U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on the Supplemental Budget Request for Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
Thursday, March 9, 2006; 2:31 PM
MARCH 9, 2006
U.S. SENATOR THAD COCHRAN (R-MS) CHAIRMAN
U.S. SENATOR TED STEVENS (R-AK)
U.S. SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA)
U.S. SENATOR PETE V. DOMENICI (R-NM)
U.S. SENATOR CHRISTOPHER (KIT) BOND (R-MO)
U.S. SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY)
U.S. SENATOR CONRAD BURNS (R-MT)
U.S. SENATOR RICHARD C. SHELBY (R-AL)
U.S. SENATOR JUDD GREGG (R-NH)
U.S. SENATOR ROBERT F. BENNETT (R-UT)
U.S. SENATOR LARRY CRAIG (R-ID)
U.S. SENATOR KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R-TX)
U.S. SENATOR MIKE DEWINE (R-OH)
U.S. SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS)
U.S. SENATOR WAYNE ALLARD (R-CO)
U.S. SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD (D-WV) RANKING MEMBER
U.S. SENATOR DANIEL K. INOUYE (D-HI)
U.S. SENATOR PATRICK J. LEAHY (D-VT)
U.S. SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA)
U.S. SENATOR BARBARA A. MIKULSKI (D-MD)
U.S. SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV)
U.S. SENATOR HERB KOHL (D-WI)
U.S. SENATOR PATTY MURRAY (D-WA)
U.S. SENATOR BYRON L. DORGAN (D-ND)
U.S. SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA
U.S. SENATOR RICHARD J. DURBIN (D-IL)
U.S. SENATOR TIM JOHNSON (D-SD)
U.S. SENATOR MARY L. LANDRIEU (D-LA)
DONALD H. RUMSFELD,
U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE
GENERAL PETER PACE (USMC),
JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID (USA)
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
COCHRAN: The committee will please come to order.
We appreciate very much the attendance at this hearing of Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Rice, General Peter Pace, General Abizaid, to discuss the president's budget request for supplemental appropriations to fund diplomatic and military operations.
We appreciate having the benefit of statements that you have submitted.
And rather than began our committee with statements from senators, we will have an opportunity to ask questions of each of you. And so I suggest that we proceed directly with your statements, and then we'll have an opportunity to discuss the request.
I would ask Secretary Rumsfeld to begin. Or you would defer to Secretary Rice? I'm happy to do that.
Secretary Rice, you may begin.
RICE: I would have been happy to have Secretary Rumsfeld begin, but I'm happy to start.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to the members of the committee for receiving us in this format.
I think that it demonstrates the importance that we attach to the deepest cooperation between the Department of State and our political and diplomatic activities, and the Department of Defense and our military activities. We believe that both are necessary to win the war on terrorism and to develop stable democracies that can give people hope, that can supplant the ideologies of hatred that led people to fly airplanes into our buildings on September 11th.
This is a hearing on the supplemental. And I wanted to just begin with one word about why the requests are here in a supplemental, and then to just briefly talk about a few of the areas for which we're requesting funding.
I have a complete statement, but I will not read that statement, Mr. Chairman. But I would like to ask that it be entered into the record in its entirety.
COCHRAN: Without objection, it's so ordered.
RICE: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, natural disasters and the course of war do not take into account our budget timelines and practices. And it's therefore necessary...
PROTESTER: How many of you have children in this illegal and immoral war? How many of you have children in this illegal and...
COCHRAN: Sergeant at Arms, please restore order.
PROTESTER: ... immoral war?
COCHRAN: The committee will come to order.
PROTESTER: The blood is on your hands and you cannot wash it away. The blood is on your hands and you cannot wash it away.
COCHRAN: Madam Secretary?
PROTESTER: Fire Rumsfeld. Fire Rumsfeld. This is an illegal and immoral war.
COCHRAN: Madam Secretary, you may proceed.
RICE: Thank you.
Natural disasters and the course of war don't take into account our budget timelines and practices. And it is necessary, therefore, in the course of what is a very dynamic process in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and the regions in which we're dealing, to sometimes make requests that are out of the normal budget cycle.
RICE: As Secretary Rumsfeld has said in his testimony, the enemy is changing and adapting, and we must do that too.
Sometimes, we are adapting to changes that the enemy has made. Sometimes we are responding to humanitarian crises that come along unplanned for. And sometimes we are responding to new opportunities that emerge in what is a very dynamic world.
The supplemental request before the Congress has requests for funding that will advance our security and economic and political goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, target urgent humanitarian relief and peacekeeping efforts for Darfur and southern Sudan, provide emergency food aid for Africa and earthquake relief and reconstruction for Pakistan, and launch democracy promotion activities for Iran.
I would like briefly to just speak to each of these, Mr. Chairman.
In Iraq, we are seeing side-by-side contradictory processes in the continuation of violence which we acknowledge; but, at the same time, a political process that is well under way in which most Iraqis believe their future interests can be accommodated.
The Iraqis have had three elections in one year, and they are now in the process of the formation of a permanent government. But they still face a very determined enemy, an enemy that would like to see that political process halted so that Iraq might devolve into chaos and conflict.
Our military is doing a very fine job of both training Iraqis to take on this fight themselves, and continuing operations against the enemy.
The contribution that we believe that we can make in the State Department to this counterinsurgency effort is to recognize that any insurgency must be defeated not just militarily, but also politically.
And so the funding that is requested on Iraq is for the effort to support counterinsurgency operations and stabilization operations in the following ways.
First of all, to build central government capacity for the Iraqi's national capacity in their ministries. They must be able to administer services themselves. They must be able to have a reasonable ability to deliver services for their people.
It is no surprise that these are bureaucracies and ministries that have needed to be completely reformed as Iraq moves from a dictatorial society, one in which ministers were political choices of the dictator, one in which capacity was not the issue and efficiency and effectiveness were not the issue, but political loyalty, and in which we found ministries that, indeed, have very little modern capacity to govern.
And so the embassy, working with the Iraqi government, has been developing a plan for ministry assistance teams. And that is represented here in the supplemental request.
RICE: Secondly, Iraq is finally moving from a more centralized state where everything happens in Baghdad to one in which the constitution grants considerable authority to the provinces.
We think that this is, in fact, a very good thing. And we have put together a set of provincial reconstruction teams that will support the development of provincial leadership, government and capacity, and also that can contribute to the counterinsurgency effort by establishing provincial governance, provincial infrastructure programs once an area has been cleared of the insurgency.
We have already funded from our own resources some of these teams. But we will need follow-on funding to continue to roll out a provincial reconstruction team structure that will allow us to be close to the action in defeating the insurgents as the terrorists are defeated to build provincial capacity and infrastructure capacity at the local and provincial levels.
There's also a relatively small infrastructure sustainment element here. This is not -- and I'd like it not to be misunderstood as such -- another effort to bring more infrastructure money of the kind that we had in the almost $20 billion that was requested and approved by Congress some years ago. But, rather, we believe that the investments that we have made need to be sustained with maintenance and operations. We are encouraging the Iraqis to build that into their budgets over time.
This supplemental would also support Afghanistan. The issues there are debt forgiveness, refugee assistance and some reconstruction efforts in terms of power.
It would support the Pakistan reconstruction efforts where, because of the issue of timeliness, we in some cases actually had to move funds around in order to be timely in support of those efforts after the Pakistan earthquake, but also to fulfill the pledges that the United States has made to Pakistani reconstruction.
RICE: We're also requesting here humanitarian relief and peacekeeping for the dire situation in Darfur and in southern Sudan.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to say just a word about the request here for democracy promotion money for Iran.
We may face no greater challenge from a single county than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East we would like to see developed.
This is a country that is determined, it seems, to develop a nuclear weapon, in defiance of the international community that is determined that they should not get one.
It is a country that is the central banker for terrorism, whether that terrorism is in southern Iraq or in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon. And in all of those cases, Iranian support for terrorism is retarding, and in some cases helping to arrest, the growth of democratic and stable governments.
And Iran, of course, has a terrible human rights effort, and a country in which an unelected few are frustrating the desires and wishes of the Iranian people for democracy.
We have proposed a $75 million package that would allow us to broadcast more effectively in Iran, better messaging for Iran. We have proposed money that would be used for innovation in our efforts to reach the Iranian people through Web sites and modern technology. We have also proposed that we would be able to support nongovernmental organizations that can function in Iran. And in many ways, most importantly, to improve and increase our educational and cultural outreach to the people of Iran.
I want to say, Mr. Chairman, that there is nothing more important, as we try and make certain that the Iranian government recognizes that it will be isolated if it continues down this path, that we not isolate the Iranian people. And these programs are, in many ways, critical to not isolating the Iranian people.
We do not have a problem with the Iranian people.
RICE: We want the Iranian people to be free.
Our problem is with the Iranian regime. And these programs are intended to help us reach out to them.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I will be glad to take questions after the other statements.
COCHRAN: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for your statement and your cooperation with our committee.
Secretary Rumsfeld, you may proceed.
RUMSFELD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. I appreciate this opportunity to join Secretary Rice in discussing the president's supplemental budget request for Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror.
A joint appearance by the secretary of state and secretary of defense is unusual. That we're doing so I think does indicate how much the success depends on our departments being linked together in addressing the challenges that face our nation.
Let me first outline a few of the details of the department's portion of the supplemental request.
The president has requested $65.3 billion to fight and win the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. This supplemental includes priorities such as paying for ongoing deployments and operations by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, some $34.7 billion; continuing to develop Afghan and Iraqi security forces, $5.9 billion; countering the threats posed to our troops by improvised explosive devices, $1.9 billion; continuing the important transformation of the U.S. Army into modular brigade combat teams, $3.4 billion; repairing and replacing damaged or destroyed equipment, $10.4 billion; and reimbursement for the cost of the military response to the earthquake in Pakistan, some $60 million.
RUMSFELD: To underscore the importance of this request and discuss some of the particulars, I'm joined by General Pete Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General John Abizaid, the commander of the U.S. Central Command.
We've been asked on occasion why the war costs are included in supplemental requests rather than in the defense department's annual budget, and it's a fair question.
As Secretary Rice suggested, the traditional annual federal budget takes up to 12 months to formulate, it takes another eight or 12 months to pass Congress and then it takes another 12 months to execute: a total of something like two and a half to three years.
Needless to say, in war, circumstances on the ground change quickly. The enemy has a brain; is continuously changing and adapting their tactics.
Bridge and supplemental appropriations are, of course, put together much closer to the time the funds will actually be used. This allows considerably more accurate estimates of costs and, importantly, much quicker access to funds when they're needed, without having to go through reprogramming contortions where we're forced to rob other accounts and distort good business practices.
The task is this. We're engaged in what promises to be a long struggle, a conflict which requires that we transform the way the military and, indeed, our government operates.
The extremists, though under constant pressure and on the defensive, still seek to bring their terror to our shores and to our cities and to all who oppose their views.
These enemies cannot win a single conventional battle, so they challenge us through nontraditional, asymmetric means using terror as their weapon of choice.
Their current priority is to prevent the successful emergence of a democratic government in Iraq -- and, indeed, in Afghanistan as well -- and to try to force the United States and our coalition partners to abandon those nations before they're fully able to defend themselves.
They're skillful at manipulating the media. Of course, one of the principal goals of their attacks is to make our cause look hopeless.
But consider the larger picture from the enemy's standpoint.
They tried to stop the Iraqi national elections in January a year ago and they failed. They tried to stop the drafting of a constitution and then the referendum on the constitution October 15th and they failed. They tried to stop the Iraqi national elections last December 15th and they failed.
And now, obviously, they attacked the Golden Dome Shrine in Samarra in their latest attempt to incite a civil war and to try to stop the formation of the new Iraqi government. And thus far they are failing at that as well.
The Defense Department has drawn lessons that have helped guide us in making adjustments in the period ahead. These lessons and principles have been incorporated into the Quadrennial Defense Review, which was recently submitted to Congress.
Those lessons and the decisions from the Quadrennial Defense Review will be incorporated more fully in the president's budget to be presented next year in fiscal 2008.
The QDR recognized that in this struggle many of our enemies operate within borders of countries with whom we're not at war. It's clear that the challenge posed by these violent extremists will not be overcome by any one department or by any one country. To succeed, it'll be essential to help partner nations and allies develop their capabilities to better govern and defend themselves.
This emphasis on partner-building capability is at the heart of the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in several smaller- scale training and equipping operations in places like the Republic of Philippines and Georgia.
Our investments and policies should reflect these new requirements. Last year, Congress helpfully provided some authority to provide money to train and equip security forces of partner nations, but we will be requesting, in our new budget, that authorities be strengthened and expanded.
RUMSFELD: When other nations and partners can shoulder greater security burdens within their borders and around the globe, it's far less likely that U.S. troops will be called on at what is always considerably greater cost in both blood and treasure to our nation.
For example, it costs about $90,000 per year just to sustain a U.S. servicemember in a theater. That's opposed to about $11,000 to sustain an Afghan soldier or $40,000 to sustain an Iraqi soldier.
I was concerned yesterday to learn that the House Appropriations Committee has cut $1 billion out of the $5.9 billion request for sustaining and supporting Iraqi and Afghan security forces. In my view, that is clearly an enormously important thing for our country to be doing, and it unquestionably is cost-effective.
The United Nations peacekeeping operation in Haiti is one example of the benefit of empowering partner nations. A recent Government Accounting Office study found that if the United States had had to conduct the Haiti mission on our own without the major help of other nations, it would have cost the U.S. taxpayers almost eight times as much in dollars, to say nothing of the added stress on our forces.
I think it's also important that we not complicate efforts to build useful relationships with nations that can aid in our defense. In the past, there's been a tendency for, occasionally for good reason and sometimes, in my view, for not good reason, to cut off military- to-military relationships when a particular government did something that we, understandably, did not approve of.
RUMSFELD: This happened some years ago with respect to our relations with both Indonesia and Pakistan, two of the largest and most important Muslim countries in the world. And today they are valuable allies in the war on terror.
