuring them to take on corruption and how little progress we have seen that we should admit our priority is not to encourage local political change but to commit just enough resources to stop afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists and admit that
that is ultimately our number one priority and means that it forces the secondary goal of local political change to become subverted to that 1st priority. i'm sure you think i'm wrong , but tell me why for those of us who have heard people tell us we will start holding afghans accountable for a lack oflack of progress on corruption comeau why any of us should believe we are ever prepared to send thea tough message to the necessary to get them to change. >> thank you. let me thank you for your kind words at the outset. we have our jobs. we are committed to following through. one thing that is worth noting is the tokyo conference in the summer of 2012 that establish this
framework for mutual accountability between the donors and the government of afghanistan. and from that moment forward there has been greater conditionality on the part of not just american assistance that the international community's assistance. this is recognition that in order for the government to have a legitimacy that it needs to carry out counterterrorism operations and established security throughout the country, it needs to address the perception of corruption. i don't see the goal quite as much in contrast as you do. the other point is there is a great willingness under this government to actually address the issue of corruption, and he
recognizes the challenge that it represents for his administration. in the overall interest of good governance which is a hugely important part of counterinsurgency that it is essential we continue to apply conditionality. i would like to ask if you agree with my colleague -- >> let me ask another question and you can maybe answer this one. i would be interested for you to articulate what you think has given the taliban this political space in which to operate because if you read through the litany of progress that we absolutely have made on the number of afghans who have access to schooling, the number of homes that now have access to electricity, that should suggest a level
of economic stability and economic opportunity that would give local populations faith in aligning themselves with local, regional, or federal governance, and they are not doing that which suggests the political space is being created perhaps by a lack of faith. it is hard from your perspective to here all the progress we have made the thing to have no evidence that it is actually resulting in less support when you look at the breadth of the operations. i would be interested in terms of what you think is giving the taliban the political space if you accept the notion that there has been a lot of progress made in terms of the programming we have delivered. >> well, you know, i have to say one of the challenges here is attempting to come
outside of figure out what the topline motivations actually are and what the taliban grievances are. our knowledge on this is frankly imperfect. it is one of the reasons why it is important to have an afghan led and afghan hound reconciliation process so that these issues can be identified and we can attempt to attend to identify what some of the grievances maybe. but i would defer to larry. >> thank you for the question. with respect to corruption to observations. the 1st is how personally pres. got a text the corruption issue. i have sat in the procurement commission meetings which he personally chairs every saturday night, and they are incredibly
painful because he understands how pernicious corruption is, how hard it is to eradicate and how it has to be a priority for his government. he has personally and aggressively involved. at the micro level he has been looking for technical solutions that will help them get a jumpstart on fighting corruption and generating revenue. usaid has been helping with the customs collections. face-to-face corruption where truck drivers are perched and extorted from money. individual saying they represent the government. by allowing them to do their customs payments electronically the face-to-face engagements are no longer necessary and he expects both to reduce corruption and increase revenue and we have early indications where they have
instituted electronic transfers that they have increased the custom collections of those border crossings. the problem has not gone away but with the election of president donnie there is a newa new commitment and they have demonstrated that thomas and to me. to your point about political space i describe it differently. the asia foundation has done a survey which does not show any increase in the popularity of the taliban. but by use of force the taliban forces themselves physically forced himself in the spaces where they are not welcome. they have learned how to survive and it may be it is in their best interest or they perceive it to be to acquiesce to the taliban control of their area, but i am confident and will yield latest did you have an
afghan here to talk about how afghans see these problems. i do not think they taken advantage of political space. they had taken advantage of projecting force. they had taken advantage of projecting force. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador, i want to talk about what is happening with isys. i was there for thanksgiving, been in thanksgiving, been in northern afghanistan and hearing more and more about the spread across the middle east. serious concerns regarding national security. the department of defense warned about the growth. report stated that isys has progressed from its initial exploratory phase to a point where there openly fighting the taliban for establishment of a safe haven and are becoming more operationally active and went on to say they have claimed responsibility for attacks against the united
nations vehicle, ten checkpoints in september. as you know vehicles back and forth to the embassy. can you talk about the best estimate? >> thank you, senator. i will have to get back to you. i do not have that with me today. we are aware of the emergence of and our province and this is something that we have had as part of our ongoing dialogue we take very seriously the potential emergence of this group in afghanistan pakistan.
