Remarks Before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Secretary of State
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: (In progress.) – request for FY2010. The request by the Administration totals $47.5 billion in discretionary spending, of which approximately $37.5 billion is to support overseas contingency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Administration forwarded a request of $2.8 billion to support our humanitarian operations in Haiti. The committee has not had an opportunity to review this matter, but we’ll do so over the coming weeks.
To review the defense and international affairs portion of the supplemental request, the committee is pleased to receive testimony from the Secretaries of State and Defense, Ms. Hillary Clinton and Mr. Robert Gates. And it’s good to see both of you. We look forward to your responses to the many questions I’m certain we’ll have.
Over nine years ago, in response to the 9/11 attacks, our nation embarked on a mission to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and al-Qaida, and to work to ensure security and stabilization in the region. But once we entered Iraq, many believe, our efforts in Afghanistan were shortchanged and only are we refocused on our primary missions: the defeat of al-Qaida and regional stability. With a renewed effort and focus, President Obama has approved a military and civilian strategy in Afghanistan that will, hopefully, enable us to restore regional stability and to begin withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. The supplemental request before us provides the necessary resources for a military and civilian surge that is critical if we are to achieve that goal. We look forward to hearing today about the preliminary results of this surge and the challenges we face in meeting the President’s timetable.
As I noted, we have been at this war for almost a decade and now we have our eye on the target. At the same time, we are also seeing the spread of al-Qaida with cells in Yemen, al-Qaida members showing up Somalia, and related activity elsewhere in Africa. While we focus our efforts on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, we also need to allocate sufficient resources to curtail the growth of these terrorist cells. We cannot allow new safe havens to be created elsewhere as we tighten the stranglehold on al-Qaida’s senior leadership in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. We hope to get assurances from both Secretaries today that they understand these dangers and are responding to these hot spots with enhanced efforts and focus. Hopefully, these issues will be among those addressed either in your statements or in the questions which follow.
I will note to my colleagues that I recognize that there are many issues which you may want to address, and remind you that today’s hearing is on our wartime funding requirements and not on other matters. And I would urge you to focus your questions on that topic. In addition, as you can see, we have many senators, but they are all over the place. They are in press conference, and they’re on -- en route here. But we’d like to limit our questions to four minutes per senator, and I would like to urge you to keep your answers as brief as possible.
Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates, the committee thanks you both for appearing today. Without objection, your full statements will be made part of the record. And at this point, I would like to yield to the Vice Chairman, Senator Cochran, for any opening remarks he may wish to make.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you. And I’m pleased to join you in welcoming our distinguished witnesses to this hearing.
Of course, the focus of the hearing is on the immediate need to address the President’s request for full funding or the mission that is now President Obama and his Administration’s suggestion as to how we can better achieve likely peace in the region and in due course begin withdrawing some of the 30,000 troops that have now been identified as needed for the effort in Afghanistan. We know that’s going to cost money and we are anxious to get the facts about what those funds are to be used for and to justify the appropriations request that this committee will transmit to the full Senate. I hope you will let us know of any urgent unmet requirements that aren’t reflected or haven’t been discussed publicly that we need to know about. I’m sure the committee is going to want to move expeditiously without delay in acting on this request and urging the Senate to follow the leadership of this committee.
With respect to Iran, we would also appreciate your thoughts on the challenges that we face through Iranian activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what that might mean for the need for additional funds as well. But we thank you for your distinguished service and the jobs you have, and they are very important. And we want to be helpful, and I think this hearing will help us start that process in the right direction. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I thank you very much, and may I now call upon Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and Vice Chairman Cochran and members of the committee. It’s very good seeing you all and especially in this historic room to have this hearing. I thank you for the opportunity to testify alongside Secretary Gates, because we are very much committed together on behalf of our civilian and military efforts in the front-line states. We don’t think that they can be separated because the challenges we face demand that we draw on all of the tools of American leadership and American power, and the strategies we now have in place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq do exactly that.
This whole-of-government approach has shown results and it has also enabled us to more clearly understand the challenges we face. That’s why we’re coming to you today with a $4.5 billion supplemental request. Without this new funding in 2010, we will fall short in all three of the front-line states. I am well aware of the economic strain we all face here at home, and I believe, along with each of you, that every dollar must deliver clear results. Our request addresses urgent demands that will advance our efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan and ensure a smooth transition to a civilian-led effort in Iraq.
First, with respect to Afghanistan, we are implementing the strategy President Obama announced in December. Success requires a fully integrated civilian and military effort, one in which security gains are followed immediately by economic and political gains. As new troops arrive, our civilian surge has already tripled the number of civilians on the ground, and it is these civilian-led efforts that will translate the bravery of our troops into stability for Afghanistan and security for Americans. The challenges are still great. The enemy is still determined. But we are recapturing the momentum in Afghanistan. New funds in 2010 will give us the capacity to move forward at a time when every day is crucial.
Let me briefly describe what we are currently doing in Marjah and the surrounding areas – for Marjah is a proving ground for our strategy and the story thus far is an encouraging one. Our civilians were on the ground within hours and days of the military operation. They quickly stood up a district support team that has helped already to open two schools and a prosecutor’s office. They’ve registered more than 7,000 farmers to begin receiving supplies for licit crops. They’ve employed more than a thousand residents a day through cash-for-work projects. A nearby USAID-built airstrip has allowed the Ministry of Agriculture officials to reach Marjah’s farmers, and a USAID contract is paying a woman-owned Afghan firm to rebuild the highway.
The military offensive rightly may get the headlines, but what happens behind the scenes is equally important. As our military leaders put it, after clearing, we must hold, build, and transition. And Marjah’s residents have made it clear they will judge the Afghan Government and us on our ability to help build enduring security and credible governance. Our $2 billion request for Afghanistan supports efforts like those in Marjah which we are ramping up quickly and which need additional assistance and operational funding in 2010. New assistance will help Afghans provide for their families and revitalize the agricultural sector, which is crucial to reducing poppy cultivation and drawing insurgents back into society.
We also have funding for governance and rule-of-law programs as well as the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which helps build capable institutions. These will work in conjunction with U.S. support for the Afghan National Security Forces, which I also would urge you to fully fund. And through all of this, we have maintained our focus on expanding women’s opportunities, one of our best tools for combating extremism and spurring progress.
In Pakistan, our efforts are vital to success in Afghanistan, but also to our own American security. We’ve made it a strategic priority to strengthen our partnership with the Pakistani people. And I’m under no illusion that success in this arena will come quickly or easily. But think about where we were a year ago. The extremists were 100 miles from Islamabad. They met little resistance in launching attacks on American troops from border areas. Since then, the Pakistani Government has launched important offenses in Swat, South Waziristan, and throughout the country.
We’re moving in the right direction, and the progress that we’ve made is possible because we have demonstrated a clear commitment to work with the people and the Government of Pakistan. Yesterday at the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, we worked very hard – in fact, late into the night – to advance the resolve that we have begun building with the Pakistani leadership. The $370 million we’re requesting for assistance and operations in this supplemental will allow us to expand civilian cooperation at a critical moment.
The military offensives have created new humanitarian needs that, if not addressed immediately, could make these areas ripe for extremism. And in much of the country, water, energy, and economic problems create new challenges. So our success depends on rapidly and sustainably scaling up our efforts, especially in high-impact projects that visibly demonstrate our long-term commitment on helping the Pakistanis build capacity while ensuring accountability.
In Iraq, we have different challenges. But in the wake of this election, we’re at a moment of great opportunity to consolidate stability and forge an enduring partnership sustained by a strong diplomatic presence. Our $2.1 billion supplemental request should be seen in light of the more than $15 billion decrease in Defense funding. As we prepare to move from a Defense-led to a State-led mission in Iraq at the end of August, new funding will allow us to make sure our civilians can work safely in still-dangerous places. It will allow us to move from an intensive, Defense-led police training program to a smaller, State-administered program for police leadership. And our support of Iraqi civilian law enforcement, like support for the Iraqi security forces, is critical to the success of their new democracy.
Now, in putting this supplemental together, I’ve had to make some tough calls and had to have some tough conversations about priorities. And the decisions reflect that. The result is a request that addresses only urgent needs directly related to our security interests. And I want to emphasize all of these programs have been designed with careful attention to accountability and a determination to learn from past mistakes. Waste and corruption are fundamental threats to our success, and we’re serious about combating them.