The result has been the equivalent of a lost generation in relationships between U.S. military and the militaries of their countries, in terms of friendships, contacts, relationships and understanding between the U.S. military and their militaries, relationships that we've had to start up again and try to start up again, almost from scratch in the wake of September 11.
It's a complicated issue. I understand that there's arguments that are appropriate to be made on both sides of it. But I mention it because I think it's something that we need to think very carefully because as a result of some of those actions the United States is looked at as a less than perfectly reliable friend and ally.
Since then, we've made progress in forging stronger ties with those two countries and also with India, in particular, to confront the threat posed by violent extremism.
I've mentioned the importance of closer cooperation between Cabinet departments and agencies. And Secretary Rice has discussed some specific provisions for the Department of State that are in the supplemental request and which will clearly enhance our partnerships in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The State Department requests are intended to help Iraq and Afghanistan transition to self-reliance by increasing the capacity of these still-fragile democracies to govern their people and to provide the needed services for them, services that, let there be no doubt, undermine support for terrorists and that reduce stress and danger to our men and women in uniform.
Mr. Chairman, the tasks ahead are not easy. They are never easy in a time of war. There's always differences and debate and proper discussion.
It's interesting. I recently visited the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. And, of course, he was the commander in chief at the dawn of the Cold War. The institutions and policies and programs that came into being under his watch included the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, NATO, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the World Bank and so many others.
Through the perspective of history, the many new institutions and programs created during the Truman years may seem to people not rooted in history as part of a carefully crafted, broadly supported strategy leading inevitably to victory in the Cold War.
But, of course, things were not like that at all. In fact, in those days, there were heated disagreements. Yet together our national leaders, both political parties, got the big things right.
They understood that a cold war had been declared on our country, on the free world, whether we liked it or not; that we had to steel ourselves against an expansionist enemy, the Soviet Union, that was determined to destroy our way of life.
Though this era is different -- and it is different, to be sure -- and though the enemy today is different -- as we understand fully it is -- nonetheless, that is our task today.
We have to fashion some new approaches that will enable us to partner with other countries if we're to defeat this peril that faces us.
RUMSFELD: Mr. Chairman, with the help of Congress, we will provide the American people with the needed security in this dangerous and still uncertain new century.
Thank you, sir.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Secretary Rumsfeld.
We'll now turn to General Pace for any opening comments you would like to make.
PACE: Mr. Chairman, Senator Byrd, members of the committee, it's my great privilege to sit before you as a representative of your armed forces, and, on behalf of all the women and men in uniform, to say thank you for your strong bipartisan support, not only in the allocation of resources to your armed forces, but in your visits to the troops in the field and in your visits to the hospitals. It makes a difference, and we thank you for that.
I'd also like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the men and women who are protecting us as we sit here today -- they are doing a fabulous job -- and to their families who stand silent watch at home. The families serve this country as well as anyone who's ever wore the uniform. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.
Today, I'd like to just touch on four specific topics, and then go to your questions.
First, with regard to reconstituting equipment, a total 2006 funding for reconstituting equipment is $18.2 billion. That includes $7.8 billion in the bridge fund and $10.4 billion in this supplemental request.
It goes to replenish Humvees and trucks and helicopters and Bradley Fighting Vehicles and all the things that we have been using -- getting damaged, wearing out -- in the prosecution of this war.
But the money is not being used to reset the old force. With the benefit of the recently conducted Quadrennial Defense Review, we're buying and resetting the force that we need for the future.
For those things that are in the inventory that we will need for the next 10, 15 years, we are refurbishing those. But in other cases, where there is a better item for the armed forces to be able to use in the future, that's what we will do.
PACE: Ospreys, for example, instead of helicopters; seven-ton trucks for the future instead of the older version we've had for 20 years.
Those kinds of decisions are being made based on solid analysis.
Second, with regard to force protection equipment, the total 2002 funding for force protection equipment is $5.1 billion. That includes $2.5 billion in the bridge fund, plus $2.6 billion in this request.
When you add that to the $3.8 billion that you have already allocated and we have spent through FY 2005, you can see that the amount of energy and resources applied to force protection for our troops has been enormous.
Examples: 988,000 sets of individual body armor have been purchased, 13,000 up-armored Humvees have been purchased, over 40,000 other wheeled vehicles have had armor added to them.
And as new items come along that are better than what we have, you have resourced us and we have been able to get it. So for example, we started the war with only about 2,000 sets of the small arms protective inserts for body armor because it was an experimental piece of gear at the time.
It proved its worth, and you quickly funded and we were able to quickly get to the field that item for each and every soldier, sailor, airmen, Marine and civilian in-theater.
While that was being done, our industry came up with the enhanced version, which is even more protective. And that has been fielded.
Side armor that has been developed will now be fielded -- it has been fielded as of this month.
So as industry is able to produce better equipment and armor, you have given us the resources and we have gotten to the field, as quickly as we can, those resources.
Clearly, the best force protection is to have fewer troops in the field in combat.
PACE: And the enormous progress made this year by the Iraqi armed forces in their capacity to control their own territory has made it possible for us to go from 17 brigades recently down to 15 in Iraq.
Third, defeating the improvised explosive devices. Total funding in 2006 for that amounts to $3.3 billion: $1.4 billion in the bridge fund, $1.9 billion in this supplemental.
It buys things like jammers and detection devices. It helps us test those. It helps us train with those in the deserts here before we send our troops overseas.
There is no silver bullet in this regard. But the combination of tactics, techniques and procedures that are taught to our soldiers and Marines based on lessons learned in the field, the technology that is being funded, has been funded and is requested to be funded through this supplemental, combined will give us the best opportunity for our forces to succeed against IEDs in the field.
Back in 2004, the United States Army stood up a task force specifically focused on IED defeat. That quickly grew to a joint task force, which then came under the Department of Defense.
And within the last couple of months, U.S. Army retired General Monty Meigs has come on to take the lead of that task force, reporting directly to the secretary of defense, so that we can get the value and the benefit of the entire joint force kludged together as quickly as possible and brought to the field to help reduce causalities.
There has been an increase in the number of IEDs that we have found before they have exploded, and a decrease in the number of casualties per explosion.
That means that a lot of the work that's being done and a lot of the resources that you have allocated are having positive effects. But we have a lot of work to do in this regard and we appreciate your support.
Lastly, with regard to Army modularity, total 2006 funding for Army modularity is $5 billion: $1.6 billion in the bridge fund and $3.4 billion in the supplemental.
This is allowing the United States Army to transform at the same time that it is fighting in combat. It is taking 33 brigades that were embedded in divisions and were not independently deployable and transforming those and building those up to 42 brigades that are deployable independent of each other.
It's taking the National Guard, that had 15 enhanced brigades, and building those to 28 fully modularized brigades, manned and equipped to be able to enter the battlefield independently as well.
When you take a look, then, at rotations, this will not only increase our Army's combat capability, but will also decrease the stress on the force.
With the 42 active brigades and a rotation base of one year out and two years back, we can have 14 active brigades in the field indefinitely.
On the reserve side, with one year out and five years back, of the 28 reserve brigades, we can have four to five in the field all the time if the nation were to need it.
This gives us 18 to 19 brigades that are sustainable for as long into the future as we need to, and the rest of the force available to surge if needed.
To put that 18 to 19 in perspective, you currently have 15 brigades in Iraq and three brigades going to two brigades in Afghanistan. So we have 18 going to 17 right now. So if we had to into the future sustain the force that is currently deployed, we could do so based on the Army's modularity plan.
Significantly, beginning in FY '07, modularity funding for the United States Army moves into their baseline budget. And in the FY '07 budget, it's $6.6 billion for Army modularity in the baseline budget.
Mr. Chairman, thank you, sir.
COCHRAN: Thank you, General Pace.
General Abizaid, we appreciate hearing from you.
ABIZAID: Well, thank you, Chairman Cochran, Senator Byrd, members of the committee.
Thanks for the opportunity to be here. Most importantly, thanks for your steadfast support of the young men and women in the field whose sacrifice, courage and professionalism are unequalled.
ABIZAID: We've come a long way in both Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the FY '06 supplemental funds will help us to address the many challenges and threats that we'll face in the coming year.
I just came out of the field. I was in Islamabad yesterday, Afghanistan the day before that, and spent a couple days in Iraq as well. So my impressions coming out of the field are fairly fresh.
I do know that the achievement of our national strategic goals in both Iraq and Afghanistan require a balance of security, governance, capacity-building and economic development to create an environment that eliminates the root causes of the insurgency.
The supplemental provides the necessary resources to support our strategy by funding the Commanders' Emergency Response Program, and which includes funds for both the armed forces and police of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the supplemental, we're requesting $3.7 billion to further develop Iraq's security capacity, to secure their country while carrying out a campaign to defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency.
Previous appropriated funds have enabled the ISF to continue to increase capability and self-reliance with the aim of taking ownership of their country's security.
Initial training and equipping of personnel and combat units in the defense forces is over 80 percent complete, while training and equipping of police forces is over 60 percent complete.
There are over 100 Iraqi army and special operations forces battalions conducting counterinsurgency operations, compared with only five in 2004.
The Iraqis are making good progress with 49 Iraqi defense force battalions now controlling their own battlespace with coalition forces in the supporting role. We didn't have any doing this last year.
Iraqis are in the lead in about half the precincts in Baghdad. And again, we didn't have any doing this last year.
ABIZAID: This was accomplished certainly in part because of the funds that you provided us in last year's supplemental.
We are requesting some funding for Iraqi security infrastructure. And we believe that failure to complete these critical infrastructure projects could seriously delay the ability of the Iraqis to fully engage the counterinsurgency fight, take control of their battlespace and maintain operational readiness.
Some of the infrastructure costs are associated with tactical changes on the ground that our commanders believe will greatly improve Iraqi capability to secure difficult parts of the country.
Iraqis are investing fully 16 percent of their 2006 budget for their security forces. And we are confident that, over time, they will contribute more and more to the cost of full equip and training of their own forces.
In Afghanistan, we are requesting $2.2 billion to continue developing the Afghan national security force capability so that they can secure and stabilize their country while executing a campaign to defeat and prevent a safe haven from being established there by the terrorists.
These funds will provide assistance to organize, train and equip the police and military to assume a greater role in providing their own security. I think it's important for the committee to understand that in both Afghanistan and in Iraq local security forces take on the brunt of the fighting and the brunt of the casualties.
Assistance to the security forces will include the provision of equipment, supplies, services, training and infrastructural repairs and construction.
The Ministry of Interior forces, to include the border, highway and national police, will eventually become the front line of defense in the counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan. But after 25 years of war, these forces have largely had to make do with temporary stations, some of which are partially destroyed.
The funds requested in the supplemental will allow these security forces to continue to provide increased security to support reconstruction and allow for private sector development and economic, educational and health reform.
We're also requesting an additional $423 million in the supplemental for Commanders' Emergency Resources Program to support the commanders on the ground. CERP is one of the most effective counterinsurgency tools that we have and your continued support is vital to their success.
CERP funds are intended to respond immediately to urgent requirements for humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts, the provisioning of equipment such as electrical generators to support critical infrastructure and large-scale civic clean-up, and construction activities employs many local nationals.
And as you know, one of the reasons for the insurgency being fueled in Iraq and Afghanistan is the large number of unemployed, angry young men on the streets. Getting the angry young men off the streets is very important to our efforts to fight the counterinsurgency.
CERP enables commanders the ability to make a difference on a daily basis. And it's having an immediate and a positive effect.
The FY '06 supplemental request supports operations and programs that will help facilitate the important transition of more responsibility to security to local forces. Whether through facilities, equipment and training funds for Iraq and Afghanistan's security forces, CERP funding resources for enhanced force protections and counter-IED capabilities or support for our coalition partners, whose efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan remain vital, these funds will assist U.S., coalition and Iraqi and Afghan forces in making continued strategic advances in both places.
Such funds will also help us address the many challenges and threats that we face in those countries in the upcoming year.
Success in Iraq and Afghanistan are key to our success in the broader war against the dark ideology and methods of Al Qaida.
ABIZAID: We must remember the vital roles played by our friends and partners in the region, especially in the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar all cooperate with us in this fight against a common enemy. They all share in common with us the need to protect resources flowing through the Arabian Gulf.
I'd like to bring to the committee's attention that the United Arab Emirates in particular has been especially steadfast in their support of our efforts.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for the opportunity to be here. Thanks for your continuing tremendous support of our troops on a difficult mission.
Our commanders in the field believe in our success and in the success of our Iraqi and Afghan partners.
COCHRAN: Thank you very much, General Abizaid.
Let me begin by asking Secretary Rice about the status of our construction of facilities for the Department of State and those who are working in the mission in Baghdad.
We had an interesting debate about whether those funds were important enough to be included in a previous supplemental. And they were included. I was pleased to see that we were able to fund that activity, which was requested by the administration.
What is the status of that now? And how does this $1 billion in the supplemental for operation, maintenance, security fit in with the previously appropriated funds we have provided?
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
The plan for the Baghdad embassy is on track in terms of time. I meet with General Williams at least once a month to track this, because we were grateful to the Congress for appropriating the funds so that we could accelerate the building of an embassy in Baghdad.
I think we all know that our people in Baghdad are living in conditions that are very difficult -- a lot of temporary housing, trailers and the like -- and areas that we are very concerned about security, although we're doing everything that we can to make them secure.
And we undertook to do this in about 24 months. We are on course to complete the embassy in that period of time.
We've had to employ very aggressive methods to try to get this done in that period of time, including keeping a lot of people on-site in order to not have security issues associated with it. But I can report that it is on schedule.
The money for operations and maintenance that is represented here in the supplemental is because our war costs -- because we operate in a very difficult security environment, our spend rate for the operations and maintenance of our existing embassy and existing operations, we need to be able to fund now the rest of the year in order to be able to continue our operations in Baghdad.
So that's the split.
But the appropriation for the embassy itself, we were very grateful, and I believe we're on schedule.
