tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 18, 2014 3:30am-5:31am EDT
military has suggested it would be far better off if we put advisors with iraqi and kurdish units. were we to do so, we would see a rapid turnaround in the fighting. it would be good for iraq and good for the entire middle east. invalid -- wer have to be that narrative now because g hotties are flocking ies are flocking to isis. aboutar more concerned the danger of foreign trained jihadis with western passports than ebola. host: napoleon famously said all my generals are good. give me once were lucky. a general petraeus was both good
enough and lucky enough to take advantage of the sunni awakening , the decision of several sunni tribes to switch sides and fight against the iraqi branch of al qaeda. he was a remarkable general, a remarkable man. vietnam whentudy he did his own doctorate work at princeton university. counterinsurgency very deeply. i was privileged to work with him on rewriting the marine corps counterinsurgency, which we published in 2006 just a few months before he took command of the effort in iraq. a fairly extraordinary event in military history. lucky.s was he was fortunate that most of the american units he had to served inin iraq had
iraq during the early years when we were not very good at counterinsurgency and were denying there was an insurgency in iraq. how toly did not know defeat the enemy we were facing. the invisible enemy. general betrays his predecessor said the counterinsurgency todemy on the ground in iraq train american units coming in -- the traceraq had a better it will with which to work. an army that understood -- the trays had a better -- bu petraeus had a better unit with which to work.
host: pam is in louisville. caller: i would like to say the last few callers you have had, i agree. on, what you are saying. i just think the people need to be more concerned about isis than ebola. i want to commend you and i am going to get your book. thank you for those kind words. thank you for honoring the legacy of your father.
of livingd memories next door to foreign box -- fort knox. i could not agree with you more. perhaps onehreat to dozen americans. i could not agree more that ebola is not that strong. i'm much more concerned about the radical infection of islamist jihad being spread over the internet, which is girls, goingitish to syria and joining the jihad, joining isis. an organization that has a message that powerful and so nefarious -- isis was thrown out of al qaeda for being too violent.
this is a scourge on humanity that is going to kill more people and do far more damage than even ebola has appeared host: kerry in ohio. -- terry in ohio. caller: you are a most intelligent man. like you, i'm a veteran of the vietnam war. i trained at fort knox. i would like to open up the possibility -- since you recognize isis as operating as a state come in 1934, franklin delano roosevelt recognized the soviet union as a nation. it took us many years from the october revolution in 1917 to recognize the soviets as a state. why wouldn't the united states , whichze isis as a state would change the political ramifications of pursuing them?
we recognize them and then we have a state we can declare war on and we haven't open the legal -- weound the politics have an open, legal way around the politics to go after them. guest: thank you for your service as well. the president has all but declared war on ice is already appeared -- on ice is already. -- on isis already. you can be at war with a nonstate. we don't want to give isis the legitimacy by recognition as a state. that would be an analogy meant -- acknowledgment that they have control over a territory. we dispute that right and we intend to take the territory away from them.
i believe the president has the right strategy, but needs to properly resourced that strategy and give his generals what they needed to a cop wish the task in front of him. thanks again for your service. -- what they need to accomplish the task in front of them. host: as a former tank platoon commander, how much did you need to know about foreign policy and u.s. policy in the middle east? war,: more in my second and the counter insurgency campaign. i needed to know more than i did know about the history of sunni and shia islam. about tribal relationships inside iraq and the history and balance of power between the sunni and shia in iraq. i had to understand how the kurds fit into that situation
and understand the broader contours of u.s. relations with iran. iran supporting with weapons and intelligence and fighters, supporting the shia forces inside iraq. the sunni forces supported from a number of countries throughout the middle east. to fight a counterinsurgency depth of you need a cultural, political and economic understanding that is together why the counterinsurgency field manual suggests it is the graduate level of war. not tank tank on tank warfare is not hard. airstrikes and building a better piece in the aftermath of war is all difficult. between the two wars i fought in
, the counterinsurgency command knowledge degree of of a wide breadth of knowledge. in 2006 and the update came out last year. army andgn, a sign of what weorps looking at did and revising it. not going to do what we did after vietnam. we are starting from a much higher level of knowledge now. you can go to book tv.org. there is a search function. type in nagl and you will be able to watch it online. jason in hannover, maryland.
a comment for john nagl. soner: i have a 10-year-old who has a great fear of ice is inviting the united states -- isis invading the united states. how would you explain it as a threat to a child? i know there has been a lot of discussion about boots on the ground. no special operations forces are going to be required. i know we are stretched pretty thin. what do you think the capacity is for americans to assist in this fight? host: why is your 10-year-old fearful of an ice's invasion -- isis invasion? caller: he watches c-span quite a bit. we apologize for
that. guest: there is little risk of an isis invasion of the united states. in new hampshire, you are likely to be enormously safe. the risk of isis is attracting people with western passports and training them in jihad and they are going to be enormously difficult with those western passports for us to track. that, am afraid of is mujahedine afghan became the breeding ground for , it became people's way of life. jihad university. is going to become jihad
university for the 21st century. what your son needs to be and what theut department upon that security needs to be concerned about is isis trained personnel with western passports coming to the nine states to conduct -- the united states to conduct attacks. it is much harder to use airplanes today than 13 years ago. there continues to be vulnerabilities inside the state. damagests could do real and set off a scare in the united states. much stronger than the current ebola concern and much more dangerous than the ebola concern. about special operations forces is very well-founded we don't have enough of them. we are wearing them out. they are exhausted.
advocate the creation of combat advisors, standing combat advisors, peoples who job it is to do the foreign internal defense mission , one of the seven special forces missions. we don't need to train these combat advisors to the high level in all of those tasks like green berets. provide anmust advisory force for the united states. i last job in uniform, trained combat advisors for the iraq and afghanistan conflicts. we will need more of them, not fewer in the years to come. not just in iraq and syria. the philippines and afghanistan. host: gary in tennessee. go ahead with your comment for john nagl. and thankod morning
you for your service. , should we have gone into iraq to start with? should we have taken hussein out? control.things under i engage in this debate at my school. i have a wonderful english teacher who served in vietnam .nd has enlisted in the marines he and i argue over the lunch table per to regularly. back to desert storm, my first war, we should have yielded to saddam hussein's iraq and completely stayed out of the middle east and let it fester and let it make its own bad decisions. i disagree with him on that.
i don't believe the united states should have allowed saddam to continue to own kuwait. that would have set off a cascade. desert storm was a necessary war and it was conducted effectively. i have a very different opinion about the war in 2003. i believe that war was unnecessary, even if saddam hussein did have active weapons of mass distraction. he still could have been deterred from using them. states can be deterred. non-states, isis having a weapons program. in addition to the second gulf war, that invasion being unnecessary, it was also poorly
conducted. we did not have a plan. we intended to topple saddam hussein's government but did not have a plan for what to do afterwards. we did not have a plan for what that government was going to be. that fault is absolutely excusable. -- inexcusable. the only purpose of a war is to build a better peace. for iraq. have a plan it took us a number of years to figure out what the plan was going to be. enormously difficult and costly. figuring out something we should have already known before we invaded iraq in march of 2003. you --his tweet for guest: we certainly did not finish the job when we pulled out of iraq. -- isis istiate isis
a repeat of al qaeda in iraq. spinoff of al the pro-teamcame we were fighting against. they did not like us and they were fighting against us, but they were a class a team. the big leagues were al qaeda in iraq. a much more capable force. ropes, all on the but defeated in iraq in the fall of 2011 and we made the bad decision to pull our troops out of iraq. if we had that 15,000 advisers in iraq in 2012, they would still be there today.