So we have more funds for strengthened oversight by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and takes into account the problems highlighted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. We’ll also be working with the Congress on updated benchmarks.
Just a brief word on Haiti, Mr. Chairman: Despite the work the United States has done to respond to the disaster, there is still too much suffering. And our rebuilding, along with the international community, is an important commitment to the people of Haiti and to our hemisphere. Of our 1.6 billion Haiti supplemental request, about 500 million will reimburse relief efforts by State and USAID. The rest will go to strategic investments coordinated with our international partners.
I thank the Congress for the ongoing bipartisan support of these efforts. And Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this committee’s continuing work on behalf of the missions and the priorities of our country.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: All right. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, and now, may I call upon Secretary Gates?
SECRETARY GATES: Mr. Chairman, Vice Chairman Cochran, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity this afternoon to discuss the Defense Department’s portion of the Fiscal Year 2010 supplemental request. I’m honored to appear with the Secretary of State. Our joint testimony today reflects the close cooperation of our two departments and the importance of a properly funded and integrated civil-military approach to the challenges we face in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. And at the outset, I would like to offer my strong support for the important programs funded in the State portion of the supplemental request, without which our military efforts would not be – will not be successful.
These times of economic and fiscal stress place enormous pressure on all of us to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, including the two departments represented here today. That is why President Obama and I, in last year’s and this year’s budget, made tough decisions about major programs that were either performing poorly or in excess to real-world needs. However, even at a time of budget pressures, I believe it is critical to sustain an adequate, sustainable level of investment in the instruments of national security, be it defense, diplomacy, or development, that are so essential to America’s security and position in the world.
I recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan. There, I had the chance to talk to our military commanders, Afghanistan’s leaders, and our troops serving at the tip of the spear in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Overall, I believe there are grounds for guarded optimism as our campaign to roll back the Taliban gains momentum and as the Afghan Government shows an increasing willingness to take on additional responsibilities. Nonetheless, there will be many long and tough days ahead. And it may take several months to produce visible results, as most of the additional forces ordered by the President have not yet arrived in theater and begun operations.
I would also caution against an overly ambitious view of what true stability and security will look like in a place that has known nothing but war for three decades. For most Afghans, a roof over their heads, an opportunity for their children – both boys and girls – to attend school, and the ability to provide for the basic needs of their families, free from violence, would be considered a pretty good life. The scale of the international coalition’s efforts and ambitions should reflect that basic reality.
The FY2010 supplemental request totals $33 billion for the Defense Department, almost all of which is to support operations in Afghanistan and the additional 30,000 troops being deployed as a part of the President’s strategy announced in December. We remain on schedule to see overall U.S. troop levels reach 98,000 by the end of the fiscal year. The request includes $1.1 billion on top of the one – 11.3 billion already enacted to field and sustain lifesaving, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and MRAP all-terrain vehicles for troops already in theater and for the additional forces being deployed. Finally, this supplemental contains $2.6 billion to strengthen the Afghan National Security Forces. The goal of the President’s strategy and our supporting military efforts is to create conditions that will allow for a full transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan Government.
Earlier this month, I visited the combined fielding center at Camp Black Horse, near Kabul, and had a chance to speak with Afghan troops undergoing training. I told them that Afghanistan is their country, and ultimately this is their fight to win. I know many of you have concerns about the Afghan security forces. I share those concerns, as do our military commanders. The Afghan army has made real progress over the last year and many Afghan soldiers are shedding their blood for their country. Increased Afghan involvement in operations is critical to success and is being demonstrated in Marjah. Significant work remains to be done with the police force, but there, too, changes are underway that will, I believe, yield progress. As you consider this request, I would emphasize that successfully accomplishing the training mission represents both our exit strategy and the key for long-term stability in Afghanistan.
The supplemental request also includes $1 billion to strengthen Iraqi security forces. These additional resources will be used this year to strengthen Iraqi capabilities in areas General Odierno believes are important to ensure that the Iraqis are fully prepared to assume internal security responsibilities. The money will be spent by U.S. forces in Iraq, not provided directly to the Government of Iraq.
In Haiti, as the President requested, the Department is providing continuing support in the wake of January’s earthquake. Due to the urgent need for an immediate response, the Department used funds from existing accounts, with the understanding that these accounts would be replenished in a supplemental. As such, the $655 million is part of an amendment for Haiti that was recently submitted to Congress and will include funding to cover these costs.
All of these operations are fuel-intensive. Due to rising prices, our fuel costs this year in operations has been greater than anticipated. And so included in this request is $2 billion to partially offset the resulting shortfall in the Department’s base and overseas contingency operations, operating accounts, and to ensure uninterrupted operations.
I should note that this Department has moved most funding for programs not directly related to the war into the base budget. The budget request being discussed today is a true supplemental, as they were originally intended, for the purposes of funding immediate and unforeseen requirements – in this case, primarily the troop surge associated with the President’s new strategy for Afghanistan. And I urge approval of this request by early spring to prevent costly and counterproductive disruptions to the Department’s operations.
Before closing, I’d like to say just a few words about the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, CERP, which continues to be a powerful tool for military commanders in carrying out counterinsurgency operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. General Petraeus has called it the most important – his most important authority. And I would urge the Congress to fully fund the CERP programs contained in the budgets – the Department’s budget request. Having said that, I understand there is concern, some concern, on this committee about the way CERP has been used in recent years. The Department is currently performing an internal assessment of existing processes, which includes consideration of a single departmental coordinator, additional dedicated CERP managers, and contracting personnel in theater, and increased pre-mobilization and in-country training. Nonetheless, even with improved execution and oversight, it is unrealistic to expect a tool like CERP, whose very effectiveness and existence is tied to its flexibility and the discretion granted to local commanders in a war zone, to attain a zero defect standard.
In conclusion, I’d like to thank the committee for your support of the men and women of the military, extraordinary Americans who have fought our nation’s wars, responded to natural disasters, and protected our interests around the world. I know their health, safety, and welfare will be your top priority in making these difficult decisions in the weeks ahead. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Madam Secretary, Mr. Secretary, I’ll be submitting questions, but I’d like to ask one: Recently, the Vice Chairman and I submitted a request to the Department of Defense inspector general, together with the Department of State inspector general, to look over the contract of the Afghan National Police training program. And I think we all agree that one of the key components that must be in place would be a fully trained Afghan National Police force before we can start withdrawing. However, as you may be aware, the inspector general came out with a rather negative report criticizing the contract and suggesting that the contract be held up. And that, to me, would seem like we will not be able to move out on time. What are your thoughts on this?
SECRETARY GATES: Mr. Chairman, if we’re talking about the same contract, that – before there – before it was implemented, the contract was protested. The protest was upheld by the General Accounting Office, and so the contract has not been implemented, and the contract with DynCorp has been extended. So they will continue their efforts. We’ve made some changes to improve the terms of the contract, particularly in terms of what we’re asking them to do, but that’s the current situation with the would-be contract.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: So you believe that the criticism that we see in some of the publications has no bearing?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think, as I understand it, the protest was grounded in the vehicle that was being used to let the contract, and the protest was that it was an improper vehicle for the kind of work that was being contracted for. That’s my understanding of what the key issue, at least in the protest, was. In terms of some of the other criticisms, I’d have to look at them in specific.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: So you believe that the timetable is still in place on the withdrawal?
SECRETARY GATES: Yes, sir. The situation with this contract will, as I understand it, will not delay the training.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Cochran.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, the budget request before the committee includes $2.6 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces fund. And we’re told it is for the purpose of accelerating the growth of the Afghan security force. Eight years of training, you would assume would get the forces from where they are now to where we think they ought to be and would be sufficient, and their skills would be sufficient to help maintain, without so much active involvement of American or other forces, a pool of eligible quality recruits to man the ranks of the army and police. Is that what the Administration is advocating here today?