that said, our understanding of the dynamic is that in fact these are disaffected taliban factions and commanders who have switched allegiance. that is not to underestimate the danger that this represents but it is also to suggest that there is not necessarily a direct linkage and flow of material or fighters from the middle east to the afghanistan pakistan region. so far they have been confined to the southern district of monger are and will continue to work with afghanistan and pakistan to the extent that we can jointly to ensure that they are responding to this emerging threat. >> i wonder if you could help us because i heard the same thing when i was there and asked these questions. the issue of pay came up.
can you talk about how different people are paid differently? the pecking order seems to be that they were getting the most money in the next level down with the taliban the level below that was the afghan army and below that with the police. for people focused on the monetary aspects there was a pecking order of what side you are on and how much you got paid. >> i have heard the stories as well. these are questions that i think need some, to be seriously addressed. one of the questions of course that we will be addressing at the international level in warsaw in july is continuing sustainment of the ashcan national security and
defense forces, and i also think that it highlights the continued importance of dealing with the financing of these organizations. >> do you see any evidence? just create more problems? >> taliban. >> yeah. >> their rhetoric certainly suggests that they intend to try to once again will afghanistan as they did during the '90s. their official title, they call themselves the islamic emirate. so we have seen including in such preliminary talks that
the taliban does indeed assert national aspirations, but that is perhaps not surprising that they would do so. >> in terms of troop level, you asked about specifically the troop levels, 9800 troops currently until the end of 16 only about a thousand troops by the end of 16, given the current security situation is the state department believe the united states should go down to 5500 troops? what are your thoughts? >> well, aswell, as the president has announced we will have 9800 troops through most of 2016, the bulk of the fighting season. and we believe that the commitment of the 5500 per
the period beyond is important for the continued train and assist mission, continuing ct mission in afghanistan and also sends an important regional signal that the united states remains engaged and committed in the region and i think it also sends an important signal to the taliban which will be helpful as part of reconciliation. >> just give me your assessment of the afghan national security forces. >> the afghan national security forces national security and defense forces have faced great challenges over the course of the last year. they have however shown a marked willingness to fight. they're continues to be a continued support for
logistics, sustainment come all of the enablers that make an army able to fight. they need some of the ministry of defense functions. in that regard it willwould be helpful to have a minister of defense. >> senator. >> thank you. it is a very, very challenging service, and i appreciate that you are going into some of the metrics of improved quality of life that have been achieved with a tremendous amount of work by americans and coalition partners and i especiallyi especially appreciate that your knowledge the service of our troops and it has been a comprehensive effort, things like life expectancy, expansion.
wewe all want that progress to not be a temporary phenomenon. one of the things that troubles me, the chairman talked about the divergence between what we often here and classified and unclassified settings and i had an opportunity yesterday to be in a classified setting. i was struck by the divergence between different classified settings i go to and in particular the divergence between classified information conveyed by folks in the entire community versus classified information conveyed by folks in the armed services community. and i think a little bit of tension between the intel committee approach and the armed services approach, and i will say in three years here i have never heard as broad a divergence and do not think i can say the
issues without jeopardizing what may be classified but i i don't think i have heard as broad a divergence between the intel and armed services community than any other instance except current status of a number of issues that are important and fundamental and critical issues. it is very troubling. let me ask you a couple of questions. i am interested in your thoughts about the current afghanistan pakistan relationship. we know from public accounting of activity that taliban have used pakistan is a safe haven over time and there is an important degree to which pakistan's cooperation is critical to stability in afghanistan. what is your current perception each of your perspective goals.
moving quickly to this state of afghanistan it was fairly significant is the prime minister committed to respecting afghanistan's sovereignty with respect for the government and the constitution's that was important language in the trilateral session they committed to resuming a peace process as soon as possible and using all available means of the blubbers of the taliban that chose not to goes through the peace process. but after last week we feel that relations are somewhat improved.
>> with respect to collaborative - - collaboration between afghanistan and pakistan and other members recently the energy corporation all the way down hazardous consequences for all the member countries and just this past week has broken ground on the energy corridor that has resonance for the countries in the region. this is where the security focus will overlap to the degree to get them working together our economic growth they have skidded the game to provide stability to see the economic growth. there is also cross border trade as simple as fruits
and nuts is expecting to see $36 billion worth of the posts being shipped by eight appreciate the different communities and i will share for maddow was first exposed to classified information it is unclassified because it is more correct but how it was collected. what i get to my partners on the ground the afghanistan they live with depends on which to restrict their rand. but in others they are making progress of the exports it is not as simple as it is portrayed.