the iraqi army would be much more capable. the kurds would be more capable. isis would not own any territory inside iraq openly. servedorces would have as a check on the worst maliki,n influences of who allowed his prejudices and led him fears of a coup to fire the capable commanders of his own forces and replace them with shia who have proven to be cowards in the fight against isis. leaving a small force of american advisers in iraq in a 2012 would have preserved that peace and build a better peace in iraq. we would not have isis creating that u in territory
americans have bled for print host: jerry is down in tampa. --ler: we did not get that why is it that the kurdish women are willing to fight isis but the iraqi men are running away ? that's embarrassing. guest: let me address the question -- a status of forces agreement. a legal framework that guarantees the safety of u.s. troops against legal prosecution in the country in which they are serving at the request of that country. we had these status of forces agreements. we mishandled the negotiations with the government in baghdad over the course of 2010-2011 in
our temps to get that status of forces agreement. insisted it be approved by the iraqi parliament. enormous we difficult vote for any iraqi parliamentarian to have taken. hard it isind how for treaties to get past through the u.s. senate. an army that had invaded the united states tuesday in the united states for the indefinite future -- to stay in the united states for the indefinite future. we could have found a way around that. we have well over 1000 u.s. boots on the ground in iraq right now without a status of forces agreement. the kurds are an interesting and fascinating people. i believe they are the largest ethnic group in the world without their own state to call home. the kurdish homeland, the territory occupied by kurds
includes a major portion of iraq and turkey and iran. the kurds desperately want to -- want a state of their own. they have not had the protections offered by a state, so they grow up really tough. i have been impressed by the kurdish women. women with whom i serve in combat, 15% of our fighting force, we could not have made it through the last decade without their contributions. women fighters is one of the best answers to isis. there is extraordinary propaganda in pointing out that women are as tough and as capable as men and can fight for their own freedoms. i would love to see the iraqi
forces fight with the valor the kurds have shown. fight seen iraqi forces with valor when they are well supplied and well-trained. right now, they are none of those things. that's why i strongly recommend adding more american advisers. host: woodbridge, virginia. republican line. caller: good morning. thank you for your service. i was a vietnam vet. cong that struck us hit the airfield assets, but they did not hit the personal areas. in 1968, the gloves came off. another concern i have is with the afghan officer corps. two guysco, there were
trying to get into canada and they went over the hill. four more recently at westover electro these -- guys try to get into canada. -- four of these guys try to get into canada -- tried to get into canada. i think the afghan officer corps is going to dissolve like a piece of wonder bread in a glass of water. it really troubles me. i think we ought to fight terror with terror. utilized foreing sabotaging ammunition stocks. fifth isis steals some ammo , plant c4 rounds in
american troops from iraq, it should be to change our current policy, which is to do the same dam thing in afghanistan. if that happens, we will provide another homeland for terror. the taliban will retake large portions of afghanistan and we will back there -- be back there. need to combat advisor core. we need 15,000 americans to stay in afghanistan for the next 20 years. americans who think that ifnot a wise investment, ground is important enough for americans to bleed to take to establish a better government, it's important for us to stay there. we are still in japan, italy and germany.
60 years after the korean war, we are still in korea. we are still in the balkans. when americans fight a war, it's important for us to stay there. a mistake we learned after the first world war. the vehicles you describe that come fromols and owns a number of places. some of those are captured from iraq units or supplied by iran. the middlepening in east right now is a proxy war between the sunnis and shia being fought in a number of different countries. none of those places more very e virulent than rea syria and iraq.
the current iraqi forces are --en leadership to train they are not going to be able to do it without more american help. host: paul in montana. -- ir: you may laugh at my have a question and a comment. you may laugh at my question. i appreciate the fact that you entire adult life in the military. your service is appreciated by me. i am a vietnam veteran. i only spent a year in the air force, but i consider my service to be valid and honorable. i was discharged honorably. of all the efforts we have been , whating on making war
effort have we made to make peace with people? i heard a few calls back you gave advice to a man who had a 10-year-old son who was worried about isis coming here to attack us. rather than advise this and be a to be a child 10-year-old kid and play with -- i finds and such that rather disturbing. a 10-year-old child it should with the worries and concerns of adulthood until he gets there. host: we are running low on time. guest: i was that 10-year-old i appreciate your comment. i was that 10-year-old child, sadly.
i don't think c-span had been admitted -- invented, but i would have been a c-span junkie. point of being a parent is recognizing who they are and letting them be that. i think there is a balance we have to find. i wish my son watched more c-span. your question about waging peace, using more resources to promote peace is a very good one. i believe some wars are necessary and all but inevitable. i believe that was the case in the invasion of afghanistan after the attacks of september taliban, when the refused to hand over those responsible for the attacks. tohink we had no choice but invade afghanistan an attempt to defeat al qaeda. we have done a good job against al qaeda central. the problem is we made mistakes since then.
invading iraq in 2000 three, pulling the troops out of a rock at the end of 2011, not arming the moderate syrian rebels in the summer of 2012. regains allowed jihad to its strength. al qaeda has passed the torch to isis. i am afraid the enemy this evoked, we did not ask for this war in the first place we were attacked on september 11. i'm afraid the young 10 year old watching c-span is going to face the results throughout his lifetime of this, what is going to be a decades long war against radical islamic extremism, and it is getting stronger now because of what is happening in iraq and syria. host: finally, this tweet for you. do we need a human army to fight wars anymore? guest: we very much need a human army to fight wars. we have made extraordinary progress with drones.
drones have allowed us to essentially dismantle al qaeda central inside pakistan, an undeclared war inside pakistan. that has been extraordinary echo bushman of the last decade and more of war. that has beeng -- an extraordinary accomplishment of the last decade and more of war, that we have managed to defeat an emmy force in a country we did not have to invade. drones cannot do everything. they are insufficient to take on a force fighting in a conventional manner as isis is now in iraq and syria. i strongly believe we need 15,000 real human boots on the ground. they will use drones and modern technology to multiply their effectiveness. everarfare is a human and -- endeavor. it will remain a human endeavor as long as there are humans. host: here is the book.
>> good morning, everybody. with that, i will turn it over to our briefing for today. you all know general austin. he is here to update you on activities in his area of responsibility. obviously, activities against isil will be foremost on your minds. with that, sir, i will turn it over to you. i will be moderating after the general's opening statements. thanks. >> good morning, everyone. i will make some brief opening comments, and then i will answer your questions. three weeks ago we began conducting offensive precision strikes inside of syria. prior to that, the strikes conducted in iraq were limited to the protection of u.s. personnel in key facilities and the prevention of human suffering.
the intent of the expanded air strikes is to degrade isil's capability and their ability to threaten u.s. interests in the interest of our partners. more specifically, we are enabling the efforts of the iraqis in their fight against isil, acknowledging that in addition to halting isil's advance, iraqis must secure the border, must regenerate and restructure their forces to be able that they are providing for the country going forward, and this is our main focus right now, enabling the focus of the iraqis. with respect to the airstrikes, and together with our coalition partners, we are purposely and necessarily targeting very specific capabilities. again, with the intent to degrade the enemy's ability to command and control, to degrade
his ability to project combat power, and to degrade his ability to sustain himself. we have conducted precision strikes targeting their communications equipment and hardware, their command centers, and vehicle parks, vehicles that were stolen from the iraqi army, as well as all refineries under isil's control. isil derives revenue from oil production, and by striking these facilities we reduce the ability for them to sustain heir operations. we are having the desired effects. we are seeing evidence of this not only in our battle damage assessments, but more important, we are noting changes in the enemy's behavior and tactics that reflect his diminished capability and restricted freedom of movement.