COCHRAN: Also, included in the request is $1.5 billion for economic support funds to assist Iraqi government ministries. What do you hope to accomplish with the funds if we approve this request?
COCHRAN: What's your assessment of the capabilities of Iraq to carry out government functions and to carry out their governmental responsibilities?
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
There are two -- indeed, three elements to this, but I'll describe the most important two in this request for capability for the Iraqi government.
To pick up on something that General Abizaid mentioned, what we have to do is build the Iraqis' capacity to deal with the many problems that they face. And, obviously, their ministries have to be capable.
We assess that the ministries are highly variable right now in their capability. And I don't think that there are any that are really up to speed in terms of procurement practices, the ability to actually hire effective people.
Sometimes it's a matter that the ministries, where a minister and really very little else, and you're really developing in some of these ministries a civil service corps.
We have as a part of this a substantial training element for Iraqi civil servants, an effort to improve the anti-corruption efforts; that is a major problem in some of these ministries, especially ones that are associated with natural resources.
And so the funding will help us at the central level in Baghdad to make these ministries capable. We believe that's a program over a couple or so years to try and make those ministries capable of delivering the day-to-day governance of the country.
There is a second element which is very important to us, which is at the provincial level. And the Iraqi constitution will finally devolve authority to the provincial level. We recognize that the closer that governance is to the real issues and real needs of the people, the better.
RICE: And so, at the provincial level, we are also working to develop better capability.
These are provincial leaders who have not even tended to communicate very much with Baghdad, because Baghdad was the source of everything. They are now going to have to start to deliver for their people on the ground.
Also as a part of that provincial effort, we have employed provincial reconstruction teams. Let me just say they're different than what we have employed in Afghanistan. Those have a very special character.
But the ones in Iraq are really aimed at some areas in which there has been a strong insurgency, where the insurgency has been defeated, and where we now need to build that provincial leadership capability infrastructure at the local level so that the insurgents -- the bad guys, in a sense -- don't come back.
And so that's the program for that $1.5 billion or so. It's really to build Iraqi capacity, which is, frankly, lacking. This is something that dictatorships don't worry about. And so Saddam Hussein left really not very much in the ability of the Iraqis to really govern themselves.
COCHRAN: Some of the funds requested in this submission include Afghanistan programs, some economic support funding for activities there.
What progress are we making to help develop the same kind of thing you have mapped out for Iraq in Afghanistan? Are we learning lessons in Afghanistan that can be translated into activities in Iraq to accelerate our progress there?
RICE: We are, indeed, learning important lessons in Afghanistan. One of the important lessons is that the reach of the central government into the provinces is also one of the major problems in Afghanistan, and we will use some of the lessons that we've learned in Afghanistan as we structure the outreach into the provinces in Iraq.
In Afghanistan, Afghanistan, of course, is quite a bit further along, and we have been working for some time, as have certain coalition partners, to try to develop ministry capability in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan also had the advantage that a number of people are returning to Afghanistan, people from the diaspora. If you go to Afghanistan, you will meet many Afghan-Americans who have actually gone back to try and help train Afghans in civil functions.
But we need to continue to support Afghanistan. It's not there yet. It is a success story. There is no doubt that despite the continued efforts of the Taliban to destabilize the country, that Afghanistan is becoming a functioning government at the center and in most of the provinces.
Some of the monies that are here for debt forgiveness, for refugee assistance are really next-step efforts with Afghanistan, and the reason that they are here in the supplemental is that these are really very much near-term costs that we're going to face in Afghanistan.
COCHRAN: One other inclusion is one for U.N. peacekeeping mission activities in Darfur, Sudan. The question I want to ask is, do you anticipate getting United Nations or other allied organizations to support this? The African Union, for example. What progress is made in enlisting support activities from others?
RICE: We believe strongly, Mr. Chairman, that there needs to be a blue-helmeted force in Sudan, in Darfur. This is not to say that the African Union mission has not been effective or successful.
RICE: It has been, but it's run the limits of what it can do. And we face a potential increased crisis because the situation in Chad is feeding an increased conflict problem in western Sudan.
It is also the view of a number of our European colleagues that there should be a U.N. mission and of Kofi Annan. It will also be more sustainable than simply trying to fund the African Union mission.
We are making some progress. Deputy Secretary Zoellick is in Europe as we speak in consultations with the Europeans and also with the African Union on getting an African Union request for the U.N. to go forward with the blue-hatting mission.
Assistant Secretary for Africa Jendaye Frasier is in Libya as we speak talking to the Libyans about this same thing. So we have a very active diplomatic effort. And it is our view that we will be able to get this done.
And we need to have the funds available when the blue-hatting takes place.
COCHRAN: Thank you very much.
We appreciate very much, Senator Byrd being here and other members of the committee. My intention was to recognize other senators in the other in which they came, but I'm going to make an exception in Senator Byrd's case and call on him at this point for any statement or questions he may make.
And, with the permission of the committee, we will follow the 10- minute rule. And each senator will have an opportunity to ask questions or make statements, for up to 10 minutes. And then we will have a second round if that's available to us.
BYRD: I thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it is privilege to hear the testimony of these very distinguished witnesses concerning the president's supplemental appropriations request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, two different wars.
By any measure, the size of the numbers associated with these two wars is staggering. The Congressional Research Service reports that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers $369 billion so far. That number will increase by $72.4 billion because of this supplemental request, not to mention the $50 billion proposed for next year's budget.
Assuming this supplemental request is approved, total funding for the war in Iraq alone will reach an astounding $320 billion. This comes at a time when our deficit is estimated to be $357 billion and our national debt is rapidly approaching $9 trillion.
Those numbers are almost incomprehensible in their enormity. But the figures that are understood by all American taxpayers -- all Americans are the losses of our brave service members on the battlefield.
In Iraq, 2,297 troops have been killed, more than 17,000 wounded. In Afghanistan, 216 servicemembers have given their lives. Our hearts are with all of those who have suffered losses in these wars. And we pray for the safe return of all the young men and women who are currently in harm's way.
The Congress is considering this supplemental request to continue military operations in Iraq as a cloud of peril and uncertainty hangs over the nation.
In recent days, Iraq has only narrowly missed descending into an all-out civil war. And top administration officials acknowledge that that threat of civil war is still very real.
The Congress and the public have a right to know the administration's plans for Iraq before scores of additional billions of dollars are spent in that war.
The funds requested by the administration could very well be the funds being spent if our troops find themselves in the middle of a civil war in the coming weeks and months.
Congress cannot close its eyes, cross its fingers, appropriate more money and just hope that the administration knows what it is doing in Iraq.
It is alarming that parts of this supplemental request ask Congress to do just that. The supplemental asks for more flexibility for the secretary of defense to transfer funds at his discretion.
It asks Congress to exempt our troops' training programs from longstanding laws that prohibit assistance to human rights abusers. It asks for more reconstruction for Iraq without a firm plan for how it will be used.
And the supplemental asks for billions more for the war without presenting any idea when our troops may be coming home.
BYRD: Now, Mr. Chairman, we need straight answers to these questions, and I'm certainly grateful to you for calling this hearing.
Iraq continues to teeter on the brink of an all-out civil war. Even our ambassador to Baghdad is continuing to speak of Iraq as a Pandora's box of ethnic and religious tensions that could provoke even greater violence.
Secretary Rumsfeld, what is the plan if Iraq descends into civil war? Will our troops hunker down and wait out the violence? If not, whose side would our troops be ordered to take in a civil war?
RUMSFELD: Thank you, Senator Byrd.
General Abizaid is here, of course, and he can add a comment or two.
But, as you correctly suggested, there is a high level of tension in the country; sectarian tension and conflict. As you also correctly said, it is not in a civil war at the present time by most experts' calculations.
General Casey and General Abizaid have been impressed by the work of the Iraqi security forces and the fact that they have stepped forward and assumed the responsibility for the conflict that has occurred thus far. Needless to say, they've had some support from our forces, but the Iraqi security forces have been very much in the lead in dealing with it.
Fortunately, the Iraqi government leaders and leaders in the country of a non-governmental nature have almost to a person stepped forward and urged calm and argued against retaliation thus far, and that has been a calming effect.
And, General Abizaid, do you want to add anything?
I think the only thing I'd want to add, Mr. Secretary, is that there's no doubt that the sectarian tensions are hirer than we've seen and it is of great concern to all of us.
On the other hand, the role played by Iraqi security forces after the Samarra bombing was quite professional. They did a good job.
It's my belief that the security situation in the country, while changing nature from insurgency toward sectarian violence, is controllable by Iraqi security forces and multinational force forces.
It's also my impression that we need to move quickly to a government of national unity. I regard the current problem as more a problem of governance than security. But, of course, they mutually affect one another.
BYRD: Mr. Secretary, how can Congress be assured that the funds in this bill won't be used to put our troops right in the middle of a full-blown Iraqi civil war?
RUMSFELD: Senator, I can say that certainly it is not the intention of the military commanders to allow that to happen.
And to repeat, at least thus far the situation has been such that the Iraqi security forces could for the most part deal with the problems that exist.
I think it's important to underline the point that General Abizaid made. The situation, to the extent that it's fragile and tense, is as much a governance issue as it is a security issue. The need is for the principle players in that country to recognize the seriousness of the situation and to come together to form a government of national unity that will govern from the center and to do it in a reasonably prompt manner. And that will be what it will take, in my view, to further calm the situation.
And they have a period of weeks to get that done, and they are -- as we all read in the press and see on television -- they're debating, they're discussing, they're politicking, they're going through that process.
And to some extent, it's a relatively new experience for most of them.
BYRD: That is true, Mr. Secretary.
Is there any plan to respond to a civil war in Iraq?
RUMSFELD: The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the -- from a security standpoint, have the Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they're able to.
BYRD: Do you feel that there would be a request to respond to a civil war in Iraq?
RUMSFELD: I don't know that I'd characterize it that way.
BYRD: How can we avoid it?
RUMSFELD: The way that it -- the work that is being done today by the ambassador and by the embassy to bring the political parties together to form a government is the principle thing that needs to be accomplished to avoid it.
RUMSFELD: And that is what the ambassador and his team, as well as General Casey and his team, are working very diligently to do.
BYRD: Mr. Secretary, recent media reports indicate that one in five soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq have reported mental health problems. Yet, the supplemental request for mental health for the V.A. is zero. The request from the military specifies only $68 million for screening and assessment.
I ask this question of you or General Pace or both: How can the Defense Department and the V.A. effectively coordinate efforts to meet the long-term needs of these veterans with such a sparse and uneven funding effort?
PACE: Thank you, Senator.
Sir, as I understand it -- and I will get the numbers for you -- but as I understand it, there is a provision in the baseline budget to transfer money from the Department of Defense to the Department of Veterans Affairs for all the things that the Veterans Affairs Department does for us, and they do an enormous amount for our troops.
I also know that at the installation level, that we have family support groups that help not only the returning soldiers and Marines, but their families.
There are hotlines and groups that are at headquarters here in Washington and throughout the Army and Marine structure primarily to be able to provide support to those families.
BYRD: What long-term mental health services...
BYRD: Yes. Thank you. I thank the chairman. Thank you.
COCHRAN: The time of the senator has expired.
LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I'm glad we're having this hearing. I'm finding it very interesting, both the things requested and some of the things not requested.
I notice in the supplemental there are some areas -- well, the agencies requested money that's not in there. They mention first the request (inaudible) $60 million to continue what I believe is a very cost-effective program in Iraq, USAID's Community Action Program. Four U.S. NGOs are doing it. Only $15 million each. In fact, one was named after a young woman who was killed there, Marla Rezeka (ph).
And they restore basic services, they create jobs. What I've been told by commanders in the field, these funds have been extraordinarily helpful to our military over there.
Now, I want to help Iraq's provincial councils, but this is some area that we ought to be looking at. If we're going to shut down programs, let's pick some of the ones that are not working -- and I can give you a list of those -- not those that have been a success and the Iraqi people appreciate.
Mr. Chairman, I'll work with you and Senator McConnell to try to find the money needed to continue this.
LEAHY: And, secondly, Liberia and Haiti. We've talked about that. They've recently elected new leaders, have daunting challenges. Secretary Rice, you and the first lady were in Liberia for the inauguration of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman African head of state I think I shared the pride you had in that.
But I look at the supplemental. There's only a small amount for returning refugees. I think we should be doing more to help that government. It costs us an awful lot of money because of the failures in the last government (inaudible) avoid those failures.
And, of course, Secretary Rumsfeld, you mentioned the cost effectiveness of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, but this supplemental has no money in it for that peacekeeping mission -- even though you read the reports out of Haiti, it's obviously needed.
The supplemental does include $51 million for refugees. In FY 2006, the administration requested $893 million; Congress provided only $782 million. So we're low on that, not just in Sudan, but in many other countries around the world.
I mention these as areas -- you know, we get the request, a lot of money is lumped out that everybody knows we need, and then the Congress has to figure out how to find the money.
Secretary Rumsfeld, you did mention the limitation aid to the Indonesian military. Of course, during that period, they were behaving sort of like a criminal enterprise -- all types of corruption and killings of political dissidents and so on. If this country stands for something -- I believe it does -- we have to show that we do have limitations on help we will give.
Mr. Secretary, when you came in here this morning, I mentioned something to you -- or, I've written several letters. I've gotten back several very nice form letters, but didn't answer any questions. It's about the Talon program.
We find from the press, not from our own government, that a number of peaceful protest groups, like the Quakers, have somehow ended up in the department database. And I worry about the department spying on citizens that goes beyond any reasonable or legal effort to protect Defense Department personnel or installation.
I worry that we're getting back into the COINTELPRO days of Vietnam. My letters ask for specific things that, one, should have been very easy to answer: Is the press right that there was surveillance of citizens in my home state of Vermont?
I would think that senators that have been here for 31 years ought to be able to get an answer to a simple question like that. For months, everybody's refused to answer my question.
So I'll ask you, did they have surveillance of citizens in Vermont?