>> fet both for your service to the country we appreciate all the hard work of a difficult circumstance. ambassador you mentioned in your opening statement to be committed to a stable and secure afghanistan with a negotiated settlement and is the surest way to end the conflict. i have the same impression that senator kane does in there is a stark difference with that aside if we want to get with the afghan led
peace process doesn't it have to be a point in their situation where they feel there is a reason to come to the table? that they are resurgent to release people from prisons. in to draw the forces down. and a good faith to come to the table. >> that is a thoughtful question there are a couple of things that give some
leverage in this situation. first of all,w3 and that taliban does seem to desire international political legitimacy. and they recognize that we have to be cautious what we know about the taliban and what we presume but it does appear that as a result of their historical experience edited a country that has always been reliant to the extra zero assistants that they'll look to international legitimacy as an important objective. deal the way that could not be achieved is through some
kind of political settlement. what i alluded to before was the question that was significant of language coming out of the trilateral statement talking about all available means for those that are not prepared to reconcile the. >> you have any comment from your perspective that indicate there is a sincere effort of the part of the taliban to be a part of the peace process? we back in order to be a player of the economic growth they would have to be a legitimate partner and a legitimate player. they are not considered a
legitimate at this point. >> as you talk about economic development, the securities affected, i am trying to probe bonnie the economic outlook what is the status of the heather capital projects with investors such as china or india or what are under way to produce revenue if any? and why are they stalled? >> you talk about the exports but i talk about the bigger projects i am sure. >> one of the things that encourages me is he has brought in technocratic ministers.
showing up at the ministry to tell me he had 390 vacant civil service positions he said there were 20 filled with 390 are vacant the restraint that the top but nothing behind it and he was expected to pursue fair and open procurements for millerites, and gas rights and exports. he has filled half of the vacancies and identified low hanging fruit not the most lucrative mining sectors to be honest but it is an area where he believes the state can exercise a monopoly and collect taxes and tariffs
the mining of tout. -- talk the other is the precious minerals found only in afghanistan. they are finding ways to achieve quick results but they're not done quickly the u.s. interest has been the capacity to do that equitably in transparently and i think the ministers are focused on doing that. >> i would just add what my colleague mentioned before. the forward movement with the pipeline which is a project that has been in tuition for like 30 years.
it is quite significant. in the other doesn't have quite as much of history but the power purchasing agreement was signed in the last week so those are indicators. >> so are india or china involved? >> so it would go on to pakistan and india. the latest agreement is through turkmenistan so there's still some negotiations to be done. >> i would be remiss if i did not note tomorrow afghanistan will be accepted into the world trade organization. it is an accomplishment several years in the making but it's very difficult journey to make the
procedural am but little adjustments they have to make for the programs you describe to be productive and sustainable. >> i apologize i had to go in and out and i may be redundant. did you serve it usaid when we were in iraq? >> yes, sir,. >> we part of the reconstruction team? >> no sir. i was in baghdad. >> we were involved? >> yes. i served in iraq 2003 through march 2004 that was a predecessor. >> my recollection at the title of the hearing is the strategy but want to reflect back with my experience there. our strategy was to
stabilize the country through soft power like usaid to win the people over to get the residual force to a high-security then to the independent free democracy and a dangerous part of the world. is the right? >> yes. i don't have responsibility for iraq right now. [laughter] >> feel free to correct me i am trying to get to a point for gore read the statements of the growth of isil the growth of the taliban reflecting back i walked through the streets with the company in the now micro loans and helping small businesses then we laughed. and then isil came in. i know the president decided to leave 5,000 troops.