for example, we are no longer seeing them move around the country in large convoys. now they are mostly traveling in civilian vehicles in smaller numbers. this is hindering their ability to mass and to shift combat power. we have also seen them alter their methods of communication, which is inhibiting their ability to synchronize their efforts. we are having desired effects, but this will take some time. i would also note we have been very careful in how we have gone about conducting strikes because we want to avoid unnecessary collateral damage. had we killed a lot of innocent civilians in specifically sunni areas, we would be in a much different place at this point, but because we have done this the right way, we have secured the support of our sunni arab partners in the region. and together, we are making progress. that said, i want to emphasize that airstrikes, the airstrikes
we are conducting are just one element of a campaign to counter and ultimately destroyed isil. indeed, the united states military is enabling an effort that is underway. in addition to how we to counter isil and degrade their capability, which we are doing, where taking the necessary steps to enable the iraqis to secure their border and regenerate and restructure their security forces. again, iraq is our main effort, and it has to be. the things we are doing right now in syria are being done primarily to shake the conditions in iraq. once the iraqis are able to get a better handle on the situation inside their country and regain control of their border, that will help to localize the problems a bit more. and certainly, this will serve
to restrict isil's freedom of movement and his ability to send reinforcement from syria into iraq. you can be assured isil does not want this to happen and they will continue to conduct operations in different areas. in parts of syria especially, with the goal to divert attention and force an operational response that requires us and our coalition partners to reallocate assets and capabilities away from our priority effort. and so we must be mindful of this and we must remain focused and disciplined in our approach. most important, we must maintain strategic patience going forward. the campaign to destroy isil will take time. there will be occasional setbacks along the way and particularly in these early stages of the campaign as we coach and mentor a force that is actively working to regenerate capability after years of neglect and poor leadership.
by our actions and by enabling the efforts of our partners, we intend to defeat and ultimately destroy isil. and also even more important, we want to change conditions inside of iraq and syria so that what we see happening there now does not happen again in the future. i believe what we set out to do is achievable, and certainly the great men and women of our military stand ready to do all that is required to ensure our collective success. and i'm confident that together with our interagency and coalition partners we can and will get the job done and done well. again, it will take time. with that, i will be happy to take your questions. >> good morning. appreciate it. to your initial point about your focus on enabling iraqi security forces, when, after
all this time, when will the iraqi army actually be able to retake territory in a significant way? when will they become a credible and motivated force that you said that is central to your strategy? what is the main problem with that? >> it is difficult to put -- to designate a specific point in time when they will be able to do this. as you know, we are doing some things now. they are doing some things now to incrementally recapture ground that has been lost. in the north we have seen the kurdish security forces conduct an excellent operation in the mosul dam. they took back a port of entry. they currently are still operating, still pushing to recapture ground that has been lost. we are seeing some of the same things in the south. a week and a half ago, you saw the ninth division attack west towards north of karmah toward ramadi and open up a line of
applications so they were able to provide logistical support to the forces in ramadi. this morning, iraq time, you saw security elements attack north from the baghdad area up to kobane, and that assault is ongoing as we speak. their effort is to relieve the forces that have been defending the town for a period of time and make sure that they open a line of applications as well. we are doing some things to incrementally improve conditions. at the same time, we will begin to train and equip iraqi security forces to regenerate some much-needed combat power. > how about mosul? >> mosul will be a bigger
effort, and we will need to generate more combat power to shape the environment a bit for we go after mosul. you heard the chairman described it as the potentially decisive fight. it will be a difficult fight. as you know, i was a corps commander in iraq and a force commander there as well. i spent a lot of time in mosul. it is difficult terrain. we want to make sure when you take that on we have the adequate capability and we have set the conditions right to get things done. thanks. >> sir, when you look at isis, do you believe at this point that they are centrally commanded, controlled by some so-called targets? can you talk about whether they are, but if there is a short list of high-value targets that
would make a fundamental ifference? we have not heard about the khorason in a few weeks now. can you tell us about if you were able to plot against their leadership? >> we remain focused on this, and rest assured we will maintain pressure on that rganization. in terms of the command and control for isil, a great uestion. they certainly have central leadership that is guiding things overall. it is more problematic for them to be able to command and control now because of the fact that they are afraid to talk on their networks, they are afraid to assemble command groups for fear of being struck by us.
so their command and control architecture is somewhat fragmented. there still fairly effectives, but more challenged. this will get worse as we go along. again, it will become more and more difficult for them to get the things done that we have seen them do prior to us starting the campaign in earnest. >> >> clearly, he is a leader that i think if you eliminate him, then i think it becomes more difficult for them to get done what needs to be done. barbara, you have seen us conduct operations in iraq and afghanistan and other places. these elements have the ability to regenerate leadership, and certainly going after -- is something that we must do and we will do. you have to take away their ability to sustain themselves to my finance themselves. you ave to slow or if you can stop
the flow of foreign fighters coming and going. i think that generates a pool of manpower for them that has been very helpful for them. we learn from countering al qaeda in iraq that if you can begin to do these things in a meaningful way, plus going after the command and control, then you begin to have some serious effects. >> general, you said the major effort is in iraq, but if you look at the tally of airstrikes over the last several days, the main air effort has been around kobane. how has kobane suddenly become such an almost litmus test of whether this campaign is on the right track, and what is the latest assessment of whether or not air power is going to be able to save kobane?
>> the campaign is on the right track. we are doing the right things and we are having -- creating the right effects. you take a look at what is happening over the last couple of days in the south. we have experienced issues with weather, and that has not allowed us to get our i.r. up as much as we have wanted to the enemy has made a decision to make kobane its main endeavor. what you have seen last several days is pour manpower into that effort. my goal is to defeat and ultimately destroy isil. if he continues to present us with major targets as he is done in this area, then we will service the targets and we have done so effectively of ate. again, the more we -- in
kobane, the less ability he has with efforts in other places. i believe he made a decision several days that kobane was going to be his main effort, and as long as he pours legions of forces into that area, we will stay focused on taking him out. >> your assessment on whether or not you can save it with airstrikes? >> it is possible that kobane may fall. the things that we have done here in the last several days are encouraging, and we are seeing the kurds actually fight to regain territory that had been lost previously. some very determined fighters up there that done work in terms of standing their ground, and i think we have been able to help that along with precision air strikes in the
last couple days. >> general, back to iraq. i'm wondering, you talked about the sunni arab partners. i am wondering about the shiite militias fighting there and how they could damage the relationship with the sunni arabs and possibly even unravel what the coalition is trying to do there. >> clearly, there are a lot of things possible that can happen in a situation, and is up to the leadership in the government to strike a balance in terms of the relationships between the shia militia or the shia in the south and the sunnis out west. it is incumbent upon this government -- it is imperative for them to reach out to the sunni population and be inclusive. they need to do that for the kurds as well. i am encouraged by what i have seen as i talk to leadership,
the prime minister, and others, that they are willing to do this. i think if they begin to follow through on other things they have said they are willing to do, then i think it will build some confidence, and i think they will be a will to strike a balance. the government really has to manage that balance, and i think they can. >> is that one of your concerns that this could unravel the partnership? >> it is a concern, has always been a concern. again, we got here because of poor governance to begin with him a government that was not inclusive of sunnis and kurds. if we go that route again, it could fracture things. >> general, i want to ask you about the possibility of a no-fly zone or a buffer zone in northern syria which the turks want. some people say there is simply a de facto buffer zone. why not take them except put
that in place officially so that you can get the turks to get more involved in the fight there? >> we are not there at this point. that will be a policy decision as to whether or not we will want to do that. as i stated earlier, i think we really need to meet remain focused on the first task, and that is to help the iraqis restore security and stability inside the country of iraq, restore their borders, regenerate forces to help them do that. again, whether or not we will stand up a no-fly zone or do something different in syria is a policy decision that i will leave to the policymakers. >> is kobane -- >> i do not. i think what we are able to do and manage my resources so that i can take advantage of the
opportunity that he has presented me, and he presented that opportunity by continue to follow forces into kobane. >> general, we are hearing a lot about isis advances in the nbar province. what is the state of play there currently, and what threat do those forces there in anbar province pose potentially to baghdad or even more important erhaps is the airport? >> i would describe anbar as contested. it has been that way for some time.
i would also say that unlike some of what you have heard in the number of places, we have not seen an appreciable increase of isil forces in anbar from what we saw in the july-august timeframe. what we will continue to see is anbar remaining contested. the solution going forward, to be rapidly able to go forward nd establish better security is to enlist the help of the tribes, and i think the government is reaching out to do that now. again, with their help, i think we will be able to move forward rapidly. we did the same thing back in 2008, as you recall, and what we learned from that is with their help we were able to deny the enemy freedom of access, movement, and it was very instrumental.