RUMSFELD: Senator, I'm told that the Department of Defense did not conduct any investigations of the domestic activities of persons in Vermont, nor did it target any groups in Vermont for the collection of intelligence.
Apparently, the Department of Defense did receive two reports that came to it from the Department of Homeland Security, and they were reports about protests, or potential protests, against DOD recruiters by Vermont groups.
RUMSFELD: Subsequently, the report came to the Department of Defense. The Army personnel generated a report based on that information, that they had not generated themselves, and placed it into the database.
The first TALON report contained information about a potential protest action against military recruiters attending a career function on March 8th...
LEAHY: March 8th of what year?
RUMSFELD: I'm sorry, of 2005, in an unidentified Vermont town. Two participating groups were named in the report. The second report focused on a protest at an Army recruiting office in Washington, D.C., and also noted that another protest was planned that day in an armed forces recruiting center in Williston, Vermont, but no group was mentioned.
So what happened was...
LEAHY: So the press account saying that Quakers were under surveillance by the Department of Defense is inaccurate.
RUMSFELD: I didn't see the press report, therefore I would not want to characterize...
LEAHY: But if there was a press report that said that Vermont groups were under surveillance by the Department of Defense, such a press report would be inaccurate -- if there was such a press report, it would be inaccurate.
RUMSFELD: I'm reluctant to heave charges around.
LEAHY: I'm not asking for charges. That's a simple yes or no.
RUMSFELD: Well, it isn't for me.
Let me explain this program. The program is for the purpose of force protection of the United States military facilities in the United States of America, which is a legal obligation of the Department of Defense, to protect their forces and their bases.
So they have a program that allows information to be sent to them that raises questions about possible threats to their bases.
If that information comes in and is not evaluated, it sits there...
LEAHY: Mr. Secretary, that's not my question. The question is, if there was a report of surveillance of Vermont groups protesting the war in Vermont by the Department of Defense, that report is inaccurate. Yes or no?
RUMSFELD: I would have to see the report. I have read to you the fact that some reports about Vermont groups came into the department, but they were not originated by the Department of Defense.
LEAHY: I should point out, we have -- I know there are a number of Quakers, some older than you and I, who peacefully protest once a week in Vermont on the war. There are some in Vermont who do not support the war in Iraq. And if the intent is to surveil them, you could save your time.
LEAHY: I'll speak against the war on the floor and you can just take it off CSPAN and save your money.
Let me speak about the Darfur peacekeeping because Senator Cochran spoke about this. A lot of people call for more, Secretary Rice, for more peacekeeping troops in Darfur.
The administration does not support that. I see this as genocide. I don't know how you could call it anything else. The African Union peacekeepers are incapable of performing some of the basic functions. There seem to be no consequences for attacking civilians. And some of the attacks are just horrendous.
I mean, they're nightmarish, when you hear the descriptions. And I will not go into them. You've read the same intelligence reports -- actually, some of the same press reports I have.
Now, the $161 million you've requested as a supplemental for peacekeeping in Darfur will cover our share of sustaining the current inadequate number of troops. It doesn't do anything to help pay for the doubling of U.N. troops, even though the president has acknowledged that's needed.
Do we need more money?
RICE: Senator, I think, at this time, we believe that this is an appropriate amount of money for the coverage of the U.N. peacekeeping force that is likely to be available in this period of time.
As you know, we would authorize the U.N. peacekeeping force in the Security Council. There would then be an effort to actually raise that force. And we believe that this funding from the supplemental can help us with the first stages of that.
But we certainly will need to have our contribution be adequate to cover the peacekeeping force.
LEAHY: Let me ask, just so you can add to your answer: Can we stop the genocide in Darfur?
RICE: Well, Senator, I hope that we can stop the violence and the genocide in Darfur. That's certainly what we are attempting to do. There are really three prongs to this policy.
Let me first say that we do, in fact, favor both a U.N. peacekeeping force and an expansion of the numbers of peacekeepers that are now on the ground.
And one reason that we want to go to a blue-hatted force is that we believe we would have a more sustainable way to attract enough forces to have a doubling of the force in Darfur. So we do favor that.
We also favor, as the president has said, a role for NATO in the planning and logistics and support to that force. And General Jones is working within NATO to see what we can do to effectively bring that O piece into it.
So we want a more robust peacekeeping force in Darfur.
RICE: The president himself has spoken to that.
But it's going to require more than a peacekeeping force in Darfur to end the violence there. It is also going to require an effort at a peace agreement between the parties. And we are spending a lot of time in the Abuja talks trying to bring a peace agreement between the parties.
We also, Senator, are trying to make certain that the comprehensive peace agreement for the agreement between the south and the north is fully implemented, because that ended a civil war that killed millions of people over decades.
And so there are many pieces to our policy in Darfur, but we do favor a more robust peacekeeping force for Darfur.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator.
STEVENS: Thank you very much. And we commend all of you. I'm glad to see you take the time to come justify these requests.
I must say, though, Mr. Secretary, I'm worried about the sustainability of the level of funding for the department when we've had so many supplementals now, in addition to the annual budgets during this period. The chairman of the Budget Committee believes that these monies are fungible and they're flowing back and forth between the funds that we put into the regular bill and the supplemental, and there's hardly any way to track where the money's going.
Let me tell you, for instance, right now, in the '06 bill, we funded monies to train the Afghan police forces in the State Department appropriation bill. This supplemental requests money for that purpose in the Department of Defense supplemental.
Now, that's an indication of the fungibility.
Why is it in the Defense bill now when in the regular bill it was in the State Department bill?
RUMSFELD: Well, I'll start, and Secretary Rice can comment.
Historically, training for police has been considered part of the Department of State's activity. They've had an office that engaged in that.
And in the case of Iraq, the Department of State had the responsibility for the training and equipping of Iraqi police up to...
STEVENS: This is Afghan now. This separates out Afghan police forces from State Department in the regular bill and puts it in the supplemental for your department.
RUMSFELD: OK. The same principle's the same. The State Department had the responsibility for Afghanistan, and in a discussion between the Department of State and the Department of Defense it was agreed that it would be appropriate since we were staffed up to deal with the Ministry of Defense security forces there, that we assume that responsibility for Afghanistan.
RUMSFELD: Originally, under the Bonn process, I believe the German government had the initial responsibility, but to make sure we got the job done and could begin reducing U.S. military forces, the Department of State asked us to assume that responsibility with our people, and that is now currently the case.
The Department of Defense has that responsibility in Afghanistan. And I believe that's the reason for the changing in the funding.
STEVENS: General Abizaid, there's $2 billion in the supplemental for infrastructure projects for Iraq and Afghanistan security forces. We have already funded 77 military base projects, 345 police facilities in Iraq, and now this is $2 billion more. Will this fully fund the infrastructure requirements for security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan now?
ABIZAID: Senator, I can't tell you for Afghanistan whether it fully funds it or not. I think Afghanistan, there will be continuing requirements, because the infrastructure conditions there are so abysmal.
STEVENS: Well, General, they were funded through the Iraqi Reconstruction and Relief Fund in the past. This time, $2 billion goes into your budget.
ABIZAID: I can't answer the question about where they went in the various different locations in the budget.
STEVENS: I'm asking the question, because, you know, we really don't -- when we get these monies as they come in on this supplemental request basis, we don't get a continuity of really reporting that we would get if we had it through the regular bill.
What about the IEDs? We've put up $2.9 billion to date for the IED counterthreat, to try and establish it. We have now in this bill, I understand it, a new permanent organization for that purpose, and there is a request in this supplemental for another $1.9 billion.
I'm sure we all fear IEDs. But is this new organization now to take over the total expenditure of funds to defeat the IED threat?
ABIZAID: Sir, I'll try to answer that, if I could.
General Meigs's organization does now have responsibility for the Department of Defense, reporting directly to the secretary, for all things that have to do with IED defeat...
STEVENS: He will spend this money that's in this supplemental?
ABIZAID: He will make a recommendation to the secretary of defense for disbursement of the funding in the supplemental, yes, sir.
STEVENS: Thank you.
To date, we have provided -- and the president, of course, has requested -- we've approved $31.7 billion for equipment repair and maintenance, procurement and depot maintenance. This is now another $19.6 billion for that purpose.
We saw some of that when we visited Fallujah and we saw the up- armoring of the major trucks. But this is an extremely expensive process when it's done in-country there. How long do you plan to pursue emergency supplemental funding for restitution of these vehicles? Some of it's not even done in-country, I understand. Who can answer that question?
RUMSFELD: The broad approach of the department has been that as equipment is used, either destroyed because of combat or exhausted because of use at a higher level than normally would be the case in a training environment, it will be replaced by supplementals.
RUMSFELD: Now, you have to put a caveat on that because, instead of replacing everything exactly the way it was, people are replacing things the way they ought to be.
So if you have a next-generation, for example, up-armored Humvee and you'd damaged an old Humvee, you would replace it with a later generation Humvee.
And the goal, the intent of the Department of Defense and, I believe, the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Stevens, is to continue with supplementals for war costs, which, clearly, that would be categorized as a war cost.
STEVENS: Mr. Secretary, we provided $8 billion for equipment procurement and $4.1 billion in the bridge fund that was attached to the annual bill for '06.
This supplemental puts $19.6 billion more into that same account, now, for '06, plus there is a bridge fund going into '07.
Now, what I'm asking, really, is we're going to review that procurement account in the regular bill for '07, but here we've got $50 billion standing over our head which is a bridge fund going into '07 which you will spend for the same thing we're reviewing now.
I again say we have very little ability to deal with this. I, for instance, don't understand why this money would be spent here in the U.S. to buy new equipment, other than in terms of the regular bill.
I understand it may have been destroyed over there, but you're buying the new equipment here.
Now, we have difficulty plowing these budgets through, Mr. Secretary. And I think that's what's bothering the Budget Committee now, in terms of this funding.
These are enormous amounts of money going into this procurement and restitution accounts. Have you got a watchdog on that activity?
RUMSFELD: I'm told that there have been something like 31,000 pages of budget justifications that have been provided, when you combine the regular budget and the bridge and the supplemental.
STEVENS: We have not any justification for this supplemental, Mr. Secretary. We had that discussion with Jonas yesterday. We'll go on to it later.
Let me ask one last question, General Abizaid. And I think it's very important to this senator.
How important is the port of Dubai to the war effort right now?
ABIZAID: The port of Dubai is very important to the war effort, Senator.
STEVENS: Can you explain why?
ABIZAID: Well, it's one of the largest ports in the region. A tremendous amount of equipment that ends up in the war zone ends up transiting through there.
U.S. Navy aircraft carriers can use it and do it. It's a port of call for our service men and women. I think it's one of the largest in the world, if not the largest in the world.
STEVENS: What percentage of the activities that you have supervised goes through the port of Dubai?
ABIZAID: It's hard to say what percentage of the activities, but clearly the port of Dubai is essential for the defense of the Arabian Gulf.
STEVENS: Thank you, Mr. General.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator.
MIKULSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for the way you've structured this hearing. To have the secretary of defense, the joint chief, the general in the field and our secretary of state at the table, I think, is a very good way to have done this.
I see this as a year of transition, particularly in Iraq. And, in that year of transition, one of the questions will be, in addition to the policy, support and passion for our troops, is how are we going to continue paying the bill, along the lines that even Senator Stevens has asked.
My question goes to Iraq oil. When we were going into the war, we were assured that we wouldn't have to worry about how big the bill was because we were going to be there on a short term basis and that Iraqi oil would pay the bill for reconstruction, self-help, et cetera.
My question is where are we in terms of Iraqi oil? Who controls it -- distribution, marketing?
Is it flowing? When will it flow? And then, what about the issues of corruption and the impact on ethnic conflict?
And I turn to anyone at the table -- Mr. Secretary, Dr. Rice -- how you would like to address that. But where are we with the oil? When is it going to start to pay the bill? What about corruption? And what about its reliability as a future revenue stream?
RICE: Thank you, Senator. Perhaps I should start and then, if anyone would like to add.
First of all, Iraq is a country that we believe should one day be sustainable -- be able to sustain its own expenses because it does have this great natural resource.
RICE: It is in that sense in distinction to Afghanistan, which does not have resources of that kind.
There have been two problems with the oil industry. One is a significant under investment in the oil industry during the period of time of Saddam Hussein, even though the Iraqis were producing about 2 billion to 2.5 billion barrels per day and exporting about 1.3 billion barrels a day, it was doing it on a very creaky infrastructure.
And, indeed, some of the investments that we made as a part of the I.R. funding, the Iraqi reconstruction funding that was provided by the Congress, was to increase the capacity in the near term of the Iraqis to produce.
It is also the case that the Iraqis have been looking at ways to have investment laws that will make it possible to get some foreign assistance with technology and the like for their oil industry, because one of the problems with the oil industry under Saddam Hussein is that it was isolated from the best of technologies, although they have...
MIKULSKI: Madam Secretary, I've got about five more minutes.
RICE: Yes, I'm sorry.
MIKULSKI: Are they producing it?
RICE: They are producing currently at below the prewar range of 2 billion to 2.5 billion largely because of problems in inefficiency in the management of the oil industry -- and we've worked very hard with the Iraqis on that piece of it -- but also the interdiction by insurgents of the oil pipeline in the north, which is 400,000 barrels a day that has been essentially been shut in.
What we're doing about that is that we are working with the Iraqis to improve their coordination on the oil industry. We're working with the Iraqis to improve security for the oil pipeline. And it is the hope that we would be able by the end of this year -- as you said, this is a transitional year...
MIKULSKI: The end of the calendar year, Madam Secretary?
RICE: The calendar year -- to be able to see crude production at about 2.8 billion barrels a day and exports at about 2.2 billion. Their budget number...
MIKULSKI: But that's pretty slim, isn't it?
RICE: It would be about -- it would be more than Iraq was producing before the war...
MIKULSKI: And what would be the revenue generated at that level?
RICE: What they are counting on in their projections right now is about $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion. So if we would...
MIKULSKI: So it would begin to pay the bill?
RICE: So they would be...