SECRETARY GATES: It is, Senator. And I would just say that at the – for the first several years, the size of the Afghan National Security Forces, and particularly the army – I’m going back to a period when I wasn’t in government, so I may be wrong on some of the particulars – but the initial planning for the ANSF was for forces that the Afghan Government itself could afford. So for the first few years, after we went in 2001, 2002, it was limited to 5,000 or so. And the dramatic expansion of the Afghan Security Forces really began three or four years ago and so we are just really getting – and to tell you the truth, both for the army and the police, there were significant shortages in the resources available for training both of them. We’ve been a lot better in terms of training the army. There is still a deficiency in the number of trainers needed for both.
But I would say that, as opposed to looking at it as an eight-year project that’s just now ramping up, I’d say it’s more of a project that has begun to look at significant numbers for both of those forces just within the last year or two.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Madam Secretary, does your Department not have the infrastructure and people in place to administer programs that are needed now as would be available for traditional military aid programs? What makes this a different kind of program to justify the increase in funding that you’re requesting?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Senator, you – well, your question really could cover both Iraq and Afghanistan, because in the case of Iraq, we are taking over responsibilities from the Defense Department that we are not fully equipped to do without the additional funding. Two aspects of that, which are important, one is that as our troops leave, in accordance with the agreement entered into between the United States and Iraq, they will be taking a lot of their equipment and they will be turning over certain of their facilities that are hardened. And we have to harden our facilities for our civilians to be able to take over the continued police training. And there is, as we do this transition, certain adjustments that are going to have to be made. We will no longer be able to rely on our military forces to protect our civilians, to embed with them on existing military bases. So that’s where the additional costs for Iraq come in, so that we can be prepared to be ready to take on this responsibility as the military leaves.
In Afghanistan, as Secretary Gates said, there has been a decision to give the responsibility for police training to the military, which we fully support because we’re trying to get closer to something resembling a unity of command so that General McChrystal and General Caldwell and our other military commanders are able to coordinate. Because when, for example, they go into an era like Marjah they have to be able to begin to stand up the police force that will be there as our troops transition, so there’s a very close connection between the military and the police training and deployment work and the Defense Department will be taking over that responsibility.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Thank you. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I would like to advise the committee that our witnesses cannot be here all afternoon, so can you limit your questions to about four minutes apiece.
And now may I recognize Leahy.
SENATOR LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And with these hours we have, most of us wouldn’t last all afternoon either. (Laughter.)
First off, I’m pleased to see Secretary Clinton – you and Secretary Gates. You both know the high, very high regard I have for both of you – doing a superb job for our nation. I’m also glad to see, and this is something I’ve talked with both of you about privately, the effort of the Department of Defense to have the Department of State take over those things that really we – are best suited for the Department of State, which a number of things the Department of Defense, by default, have taken over in the past.
But now I’ve got to figure out where the money goes. We appropriated in Fiscal Year 2010 a total of 4.9 billion – of course this is for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq. We received spending plan for those funds only a couple of weeks ago, didn’t have a great deal of detail. None of the funds have been spent. And for the fiscal year 2009, funds that had been obligated are – or remains to be dispersed. Now you’re asking for another 2.6 billion.
I worry – we’re dealing with countries where – I think in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where enormous corruption, a huge amount of money already in the pipeline. We’re basically borrowing this money from other countries to be able to spend it here. Are we going too fast? I mean, what kind of control – should we have a special inspector general, for example, to go over these funds, I might ask, Madam Secretary, I’m thinking especially of Afghanistan and Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Senator, we share your concerns and appreciate the opportunity to work with you as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee that considers these – the Subcommittee that considers these requests. We are ramping up our spending. We are currently expending funds at an estimated $324 million per month. We are growing that to 400 million with new projects that are starting up, in addition to continued support, to quick dispersing of two programs, such as the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund that does have adequate safeguards built in.
And what we are trying to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in particular, is to build in safeguards to have certification systems in place so that we can hold entities that we contribute funds to to account. It is an ongoing challenge. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it isn’t.
SENATOR LEAHY: Yeah. I mean, under our law money cannot go to army or police units that are violating human rights. I’m quite familiar with that law. But can we say, especially today, that that law is not being violated in either Pakistan or Afghanistan?
And I’ll close with that question, Mr. Chairman, and submit the rest of my questions. But I’ll address that to both of you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say, first of all, on the non-human rights front, we are putting in new personnel, we’re beefing up our presence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to have greater oversight, accountability, monitoring of the funds. It is something that we take very seriously. It’s been challenging to get those people in under the conflict circumstances in Afghanistan, but we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve quadrupled the number of people that we actually have on the ground in Afghanistan. And in Pakistan, that’s one of the areas that Secretary Gates has been working on with the Pakistanis so that we can have a better oversight mechanism on the funding part of it. But I’ll let him respond to the second part of your question.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, we are very mindful of the Leahy amendment. And I would just say in this unclassified setting, Senator, that we are monitoring the situation in multiple countries very carefully. We have the attention of their leaders on this subject. And if and when there are abuses, we expect and they have acknowledged the need to take action.
SENATOR LEAHY: Well, I don’t want – I think we’re both referring to the same thing. I’m not going to go into it in an open session like this, but I would appreciate being advised just how that’s done. I’ve already – the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs dropped in to see me yesterday to help on this and I – it is a matter of some concern. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank. Senator Bond.
SENATOR BOND: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I welcome the Secretaries together because your joint appearance represents what we – I believe all three of this committee believes is the only way we’re going to make progress, that is smart power combining the military and the economic, diplomatic efforts. And I believe that the work that has been done by the National Guard teams, which began in Afghanistan in 2008, at a time when we tried for two years to get the USAID to go there and they could not go there. But the National Guard units with their ability to carry weapons and bring training have made tremendous differences. And I understand that there are now about 10 different state Guard units in different provinces, which I think is one part of the solution. And on that subject, I have heard firsthand so many times that the importance of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program funds, which have funded those efforts, and not only those but, again, I have heard firsthand how successful the CERP funds were in supporting the counterinsurgency strategy, for example in 2007 in al-Anbar Province. So I am a strong supporter of it.
But one thing I would caution as the State Department begins to take over, I think there are many security challenges still in Iraq. And I hope that the withdrawal of forces will be conditioned on the ability of the remaining forces to provide the security that’s needed not just for USAID and other State agencies but for our allies there. And I hope you will do that.
But turning to a particular question, last year, Mr. Secretary, you testified the Air Force had over 200 extra C-130s aircraft and the Air Force cut that number to 65. But I have just read in Defense News that there are only -- that there are less than 50 C-130s in Southwest Asia, and the reports are that they are -- the commanders are requesting more C-130s to relieve the burden on the CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
What is the situation with regard to the heavy lift in Southwest Asia?
SECRETARY GATES: What’s the publication?
SENATOR BOND: This is Defense News.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, Defense News is apparently better informed than I am because I have not heard such a requirement from General McChrystal or General Odierno for that matter. I certainly will ask the question following the hearing.
SENATOR BOND: Well, they cited Lieutenant General Stevenson. So I will follow up with you later. But I do believe there is need for lift, and I am concerned that we not overlook the need not only for strategic lift but for tactical aircraft. And when the Air Force studies itself, I am -- I have questions about the reliability of those studies, and we will continue that discussion in other fora today. And I think you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Hutchinson.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it is good to see both of you. And I know how many hours you’re putting in and how hard you’re working. Mr. Secretary, I wanted to talk to you about the issue of Guantanamo detainees. As the ranking member of the Military Construction Subcommittee of this Committee. There is a $350 million request for transfer to the Illinois prison and $150 million of that is for military construction, 200 million for startup costs, and that is in addition to the cost of purchasing the prison.
In addition to that, we were told at the committee hearing that we may need up to a thousand personnel to man the prison and that they will live on the local economy. So I am very concerned about the costs. I am concerned about the security. And I just wondered if there is any effort to look at these costs, considering that we’ve spent hundreds of millions on Guantanamo Bay, and even just in the recent years built a new state-of-the-art courthouse for trying the detainees that are eligible for trial. Is there any thought about reconsidering this in light of the costs, or what is the thinking behind this effort?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, the Administration is still committed to closing Guantanamo. Thompson is – appears to be the most likely civilian site. The costs that you cite are substantial but they are one-time costs. And our latest estimates are that once that transfer is made, that the actual operational costs would be several million dollars a year less than they are at Guantanamo. So for the long-term, the operating costs that would produce savings over keeping Guantanamo open despite the original constructions costs.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: And do you -- are you still believing that the thousand people who would be the guards and personnel at the prison can be accommodated in the local economy? It’s a pretty remote area, I’m told. I haven’t been to this place in Illinois, but do you think that it is going to add a significant cost or will there have to be future military construction requests for the housing of the guards as well?