i have every reason to believe we can do that in this case, we will be able to create some of the same effects. >> you mentioned the sunni awakening, but the fact that the sunnis had no confidence in the central government is how isis was able to make the advances they have so far. what progress is being made there? is there any progress being made? back to the airport, do those isis forces actually threaten the airport, and would that quick reaction force there actually -- is there a possibility they could become engaged in ground combat with the isis forces? >> i do not see a threat to the airport as we speak. that is something that we monitor, we patrol on a routine basis. i have apache aircraft there flying the area. we work with the iraqi security forces and have a responsibility to secure that area. we have isr up around the airfield routinely. i do not see a threat to the
airport that would cause the airport to fall. can someone launch a mortar round or rocket? we saw that back in 2008 through 2010, but it does not threaten the closing of the airfield. i feel fairly confident that the airfield is secure and will be secure for the foreseeable uture. >> the sunni issue -- >> yeah. >> how is the shia government ever going to be able to regain the confidence of the sunnis? >> this is something they must do, something that the leadership realizes and they're ommitted to doing. what we are seeing now is the shia leadership, the prime minister, reaching out to the sunni elements in anbar, that i am hopeful they will continue to establish and build confidence and build upon that going forward.
this is what has to happen. i think the leaders understand that. >> general, thank you for doing this today. you have recommended sending u.s. troops forward to retake mosul dam. have any other recommendations have been made since then, and when would you see that as being an option you would like to pursue? >> i will not cover recommendations that i would provide my boss on operational issues and in this forum. i will tell you it is my job to assess the situation on a continual basis and provide my best military advice on how to accomplish the mission at hand. i will never provide the president or the secretary of defense a course of action that i do not think can be achieved. everything i lay out i know all have been carefully thought
through and every course of action i provide them will be a viable course of action. again, i will make a recommendation on which course of action i see the situation. >> what would you say to people who are saying now the strategy is fundamentally flawed because of a lack of support on the ground, hardly because there's not an use of u.s. forces that are capable? >> most everyone has been clear that this is not to able to us from the air. they have also been clear that it will -- the ground forces that we would look to use are the indigenous ground forces, the iraqi ground forces in iraq, and hopefully enforce that we can train in syria to help us in syria would we get to that piece. our role would be and is to provide enablers to help them get the job done on the ground, and i think that is doable. the degree to which you provide
this enablers is always a pointed question, and again, that will change from situation to situation. >> general, could you confirm syrian reports today saying that isis militants have been flying flights over aleppo, and do you know if they have access to fighter jets, if iraqis or syrians are training them to do so? >> we do not have operational eporting of isil flying jets in support of isil's activity on the ground. i cannot confirm that. to the degree that pilot may have defected and joined the ranks of isil, i do not have information on that either. >> how do you describe the air force syrian regime since you started the airstrikes against
isil in syria? >> i would say they have not challenged us since we have been flying, and i will leave it at that. this is probably the last one here. >> general, i want to go to something you mentioned a second ago, to recruit and train a force of syrian fighters to fight there at some point down the line. can you give us an update how that is going, why you are confident 5000 is the right number, and why would they would take these weapons and training and not go immediately and fight the regime as opposed to fighting isil? >> the first thing i would tell you is we are looking to train units, and we are looking to provide those units with adequate leadership that will insure for the most part they stay together and they stay focused on the task at hand. as we go about recruiting the people to be parts of those units, we will be elaborate about screening and vetting them, and hopefully that will
do something that will allow for success. onetheless, i'm confident if we take the approach that we have laid out for ourselves, provided we can recruit people, adequate numbers of people, and i think we can, we will be able to put quality soldiers on the battlefield that can get the job done. >> do you know when they will start to make a difference? >> that is hard to predict. there are a number of elements in this equation. one is what does isil look like eight months to a year from now. my personal opinion they will be much degraded than they are now. and so i think a well-trained force that is well equipped and well led will have a chance of
being successful. >> thank you, everybody. > thank you very much. >> the hudson institute hosted a panel on the brome administration strategy and successes and failures in the region. this is 90 minutes. >> good afternoon. i will be moderating this afternoon's panel can the obama administration's isis strategy work? i believe that we have
assembled here at hudson a really fantastic panel to address remarkably timely issue, especially during the obama administration's isis campaign. and we will talk about the campaign. but one of the other things that i want to do this afternoon is to really fill in a lot of questions which i think are still -- i think it's still kind of unclear who exactly isis is, where it came from, what its goals are, what its capabilities are. and i think that between the three panelists that we have here this afternoon i think that we'll get a lot of answers and a very interesting conversation around fill in the issues in a way that other people have not. so i'm going to start introducing them to my immediate left and ru tainler is huesen, the washington bureau chief. and to his left is michael, who among other things has served as an adviser to the iraqi
security forces. spent a lot of time throughout iraq. i believe that mike can address a number of these issues. and he's going to start this afternoon with a short introduction, his own introductionry statements and then we'll move on to the other panelists as well. thank you for coming. mike, please take over. >> thanks for having me. i appreciate the opportunity to be part of this panel. one thing we saw when isis moved into mosul june 12, as we saw the iraqi security forces dissolve away, we saw isis take advantage of a per misive environment where there was an oppressed disenfranchised sheeaffh sunni population in mosul and an oppressive shia government in charge of iraq. one of the reasons isis was able to come in as we all have heard over the last four months r so is that there was a them in effort to put
key positions. got rid of kurdish commanders ho knew mosul very well. that same security apparatus that was in place during the surge was able to deny al qaeda territory in mosul. as well as the tying riss and uefraties with the sons of iraq program. taking 90,000 vetted sunnis out of the apparatus, replaced commanders in the north along the environment. what isis was able to do is ake advantage of temporary alliances with insurgent groups and move into territory. the one thing we started doing with the u.s. policy is we immediately started spinning up advisory groups to go to baghdad, to go to these operation centers to partner with the iraqi security forces. one of the things general petraeus cautioned was we do
not want to look like the iraqi security forces when it's considered a sectarian apparatus. so we went into these operation centers. and some of us who have worked with iraqis have noticed, are cautioned against, was when you put american advisers in these operation centers, even if they know arabic, they're not familiar with the nuances. and the shia have militia ties and there are already officers in the operation centers. so these target pacts were going to get primesy. and if we were actioning these rget package ets we could be complicit. so what have been successful in mosul were generated out of ra bill with vetted kurdish and sunni intel from the previous now dismantled iraqi national security service which was stood up with former pathist-sunni forces that
wanted to go after al qaeda and shia militias. that was replaced with msnsa leadership took over the structure and that became something that became part of maliki's sectarian intelligence security apparatus. so that's the current set. u.s. air strikes in mosul, key strategic defeat for isis when they lost the mosul dam. so the question, are u.s. air strikes enough? they can hurt isis militarily. they were able to take out positions in the mosul dam. but paired with forces as they moved into the area, they were able to take back territory. that's the first strategic loss that isis had suffered in iraq and syria. in iraq, that was huge. they lost the mosul dam. they wanted to be able to provide services. provides water and electricity to the people living in northern iraq. they wanted to be able to show that they had a better capability to provide services than the iraqi government. they also lost two oil fields.
part of the u.s. strategy now, we need to be able to exploit those operations opportunities. when isis loses key infrastructure, we need to be able to say that. one of the thing that is happened with u.s. air strikes, before that we saw u.s. captured equipment move to syria because they would face a lesser air force capability by he assad regime. key leaders started moving back to syria as well also to the sectarian fault lines along the baghdad belts. what was left behind were foreign fighters. these fighters another opportunity to exploit isis who actually comprises isis. these foshe fighters, a lot of them came in wanting to fight assad and they were moved to iraq to do these things. so remember what mosul is. if you do back of the envelope math there's 750,000 sunni military aged males in mosul waiting to see what the central government is going to do, waiting to see what we're going to do.