MIKULSKI: But who in this national government of unity that we all hope sticks together -- who controls the oil? Is it the Oil Ministry?
MIKULSKI: Is it through the prime minister?
And then the tools against corruption. Because this seems to be an endemic problem in the region.
RICE: It is an endemic problem in the region, and we have worked very hard with the Iraqis so that they don't fall -- we hope they will not fall prey to some of the problems. But there is significant corruption in the system at this point.
They have created a commission to deal with corruption, openness in government, declaration of assets, that kind of thing. It is now under the control of the state oil company and the Oil Ministry. But I think you will see the Iraqis look also at innovative ways to think about the oil resource over the next several years so that they can get it closer to the people and less centralized in the government.
But right now it follows the normal pattern in that region. It's state-owned oil.
MIKULSKI: I want to go to Afghanistan, but having the pleasure and honor of being on Defense Approps, when we get into defense appropriations I'm going to come back, other than through the supplemental, to ask about guarding the infrastructure and transitions.
Iraq has an asset we need, which is oil. Afghanistan has an asset we don't want, which is opium. This, then, takes me to Afghanistan and the real need for a success story there, the backing of truly a democratic movement at all levels, the return of the diaspora. The Karzai family in the diaspora resides in Maryland. We're proud of their efforts.
I'm concerned about the opium issue. Number one, what are we doing to control it? And number two, is the opium money funding terrorism and insurgent activity, both in Afghanistan and in the region? And could you share with us in what ways we could perhaps provide a more muscular support to Afghanistan in this area? Because I feel, if we lose control of opium, we lose control of Afghanistan.
Is that a good analysis?
RICE: Senator, I think the single most important threat to Afghanistan now in a strategic sense is probably the opium trade, because it has not only the effect that you mentioned of funding terrorists, but it is a source for people who are then able to threaten the central government, threaten people in the provinces. And so we've been very attentive to the opium problem.
It's a multi-pronged approach that we're taking. One is that the Karzai government believes very strongly that public education is important. They've been growing this crop for a long time. People have to be dissuaded.
Secondly, it is very important that there be alternative livelihoods for the farmers who are told not to plant, and we have significant programs and are enlisting also the help of others, including the British, who have the lead on this area.
Third, we are working to help the Afghans train forces that are particularly effective at this kind of law enforcement/paramilitary operation. And I think we're having some success in getting those forces into place now.
And finally, the criminal justice system has got to be able to penalize people who engage in the opium trade.
And so you will see that in our '07 request, not in the supplemental but in our '07 request, there is considerable money for civil justice and rule of law effort in Afghanistan. A lot of that is...
MIKULSKI: Now, would that be in the foreign ops request?
RICE: This would be in the foreign ops request.
MIKULSKI: So that's where we should really look to provide assistance on an ongoing basis.
RICE: That's right.
MIKULSKI: Now, I have to ask you about the Polish visas. As you know, now coming back to Afghanistan, Poland will play the lead role in leading the NATO forces in Afghanistan. It's just what we had hoped with the expanded NATO and the coalition.
As you know, it continues to be a prickly issue with our country. Senator Lugar and I are trying to focus it even more on student public exchange, kind of Fulbright-style type exchanges.
Do you know, can you bring us up to date on where we are on cracking that?
And I want to thank you for the very collegial cooperation of your staff in working with us.
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
We really do want to try to solve this problem, for Poland and for a number of other important allies who are now members of the E.U. but are not capable of being a part of the visa waiver program, for instance. We have, as we've discussed, you and I personally discussed a visa road map program with the Poles to try to get them to the metrics that we take to determine who can be a part of the visa waiver program.
I think the Poles believe that we are making progress on that. Our ambassador certainly does.
We also want to make sure that students from this area can come to the United States. We held a university summit recently, Margaret Spellings and I did, to try to encourage foreign students to come. We'd like nothing better than to have more of them from East Central Europe. And I think our staffs are working together to try to find ways that we can do this.
We have to keep a worldwide program. We can't have exceptions to the program. But we are working very hard to see what we can do for students.
MIKULSKI: No. And I appreciate we can't have exceptions, but they're exceptional allies...
MIKULSKI: ... carrying exceptional responsibility. And I think that should be acknowledged. Kind of almost like a veteran's preference. I'm working on it.
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
MIKULSKI: Thank you very much.
COCHRAN: The senator's time has expired.
It's either Senator Bond I think, or Senator Kohl.
9 (UNKNOWN): Senator Allen.
COCHRAN: No, he came in after Senator Murray.
I think it's Senator Kohl.
KOHL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Rumsfeld, this is the fourth time that you've come before our committee for emergency funds for the war, $445 billion, thus far. America has paid a high price in dollars and most importantly in the lives of American soldiers.
And now we find ourselves in a position no great country should ever occupy -- namely, that we don't control the events that determine the success of the war or even the safety of our troops.
You've been telling the American people that the situation in Iraq is not that dire. But Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, and speaking for a majority of the American people, that is hard to swallow.
From the beginning, the administration's Iraq strategy has been an amalgamation of misdirection and missteps. Intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that justified our invasion, as we know was wrong.
We went to war with no plan beyond the initial few weeks of military action. The estimates of the number of troops needed to accomplish the mission were too low.
And now, we are in Iraq with public support waning, American casualties continuing to mount, and no apparent timetable or plan for turning Iraq back to the Iraqis and bringing our troops home.
Mr. Secretary, a bipartisan majority of the Senate has agreed that 2006 needs to be a year of transition toward a successful conclusion to our involvement in Iraq.
Secretary Levin (ph) has suggested that the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are all counting on the U.S. presence to keep the country from falling into civil war. He argues that we should use the leverage to motivate the Iraqis to make the necessary compromises to achieve the broadly based political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency, that we should tell the Iraqis that if they fail to reach a solution by the timetable that they have set forth, then we will consider a timetable for the reduction of U.S. forces.
Can you comment, Mr. Secretary, on that option?
RUMSFELD: First, Senator, you're quite correct that the intelligence with respect to the weapons of mass destruction has not proven to be the case.
The comment you made that there was no plan with respect to the war, I'll let General Pace, who was the vice chief at the time, and General Abizaid, who was the deputy CENTCOM commander, comment on that, because there were plans.
Third, with respect to the timetable question, it's a difficult one. And you put your finger quite on it.
The implication of your question I think is correct, that it is important that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government officials understand that it is their country; they are going to have to run that country; they're going to have to build that country; they're going to have to fashion a government that is acceptable to a broad range of people in that country; and their security forces are going to have to provide security for an environment that will permit that.
The next step of it is the hard part. The idea of saying to them "or else this is going to happen on this basis," it seems to me, given the variabilities of the situation on the ground, given the uncertainties as to the role -- the damage, I should say, or the role that some of their neighbors play with respect to their situation.
My personal view is that it is not useful in the context of their current political situation to do anything other than what we have said, which is that we are training and equipping their forces to take over those responsibilities, and as their forces stand up, we will pass responsibility to them, as we have been doing.
RUMSFELD: But to tie it to a tight timetable, I'm reluctant to suggest...
KOHL: I appreciate that.
And Senator Levin used the point -- the word "consider." He did not say either/or -- if you don't do it, we will be gone. But at least to tell them that this is a time for you all to come together, put aside your differences and form a government of unity which you have said is absolutely essential.
But what would be destructive in any way by saying publicly to them that if you do not, then we have the option to consider a timetable for the reduction of our forces, not even to eliminate it, not even to leave -- to consider a timetable for the -- doesn't that form of leverage at least bring some pressure to bear on them to put aside their differences?
If they don't think we're ever going to leave -- which some of them may be believing, Mr. Secretary, that we'll be there as long as it takes -- then the pressure on them to reconcile their differences is almost non-existent.
RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't think so. I think there is pressure on them to settle their differences. They have everything to lose.
If they're not able to put together a government in a relatively short period of time, they are facing a very difficult situation for all of the people involved in governance in that country.
KOHL: Well, do they face the situation that if they don't, that we are prepared to consider a timetable for the reduction of our forces?
RUMSFELD: I think that they probably know that we are considering a timetable. But it's not a calendar timetable, it's a based-on-conditions-on-the-ground -- it's based on the pace at which we're successful in training and equipping their forces.
And I must say, having a senator from Michigan and Wisconsin saying what you're saying is not a problem. Switching it over and having it said directly by the president of the United States to them, it seems to me, runs the risk of playing into the internal political dynamics that are going on, because there are people in that mix who don't want us there right now. Let's face it.
The Iranians don't want us there.
RUMSFELD: And the Iranians have a lot of influence in that situation. They have a lot of people they talk to and so forth. And I don't think the idea of strengthening the hand of those people who do not wish the Iraqi people well is a good idea for the president.
PACE: Senator, may I...
KOHL: Yes, go ahead, Mr. Pace.
PACE: Just to clarify one point, sir, which is important for me to stand up to my responsibilities. And that has to do with the numbers of troops in-theater.
I've been the vice chairman or the chairman since 1 October of 2001. General Tom Franks, General Abizaid, sitting next to me, General George Casey in-theater are the ones who have made the proposals for the troops size that was needed to get the job done.
Those proposals have come up to us at the Joint Chiefs, all six of us, sitting collectively in the tank, reviewing those numbers.
We have agreed with the numbers that the field commanders have come up with. We have recommended those numbers to the secretary and to the president. It is the military experience and the military judgment to find the right balance of the size of the force.
So the size of the force that is there is based on uniformed experience...
KOHL: I was referring to what was there, originally. I'm not referring to the troops in the theater at this point. My question referred where we were back at the time that we made our initial assault.
PACE: Yes, sir.
And all those numbers -- every single one of those numbers, sir, has been a uniformed analysis...
KOHL: The other point I was making is that it turned out that the number was insufficient to pacify the country. And that's really -- it's hindsight, but it's a matter of somewhat well-established fact.
Mr. Secretary, one more question.
In a recent poll, over 70 percent of the U.S. troops in Iraq thought the U.S. should pull out of the next 12 months. Presumably, since they are there on the ground, they know what is going on as well as the risks and they have concluded that it doesn't make sense to stay more than approximately a year.
This is not the press or political opposition raising concerns about our mission or our chances of success. These are the men and women in the position to know best what the situation is on the ground.
Does that assessment by them make you any more open to providing a plan or a timetable for winding down our involvement in the war?
RUMSFELD: I've not seen the poll. I've heard it referred to.
I doubt it. I doubt the polls. My experience is quite different.
I don't know; maybe General Abizaid has experience and he might want to comment.
But I visit the troops regularly. I visit the ones that are there, the ones that are back here, the ones that are in the hospitals. And it just doesn't compute. And so I'd have to see the poll and try to understand it.
I would add, however, that I think there isn't anyone who has served or is serving in Iraq, who may serve in Iraq, who has that as their first choice.
They don't want to be there. We have no desire to be in Iraq as a country. We're not there for their oil. We're not there for their water. We're not there to occupy their land.
They're over there to perform a service. And they're doing it brilliantly and deserve our gratitude, as I know you know, Senator, and all of this committee has felt.
But if someone came up to someone and said, "Gee, do you want to be in Iraq next year?" the answer is, "Heck, no!" They don't want to be there.
But they sure as heck do want to perform the job, do the job. They know it's noble work. They're proud of what they're doing. They believe in what they're doing. And I doubt the poll.
ABIZAID: I'm not familiar with the poll, other than I saw it in the newspaper. I don't know how it was conducted, Senator.
But, clearly, some of our troops are on their second and some of them even on their third tour in Iraq. And they know clearly that, as you said, this is a year of transition. And they want to get the tools into the hands of the Iraqi armed forces, so that they can take the lead in the counterinsurgency fight.
ABIZAID: And that's precisely what General Casey intends to do.
So our troops are anxious to have them fight their fight. But they're also realistic about it -- they know that they're going to require some back-up from us for some time. And at this particular point, while we're still looking for a government of national unity to form, it's difficult for us to say what we're going to do here militarily.
But I think the confidence of the troops in the field about the job that they're doing, and indeed, the confidence that they have about how the Iraqi security forces are developing, is pretty good.
KOHL: Thank you.
COCHRAN: The time of the senator has expired.
BOND: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for that last answer. Having just returned about 45 days ago from the region with a small CODEL, I can tell you that that is what we're hearing from the troops in the field.
And I would say to my colleague from Wisconsin that I endorse what the secretary has said. The leaders -- the Shia, Kurd and Sunni leaders with whom we met -- have gotten the message. They have the message. We carried the message, and I know, but will not discuss, what messages have come from other areas.
But they know they have to have a national unity government, because -- and right now, after the bombing in Samarra, which has either the fine hand of either al-Zawahari or the Iranians to foment civil strife, they have seen and stepped back from that precipice. They know they have to get back.
But I would say to General Pace, I personally am very delighted to hear about the personal protection for the Marines and soldiers in Iraq and in-theater. And it's vitally important we're moving forward with the anti-IED activities.
But the interesting thing that I heard as I have talked to a lot of boots on the ground, enlisted and low-ranking officers. Their biggest complaint is not that they're in Iraq, not that they're suffering casualties. Their biggest complaint is that nobody is recognizing the accomplishments they make; the progress they are making. A frequently heard word is, on a certain TV network, "If it bleeds, it leads." Only the casualties are showing up.
And their frustration is that the American people are not hearing that they are accomplishing the military mission. And they are less worried about the IED exposure and the casualty than the failure for us to be able to get the message across that they are accomplishing their mission.
General Abizaid and General Pace, do you hear those same things from the field?
PACE: Sir, absolutely. And it would be very interesting to take a map of Iraq and lay down where the attacks are and then -- which is mostly in four provinces and the other 14 provinces, and then lay down where the reporting is being done from, to see what the opportunity is to have a balanced picture of what's going on.
I suspect that there is very sparse numbers of individuals looking for stories inside the 14 provinces that are in very, very good shape and making the progress we would expect, and that there's more in the places where there's bombs going off, that are the kinds of things that catch people's attention.
BOND: General Abizaid?