SECRETARY GATES: I would have to get back to you on the record how much of the original costs that you cited are -- involve living quarters for the troops that would be associated with the prison for guarding. I think some of those costs are incorporated into that. But let me get back to you for the record on that.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: All right, I would like that. I would also have another area of questioning for the record. Let me ask you one other one, though. During the last BRAC, Congress passed the Overseas Basing Commission. Looking at our overseas basing, the training constraints, the contribution made by the host countries, and determined that we could do better training and have more control when there are training facilities in the United States as compared to those overseas.
Well, I see that my time has expired. I am going to ask you about that in writing, because I’m very concerned that the previous administration’s decision to move 70,000 troops back from Germany and Korea as well as the Congressional Act that created this atmosphere is being changed. And I want to know more of the thinking about it, so I will ask you that for the record as well.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you. Senator Murray.
SENATOR MURRAY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome to both of you and thank you for the tremendous jobs both of you are doing.
Secretary Gates, let me start with you. I think we all recognize that the environment in Afghanistan is extremely complex and our goals there are very challenging. And I wanted to ask you, given the current military and political and social situation that we have there, what are your short-term goals before the surge force departs?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, clearly, the thrust of General McChrystal’s campaign is to reverse the momentum of the Taliban, to deny them control particularly in the south of populated areas and areas of production, and degrade their capabilities. That has begun in Marjah and the next major campaign will be in the Kandahar area. But an important part of this, and it gets to the integrated civil military campaign, was the preparation weeks in advance of the military operation to have civilians both from the Afghan Government and from our government and our coalition partners ready to go into Marjah and begin to provide development and governance. So that will be the same approach that we taken in the environs of Kandahar.
SENATOR MURRAY: Well, Secretary Clinton, then let me ask you this. We make that transition. Assuming we’re successful, do you have the funds that you need within your Department to be able to adequately staff for the transition that will need to take place?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Senator. That is one of the reasons for this supplemental. As we evaluate the progress that was made with the Marjah operation and the necessity for our civilian presence to move very quickly, we want to be prepared. So we are ramping up our planning and implementation.
As Secretary Gates just said, it is likely that an operation around Kandahar will be the next mission that our military undertakes, which requires us to have a greater capacity to partner with the Afghans both on the local level and on the national level.
So I am very convinced that what we are asking for is necessary and will give us exactly what your question implies we need.
SENATOR MURRAY: Okay, I appreciate that. And Secretary Gates, I will be submitting you a question about the transition for men and women as they come home into the V.A. and making sure we have accurate datas on increasing number of casualties, both physical and mental wounds of war, are coming home. We need to make sure we are keeping those connections, and I want to ask you that off the record once we’re through here.
But I did want to, while I had a short time left, ask you about the issue of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts, the MyCAA Program where – it was a great program put out there for spouses. About 136,000 military spouses have enrolled in that program – very popular – in order to get training and classes and certificate training. And a number of them were frozen out of the program over management issues. I wrote to you about this several weeks ago. And I know you know about this, but I am deeply concerned about the number of spouses out there who have now been left out, and the importance of getting this back on track, and wanted your commitment to work with me to make sure we get that moving correctly forward.
SECRETARY GATES: I’m very familiar with it since I launched it with the Secretary of Labor a couple of years ago. This is one of those cases where we had a program that ramped up slowly and then exploded in popularity. Part of the problem that we have is that we have $61 million in the budget for this program for FY10 and I think we’ve only asked for 65 or thereabouts for FY11 in the budget that we have. The applications for the program, as I indicated -- first of all, you are correct, there are 135,000 spouses that signed up -- a little over that. The management of the program shut it down entirely on – in mid-February because of the incredible demand. This was probably, in my view, a mistake.
We should have – all those who were still in the program we should have kept in the program, kept it open, put the applications on hold. The program was reopened in mid-March to those who had already been enrolled, and we are looking at the way ahead to see how we might be able to accommodate this extraordinary demand. The demand we are looking at potentially could end up with this program costing a billion to $2 billion. So I mean, it’s a measure of the popularity of the program, but it also becomes a real challenge.
SENATOR MURRAY: Well, I think it’s a measure of the significance of this program in terms of readiness for these families who have given so much. And if it’s a matter of requesting money through the supplemental or whatever we need to do, we now have a situation where spouses have gotten the money and the training and living right across the street from somebody who’s not. And it’s created a very unfair situation. And it’s an important benefit and we want to work with you to make sure we get it moving forward again.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Shelby.
SENATOR SHELBY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Gates, as we review the year 2010 supplemental request, there’s an additional $72.6 million in there for the MI-17 sustainment, maintenance, and training of the Russian helicopter. This is on top of the 596 million that we put in the Defense Appropriation Bill 2010. The committee is still awaiting, Mr. Secretary, the report required from the 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill detailing the current and anticipated demand for MI-17s, which should have been delivered 60 days after the enactment bill. I know you’re busy and the Department is. That was 97 days ago.
Instead, we received a Fiscal Year 2011 request that includes the procurement of 10 more MI-17s for Afghanistan that cost $180 million, which is $18 million per airframe, nearly triple the price that we paid per airframe in ’06. That’s a pretty good price. What’s the status of the overdue report and what’s going on here? Do you --
SECRETARY GATES: I’m aware of the requirement for the report, Senator. I was not aware that it had not yet been delivered.
SENATOR SHELBY: Okay.
SECRETARY GATES: But I’ll find out.
SENATOR SHELBY: Will you get back to us on that?
SECRETARY GATES: Yes. Yes, sir.
SENATOR SHELBY: And I go to another subject – UAVs. This is something you know a lot about. It’s been reported that by 2015, Predator UAVs will have so many simultaneous patrols – it’s a long time off – over Afghanistan that the Predator may soon exceed the bandwidth to carry data to ground stations. A lot of people are concerned that this data overload of networks in the theater are insufficient to the point that information collected by wide area censors is being saved on computer disk and flown back to the U.S. before it can be reviewed – in other words, it’s not quite – we could be retrieving actionable data in real time that could save lives, hopefully of the war fighters.
Can you discuss this issue and what the Department is doing to address this? You familiar with that?
SECRETARY GATES: All I can tell you, Senator, is that I know that bandwidth in both Iraq and Afghanistan is a continuing concern, but I have not heard from General McChrystal or anyone else, frankly, until today that it is a current concern or that they are not expanding the bandwidth --
SENATOR SHELBY: Okay.
SECRETARY GATES: -- to take advantage of the additional capabilities that we’re putting in there. I can just assure you I wouldn’t be asking for the extraordinary uplift in the number of – the extraordinary increase in the number of UAVs if I didn’t think the intelligence we could get from them could be made operationally available almost in real time.
SENATOR SHELBY: Okay. The command and control for the unmanned systems – this has been an ongoing thing – one issue that continues to be of concern is the army’s ability to continue utilizing unmanned systems when and where our soldiers want them. And we continue to hear from our commanders on the ground about the importance of retaining control of tactical UAVs. A lot of our success depends on this. Some would like to see the army lose that. What’s your opinion on all that? I know it’s kind of an inter-service deal. And you might not --
SECRETARY GATES: (Laughter.) Well, I think that the key – what we have seen with the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that we have deployed, first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan in ever-growing numbers, is a unique fusion of intelligence and operations in the history of warfare. My view is that it has to be responsive to the needs of the commander on the ground. And whatever mechanism is required to do that is the way it ought to be handled. But it – just as we need the bandwidth so that it can – the intelligence itself can be transmitted to the ground in real time, we need the capability for those systems to be responsive to the commanders on the ground in the same way.
SENATOR SHELBY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Feinstein.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and welcome, Madam Secretary. Welcome, Secretary Gates.