any time isis has a public demonstration there's always isis guards with ak-47s watching the crowd. they're worried about what this sunni population in mosul is going to do. they don't subscribe to the ideology but they're not going to kill it without some sort of concession from the central government. so anything that we do as part of a u.s. strategy has to put pressure on abadi to fill the ranks of the two divisions that fell, mosul and tall laugh, the second and third iraqi army divisions, and put in 30,000 vetted sunnis that were part of the isf in the past and make them fill the ranks. that's where the effort needs to be. because we need to be the third-party guarantor. the reason the sons of iraq were successful and sunni iraqi security forces were successful in the past is they had an advisor with them and able to call in u.s. air power, post air support and be able to do these things. we can't simply say fill the
ranks with sunnis because they're not going to trust the central government. so how do you get abadi to do that? you've got to put pressure on iran to get abadi to allow -- abadi might want to do it now. the iranians don't want them to do it. i think this is a fight the iranians and shia militias want. but i think i've gone over my time here. >> that's terrific. thanks. 'm taking notes. thank you very much. we coauthored an article in the weekly standard about a month ago and i have to say hussein did all the heavy lifting. who is a part of this and what this large rebelion looks like. i think he is going to start today by talking about that somewhat. >> thanks for having me.
on september 16, general dempsey told the armed services can he in the stat -- can he in the senate that one of the most important factors in this strategy of defeating isis is to get some moderate sunni tribes to join the coalition against isis. on october 5, 23 new clans in iraq and syria pledged allegiance to isis. which tells us that the tribes so far do not seem to be betting on the united states or on its allies. since then as seen in so many reports and criticism against the syrian opposition, against e tribes, we call them corrupt. we think they're not up to the
fight. they've been losing all the time. so the question is, how come all the tribes wo fight on our side are the losers and all the tribes who fight on iran and hezbollah's sides are always the winners? we spent so many years training the iraqi army and they melt down in a couple of hours in mosul. and here you have the army with isis just fighting and winning. and it took us two weeks to take the mosul dam with the u.s. air power to take the mosul dam out of the hands of isis. the answer to this question is that we do not speak the tribeds -- pick the tribes. they pick up. and this is very important. because this goes back to how the tribes behave. there's a tribal code and a strible structure. a tribe is usually known by name and by genealogy and even the horses have genealogies. they're known for their
territory is usually demark kated. it's called dira in arabic. so the tribes are not as ambiguous as they seem to be. there are blue-blooded tribes. there are lesser, the opposite of blue-blooded. junior-ranking, second ranking. then there are strong tribes and there are not so strong tribes. what's happened over the past half century is that both saddam hussein and iraq and assad in syria, they knew how to deal with these tribes and the tribal areas. the tribal areas that's the northeast of syria and the northwest of iraq, and west and east of -- west of iraq and east of syria. six -- they have four to big tribal concentrations. the two most important of them,
the shmad and nessa, these are very well-connected to the saudis. to put this in perspective, the saudi royal family comes from nasad. the mother of the current saudi ing, kim amduga comes from shama. so they are connected to saudi arabia. they have intermarriage. because of this they were under pressure during the assad days, the father during the days of saddam hussein. both saddam hussein and assad propped up the junior-ranking tribes. -- junior-ranking tribes these junior tribes were doing really good at the expense of the blue-blooded tribes. by the way sbin's mother comes
from the area. so we have the mothers of very saudi sectors coming from various tribes in syria. so they were doing really well. and they hold areas like in the province of rack that. how, how it changed hands from assad to the rebels is really interesting. the revolution broke out on march 15, 2011. most of the north and the northeast, assad just lost control really fast. the only town -- and the province that's kept holding and was still loyal to assad was raka and remained loyal to assad until november of 2013. that's almost two years. even though it is first of all the son is 300 miles away from damascus. that's almost a six-hour drive.
it means that it was thinly populated with assad security forces. it meant that assad elite forces could not go and defend because of it's a long distance. the logistics would be hard, supply lines would be thinly stretched. so all these two years, they remain loyal to assad because of the tribes who still -- they were still loyal to assad. then, on november 2, 2013, all of a sudden 14 clans from different tribes pledged allegiance to isis. since then it has become the capital of isis. and this change of area was nearly bloodless. the frible forces in that part just switched from being pro-assad to pro-isis. and this tells us that there's no such thing as moderate sunni tribe or radical sunni tribes. the tribes are not moderate or
radical. and when the tribeds pledge allegiance to isis, that's very different from individuals joining isis. individuals join based on ideology, based on direct salary that they receive from whichever group. the tribes join for different reasons. the tribes hedge and they look for the strongest power. and when the tribes of raka saw that assad was going to fall, they changed and then the only strong power that they found was isis. of course because we were calling them carpenters, teachers and dentists and withholding all the kinds of arms. so the only strong power that they could join at the time was isis. so this is how these tribes became isis. and by the same token, the tribes mainly of other areas, the arab groups, these tribes in the northwest of iraq joined
isis as well. of the six people who formed the military council of isis, five of them come from big and three of them were high-ranking officers in sad am's army. so now we get a picture of who these people are, how these tribes are fighting on the other side. ne last note before i close. the reason why these tribes, the united states got a big chance for the tribes of iraq, syria, and even lebanon in 2005-2006, and 2007. the tribes saw we were really serious in spreading democracy and giving arms and money. we saw lebanon, the jews, the sunnis join democracy. they ejected assad out of syria. that was a preview of how the
tribes treated us. five years later the sawa in iraq joined the united states and they fought alongside u.s. troops. they ejected al qaeda from there. what happened after that was very interesting. we got disengaged and the national security advideser to vice president joe biden was handling this. he at the time he reasoned that what's more important is for prime minister maliki to keep pumping oil, to edge iran out of the oil market. of course this confirms all kinds of conspiracy theories. that was we are there for the oil. the tribes thought we are not serious. they came, they left. we need a power that's here to stay and that would be either iran or isis. and i don't think the tribes will be joining us any time soon. or if the ones -- or the ones that will join will not be the stronger ones. thank you. >> thanks. that's a very depressing
assessment. thanks very much. that was really informative and terrific. the next speaker is andrew taylor. a very old friend and colleague, and also one of the premier, if not the premier, syria expert here in washington and in the united states. and that's one of the thing that is andrew will be touching on syria as well as some other things including the administration's larger vision of isis and the la vanity. we might not get to all of that in the introductry stafmentes but we'll come back to that later. >> thanks for that introduction. it's an honor for me to be up here with you all today. and thanks for attending. i see a number of friends in the audience as well. so in terms of the administration's strategy itself, to deal with isis, as well as how the supplies with iraq and syria, the strategy generally is an iraq-cent rick approach. the ink blot, so to speak,
starts there. and the reason why i use the ink blot alanny isn't just because of the different parallels with the sat with a and the surge in iraq during the war. but also just the dealing with what is the -- what isis calls the islamic state, this sort of massive territory between that encompasses a lot of the euphrates valley. in iraq, you have a military campaign which involves air strike support, as well as arming of certain factions inside of iraq. and u.s. support to try and rescue certain minorities in particular throughout the country. and these gentlemen to my left can explain this a lot better than i can. that combined with a an overall political strategy in that you want to try to get -- they're aiming to get a more inclusive iraqi government that's more permissible and that can entice some of the tribes and others particularly from the sunni
population which makes up the basis of isis, back into the iraqi government so that it functions again. and in this particular case, in the case of iraq -- ipe not surprise that the administration is starting there. the u.s. has a lot of experience there. and while there have been a lot of problems over the last two years the iraqi system at least you have the hope of some change. it might not be real change. it might not be change as fast as we would like. but yet the hope of some change. prime ministers there can comb and go. their parties might not come and go but certain figures can. certain fixed positions can change. and it's easier for americans to relate to. and it's because of that that i think you've seen the administration's emphasis on iraq. both from experience and possibilities there. in syria, it is a completely different situation. against isis, as
far as i can tell, does not -- is not part of any kind of sthriege other than to degrade isis overall. there are some caveats to this. for example, trying to hit isis political and military facilities. so to degrade its power primarily in iraq. also, to hit some of the rudimentary oil refineries which have bine set up in the river valley and also in the euphrates river valley. and that's logical. isis sells refined products, crude oil to sustain part of its operation. and that's priced -- that's quite smart. but in terms of the overall strikes, the administration is in a bit of a bind particularly when isis is advancing like around cobabi. you saw an uptick in trikes. that's largely a reactive policy. but the overall problem in syria is you don't have a
political process. there isn't one. and the reason why there isn't ne is because the war in syria has hardened up positions among the different parties on the regime side as well as on the opposition side and made a political outcome there really a remote possibility at best. i think that's part of the problem that the obama administration in intervening in syria is trying to intervene so it doesn't tip the balance one way or the other. of course the united states has a stated policy that president assad should step aside since august of 2011. a whole slew of legal sanctions go along with it that have been supported by not only the members of the bureaucracy and former very prom nebt former members of the administration, but also on capitol hill. but over the course of this --
the syria crisis, actually achieving that objective has meant increased u.s. ip volvement that the president himself is unwilling to put forward. basically, the president has been on the horns of a dilemma for about a year. and this dilemma is largely as follows. either the united states increases its effort with its allies to get rid of the assad regime, ok, and there are a lot of ways you can get rid of the assad regime. but generally that's what we're looking at here. that would allow for some kind of process, transition that would -- they could fold the opposition into and bring the country back together again. and the other part of this dilemma is just letting things go as they are and acquiescing to what are called cease-fires. and they're cease-fires with a smanch c. surrounds the assad area,
they starve the people off, cut off water, drom barrel bombs and lever a sliver of territory for the fighters to run out while the regime then moves in, activists are arrested and tortured sometimes to death. nd this cease-fire model was held out as the way the regime was going to come back a little bit earlier this year. they had two tracks, one peace talks in geneva which went nowhere, and then the cease-fire model. a lot of people were betting on the cease-fire model privately. they thought the regime had wind at its sails. and it also was a little bit easier and more coherent they thought to deal with. and that's because we have to be honest about this, the members of the syrian opposition also have tremendous fault and tremendous divisions that makes working with them very, very complicated.