ABIZAID: Senator, what I would say is that the growth of the Iraqi security forces in particular -- and the army in particular -- has been nothing short of breathtaking.
In April of '03, I was in Baghdad. You couldn't find an armed Iraqi, unless it was somebody shooting against us.
Today, 200,000-plus people are in the Iraqi security forces, fighting for their country.
The commander of the Iraqi 6th Division was assassinated the other day. General Casey went to his funeral. And he told me that the outpouring of grief and also gratitude to that man for leading that division was absolutely unmistakable.
So the story of Iraqis fighting for their country is one that we never quite hear. They're taking casualties at three times the rate of our troops. And the work that our troops have done to build that army and the work that our troops do to be embedded with their units is really one of the untold stories of the war.
And it's the key to the success, by the way.
BOND: Thank you very much.
Moving to a question that Senator Stevens raised, unfortunately, the issue of Dubai Ports may become an issue in this supplemental.
And we've heard from General Abizaid. General Pace, I'd like to ask you and Secretary Rumsfeld on the record, has the United Arab Emirates, has the government been a valuable ally? Are they committed in the war on terror? Are they taking steps to improve security for our forces and our troops? Are they a reliable ally? And is it essential that we maintain good relationships with the UAE?
PACE: Sir, the short answer is, yes, sir.
BOND: Could you state it in your own words...
PACE: I will.
BOND: ... for quotation purposes?
PACE: I'd be happy to, sir.
Sir, military-to-military, we could not ask for better partners in that region.
As you've already heard, the ports that are available to us; more U.S. Navy ships visiting and operating out of and being repaired in those ports than any other ports in the world, other than those here in the United States of America; their airfield and the ability to fly the kinds of missions that we fly from there in support of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa -- a significant benefit to us; an air combat training range that they allow us to use -- significant to us; in many other ways that I cannot talk about in front of this microphone, where they have been very, very solid partners with us.
In every way that we have needed them to help us militarily, they have responded favorably. And as you look to potential problems in the future in that region, the United Arab Emirates' location and capacity will be critical to our ability to succeed.
BOND: Thank you, General.
Mr. Secretary, you might have a thought on that.
RUMSFELD: Well, I do, Senator Bond. And I thank you for asking.
I certainly agree with General Abizaid and General Pace.
From day one, they have been helpful to us: from 9/11 on. Before we ever entered Afghanistan to go after the Al Qaida and the Taliban that had killed 3,000 Americans, that country has provided direct assistance to the global war on terror.
Today, they are providing a hospitable environment for U.S. military personnel, for ships in a secure environment; as General Abizaid probably said, probably as many ship visits as any port in the world.
RUMSFELD: And the White House I know is working with the Congress to try to find a way to sort through this issue in a manner that's acceptable. And that's appropriate. And it's understandable that the issue was raised.
But I think it would be a mistake if people went away with the impression that this country is in any way anything other than very helpful to us in the global war on terror.
You want to comment?
BOND: Mr. Secretary, I share your view very strongly. I know we've asked for a 45-day review so everybody can be comfortable with it.
I would tell my colleagues I hope we can do everything possible not to address this prematurely before everyone has had a chance fully to investigate and understand how important this relationship is.
Let me move on to another question that was actually touched on by my colleague from Maryland, Senator Mikulski.
In visiting Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, we found a great need for civil affairs assistance in strengthening Afghanistan. And in some areas, the progress was very good. They even wanted more lawyers. As a recovering lawyer myself, I said, "The more lawyers we can send them the better."
But the one thing they didn't have -- and this is something the Defense Department is not set up to do -- they didn't have people who could help them with agriculture, bringing their agriculture up to speed, even starting ag credit operations.
They cut down the pomegranates to grow poppies, and we need to have some bridge assistance to allow them to eliminate the poppy field and replant the pomegranates.
But I was very distressed -- and I wrote to you, Madam Secretary, and Secretary Rumsfeld, as well as Secretary Johanns -- to ask if we could bring together a better operational situation to provide ag assistance.
And I suggested that my university in Missouri has a great ag extension program. Senator Mikulski is ready to volunteer Maryland's ag extension service.
I believe we have resources around this country that are not available through USAID.
In my letter to you of January 31, I asked for your comments on how we can help make this work. And I'd appreciate your comments, Madam Secretary and Secretary Rumsfeld, if you have anything you wish to add.
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
First of all, we do have agricultural programs in both Afghanistan and Iraq, including a request for $84 million for ag assistance in Iraq in '07 and we're continuing ag programs in Afghanistan. But I take the point that agricultural extension programs do something a little bit different than we do through USAID.
And we are now looking very hard at a more comprehensive look at the Afghanistan -- I'll call it the how-to-build-an-economy problem, because it is true that, right now, the thing that people grow most is poppy. We need people to grow other crops.
And that is why the Afghan government has focused a great deal on alternative livelihoods programs. Those are run mostly through USAID, but we certainly will look at agricultural extension as a part of that.
The other piece is that we would like to see some other countries get involved, also, in helping to build this piece of the Afghan economy.
We talked, for instance, with the Indians, when we were in India, about similar kinds of programs.
RICE: But I take the point. And I appreciated very much your letter, and we're looking into it.
BOND: Thank you.
COCHRAN: Time of the senator has expired.
BENNETT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, I have to wear my hat as chairman of the Ag Subcommittee of this committee and ask you the appropriate agriculture questions so that we get this on the record.
This supplemental request includes $350 million for food aid under P.L. 480 Title II, which is administered by USAID. And it's my understanding the money would be primarily for African countries, $150 million for the Darfur region of Sudan and an additional $75 million for southern Sudan.
Could you briefly describe the current food aid needs in Sudan and tell us if these funds are sufficient to meet those needs or do you expect that there will be another supplemental with respect to this sometime later this year?
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
Everything that we can foresee to this point is covered in this supplemental request for food aid for the Darfur region and for southern Sudan.
Obviously, these are the kinds of crises that sometimes take a different turn. We're watching very carefully the situation in west Darfur, where humanitarian assistance has been difficult to get in because of difficulties with Chad and problems on that border.
But assuming that we can maintain the levels of security that we need to make it possible to make the food assistance available and humanitarian assistance available, this is what we think we would need to deal with the humanitarian problem in Darfur and in the south.
The south is very often under-represented in our discussions, but I think we should not lose sight of the fact that this is an area that went through decades of civil war, millions of people were killed in this civil war, and there's still a problem with transportation of food in that region.
And so we are using food assistance, but hoping to be able to do more also in the transport of that food around the country.
So this is what we think we need at this point, but I would be the first to say these humanitarian situations in war zones can sometimes take a different turn.
BENNETT: Thank you very much.
ABIZAID: Madam Secretary, if I could just add something to that, Senator, the Central Command has a small command in the Horn of Africa.
ABIZAID: And the level of food insecurity there is really the number one problem out there. It spawns terrorism, it spawns instability. And the more we can do to help out there through the use of the good services of that small command we have there, the better we'll be.
BENNETT: Thank you.
Going from that to the question that Senator Mikulski pursued having to do with oil revenue to be able to finance the reconstruction of Iraq, one of the problems, of course, is security, as the folks in the insurgency recognized that they could destabilize the country as much by interrupting the oil revenue as they can by the other -- we might consider more traditional military kinds of attacks.
General Pace, General Abizaid, whichever, it's wonderful that the Iraqi forces are standing up and trying to provide the level of security that we need in Baghdad and in the other areas, the four provinces you referred to that are aflame.
Are you satisfied or have you an opinion about their ability to secure the oil fields so as to bring the oil revenue to the point where Iraq can make a much bigger contribution to the economic challenge of their own reconstruction?
ABIZAID: Well, Senator, let me take that question.
The situation with regard to oil flow throughout the Arabian Gulf and not just Iraq is one that I think we all need to carefully consider. The attack the other day on the Saudi Arabian oil field at Abqaiq was an attack by Al Qaida, and there's a stated intention by Al Qaida to continue efforts to attack the oil infrastructure not just in Iraq, but throughout the region.
ABIZAID: And so we do take this very seriously, as do all the countries in the region.
With regard to the security situation in the Iraqi oil fields in particular, we have built a number of battalions known as security infrastructure battalions. We've looked at them, we aren't all together satisfied with their organization and what has to be done to make them more effective.
So in the security arena, we are working hard to integrate them more fully into the overall defense structures in the country, and that will help a lot.
But part of this insecurity of the oil has to do with bad infrastructure that's in a terrible state of disrepair. It has to do with economic conditions, where it becomes advantageous to smuggle oil. It has to do with a lot of corruption and criminal activity, and tribal activity as well.
So it's a complicated issue. Can the Iraqis solve it? Yes, the Iraqis can solve it. They'll need some help from us in terms of training and posturing. But I'm confident they'll get it under control.
BENNETT: Do you feel there's been progress made?
ABIZAID: Well, there are days when there's a lot of progress and then there are days when there's no progress.
But, in general, we're moving in a direction where Iraq will more and more have control over its resources, providing governance comes together, along with the security and the economic activity.
BENNETT: One thing about Iraq that has always interested me is that prior to Saddam Hussein, it was not a petro-state. That is, oil was important, but the economy was producing income from other activity besides oil: Iraq was a net exporter of food before Saddam Hussein destroyed the agriculture sector.
What's going on with respect to rebuilding that kind of economic activity, something unrelated to oil? Petro-states, by their nature, tend to be instable.
Great Britain has a lot of oil in the North Sea, but they're not dependent on it. And that balanced economy is very important to their stability.
Yes, we got to focus on governance, we've got to focus on security, and we've got to focus on getting the oil revenue back. But if we're going to have the kind of Iraq that we want to have long term, what activities are going on -- and maybe this is not within the purview of the Defense Department, but, Secretary Rice, you're nodding.
Someone comment on what can be done to create the other areas of economic activity that will keep Iraq from being a petro-state and create the kind of stability that we need.
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
The reason I'm nodding is that I think you've put your finger on something very important about Iraq. It has not only oil, it has water and it has very good agricultural land.
A combination of Saddam Hussein's policies...
BENNETT: And productive people.
RICE: And productive people.
The combination of Saddam Hussein's policy and, then, frankly, the oil-for-food program -- which depressed the internal market by bringing -- essentially importing everything -- and then the war drove a lot of people off the land because the land was no longer productive.
And so it not only would help the economy to get the agricultural lands going again, but it would help employment, because it was a fairly labor-intensive agricultural sector. And so we recognize that link.
There are agricultural programs going on. Currently, we have requested $84 million for agriculture in Iraq in '07.
RICE: Some of the funding for these small projects in the provincial efforts that we would make would probably also be agricultural in nature.
So I think you've put your finger on it. This is a country that does not have to depend simply on oil. It can be a quite diversified economy. And we want to support that.
BENNETT: Thank you.
I want to associate myself, just for the record, with Senator Bond's attitude with respect to Dubai Ports World. And I hope we in the Senate can calm down the passions that have been stirred in the House and elsewhere with respect to the ports deal.
I do think the administration can be faulted for the way this was announced and handled. But that doesn't mean that the substance of the deal was a bad deal from the beginning. And I hope we can let cooler heads prevail and recognize that we have an ally there whom we do not need to denigrate on television in an effort to chase the ratings game.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator.
ALLARD: Mr. Chairman, I think that Senator Conrad has a problem and wants to ask questions. And I wonder, is it possible -- is he after me?
ALLARD: Is it possible for me...
COCHRAN: You could yield to him...
ALLARD: And then I can follow after him?
COCHRAN: You surely may.
ALLARD: OK. I yield to the senator.
COCHRAN: Senator Burns?
BURNS: Thank you very much.
And thank you all for coming.
I've got a couple of questions and a comment. You will not reach the potential in your agriculture until you have land reform and put that land into private ownership and they'll take care of it.
It is the same with the oil. The sooner they move that into private corporations and they start collecting royalties and everything like that. That system has served this country very well, and it can serve them.
But you're right. They've got two rivers, two great irrigation systems. They've got dry land farming -- I've been over there and looked at it.
But you've got to have land reform, Madam Secretary, in order to do it.
And then, you know, when we're successful in this whole thing, I think our transportation and communications corridor that will run from Tel Aviv to Kuwait City will develop an economic culture that's different than they've ever known before. And that has a tendency to spread among the Middle East. It could be the key to the Middle East peace process.
But those things have to fall into place before it really happens.
On this supplemental, I'm concerned about one thing in the movement of money. We continue to move off-budget. And I'd like to see a little more on-budget. I think the American people deserve that, Secretary Rumsfeld.
And for right now, I know we're investing in new weapons systems, we're trying to restructure the way our military looks. I applaud you on that. But we're at a time when we've got to win this war, and it's going to be won on the ground. It's going to be boots.
And I have a feeling that we move too much money around, and we don't put our money kind of where we really need it. This committee needs assurances that we're putting it -- I understand we've got a new kind of IED now that's out there, we've got the garage door deal. I think I was reading about like that.
But for us to get a handle on it and to understand where our money is going, the investment on the people on the ground, because this war is not going to be won because we already control the air, we control the sea, but it's going to be with the folks that are on the ground. And that sort of concerns me.
Now, I've never been a green eyeshade guy, as you well know, but I think we have to take a look at that and see where these dollars are going.
BURNS: Do you want to comment on that?
And I realize we're investing in new systems, but maybe we better slow up and take a look at that and put our money kind of where our action is.
RUMSFELD: Senator, if you take the budget and the supplemental and look at the investment that's being made in ground forces, it is substantial, it is significantly higher, it is a reflection of the concern you've expressed -- and certainly our understanding -- that not only do we need to see that we invest properly in ground forces, but we also need to see that we invest in ground forces in a way that they're able to successfully on behalf of our country deal with the kinds of asymmetric and irregular challenges that we are facing today and that we very likely will face for the foreseeable future.
BURNS: But it would allow us -- and it would kind of answer some of the questions Senator Byrd has; we're on budget; we can handle it. But the emphasis should be winning the war on the ground -- and there's no doubt.