Secretary Gates, let me follow up on Senator Shelby’s questions. I have a good deal of concern about UAV technology. It is getting better. These are able to fly higher, stay in the air longer, they can carry heavier payloads, a mix of both guided and unguided munitions. And many of these advances are now being made by foreign countries which may or may not support our international objectives. With technical modifications, even UAVs that do not currently carry weapons can, in fact, be modified to carry capable armed platforms. They are proliferating all over the world.
So I have three specific questions to ask of you, if I can turn my page. And let me ask the three of them and then you can choose your answer. What is DOD’s current policy regarding the sale or transfer of UAVs to foreign countries? Two, what is your view on limiting the export of the United States UAV technology, capable of being employed as a combat platform? And three, what is the Department doing to ensure that UAVs are not used against American troops?
SECRETARY GATES: First of all, our policy toward the sale of UAV technology – I would differentiate, first of all, between armed and unarmed. But overall, our policy is guided by the Missile Technology Control Regime. And so at this point, to the best of my knowledge, we have only sold UAVs, at this point, to Italy and the United Kingdom, two NATO allies. There are other countries that are very interested in this capability, and frankly, it is, in my view, in our interest to see what we can do to accommodate them.
But I am – I share your concern about the possibility of the transfer of technology or about these capabilities getting into the hands of those who are our adversaries. And the reality is that countries like Iran are developing their own UAVs and already have a UAV capability.
With respect to export, again, as I just suggested, I think there are some specific cases where we have allies with whom we have formal treaty alliances who have expressed interest in these capabilities. And we have told them that we are limited in what we can do by the MTCR, but I think it’s something we need to pursue with them. The reality is so far, we have been in situations where UAV technology cannot be used or has not been used against our troops anywhere. I just referred to the fact that Iran has UAVs and that is a concern, because it is one of those areas where I suppose if they chose to, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, they could create difficulties for us.
By the same token, UAVs are relatively slow fliers and we have very capable air forces. And so I actually think that our ability to protect our troops from these things, particularly in a theater of combat like this, is quite good. My worry would be capabilities like this getting into the hands of non-state actors who could use them for terrorist purposes.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much. The Drug Caucus of the Senate, which I happen to chair, has been looking into the narcotics picture in Afghanistan. And this raises – and let me just be very quick with this – this raises the question of standing by and letting these opium poppies grow; at the same time, the Taliban is emerging into a major drug cartel. I think it’s a problem. The DEA tells me it’s a problem. People that have made the busts in Iran tell me that it’s a problem. And I would be very interested in your response to that.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, about a year and a half or two years ago, the coalition in Afghanistan received changed rules of engagement that allowed them to go after drug lords and drug labs. And we have been fairly aggressive in doing that. Ninety-eight percent of the poppies grown in Afghanistan are grown in seven provinces, where – and they are the ones where we are engaged in the most significant combat.
Let’s just face facts here. Until we have measures in place, until we can establish a security environment that allows us then to go forward with economic development and provide alternative – the means to grow alternative crops for these individual farmers, I have believed all along that if you eradicate a man’s crop without getting – giving him a substitute income, you have just recruited a significant number of additional Taliban. And so we have to weigh aggressive efforts to go after the lords and the labs with providing the – with the time required to provide the security where you have the environment that we can go in with the civilian capabilities and provide these people alternative means of supporting their families, so frankly, they don’t pick up a gun and start shooting our soldiers.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Landrieu.
SENATOR LANDRIEU: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, Madam Secretary. Many of the questions that I had on Afghanistan have been addressed, but I wanted to bring up Haiti, if I could. I understand that’s a subject of this hearing, Mr. Chairman; is it not – the Haiti supplemental?
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Haiti --
SENATOR LANDRIEU: The Haiti supplemental – yes. I know that you are both aware – and maybe the committee, I know, has been focused on the tragedy in Haiti. And I guess I’m particularly close to it because we went through a horrible situation just four and a half years ago in South Louisiana and Mississippi.
But I just think, for the record, it’s important for us to focus just a minute, despite all the extraordinary challenges of our military in other parts of the world, that 220,000 individuals lost their lives in this disaster, compared to about 2,000 on the Gulf Coast, just to put it in scale. 1.3 million people are living in temporary shelters. That’s really a stretch of the imagination, because actually, it’s a piece of plastic. There are 105,000 homes that have been completely destroyed; 200,000 were severely damaged; 1,300 schools were destroyed; and 50 healthcare centers collapsed.
I know that Secretary Clinton’s focus and heart and attention have been on this. And so my question, Madam Secretary, might be with the documents that are before us, which were just received last night, looking at the situation for Haiti. I’m a little concerned that I’m only able to find about $5 million stuck down in the budget for USAID to completely repair, it looks like, these families, which is going to be difficult since I understand that most children in Haiti don’t even have a birth certificate. So this is going to be a long, hard road to climb, trying to a) shelter, sustain these families with just the basics; help, with our international partners to get housing built quickly for them; but also, Madam Secretary, trying to get the wherewithal to create some sort of civil registry, with our international partners, to just get the basic birth certificates so we can start actually finding families for children, getting them families if their families have been lost, et cetera, et cetera. So could you just comment on some of your ideas along these lines?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, Senator. And thank you, as always, for your deep concern about children, and particularly children who are in the foster care system or who are orphaned. And your voice has been very, very strong on that.
And as you know so well, children within the context of a complex humanitarian emergency such as we saw in Haiti are among the most vulnerable children in the world. And I want to assure you that the United States Government recognizes that the protection and caring for these children has to be one of our highest priorities. So we have been working to support children on our own, in partnership with the United Nations, other international organizations, NGOs, and many faith-based organizations.
First and foremost, we continue to focus on meeting children’s emergency needs for medical care, shelter, food, water. Simultaneously, we are supporting an effort, led by UNICEF and the Government of Haiti, to find unaccompanied and separated children and ensure they are in a safe place until we can determine whether they have any family at all that they can be reunited with, or what alternative permanent care provisions can be made.
We’re also expanding child-safe and child-friendly spaces within all of the facilities that we are supporting in Haiti. And that includes health, nutrition, education, psycho-social support. The Haitian health professionals are asking for a lot of assistance in understanding how to deal in a psychological way with children who have been so traumatized. And we’re supporting the Government of Haiti and UNICEF to rapidly assess all the orphanages in the earthquake-affected zone, with the aim of addressing their security and subsistence needs.
In all of these efforts, we are coordinating closely with the UN protection cluster and the Government of Haiti, which, as you know, has very strong feelings about being in charge of their children. And I understand that, and we’re trying to provide the support they need in order to meet their obligations.
But we will continue to work closely with you and keep you closely informed because this is our very highest priority, and we’re trying to do it in cooperation with the many other organizations that are as concerned as we are.
SENATOR LANDRIEU: And I thank you. My time has expired, Mr. Chairman, but there are many members of this committee I’ve had informal discussions with, Madam Secretary. And their support for laying the foundation of a new, more vibrant Haiti focused on strengthening each and every family in Haiti and providing every child, serving them through families, not independently, not in an orphanage, but through families. So I thank you for your longstanding commitment to this issue.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you. Senator Voinovich.
SENATOR VOINOVICH: I thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it’s nice to see the two of you sitting next to each other (inaudible) foreign relations people came in and said we need (inaudible).
My question is this. I met with Ambassador Holbrooke in October and I was very impressed with his plan in terms of securing the environment there and nation-building. The question I have is: How much is that costing us? Number one. Number two, how long are we going to have to be there? Because I don’t think that we’ve been as candid with folks as we should be in terms of how long it’s going to be. Next is how much help are we getting from our NATO and other allies in terms of this nation-building? So that’s on your side of the coin.