and the overall problem has been that the nature of the syrian battlefield and that everyone is battling against president assad. but they generally are not -- the groups have not consolidated. their leads have not consolidated. therefore you have al qaeda affiliates fighting alongside nationalist bat tallions. and they do this on a regular basis. they're doing it right now in southern syria. and when they work with a common purpose they're very effective. and they're pushing the assad regime back right now towards damascus. the problem of course in that is how do you support such a chaotic and unorganized space? it's not impossible. but it's difficult in that any arms or anything that's introduced into that environment could fall into the hands of al qaeda affiliates. and that would be bad. not only bad in a general sense but really bad in the legal sense.
and no politician wants to touch it including the president. so he was betting on assad coming back and kind of carving out as much territory as possible, eventually the rebels would give up, and there would be some kind of lame political process at the end of this to call it a reconstituted country. that formula changed with the isis outbreak in june. fundamentally changed. and so now the problem that we assad regime he is incredibly weakened. there are a lot of problems internally. and they're losing ground particularly in the south but other areas of the country. they've been trying to retake the larger city alepo. they might tribe to circle it. but the problem with regime is it can go out and retake areas but it can't hold them. this goes way back to the beginning of the uprising. and this means that not only are they unable to consolidate power in the west where they're strongest. they're not going to be able to
go out into the uefraties valley and clean up isis. so the question is what can fill up that vacuum and take into account sunni aspirations in the euphrates valley where sunnis are in the majority? nd it's there that right now we're starting from basically zero. u.s. has had a covert campaign to support the syrian opposition in the country, about a year-and-a-half. we deal with about nine groups there if not more. and they're supply with weapons including toe and detain weapons on a regular basis. but in an overall political sense they're not organized towards one end and that title 50 program, covert program, will be folded into the train and equip program, the title 10 program that has been abnounsed. but in the meantime, we are striking these stargets. and isis is not giving way. and we don't really have an opposition force to fill up that vacuum. so it's in that chaotic
situation that we will probably see the assad regime try and lash out to retake some areas, likely see them fail, as well as tribes in the euphrates valley itself try and assert themselves. but in order to retake -- i don't think we're going to have one force taking and holding those areas in any kind of coherent way. at this point, if we keep on going in the direction that we're going in terms of our syria -- our approach to syria, i'm afraid that boots on the ground are probably a much more likely possibility going forward both in the next two years as well as for the next administration. because i don't see one side or the other being able to really clean up this problem once isis is degraded from the air. i think that's going to be the main problem that this administration faces on the way out, and the next administration faces on the way in. thank you. >> thanks.
that's terrific. well, that's a terrific introduction. i want to be able to come back later to some specific issues ike the fight between isis and the kurds in cobe ani but first what i would like to do is fill out -- i want to fill out the more general picture which i think is going to be very helpful here. one of the things that i believe is the three panelists are saying or thgs how i would like to put it together, i believe that isis is part of a larger sunni rebelion which is the function of the policies of the maliki government, the function of the policies of bashar alassad's war. and standling behind that is the izz lackic republic of iran. so the iranians have forces on the ground. the united states, affs the 2001 withdrawal, is much more limited. is much more limited leverage. what i would like to fill out
now is i would like to get a sense of what are the chances that the united states, that the administration can now address that issue, which i think we all agree on that one of the fundamental problems that's going on, how do we get the sunnis to buy in, whether it's the sunni tribes, whether it's the sunis that mike was speaking about in mosul. how do we get them to buy in without much leverage on the ground? i'm actually going to ask mike to try that first. >> we lost a lot of leverage with the sunni possible lation when we assured them that the sons of iraq program would turn into jobs in iraq and other jobs in the ministries. that didn't happen. a good friend of mine who actually recruited a lot of these individuals was often met with hugs and kisses when he saw these guys in jordan. the last time he met them, he had one of the individuals grab all of the unit coins out of his pocket from other u.s.-army
battalions that they had worked with over the years and thrawtheam at his feet and say what good are these? they're all broken promises. we have to reestablish the leverage but how do we do that when we're not there? we're not taking vienna, we're not doing it 100%. we're simply doing air strikes at night or against targets of opportunity as opposed to having a concerted effort to -- at this point, you're not going to take mosul with peshmerga and u.s. air strikes. you have to take mosul with the sunnis in mosul. but how do you get them, how does the u.s. get them to fight? absent a protracted commitment without an end date, you're not going to. he iraqi government -- there's so much iranian influence in the iraqi government. i don't know if you know this but the iraqi security forces ent from 55% shia-45% sunni to 95 or greater percent shia in
the last four years. all the militias have been deputized. they are now part of the iraqi security force. shia militias are now part of these national guard regional units that we're supposed to stand up and fight isis. the problem is that these militias don't differentiate between a sunni military ishmael and the insurgency. and isis is counting on that. so they push into baghdad and the baghdad belts, they're fomenting a violent response from the shia militias who are legitimate iraqi security forces. so as the army divisions try to reinforce seventh iraqi army division primarily sunni in al-anbar, there's no trust there. and the sunni military is falling. and that just legitimizes baghdad's chrns that we can't trust the sunnis and the iraqi security forces. they will not fight these guys. >> we spoke before about the appointment of general allen. positive t auguster
things for american policy in iraq? >> the selection of general allen, the anbaris were begging him to come back to restart, to help restart the awakening because he is a credible figure. the same as general petraeus. you could hear of cries but they're weren't from isis. they were from the very sunnis that we need to fight isis. that was until we started seeing some of the powers initially general allen was going to be the guy in charge of this. there was a kinetic flow of operation. stemming threat finance. and there was the coalition building where we say to partners you don't have to provide air strikes or boots on the ground but give us the intel, stop the flow from turkey and other countries. you have 2500 guys coming from tunisia, saudi arabia, and guys froming from morocco able to
come in from turkey into the fight. and that's a problem. so there are things coalition partners can do. but general allen is the right guy to do this. he just needs to be empowered to do it. >> how? >> we have a cadre of american military that would be willing to go back right now if asked. we have -- general allen was asked by the tribes. maliki asked petraeus, come back, i'll do whatever you want. but the administration did not allow either one of those gentlemen to go forward and do this. you've got to be sanctioned by the u.s. government to do it to be effective. so with general allen being in charge of this and the cadre that he can put together, you have relationships that we've established over the years with the iraqis, sunnis, shia nationalists, peshmerga, and other groups in the iraqi government that actually want to see iraq stay together. they want to see everybody be part of this process. one of the things we say is we need to do the same thing isis
did. they established temporary alliances. take mosul. we need to do the same thing to take territory away from isis. if you have five guys in a room that hate each other. if there's a snake going across the stage we're going to kill the snake first and then we'll go back to hating each other. we'll do that afterwards. and maybe if we kill the snake together, maybe we'll say maybe you're not as bad as we thought you were. but we need to do things like that. the problem is that we say things that resonate in the sunni population centers saying the end date is two months away. there's going to be something from the administration that's going to aair strikes will end on this date. and as soon as that happens you're not going to get sunni buy-in to do anything difficult. and absent putting pressure on iran to get abadi to absorb surenies in the security apparatus, it's not going to happen. and then again the sunnis why would they trust abadi in the first place? >> i want to come back to putting pressure on iran regarding isis which seems to
be something that the opposite is happening. but in the meantime, you ended your introductry statements very depressed, not optimisticically. but what would it look like, how could the united states put enough people in a room to kill the snake what would that look like regarding the tribes in you say it's unlikely. but what would have to happen? american military leadership and political leadership as well? you expressed skepticism regarding antsdzni lincoln. >> i completely agree with what michael said. and i'll try to give it the tribal dimension. first, with an anecdote from 261. they kept sweeping through and reached a point in the la vanity a town, and this town is the jew's area. and there he met an army of the