Now if those folks who believe that we're spending a lot of money there taking on terror at the stem -- need we remind folks of what the cost of 9/11 was and what it cost this country to recover not only from the lack of economic but what it did to us; we found out that our economy was very fragile.
And so we're going to have to make this investment on the war on terror, whether we make it there or here -- because I have a feeling they're going to follow us wherever we go.
And we might get comments from the generals.
ABIZAID: Sir, I agree 100 percent with what you said about having to invest in the war on terror. This issue of improvised explosive devices, suicide car bombs and vests, is unfortunately with us for a long time.
The more we invest now in trying to figure out how to detect and neutralize this threat, the better off we'll be in the years to come.
This asymmetric threat has moved from Iraq to Afghanistan. It'll move to other places. It's certainly with us for a while. It is very well organized and networked, and it's made easier to spread through the Internet and through the way that global communications work today.
So the notion that we can isolate it in a particular country on a particular battlefield at a particular time is incorrect.
ABIZAID: It's with us for the long term. And investing in technologies against it now is absolutely essential.
PACE: So I would say that you are spot-on with regard to focusing our resources. And that's, for example, why General Meigs in his new assignment is going to be so helpful to that process.
The money that's in the supplemental request will allow him to focus all of our efforts, tied into General Abizaid and General Casey's efforts in-theater, to be able to do things like learn the lessons and then, out at Fort Irwin for the Army and Twenty-Nine Palms, California for the Marine Corps, be able to train to those lessons.
Understanding that we're facing a thinking enemy. They will respond to the way that we change our tactics, techniques and procedures. And we're going to need to be able to, inside of a very short loop, discover what their new approach is, determine how to defeat it, change our tactics, techniques and procedures, train our soldiers and Marines to those standards and get on about our business.
BOND: I thank the chairman and I'll yield back the rest of my time.
But I was concerned about the poll over there. I think, if we'd've taken a poll in the English Channel on June the 6th, 1944, not very many of us would have liked to have been there, either.
And so a poll is a little misleading. But the young men and women that we've got to Montana are truly terrific people and they get it. They really get it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
RUMSFELD: Senator, I just would thank you for bringing up the cost of September 11.
There were never any perfect calculations made. The only one I ever saw suggested that it was not just 3,000 lives but it was hundreds of billions of dollars, the cost of that day and the impact it had on our economy.
And the cost to impose that damage on our country was probably hundreds of thousands of dollars, is all, to put together that attack; maybe a few million.
So we do have to remind ourselves of the enormous costs of an event like that and how important it is for our country to invest to see that we prevent that from happening again.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator Burns.
ALLARD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before I get into my questions, I just want to take time to thank all of you for your service to our country. I mean, this is obviously a time when we're facing a lot of difficult situations. And I, for one, appreciate your leadership and the effort that you've putting out.
I know you put in countless hours, making sure that our country is safe and secure and to try and deal with issues that are coming up today that could create a problem in the past (sic).
And these are really difficult policy questions.
I want to ask a brief question on the port management deal with the United Arab Emirates.
ALLARD: Now, the other questions have been focusing on what kind of allies are they. But the issue that's before the Congress is, is our port security at risk in this country with their management?
And my question to you, Secretary Rumsfeld, is did you have an opportunity to get involved in that process? And if you did, did you see any concerns, do you see any concerns now as far as that company, which is state owned, operating port security?
RUMSFELD: Senator, as I understand the CFIUS process, there is a committee that involves six or seven departments and agencies...
RUMSFELD: ... and six or seven offices in the White House.
RUMSFELD: That committee, the individuals representing the departments considered it carefully, made a decision. I was not aware of it. It was not considered something from a security standpoint that was elevated to my level. And I have since gone back and reviewed their work and concluded that they made the right decision.
The security situation would not change, it would still be handled, as I understand it, by the United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard's part of the Department of Homeland Security, so I'm responding a little out of my lane here. But the same people would be engaged as the people that are engaged today.
And back in my lane, the reality is that the ports that our U.S. military ships use in their country are, we believe, sufficiently secure that we're happy to use them to an extensive extent. General Abizaid's commented on it. General Pace has commented on it.
And I think it's fine for an issue of this importance to have a 45-day review and for the Congress and the House and the Senate to consider with the executive branch, make sure that it was reviewed an appropriate way.
But if you're asking me, from my standpoint, am I comfortable with it from the standpoint of the security of the United States, the answer is yes.
ALLARD: Now, on the 45-day review, I guess if we don't do the 45-day review, how can we be assured that we don't have any security lapses?
RUMSFELD: I guess you can never be assured you're not going to have a security lapse, regardless of who's managing some aspect of a port. We know that there's going to be no change, as I understand it, there's going to be no change in who will be handling the security. It'll be the United States Coast Guard.
ALLARD: Yes. And I understand that. But I guess when you have a company like that, there is information they deal with that could be important to a terrorist. For example, arrival times and departure times of ships and manifests and those kind of things. And I guess that's where my security concerns come back, is the information that could possibly be made available to terrorists.
But I gather from your comments that you're comfortable with their management in that regard.
RUMSFELD: I am comfortable that the process looked at the security aspects from the standpoint of the Department of Defense and that they made the correct decision in supporting it.
ALLARD: Maybe I should pose this to both Secretary Rumsfeld, as well as Secretary Rice. But I was rather astounded about how strong a statement was made by Iran's chief representative at the International Atomic Energy commission yesterday, where it, frankly, seemed to threaten the United States by saying that there'd be harm or pain if the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran.
So the question comes up, does Iran pose a significant threat to the United States at this point in time? And how does this change if they develop a nuclear weapon?
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
Iran, indeed, does pose a considerable challenge and threat to our interests in the region. They do so by their role in Lebanon, through the terrorist organization Hezbollah; by their increasing association with Syria to try and destabilize that area; they, of course, fund some of the Palestinian terrorist groups and, therefore, make it more difficult to imagine a peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
And as both Secretary Rumsfeld and I've spoken to before, there are concerns about Iranians activities in southern Iraq and support there for militias and for terrorists.
And so they already pose, I think, a significant challenge and even threat to our interests. They also, of course, are of concern to many of our allies in the region that their activities might be aimed, ultimately, at destabilizing the entire region.
If you can take that and multiply it by several hundred, you can imagine an Iran with a nuclear weapon and the threat that they would then pose to that region.
And it is why the United States, along with now a very strong coalition of states in the international community, have determined that Iran must not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon.
I think that the rhetoric that you're seeing from the Iranians exposes their own concern that they are now isolated and that the world is very much against them on this issue.
They would like to make this an issue between the United States and Iran. That's why, I think, they spoke about threatening the interests of the United States.
But it, in fact, is not an issue between the United States and Iran; it is an issue between Iran and the international community, as exhibited by the substantial vote in the Board of Governors to report the Iranian dossier to the Security Council, including states like India and Russia.
So it is not that Iran does not have the ability to try and cause harm. But I think that if you look at the long run, we cannot be deterred by Iranian threats because an Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a much more dire threat to our interests that I think we have to do whatever we can to join with the international community to stop them.
ALLARD: I'm asking myself -- I'm sure you've asked yourself -- this question: What else can we do to dissuade them from pursuing nuclear weapons or act as an advisory to the international community -- since we're dealing with the international community -- to dissuade them from going with nuclear weapons?
And perhaps you can respond, Secretary Rice.
Maybe Secretary Rumsfeld has some thoughts on that. I'd like to hear it.
RICE: Well, we certainly believed that our case is going to be stronger -- our ability to deal with this -- when we're in the Security Council. Because the Security Council has at its disposal instruments that the International Atomic Energy Board of Governors does not.
For instance, the Security Council can put a state under Chapter 7 resolution and compel a state to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
I think we also will want to look at what other measures are available. We have, from time to time, used asset freezes against states. We've used visa restrictions, as an international community, on leadership. There are a number of possible steps that could be taken.
But I think we'll take this one step at a time.
Right now, Iran is facing the reality that the regime will be isolated in the international system.
I might just note, Senator, that already, the effect of that and the prospect of Security Council referral has caused a number of financial institutions to decide that they don't want to deal with the Iranians for reputational reasons. I think people may start to take a second look at whether investments in Iran are really a good idea under the circumstances.
And so the pressure that you can bring on a state once it is brought to the Security Council is considerably greater than what we can do now, and I think we continue to look for ways with our allies. We're always going to be stronger in this if we are doing it with other members of the international community, and I think so far we've been effective at bringing others along.
ALLARD: Secretary Rumsfeld, do you have a comment?
RUMSFELD: I have nothing to add.
I have 16 seconds, and I got the caution light and my time's running out, Mr. Chairman. So thank you for my opportunity to ask some questions.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator.
Let me advise the committee, Secretary Rice had an appointment at the White House -- and you're OK with that?
DORGAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
A couple of questions have been asked, and the implication of the questions and answers seemed to suggest that our ability to continue to use the ports at the United Arab Emirates might be connected to our willingness to allow a UAE-owned government to manage our ports. I assume that's not the case.
If the Congress or the president or this country decided that we will not allow a United Arab Emirates-owned company to manage our ports -- if that's our decision, and I think it will be -- I assume that doesn't mean that we cannot continue to use the UAE ports.
Would you respond to that, Madam Secretary?
RICE: Well, Senator, I can't speak to what might happen in the future.
I think that the point that is being made here is simply that the UAE has been an excellent ally. And that, in fact, whether it is with our military operations or efforts that we're making in terrorist financing, this has been a state that has been responsive to our calls to join the war on terrorism.
I was just in Abu Dhabi and I can tell you that for them I think the way that this is handled and the language around it is very important.
RICE: I think it is important to say that the UAE is an important ally; that whatever the process is, whatever goes on over the next 45 days or whatever the outcome if this is, that we treat this state like a valued ally; that we speak of the state as a valued ally.
So I think that is what is being said here. And I can't judge what may or may not happen in the future.
DORGAN: I understand that, but you saw the vote yesterday in the U.S. House. I think it was Congressman Lewis, the chairman of the committee, offered an amendment to the emergency supplemental in the House. I think the vote was 60-2 or 62-2. There was great anxiety about this.
I believe we would offer such an amendment in the Senate deliberations as well so that we could go to the conference with the same amendment.
But having said that, I just didn't want there to be a misimpression. I don't think anybody is really saying that the condition of our being able to use UAE ports in the future is that we would allow them to manage our ports now.
I assume that's not a condition; you don't expect that to be the condition.
Madam Secretary, I accept your proposition that we ought to be respectful of allies that are helping us, but I don't think there ought to be a connection between being willing to allow them to manage our ports and us to use their ports.
RICE: I think this is an issue of respect for an ally and how they are treated and how they're talked about -- and that the language, however people feel the particular deal, that we remember that this is an ally and that we respect that ally in the way that we...
DORGAN: I understand, but I do think that the bill will come from the House with the amendment, and it likely will come from the Senate. I intend to offer the amendment so that we can have an amendment that is identical to the House amendment.
But having said that, let me go on just for a minute...
RUMSFELD: Can I comment?
DORGAN: Yes, of course.
RUMSFELD: You're correct, no one here said anything that should imply that we know what their reaction would be. The other way of saying that is we don't know what their reaction would be. And they are a valued ally and they do fit in a strategic spot in the Arabian Sea where an enormous fraction of the world's oil moves.
And we ought to be, as the secretary of state said, sensitive to that. And, frankly, I would hope that the Senate would not pass an identical amendment; that it wouldn't even be authored -- because it seems to me that this is an issue that, as a number of people have suggested, people ought to step back, take a look, analyze it, take some time and think it through very carefully and try to understand what the actions and reactions might be.
DORGAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you.
Mr. Secretary, I'd like to ask you about the LOGCAP program.
"60 Minutes" did a piece about the Halliburton Corporation and the contaminated water supply at a base called Ar Ramadi. And that information has been sent to you. We've had whistleblowers come to us about that. I want to just give you a couple of facts about it and ask.
There's money for the LOGCAP contract in this request, $1.75 billion, at least, as I understand, which is the Halliburton contract. The folks that work for Halliburton -- one of whom still works for Halliburton -- have said that, at Ar Ramadi, the non-potable water, which was used by the troops for showering and brushing teeth and making coffee and shaving and so on, had two times the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River -- twice the contamination of the untreated water from the Euphrates River.
And the water expert at Halliburton who discovered this told company officials that they would have to notify the military. And, quote, "They told me it was none of my concern and to keep my mouth shut."
There's an internal Halliburton document which I have that says the following -- and, by the way, both the Defense Department and Halliburton deny this ever happened; this was disclosed on "60 Minutes," this series of events and both the Defense Department and Halliburton denied it happened.
This is an internal Halliburton document I have. And it reads as follows -- and this is from the fellow who was in charge of water supply in all of Iraq -- quote: "This event should be considered a 'near-miss,' quote/unquote, as the consequences of these actions could have been very severe, resulting in mass sickness or death."
This is an internal memorandum from the company that denies this circumstance happened.
I know, Mr. Secretary, you and others care a great deal about our troops, want to do the right thing. But you also know there are substantial public questions being raised about the misuse of these funds in large, sole-source, no-bid contracts, including this issue, which would have problems with respect to the health of our troops.
The $1.75 billion in the LOGCAP contract that's in this request, how can we be sure that we're not going to see the same press reports about misuse and waste that we've seen in the past?
RUMSFELD: Well, Senator, we've talked about this before from time to time. And I guess the honest answer is, no one can ever be sure on something like that.
You know the concern and the care that the people in the Department of Defense have for the employees, civilian and military, of the Department of Defense.
RUMSFELD: We care deeply about their health, their well-being and their success.
This question of contaminated water is something that obviously would cause great concern to the department. The Army is looking at it. They are even to this date unaware of the allegations -- they're aware of the allegations, but they are unaware of anything that would substantiate that something like that happened.
I don't doubt for a minute the internal document you have that somebody believes that happened.
DORGAN: Not just internal documents. Employees and former employees who worked for the company who were there, who were in charge, who said it happened.
RUMSFELD: And yet there were not numbers of people who got sick, to my knowledge.