is that enough to prevent that began with there's so little protection we can i use that soft power take a hold of the strategy? that is the question. >> i think there are some important differences between afghanistan and iraq we do have a bilateral security agreement and that is what allowed the president to make the decision in that he did to allow the troops to stay longer. it is fair to say for the challenges for what the government faces is more inclusive government that
brings together more elements of the of population. i don't thank you have a situation where there is one particular ethnic group that is feeling marginalized. obviously it is complex but the political differences tend to go across the sectarian lines rather than an alignment i think that is the most important point i would make. this is a soft subjects than more impressionistic but a definite sense of the afghan nationalism. that all afghans or most subscribe to. and the country does not have a tradition, there is
not of as much of a tradition of sectarianism but a strong sense of national identity that helps to bring people together. the conflict is more a man who will run the place. >> i appreciate that answer. this is an observation the reason it has been a net worth 300 years because of the strong sense of national unity if that were ever tried to control them? >> yes. that is a complex subject. >> i think national unity is a contributing factor. >> there is a strong sense of nationalism against foreigners but it is worth noting over the past 40
years they have been remarkably welcoming of our forces. more than any predecessor in afghanistan's history that is a remarkable achievement and a credit to our armed forces. >> thanks for answering the questions. >> out of curiosity to follow upon the comments about the diverging views i know we had a private meeting and a classified briefing but the view of what is happening in afghanistan, the meeting in the office, a classified briefing yesterday, we have
some issues we need to deal with. why is that divergent view of the obverse side? i know you work closely with the armed services. as a ball dash you are, that we have an alignment over here at the state department but not with the other sector? >> all i can say is we really do try in the arena where i have been working the last four years to bring about though whole government approach not just what we're trying to do but the assessments. it is evident we have the
some work to do in that regard and probably zero you so better alignment and how we're thinking. >> i found those alignments yesterday to be very good. but with the taliban issue we came in 2001 to end their existence in dominion over government but now they're changing. is that fair? >> to some extent. i don't think we know yet how much that has been changed. >> there are discussions that over time we have made some accommodating comments with their potential
involvement in the government down the road. is that fair to say? >> we have committed to the afghan lead reconciliation and process but the terms of the settlement that you talk about has to be led by the afghans that is not for us to determine. >> i am stepping in and out and i really apologize, maya understanding is a statement was made at present there not exhibiting a the characteristics that is appropriate to be a part of that? >> i believe my colleague made that comment of which i would fully agree. the point was the taliban does seek a degree of international legitimacy and
the reasons they have been willing to come to the table but they have a long way to go before they can be considered legitimate. for us we have been careful not to establish preconditions for negotiations but we support their end conditions that his renunciation of violence from acceptance of the constitution including provisions related to women and minorities. and a complete break with international terrorism especially al qaeda. >> that is the end the state i think it is good but what is the characteristics they would need to exhibit from your standpoint to be
legitimate entity for the afghan government to begin negotiations? >> we would not want to establish preconditions. >> your observation? >> what is important is that the end of the process those three outcomes are guaranteed. and that is what we seek, a process that generates those three o comes. >> and it has the capacity to reject terrorism and violence. >> it is always very difficult and i am cautious about what we think the taliban is thinking.
but there have been some indications that suggest some movement on some of these issues but that can only be determined through the negotiating process. >> we have a decent meeting with the prime minister of pakistan leadership. they gave a strongly worded statements of the involvement of 1,000 percent were committed to dealing with the taliban or other groups in search of the insuring they did everything they could to make sure it was stabilized but on the
other hand, i get a sense that is not 100 percent accurate as they're watching what is happening on the ground they want the proper relationship with field and the leadership group and what they say right now is the situation is they're not sure but instead of them carrying out what they said but they are trying to root calculate what afghanistan will be over time. right now there has been an arbitrary numbers of troops that will be there but it seems to have our human toll and it is incredibly difficult to keep the
violence down and stability in place. at of curiosity does that raise questions when we need to decide the security forces? >> if i could start with the first piece, pakistan has moved in a significant way of its own terrorism threats and has cleaned out waziristan as we have long desired in there is increasingly a recognition now part of the government of pakistan that there is significant lead over from the pack is danny taliban in the afghan taliban that this is one of the motivations
for their desire it is no longer so simple for them as a was in the past to distinguish between the good and bad taliban. the point is that they recognize the al reach the has been made to recognize this is a historic opportunity and they would like to seize on that. that is among several reasons there is the possibility for moving forward of the reconciliation process now because there is the greater degree of alignment than there has been in the past. >> what about the second part of the question?
>> the president's decision is to go to the 5500 troops and it will be for the next administration to determine what levels. >> we may have traveled together. >> we did. >> get out want to create divergence between you and the administration but things could change between now and the end of the year as security forces have their hands full to create a secure environment is that correct? >> yes. they have a challenge but i talked to my colleague and
he is confident he has what he needs at the moment. >> i appreciate your service and your kitchen door -- and your candor in multiple settings i do think it is fair to state we should all be very concerned about the outcomes in afghanistan to understand and the tremendous diligence and effort and leadership of their part to cause a successful outcome to roper. >> i think we all face a lot of challenges. >>.
someone we all know well and a senior fellow from the chair from the atlantic council. the second witness is the minister and we know you also. also from the selfie asia center for strategic studies , the third witness a senior policy advisor who is also served in the u.s. military in afghanistan. thank you for that. encountering corruption and then know that is a big job. this is a distinguished panel. keep your comments to around five minutes without objection it will be entered into the record also