ma'am plucks and there was -- there was have been a battle. then the jews they tried to pick a winner because they were hedging. so they decided to split into two teams and to fight on each side and whoever wins will retain the loser. so this is how tribes act. they need to work with winners. this is very important for them. and in 2006, they told david that at that time was the time when the arab-berlin wall had fallen and he said he was ready to join the u.s. campaign to spread democracy. and then a year after that, when the hezbollah fighters swept through his area and that of the sunnis, their area, he called him and he said i have confirmed news from washington that the americans are coming to our rescue. and then he said are you crazy? we will swim from here to the
destroyers. so they learned that you can't bet on the united states. and this is the same lesson that they learned -- when michael says that they shout this but when they see general allen this is because in the tribal mindset the personal is very important. and i know that way of democracy we can't keep on sending the same people all the time. they have to change. but we have to understand, we have to learn from the mistakes. we sent lincoln who handed the sat wave to maliki, to the shia rival and to iran. and then maliki just got cut the salaries, he cut the army and then they were on their own. and yesterday the white house put out a press releases saying we're sending lincoln again to the people who do not trust him anyway. so i completely agree, i'm not saying we should just send all the old team.
but to win the tribes over, we have to prove that the u.s. and the coalition is the winning side and they have an interest in joining it and they can trust the united states and then this will be a long term. they will not fight if this is something about the short term, two-year think taking on isis and degrading capability. they will not fight if this is only for the sake of the united states. they will not fight if this is counter terrorism only. they will fight if this means beating the other tribe that has been beating them since the year 200 bce. that's how the tribes fight. and by the way, most of the fighting that you see now in cobe anie between the tribes and for isis now, we call them isis. between isis and the kurds, this pre-dates isis and pre-dates the syrian revolution. and there has been tension over time. i think you know this. in mosul and kirkuk, the full flag between the kurds and the
sunni arabs have been there even before saddam and the iraqi states. so we have to entertain these tribes. we have to get some allies and we have to treat them the way iran treats its allies. if you are a member of hebs la and you join he is ballet now you're sitting in bay lute and getting hebs blah security paychecks. it's such a long-term thing that they do. everyone who has joined hezbollah is now fighting in syria. everyone who joins saut wave is on the run from some shia policeman or they don't have money or are trying to get support from isis or whoever. >> let me just ask quickly without getting the tribes on side, what are the odds of success against -- and again i guess there's two different ways to put it. what are the odds of success in defeating isis and what are the odds of success in quelling a
sunni rebelion letting the sunnis know that in spite of the tozzing over saddam hussein that the sunnis are still a part of iraq? what are the chances of either? >> well, so far isis has been in the tribal areas. they haven't had any big wins except for mosul. and over there it's mostly -- it has 2 million people. but many of them are still tribal. so we're talking about tribal areas. so the tribal would be the instrumental fighting force in that part. to defeat isis i would say we have to get the tribes that are still out of isis. r example, one of the strong tribes were prow assad. the syrian ambassador in iraq who defected he is from that area. they defected early on and they wanted to join the free syrian
army and the opposition and to fight. they are both in force and know how to fight. except that like i said, we call them carpenters and no arms or radicals, whatever. now, in july by the way when isis was expanding and winning pledges of allegiance from other tribes, they -- in three hours, in eastern syria, they killed 800 men from an area part of agada. so these are the guys trying to join us. so what we have to show is we have to show resolve long term and then you will see the tribes. and of course funds of money. and then you will see the tribes coming to our side. and then you can use them maybe in combination with the u.s. air power and beat isis in their areas. >> that's a good transition into this. in syria, especially the background. how do you earn the trust of the tribes? how do you earn the trust of any iraqi sunnis if people would look to syria and they would say this administration
has sat on its hands while more than 200,000 arab sunnis have been slaughtered? they jumped to defeendeeie zeeties christian and kurds. however, when the sunni lives seemed to matter nothing at all. and as they keep saying the administration has kept insulting the fsa saying they're doctors pharmacists carpenters. how do you get if you're looking at syria's and the administration's policy has been to not intervene in the war, how do you get the sunnis in syria or iraq or anywhere in the region to buy in? >> i can think of a couple ways. i would be to first of all think it's very important for the administration to realize it's in a hole in this regard and to stop digging. what i mean is -- i'm not trying to be flippant. but it's -- we have to understand that the nonstrike
incident of september 2013 -- that's what it's called in the government. at got about 96%, 95% of the declared stockpile cw out of syria, not all of it. that's a good thing. but that came at a tremendous political price for our relations with -- i think our relations with the -- and our reputation in the entire world. and that's a larger -- larger than this discussion. but it also sent a terrible essage to the sunnis inside of syria. why? because it's 75% sunni. it's easier to do tho wink and nod stuff when the number of sunnis inside of a country like iraq is smaller. it's a little easier to do. you can pick them off, probably divide them. in the case of syria, you need to have a political and military program. the sunnis inside of syria
would like a replacement to the minority dominated assad regime. it's alway dominated regime. the shia offshoots supported by iran. they would like to have a transition away from it. that's one thing we can help them with. and we have a stated policy to go in that direction anyway. until now they haven't seen it. second would be in order to achieve that both tactically strategy click and in terms of cost that's a conversation for the united states, cost. i understand that. is you have to get the sunni powers in the region on side to finance this operation which they say they've been willing to do and but the problem is hat unlike our iranian adversaries, iran has a cudse force and they're very good at what the president call the proxy game. they're very good at it. in the sunni allies
region are not except for the jihad hists. and so from a state cent rick point of view it's very difficult to get all the sunni powers to work together toward that common end. and they want the united states to step in and be that arbiter. and they will be willing to finance it. until now, the president has said no way. now grks, again, that strategy would make sense in terms of both ending the war in syria and eliminating isis. the president strategy would make more sense if the number of sunist inside of syria were much smaller. but it's not. it's a huge amount. and we haven't been able to find that alternative. we have to find that alternative that takes into conversation sunni asfrations that they don't join jihaddists on a strategic level as these two gentlemen have outlined and then also don't hold animosities against the united states and carry out terrorist
attacks. so that means not only helping in this overall fight in terms of inside of syria. but not putting the country in a situation where it lays down a red line and doesn't enforce it. that's going to lose american power and the perception of power all over the world and costs us tremendously among the syrian opposition and sent many more syrians over to the jihaddists because they were seen as the strong horse. and the way to solve this at the moment it's very simple. ok? the reason why the president takes the approach he does is -- and it goes back to when he was elected. he was a reaction to what was perceived by the american people and those in the region as american aggression in the region. this is well known. it's not controversial at all. and there was a political fallout to that. and he was elected. and because over time what's
happened is we've seen that it's passivety overall. it's throwing your hands up in the air and saying we can't do anything. what's required at the moment is a smart policy based on something that americans do very well is called assertiveness. it means working with allies in a smart way and in creative ways using their resources to defeat a common foe. we've been doing this for years. and this is what's required to truly defeat isis. if we don't do it now, we will not defeat isis not only this administration but it will bnl even harder during the next administration. >> that's great. one of the things that reminds me of -- and there's a lot of talk in the region about moderates and extremists. one of the things that you were talking about in terms of the tribes. i want to come back to that. one of the things that strikes me is whenever the -- and it's not just this administration.