Secretary Gates, on your side, I’d like to know – and you don’t have to maybe give it to me now, but I’d love to have the information – is how much help are you getting now from our NATO allies with boots on the ground without caveats. We have people there but they have – still caveats. I’ve gone to countries and they’ve said, “I’m sorry, Senator, we cannot have our people involved in military activity, but we’re willing to train these individuals.” So the question is: How much help are we getting there from them? And last but not least, you’re asking for 2.6 billion to build up the Afghanistan army. And the question I have: Is anybody else pitching in to help pay for the Afghanistan army? And we know that we’re probably going to have to spend maybe twice that amount in the future for a long period of time in order to maintain the security that you talked about in terms of dealing with the drug problem and so forth. So could you both comment on what I’ve raised?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Senator, and first let me say that our request is aimed at our diplomatic and development efforts. We view these not as nation-building for Afghanistan but as in the core security interests of the United States. Without additional resources, we cannot create that environment that our troops need as they clear –
SENATOR VOINOVICH: I understand that the real issue --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
SENATOR VOINOVICH: -- here is: about how much is that costing us? And the question is how long is that going to have to continue to the point where we can kind of say we’ve done our thing? Is it five years, 10 years, 15 years?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Senator, I don’t know if I can answer it that way, but I can answer it this way: We believe that our efforts, which are coordinated so closely with our military, will transform into a regular diplomatic and development relationship. I mean, we provide development aid to a lot of countries where we don’t have troops, because we think it’s in our interests. And so as we are in this intense phase that will be several years – obviously, I don’t know that either of us could put a timeline on it – what we’re trying to do simultaneously is clear territory from the Taliban, be able to work more closely with the Afghan army that Secretary Gates will talk about by helping to build them up with our allies – and we’re getting a lot of support there – and at the same time create more capacity.
SENATOR VOINOVICH: Madam, could you outline the help that you’re getting from these people on that – in that score?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sure. And we can give you in detail, and we’d be happy to take that for the record. But just as in Iraq, our troops are going to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Well, we’re going to have relationships with Iraq, we’re going to have an embassy with Iraq, we’re going to continue to fulfill the requests that the Iraqis made to us in the framework agreement about continuing assistance, and most particularly high-level police training. So we’re going to continue to have relationships, and so that’s going to go on for the foreseeable future. Just like – I was in Mexico Tuesday; we’ve got – we’re putting money into Mexico because there’s a lot of challenges that are in our interests. So it will be a different relationship but it will still be one of priority for the United States.
SECRETARY GATES: Senator, we have at this point pretty close to 45,000 non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There are several thousand more that have been pledged. So that by the time the pledges that we see are fulfilled, there will be pretty close to 50,000 non-U.S. troops. That’s up from 17,000 in 2007. I would say that for the last year, year and a half, but especially since the NATO summit last spring, we have seen a number of NATO allies reduce or eliminate their caveats. And so the number of situations that we face now where caveats have prevented effective operations have really dropped pretty dramatically. So I think we have really good cooperation from our NATO and other partner nations, and they have really stepped up to the plate despite, in many cases, considerable domestic opposition to it.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton for being here. We appreciate very much your candor.
Secretary Gates, the materials that were submitted with the FYOCO Supplemental Request highlight that you’re requesting an additional 1.3 billion for the military intelligence program to enhance U.S. intelligence capabilities and operations, which includes ISR. And I’d like to talk a little bit about the Department’s efforts to coordinate investments and enhance the ISR mission. We’ve heard from all of the services that combatant commanders have a large appetite for ISR. And my concern is that the focus has been on how many UAVs are in the field, which I think is important, and how quickly we can get more, but I hope in that effort we’re not overlooking the critical aspects of expanding ISR, like how the services plan to train the analysts that will be required to process the expanding volumes of data and what infrastructure will be required to move data and share it with those that need it.
In a sense, maybe the easy part is buying the next Predator. The hard part is exploiting and using the intelligence that we’re able to get from it. A GAO report issued last week states that within Central Command, less than half of the electronic signals collected by Predator are exploited. The report also identifies a shortage in analytical staff to process ISR – and you already mentioned bandwidth – and limited bandwidth to disseminate intelligence as principal challenges. I’ve asked questions of General Schwartz about the manning mission, and he stated that the current manning structure was unsustainable. And I’m just concerned, so can you give me some idea of what DOD is doing to help coordinate services so that we match ISR capability with the ability to access it, and also coordination within the services?
SECRETARY GATES: There are two aspects to this. First of all, when you say that the commanders’ appetite for ISR is large, I would say that’s one of the great understatements of all time. (Laughter.) Insatiable is more like it.
We have taken – two things: First of all, we understand – I understand very much that when we talk about ISR, it is not just the platform. It’s the analysts, it’s the linguists, it’s the ground stations. And in fact, one of the problems that we had a year and a half or two years ago when we really began pushing this capability to the field in significantly added numbers was the shortage of ground stations.
Another problem that has been remedied by the Air Force and the Army over the last year or so was also a shortage of crews to run these UAVs. So I think we’re addressing those issues. I think that we have – linguists, I would say, is a real challenge, as well as analysts. There are two bureaucratic vehicles for coordinating this effort on behalf of the Department. The first and the most institutional is the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, General Clapper, who has complete overview of this and watches the full package, not just the platforms.
And then the other has been the special task force that I established on ISR about a year and a half or two years ago that has been focused on how can we get this capability in useable fashion to the field, and using not only unpiloted vehicles, but also we are putting a number of what are the equivalent of King Airs in there, the MC-12 Liberty Aircraft. So all of these capabilities – we are very mindful of the need for the full package so that, as I told Senator Shelby, if we can’t get the stuff to the commanders in the field, it’s not worth the investment.
SENATOR NELSON: Well, and getting it adequately analyzed would be such a significant portion of getting it to them in the field. I appreciate your answers and I hope –
SECRETARY GATES: But I would tell you I went to a counter-IED facility the other day that is run by DIA, and I had – I took the Canadian defense minister there and I had no idea – we talk about the commanders in the field, but with today’s electronics, I walk into a room that’s probably got 60 analysts in it from all over the intelligence community sitting here in the Washington area with real-time links to the UAVs and other capabilities in the theater and providing information on IED networks to the theater. So the theater doesn’t have to do all the analysis; a lot of it can be done back here with today’s electronics.
And we have these capabilities. This is one of the things the JIEDDO has done. This is under their auspices. So there’s a lot of capability here. But as we try and ramp this up, there are obviously going to be some imbalances that we have to try and fix.
SENATOR NELSON: Well, I appreciate that you’re on top of it. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. I’d just like to announce that a vote just started. So if some of you wish to go, be my guest. Senator Pryor. (Laughter.)
SENATOR MURKOWSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don’t think I’ll go yet. How about that?
Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, thank you so much. Good to see both of you again.
So many of us have had an opportunity to travel recently to Afghanistan and certainly recognize the challenges, the great difficulty that we face over there, that the men and women who are serving us face every day.
We were in a situation – we were in – down in the Helmand Province down outside of Garmsir and were able to walk through a market and felt very comfortable given the situation. Left, and five days later in that same community, eight people died as a result of suicide bombing. So we recognize the volatility of the situation. One term that we heard used quite frequently was this deficit of trust that remains there. And I think, Secretary Gates, you have said that successfully accomplishing the training mission represents both our exit strategy and the key to long-term stability in Afghanistan.
But again, going back to this deficit of trust situation that we heard so much about, it was very clear that the people there appreciate that there is a – there’s a clear choice. You can either side with the Americans, who it’s clear will someday leave, or you side with the Taliban, who will likely be there indefinitely.
And the question to you is: While an exit strategy is absolutely necessary as part of any military operation, what assurance are we able to give to the Afghan tribal leaders to ensure that they do, in fact, remain on our side of the fight, that they believe that it is more worthwhile in the long term to stay on our side of the fight?
SECRETARY GATES: First of all, I think that the thing to remember historically and culturally about many Afghans is that they’ve been at war for 30 years and the average Afghan is going to come down on one side or the other only when he thinks he’s spotted who’s going to win. And that’s part of what our endeavors are about. When I talked earlier about General McChyrstal’s first objective being to reverse the momentum of the Taliban, that is, in the first instance, about changing the psychology of the people about who’s going to win this struggle.
I think that the thing also to keep in mind is that the Taliban may be vicious, but they’re also incredibly unpopular in Afghanistan. Every reliable poll that I’ve seen over the past couple of years shows the Taliban support in Afghanistan at around 10 percent or less. So these people aren’t fond of the Taliban; they’re just intimidated by them for the most part.
And the key here is when we begin the process of transitioning security control to the Afghans in a province-by-province or district-by-district area, that we have degraded the capabilities of the Taliban to the point where local security forces and the Afghan National Army and various national police units can sustain the security of the people. So it’s not that the Afghan army or police are ever going to achieve the skill level of American forces. The truth of the matter is nobody in the world is ever going to do that, with all due respect, even to our allies.
But can we degrade the capabilities and the numbers of the Taliban fighters to the point where the local security forces and the Afghan army can keep them under control and provide the kind of local security for people that is required.
The way this works is if you get the population on your side, and we saw this in Anbar, that is a self-reinforcer of security. It is the local population in Anbar. Once they began – once they felt that they could defeat al-Qaida in Iraq, that they began telling us where the IEDs were being planted and so on. We’re beginning to see that in some places in Afghanistan where the local population is figuring maybe this is going to go the way of the Afghan Government and the coalition. And so they’re beginning to cooperate with us and support us.
So as Secretary Clinton talked about, this is a complex business, but having the population not necessary trust us but have confidence that their security will be protected is a mix of our capabilities over the next number of years, the capabilities of our allies and the capabilities of the Afghan forces themselves – and not just the national forces, but I would say also local security forces.
SENATOR MURKOWSKI: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Pryor.
SENATOR PRYOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ll try to keep mine to four minutes or less even because I know we have a vote.
Thank you both for being here. Secretary Clinton, let me start with you if I may. And that is I know that you have been a champion for women’s rights for a long time. And in Afghanistan, as I understand it now, girls and women are doing three things that we take for granted here in this country. They’re going to school, they’re getting jobs, and they’re actually participating in the government. I’d just like to hear your thoughts on where that stands and if you think that is a long-term change in Afghanistan or if that’s still in its infancy and could go away at any time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for asking that, Senator, because I think it’s important that we use that as one of the markers for the kind of success that we’re hoping to achieve there. You’re absolutely right; there has been a great deal of change in the opportunities available to women and girls. When you look at the increase in the number of young women going to school, it’s dramatic. But there’s still a long way to go. There are a lot of obstacles that are deeply cultural and historic.
What we are looking out for is not that we can mandate a change in culture and history, but to keep that door of opportunity open and not let anything slam it shut. So we’re particularly concerned about the reintegration reconciliation plans that the Karzai government has undertaken. They have thus far made it clear that they are expecting people with whom they reconciled to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, which does provide protection for women’s rights. But thank you for raising it because it’s a high priority of ours.
SENATOR PRYOR: Well, thank you. I think it’s a great policy and a great priority.
I recently read that the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that corruption comprises 25 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP. When I see a number like that, it’s obviously shocking. And it also makes me realize that we need to be very, very careful in how we’re spending U.S. tax dollars in Afghanistan. So when it comes to accountability for our foreign aid there, could you give us a status report of the things that your Department is doing to try to make sure there is sufficient accountability?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Senator, we are increasing our support for our inspectors general. We are also adding more auditors in order to keep track of funding. We are certifying any Afghan Government entity that would receive any of our funding, to be clear that it is managing those funds in a way that we find acceptable. We are working to put people into those agencies. So we’re taking a lot of prophylactic steps but, as you point out, corruption is a deeply ingrained problem and we just have to be very vigilant about making sure that we are not caught up in it.
SENATOR PRYOR: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Specter.
SENATOR SPECTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I propose to use it to raise a number of questions. There’s hardly time for questions and answers within four minutes, and I understand the limitations that we have here.
The first question that I have relates to a report in The Washington Post yesterday, where General Petraeus is quoted as saying that the conflict foments – referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the conflict foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of U.S. favoritism toward Israel. His comment – IN the commentary is – the paper – his comments suggested that U.S. military officials were embracing the idea that failure to resolve the conflict had begun to imperil American lives. Well, that’s obviously very serious and very heavy. And my question, which I’d like you to respond to for the record, would be: What evidence is there to lead to that conclusion?
The second area that I’m going to address likely is one which I’ve corresponded with you about before and talked to you about, and that is the expensive war in Afghanistan. The question of success in Afghanistan is very much open. I think it’s going very well and I commend what is going on at the present time, buttressed by a visit which I made recently there with other colleagues. But the question on my mind, when al-Qaida could organize somewhere else – in Yemen or Somalia or somewhere else – why fight in Afghanistan, where it is so costly and where the Soviets, the Brits, going back to Alexander the Great, there has not been success?
A third area of questioning is what is happening with Pakistan and India? There have been some suggestions that there could be a cooling of that relation – of the tension, which might lead a number of Pakistani military to assist the United States in fighting al-Quaida or fighting Taliban. In the CODEL, where we met with the Indian prime minister, we raised this directly. And the prime minister of India was explicit, saying that he would like to see a lessening of tensions, soldiers released, but there would have to be a control of the terrorists by the Pakistan Government. And he was asked, “Well, do you think that’s realistic?” And he said very emphatically, “Yes. They are their creation.” So that if there’s a real prospect here of that, there may be more Pakistani soldiers to help us, and they’re showing some more inclination to do so, that would impact that picture very decisively.
The area of sanctions is a very difficult one against Iran. We have been discussing that for a long time in a lot of contexts, and I know there’s no simplistic answer. But the question that I get consistently involves where are we going when the military option is on the table. Everybody says it’s unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. President Obama drew a line in the sand last December – hard to really be specific about lines in the sand, but that was my sense of it, the sense of a number of people. So the question is what is it going to take? Is it a constantly moving position by China? I don’t envy either of you in dealing with China or, for that matter, in dealing with Russia – although we congratulate you on what appears to be a really big breakthrough on nuclear weapons. But what are we looking for? There is talk about gasoline that could bring them to their knees if we really got tough on financial matters.
Well, it looks like I could go on indefinitely. (Laughter.) You have a question, Senator?
SENATOR COLLINS: I do.
SENATOR SPECTER: Well, I have posed those areas of concern, and my request would be that you respond on the record as opposed to asking a question-and-a-half and having the four minutes go.
Thank you for your service. Thank you for taking the job, Secretary Clinton. Thank you, Secretary Gates. Great to see a graduate of the grade school in Wichita, Kansas that I attended doing so well in the tough Washington climate.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Is that the same school you and Bob Dole went to?
SENATOR SPECTER: Well, Dole and I are from Russell, which is a smaller town. Gates’s experience in Kansas is limited to a big city, Wichita, where I left when I was 12. Thank you very much.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Well, to another Kansan here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Kansans everywhere. (Laughter.)
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Yeah, absolutely. No, we’re going to make the rest of the country Kansas. That’s how we’re going to fix that.
Mr. Chairman, I didn’t know if you knew this, but Secretary Gates was Kansan of the Year this year. And his mother was at the ceremony – who is – was very proud of her son, and we all were, of what all he’s – what all you’ve done, and very appreciative of that. It was a very touching moment. And you gave a beautiful, beautiful speech at it as well.
A couple of things that I wanted to raise with you if I could – Secretary Gates in particular. One is – and this is the old one that you’re familiar with, very familiar with, on the tanker contract. And what I’ve been reading is that Airbus is asking for an extension of your RFP time period that – for them to make another bid at this. And I’ve been reading throughout the European press that Sarkozy and others are concerned and they think this is terrible that they haven’t been able to bid with Northrop. I would hope we would stick with the timeframe and the timeline that this 10-year project is, hopefully, getting close to a conclusion and that it not be extended on the time for a bid to be put forward by EADS. Have you made a decision on that? The last press account I recorded seeing on your part was that you were reviewing it.
SECRETARY GATES: That’s correct. We have had some informal, as best I’ve – as I’m up to date, we’ve had some informal questions from EADS about it. And I think they were going to do a letter to us. I have not seen that letter. I don’t know if it’s been received in the Department. We will look at it. As I told the House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee yesterday, we will not change the requirements. We are buying the best plane for the Air Force and to meet Air Force needs. And so we will look at this letter. Believe me, no one is more eager to get on with this than I am.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: But no decision has been made whether --
SECRETARY GATES: No decision.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: -- to extend the time deadline?
SECRETARY GATES: No.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Because obviously, I would urge you to stay with the current time deadline. This thing has gone on far long enough and it’s time to move on. And then you’ve also seen that the WTO has recently ruled in the United States’ favor that the airframe that EADS has proposed to bid was an illegally subsidized airframe that they developed. And that’s now a final ruling by the WTO.