the bush administration did the same. want to encourage the position of moderates and for moderates to stand up against extremists. however, as hussein has also outlined, mike has outlined, everyone has outlined. the united states has done travegly bad job of backing moderates in the field. to back moderates rhett orically is one thing but to let the extremists, the nuts come in. whether it's isis or islamic republic of iran and hezbollah, these are big issues to really put your money where your mouth is. i think this is one of the thing that is we're getting at. this has not been happening. i want to come back to cobe ani. one of the things you were talking about hussein, you were saying that this divide preexists isis. i want you to talk about that for a second. mike, i'm going to ask you to talk about your sense of isis' actual military capabilities and what it takes militarily to handle them. >> sure. well, what we know is that one
of the ways that assad kept tabs on the kurds was to use these same tribes to not sort of beat them but animosity between the two. of course animosity started in ancient times over maybe cattle or the bath river or these mundane things. but we know that there's a line between these two. and assad used these tribes to beat these kurds repeatedly. and when there was -- when assad's power was on the decline in this part of syria, then the kurds did not pick up arms against assad by the way. the ones in cobe ani. they just tried to stay out of the whole thing. and now the offensive that you see from these isis fighters, the sunni isis fighters is to an extent not related to syria proper.
and this started from the very first day that assad's power weakened. there were tensions. and the reason why the kurds formed these militias, these self--defending militias, they call. they formed them after the revolution. not to fight assad just to keep -- and by the way in 2007-2008, assad 2kid the same thing. he armed the tribes in the south against the jews because they were educating the jews against assad. so these fault lines now predate isis. now they can pick up the isis flag. >> but it's really sunni-arab tribes. >> it predates the actual whates going on now. >> very interesting. mike, if there's anything you want to add. but i think that's one of the places where we've seen isis' military capabilities come out. if you want to talk about that for a second. >> yes. with cobe ani, i want to back
to the military question with isis. but one of the things when we started air strikes in syria, we were only doing them at nighttime so isis developed a battle rhythm so they were like oak the air strikes is over let's move this equipment towards town. we weren't doing anything during the day. why? because we didn't want to lose pilots. we allowed isis to move captured u.s. equipment, captured syrian equipment in support of the fight when they're out in the open. so the air strikes happening during the daytime. the problem is all that equipment was already there. they had already moved. so now one of the good things about the targeting effort is the target packets are generated by kurds. and you've seen peshmerga move from iraq move into syria and into car bani to fight. rival kurdish groups fighting a common enemy. and that's common. and one of the things we want to go back to isis.
we've given isis too much credit for a lot of things. mosul wasn't done primarily with isis. it was done with all the sunni insurgent groups who didn't like the fact that the military now was shia and they were telling mosul always what to do. and that their charismatic sunni leaders were being put in jail because of the accountability and justice law and the terrorism law, two laws have very ambiguous language. if i know you and you know a terrorist i go to jail because 069 affiliation. it's an easy way to marginalize political opponents and effective commanders. so when shia militias fight isis, remember that's various groups. we can't just give one of those groups credit. but we're doing that with isis. any time isis has successes we're saying it's just isis that's doing it. it's not. they're temporary alliances and when they have a common enemy
they fight together and we have to be cautious about giving isis way too much credit. the fight in baghdad along the baghdad belts more tar attacks on the airport, it's not just isis. it's these other groups, 1920s brigade, other units. but the thing is, is that when they have a common enemy they'll fight together. assent the shia mill shass and security forces, any time isis exerts primesy over these groups they resist. there's schisms and opportunities to do things. a lot of those groups they fought with, this is a road. at the end of the road is the cal fate. in the middle is the return to bathist power. they'll support until they get there. after that i wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these groups turn on isis. they don't want a cal fate in iraq. they want to return to bathist power. the thing about partition --
just real quick. soonis want the whole country back. the shia are happy with the current set as long as kirkuk remains somewhat in a special status and they're happy it fell into responsible hands with kurds. the kurds want kirkuk and the other areas. they don't want it all. they're happy with what they have right now. sunnis want it all. and that's the issue is this is a sunni rebelion. but there were factions within the sunni rebelion that simply want to buy in. they want legitimacy. they want to be part of iraq's future. and they want a return to legitimate positions in government where they're able to actually hold way over what's being done. and defend against an external threat. that being iran. >> i'm going to come back in a second i have a question for him. but. >> let me ask quickly. this explains why turkey has been behaving the way it's been behaving. because the conflict predates all the isis counter terrorism
thing. and the turks thought, ok, the ypg is on our terrorism list. these tribes we have no interest in confronting -- >> who is wpg. can you explain. >> they're the group that's fighting that belongs to the pkk, which is a kurdish insurgent group that has been fighting turkey since the 1980s and the turks consider them as terrorist. now the american terrorist are fighting turkey's terrorists. and we ask them to join us in fighting only america's. and they said no. to us these are terrorists as well. so instead of striking isis, the turks are striking the kurds who are fighting isis. so this becomes complicated. but the reason is it predates the whole situation that we have. >> thanks. that's great. one of the things i wanted to ask you and then we are going to come back to iran. one of the things i wanted to ask you is what right now is the administration's anti-isis
campaign in syria? how is that affecting -- how is that affecting assad's campaign regarding the fsa, regarding the rebels? my understanding is that it's opening osh giving him room to attack different rebel units now that the americans are going after isis. but if you want to fill that out or correct me. >> yes. the american air campaign against isis could benefit both the fsa and the assad regime. because both the assad regime and the fsa nominally consider isis to be ab enemy. e assad regime is in its usual double-faced jenice kind f position in that it buys refined petroleum products in particular from isis because it can't refine enough of its own
gasoline and diesel fuel as well as crude oil. but at the same time it does fight isis. it's not true that it doesn't fight isis. it does. and they clash. but not -- they don't fight them very well. >> who doesn't? >> the regime doesn't do very well against jihaddists in general. they don't fair that well. there are a lot of reasons for that. and we can get into that another part of the discussion. so what's happened is the assad regime, there has been a sort of quid proquo. american jets are flying every day over syria. d syria's formidable air defense system is not shooting at them. so then the question is, what does the syrian regime get in exchange from that? and what they get in exchange for that is the united states is not actively trying to
overthrow the assad regime. instead the assad regime is now focusing on the fsa more moderate units. they're not all nationalists. they're focusing their attention on them. trying to gain ground. the assad regime is garrisonned in the middle of the country in palm ira and could try to go out in the euphrates valley and try to retake some of these. i don't think they're going to. instead it's easier for them trying to take a run and encircling alepo their largest city. they encircle it first, starve it out and get everyone to agree to a cease fire. so i think that what we're likely to see if the administration's approach continues is that we'll see the assad regime regaining in some areas vis-a-vis isis and the f st. a. but it will be unable to go