I saw in the --
SECRETARY GATES: Senator, I’ve just been handed a note – late-breaking news, as it were – we have received the letter requesting an extension from EADS, so we’ll look at it and see what it has to say.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Well, my vote’s no – (laughter) – on this, that we not extend it, and certainly not off of President Sarkozy’s concerning things. Because the very thing that they’re going to bid with is the very plane that they’ve beat our brains in on the commercial marketplace for a number of years and knocked several of our big companies out.
This has been a 20-year litigation by USTR that we just win, and that they’ve really driven down our share in a commercial market space. And now they want to take it in the military airframe space. I see no reason to concede this to the Europeans, and particularly since they’ve been cheating on subsidizing this aircraft and stealing commercial market share from us on it. So I really hope you would look at that.
And I noticed yesterday, you were saying that whether or not the current DOD law actually prohibits you from addressing the illegally subsidy issue, you said that you were not – I believe you said yesterday you were not required – or there’s no basis to include it. If I could get a finer point on that – and if you can’t address it here, I understand – but do you understand current law to actually prohibit DOD from addressing the illegal subsidy issue or are you saying only that no provision requires DOD to account for illegal subsidies?
SECRETARY GATES: I think that we are prohibited, but let me get you an accurate answer for the record.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Okay. If you could. And then finally, General Caldwell, a guy I got to know at Leavenworth, that’s doing your military operation on standing up Afghan training forces. That sure looks like to me just paramount for us looking at an exit strategy in Afghanistan. Do you have any idea on timeframes of when you think you’ll have sufficient Afghan troops stood up for us to be able to pull down?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think it’ll be a gradual process, much as we saw in Iraq. Just as an example, when the Marines first went into the south last summer, the partnering with the Afghans was about nine Americans to every Afghan. Now, in the Marjah operation, it’s three Americans for every two Afghans. So as they train up and get into the field and partner, those ratios and capabilities will grow. The – I think that in some ways, the way to look at the process that we will use is very similar to that that we used in Iraq. And it’s better described as a transition than a transfer.
Right now, in some of these places, we’re in the lead and the Afghans are with us. At a certain point, we will partner, then they will be in the lead, then we will withdraw to a tactical overwatch and then a strategic overwatch. So this multiphase approach is the way we did province by province in Iraq, and it really worked pretty well. And I think that General McChrystal has the same kind of model in mind in Afghanistan. So we don’t need the Afghan army to be fully trained up everywhere in the country at the same time. We will do it on a province-by-province basis, and I think that he’s pretty optimistic he can make this work.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Over a two- to five-year timeframe?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, as the President’s made clear and as we agreed in the process, we will begin that first transition or that first transfer, if you will, in July of 2011. But from that point on, it will be decided on a province-by-province basis based on the conditions on the ground.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman.
SECRETARY GATES: And I expect that to take some period of time.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Collins.
SENATOR COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, while everyone was out of the room briefly, I had this brief shining moment when I might be in your position. (Laughter.) And it was a wonderful feeling. However, fleetingly, it passed.
Secretary Gates, I’ve read a lot of press reports recently that describe our Marines as extremely frustrated with their Afghan counterparts. And I must say I’ve been surprised at that because I’ve always had an image of the Afghans as being very good fighters and very effective fighters. But there have been two major stories that suggest that the Marines are so concerned that the shortcomings of the Afghan soldiers could undermine our joint efforts in the region.
Could you give me your assessment of whether these reports are valid and whether the Afghans themselves have the desire and the skills to succeed in the fight?
SECRETARY GATES: First, just in terms of answering the last questions – the last point first, this is actually one of the principal reasons, Senator, why I came around to the view that it was important to set a time when we would begin a transfer or transition to Afghan security control. They need to know this is their fight and that they are going to have to assume responsibility for it and not at some distant, unknown date, but beginning next year. And between that and the pay raises that we saw last November, we have seen a significant increase in recruitment in Afghanistan for both the Afghan army and the police.
Retention has improved significantly in the army. It’s still a problem in the police. But we – they need to know that this is going to be their fight at some point, and I think they are taking that on board. The feedback that I’ve gotten – I have not heard complaints from General McChrystal or the commander in RC South, General Carter, about the quality of the Afghan troops. I must say that, as I mentioned in my opening statement, I went to Camp Blackhorse outside of Kabul a couple of weeks ago when I was there, where the Afghan army is being trained, and the Americans that I talked to there were pretty impressed with them.
By the same token, when I talk to our troops, I get mixed reviews. Some of them say that they’re really good fighters and that they’re really good partners and are very impressed with them. That was certainly the case in Nawaz (ph) where I toured a marketplace. I didn’t – the security is a lot better there, but I had no illusions as to the security that was around because I was there.
But on the other hand, others are not as impressed. And so I think it’s a mixed picture, but in terms of the views of the commanders, who have a view of the entire battle space, I think they’re very impressed with the quality of the Afghan National Army and believe that it’s making good progress.
SENATOR COLLINS: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, when I was last in Afghanistan, the most common complaint that I heard from our military personnel was the lack of a civilian surge. And I know today that you commented earlier that we have increased the number of civilians to do the civilian counterpart that is so essential to the counterinsurgency strategy.
Could you give a brief update – since I just got a note that my time has expired – telling us your level of satisfaction in meeting the requirements for civilian employees?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, Senator, and thank you. We have roughly quadrupled the number of civilians in a year, and they are both in Kabul working with the Government of Afghanistan and then they are out in the country. They are, in effect, embedded with our military, so they move with our military. And they are working closely to leverage their presence. We don’t have battalions of civilians. It’s a much smaller number in comparison to our military forces. But each one leverages, on average, about 10 other civilians – NGOs partnering with civilians from other countries who are there as part of the government commitment, partnering with the United Nations, partnering with Afghans, hiring Afghans.
And one of the examples that I was going to give – if Senator Bond had asked because I know how interested he is on agriculture – this just gives you a little bit of a taste. As soon as the Marines secured Marjah, civilians began to go out. And they have a program called the Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture Plus – don’t ask me why – the AVIPA Plus program. They’ve distributed 7,000 of those vouchers for fertilizers, for new seeds, trellises for grapes. And it’s that kind of intensive work on the ground that doesn’t take a lot of civilians; it takes the right kind of civilians.
So we have USDA agriculture experts, we have people, as Senator Bond has pointed out, from National Guard units who have expertise in agriculture. So we are leveraging the presence of our civilians, and we will probably be adding more, but we want to be sure that where we add them is really critical to the mission.
SENATOR COLLINS: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, Mr. Secretary, this afternoon, we have focused our attention on Afghanistan, Iraq. And I believe we focus our resources there also. However, we have been receiving disturbing news of the deteriorating conditions in Somalia and that Somalia is now becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida.
My concern and my question is: Do we have sufficient resources to counter the Somalia Al-Shabaab? Is that becoming a threat to us, Somalia’s situation?
SECRETARY GATES: We probably both ought to answer on this one.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: You want to --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
SECRETARY GATES: Yeah, go ahead.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Senator, we are working very hard, again, in our civilian-military cooperation with the aim of trying to bolster the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, which doesn’t have a lot of scope of authority. It’s basically confined to a part of Mogadishu. Our main source of support is the AMISOM, the African Union troops primarily from Uganda, that are providing a lot of the logistical and backup support that the Somalis need.
Al-Shabaab is a threat. I mean, Al-Shabaab is a very clear threat. And we see, unfortunately, it’s morphing into a kind of al-Qaida junior partner over the last year. But there is a growing sense that many of the Somalis themselves are no longer willing to be intimidated by or just give in to Al-Shabaab. They’ve been extremely brutal in their treatment of people – a lot of amputations and other kinds of very barbaric punishments. They have stolen and diverted food aid and prevented it from getting to the people. So there’s a gradual growth of opposition internally in Somalia.
But clearly, our support – our support for the African Union Mission, and then the additional help that our military is providing in terms of training – is critical to the survival of the nascent government there and our hope that we can gain more ground by supporting it.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Cochran, do you have any questions?
SENATOR COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, no, except to thank our witnesses, the Secretaries, for being here and helping us fully understand what we need the funding for. I’ve been impressed with the testimony and their leadership in their departments.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I wish to echo that also. And so now, the committee stands in recess subject to the call of the Chair.
(Whereupon, the committee was adjourned.)
# # #