DORGAN: You're absolutely right about that, at least there are not known to be people who were affected or sick.
I'm telling you that the internal document, however, from the Halliburton corporation says this event should be considered a, quote, "near miss," unquote, as the consequences of this action could have been very severe, resulting in mass sickness or death. This from a company that denies it happened.
RUMSFELD: No one even wants a near miss, you're quite right. And I would be happy to take a copy of the document and go back to the Army and see if they, in fact, are aware of that.
DORGAN: I received yesterday from the inspector general a letter saying that they plan to initiate an audit to review the entire issue.
But the only reason I ask the question is -- and I'm not suggesting that you don't in every way care deeply about the circumstances the troops face. I would not suggest that. But I think the things that we see in the newspaper, the whistle blowers that come forward that talk about these issues, I think it ought to persuade everybody to be a tiger to try to find out what are the facts and how do we deal with it.
Because when we do have big sole-source, no-bid contracts out there, boy, I'm telling you, it invites waste, fraud and abuse, and there is plenty of it. I won't go through the recitation, but I've sent you a good number of letters about it.
And it is not in question. The fact is, these are whistle blowers who were involved in it, who reported it, some of whom got fired for reporting it.
RUMSFELD: It is something that requires vigilance and prompt and harsh steps at any occasion where something is found that would even approximate something like you've described.
I would say one other thing. I can't believe this myself, but my staff handed me something that says that the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction has said that the progress was made in the reconstruction program is noteworthy. He said, quote, "The positive results achieved in the reconstruction program are impressive."
Now, that does not sound like they're perfect to me. It sounds like they were over here and they've improved somewhat, which I find reassuring, if, in fact, this is correct.
DORGAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening a panel like this, allowing us to ask these questions.
I appreciate very much the four of you appearing here today.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator.
DOMENICI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me just say, I only have a couple of minutes, because I'm supposed to be at Budget Committee to vote at 12:15. There are about 15 votes in succession, so excuse me for being brief.
On the sole source issue that's being raised, I just want to ask, Mr. Secretary, why do we use sole-source contracts? I would assume it isn't because we want to be nice to somebody. There must be some reason it has to happen, some justification. That's just a question that's prompted by his questioning of you.
RUMSFELD: There are. There are a set of rules and requirements. Some things require bidding, some things don't, and sometimes if there's an ongoing relationship with some organization, there may be a sole-source contract that fits the regulations. I'm sure if they did not, that it would not have been done.
DOMENICI: So the sole source is being done pursuant to existing regulations, rules and laws, is that correct?
DOMENICI: Whomever the contractor is.
Do any of you know -- maybe the generals -- do you have an impression of what would happen to our efforts in Iraq if the UAE told us we couldn't use their ports for anything anymore? What would happen?
ABIZAID: Sir, first of all, as the secretary said, they haven't made any sort of threat whatsoever about doing anything differently with regard to whether or not they get this contract or not.
ABIZAID: But I can tell you that the UAE is vital to the defense of the Arabian Gulf, the continued flow of resources, and our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
DOMENICI: General, I did not intend to put them or you on the spot. But it's pretty obvious to this senator that we are taking some big risks up here and we better know what we're doing. And that's the reason I asked the question.
From what I know, they're not going to do that because they are our friends, apparently. But if they did, I think I would say it would be a disaster in terms of whether we could conduct the affairs of the United States government and our allies in that area.
Do I see your head nodding or not, in that regard?
ABIZAID: I say that their role is vital to...
ABIZAID: ... our defense.
PACE: Yes, sir. And I would agree with General Abizaid: Their role is vital and they have been, since we began thinking about going into Afghanistan and through today, very, very dependable partners.
DOMENICI: My other question is really kind of beyond your jurisdiction, but perhaps you have read or learned.
Do you know how many foreign companies and/or corporations have permits and/or licenses to operate at United States ports? Does anybody have any idea how many hundreds there are?
Secretary of State, do you know? Any of you generals know? Secretary?
Well, I'm going to just speculate that it's far more than a couple of hundred permits to do exactly what the World Port company's trying to do. Corporations and countries operating within our port system; there are more than a couple of hundreds that are foreign.
China is one, is it not? Do you all know that they have one, don't they? Yes? I would think maybe those people who want to stop this kind of action might add to their amendment that maybe we should kick China out, maybe they shouldn't be running one.
I don't know. Maybe that would be a good amendment to put to question before the House.
Madam Secretary, on the India proposition -- which isn't relevant today, but it's a major, major breakthrough in terms of your negotiations for an international agreement -- can you state for the record and publicly here: Those major countries that are part of the international nonproliferation agreement, who supports it? Does Britain support what we're doing?
RICE: Thank you, Senator.
Britain supports this. France supports it. Russia supports it.
We have had other states say that they believe they support the deal in principle, like Australia.
And I think you will find that others will come on board as they know more about it.
DOMENICI: How about the IAEA?
RICE: Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, on the day of the deal, made a statement that said that this is an important deal for India but also an important deal for the nonproliferation regime, because it brings India into the mainstream of the nonproliferation regime. And that the IAEA would, therefore, be able to assess the Indian programs in a way that it has not been in the past.
DOMENICI: Let me close just by saying to the two generals that are here, I have not had an opportunity to visit with you over at foreign countries as much as I would like. But I do follow carefully and I do commend both of you -- in particular you, General Abizaid -- for the terrific job you're doing.
And I know we don't make it as easy as we might from time to time, but I think you do have a deep understanding of democracy and know what's going on. We try our best.
Thank you for everything.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COCHRAN: Thank you.
DURBIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thank the panel. Thanks to all of you for your service to our country, especially those in uniform, for what you have sacrificed to make our country safe.
Secretary Rumsfeld, we had a vote in the Senate last year about whether or not this would be a year of transition in Iraq, whether there'd be some significant change in what we have seen in the past. And the vote was -- a resolution authored, rather, by Senator Warner. And the vote was overwhelming. It was 79-19 for a year of transition.
As I listened to what you said in answer to questions and read your testimony and look at the budget request, I do not detect in there that there is any anticipated significant change in terms of troop deployment in Iraq. If I'm wrong, I hope you will correct me.
But I'd like to ask you directly: Do you believe that by the end of this fiscal year that we can withdraw a significant number of American troops from Iraq and bring them home?
RUMSFELD: Senator Durbin, that's, of course, a question that will be recommended by General Abizaid and General Casey, depending on their assessments of the situation on the ground in Iraq, to the president. And the president will make a decision. It would be ill- advised for me to make a prediction.
I do think that there are some points that have been made here that are highly relevant.
RUMSFELD: General Abizaid has commented on the importance of the governance piece of it. And the stability in that country and the confidence or lack of confidence that the various sectarian elements in the country have in the fairness of whatever government evolves from this election that took place January 15 will have an effect on that.
And they have done pretty well. I mean, they had an election January 15; it was successful. They had a referendum, they drafted a constitution; it was successful, October 15. They had an election December 15.
And now, obviously, the insurgents and terrorists are trying to cause a civil war. And so they've attacked the Golden Dome Shrine and they're trying to create sectarian conflict.
I don't think they're going to be successful. I don't know; nobody knows.
But if the government gets formed and if our success with the Iraqi security forces continues -- which is notable, that they've been able to manage very effectively those elections. Ten or 12 million people voted, at risk to their lives in some cases. And God bless them for it.
If the Iraqi security forces continue to do the kind of job they're doing, then there's no doubt in my mind but that we're going to be able to do reduce some troops.
I wouldn't want to use your phrase of "significant" because then we'd get into a debate on what's significant. And I don't know.
DURBIN: I think "significant" is when the son or daughter of someone that I represent knows that their son or daughter is not going to be activated, is not going to have to serve or may come home sooner, may not go for another period of service.
And I would just say to you that what you've told us, in reference to the strength of the Iraqi forces and the conditions on the ground in Iraq is similar to what we were told last year.
We have now lost over 2,300 of our best and bravest; 15,000, 17,000 seriously wounded soldiers. I think what the Senate was saying to the administration was, "We want this year to be different and measuring it as a difference would mean bringing our troops home."
Now, I know you don't want to signal how many are leaving and what day they're leaving, but if at the end of this year there are still the same numbers of boots on the ground, as we've said over and over here, then I don't think our message was delivered effectively to this administration.
We hear every time you appear that the Iraqis are just getting stronger and stronger in terms of their security forces. There are conflicting reports, you know, about how ready they are to stand and fight. I think you know that. I'm sure you've been prepped for this.
Some of the reports that we receive from the measuring stability and security in Iraq suggest that the number of battalions that are prepared at level one have reduced from one to zero. There were more battalions prepared to stand and fight as long as we're with them.
But it doesn't give me confidence that I can say to the people I represent, "Yes, this will be a year transition; yes, your sons and daughters are not likely to be activated in the Guard units again; yes, they are likely to come home."
And so, I think that the message we tried to send -- I hope it was delivered, but the testimony today doesn't suggest to me that this is going to be a year in transition. I hope I'm mistaken. I hope that it does turn out to be such a year.
RUMSFELD: Senator Durbin, the first thing to remember, it seems to me, is critically important. Every single person serving over there is a volunteer. Every single man and woman, soldier, sailor, Marine, airmen volunteered. They put their hands up and they said they wanted to serve our country.
They're not there under duress. They're not there under conscription. And that is critically important to remember.
And they're darn proud of what they're doing. And they're doing a superb job.
Second, with respect to the Iraqi security forces, there've been a lot of people parading around, denigrating the Iraqi security forces for the last two years. And they're wrong. The Iraqi security forces are doing a good job.
Are they perfect? No. Are they going to be the same as ours? No. Is it equally good between the Ministry of Interior police forces and the Ministry of Defense forces? No.
But, in net, are they doing a good job? You bet they are.
Their success is going to be dependent upon having a government that they have confidence in, a government that puts in ministers that are capable, ministers that are not going to consider their ministries the spoils of an election, but they're going to consider their ministries something to be governed from the center and to be fair to all elements, all sectarian elements in that country.
I think that the Iraqi security forces, if a government is formed and if it's a government that puts in capable ministries, will demonstrate that they can continue on the path they're on of assuming more and more responsibility. And it will in fact work.
DURBIN: Mr. Secretary, let me say at the outset, to suggest that I want the soldiers to come home safely is not denigrating their valor or devotion to this country.
RUMSFELD: I was talking about the Iraqi security forces that have been denigrated.
DURBIN: The first point you raised was about the volunteerism of the Army.
RUMSFELD: They are all volunteers.
DURBIN: And I will acknowledge that point. But I think we both have a solemn obligation to bring them home safely as quickly as possible.
RUMSFELD: Well, of course we do.
DURBIN: And if raising that question causes you to question whether or not I understand why they're there or the type of people that are there, that's wrong.
I do know the people that are there. I've met them in Iraq, I've met them at home, I've attended the funerals and I've met their families. We all understand that, on both sides of this table.
And, secondly, the proof positive the Iraqi security forces are as good as you say is when American troops can come home.
DURBIN: That's proof positive. Every year we hear about growing numbers and growing capabilities, and yet 138,000 of our best and bravest are still there in danger today.
There is a sense about this country that this war has gone on for three years and now it's time to see the transition that the American people are looking for, where the Iraqis take responsibility for their own safety and their own future.
And that's the point that was made by a vote of 79-19 in the Senate.
ABIZAID: We all agree with that. We all agree with that.
DURBIN: Let me talk to you about the soldiers that are coming back, too. And I think Senator Byrd has raised this point earlier.
Some of them come back with some serious wounds that are very visible, and some with serious wounds that are not visible. I have really focused on this whole post-traumatic stress disorder situation.
It appears to me to be a much larger problem with this war than it's been in other conflicts. Maybe it's more open now. Maybe people have courage to talk about it openly now. But I'm not certain that we are dealing with the reality of it.
As I go to meet with the soldiers that have returned, that go to the veterans facilities, do you sense that we are engaged with a more serious problem now when it comes to the psychological scars that these soldiers are bringing back than we have in the past?
RUMSFELD: I don't think the answer to that question is known for sure.
I think that there is a much greater sensitivity to the issue in this conflict than possibly in previous conflicts. And that's a good thing.
DURBIN: It is.
RUMSFELD: But that may be one of the reasons why it seems to me a significant issue that needs to be addressed.
I know that each of the services is engaged in mental health services that they provide in the theater, that they provide back here, and that they're arranging with the Veterans Administration to provide at a point where somebody may be transferred.
It is something we're concerned about and we're addressing.
General Pace might want to comment on it.
PACE: Sir, we have initiated several programs, both in conjunction with the Veterans Administration and on our own.
Specifically, as units come home now, there is a process by which they and their families are counseled on things to be mindful of, things to look for, and then told how to get plugged into the assistance if those kinds of things start to show themselves after the soldier's gotten home.
DURBIN: I applaud you for that, General.
And I would just say, in closing, that I ran into the situation where a Guard unit from Illinois went to Camp McCoy as they were being mustered out and sent home. And, of course, they were anxious to get home as fast as possible.
And they were asked, "Do you have any problems?" And they said, "No. I want to go home."
They went home and they did have problems. And when they got home, they acknowledged them.
So I think we're in a situation here where I'm glad to hear that you're making that extra effort. I think we really need to.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COCHRAN: Thank you. The time of the senator has expired.
Senator Byrd has asked to have some additional time for questions.
Secretary Rice, if you need to go to the White House, please feel free to leave.
RICE: Thank you very much. I appreciate it very much.
COCHRAN: Thank you very much for your cooperation in attending this hearing today.
BYRD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Rumors continue to swirl about a potential attack on Iran if there is no diplomatic solution to be found, in the coming months, to Iran's suspected nuclear program.
I believe that an attack on Iran, either by the United States or another country, would risk triggering a regional war. I also think that we also already have our hands full in Iraq.
Vice President Cheney, in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 8 -- and I'll read from the Inquirer -- "Vice President Cheney said yesterday that, 'Conditions in Iraq were improving steadily,' but the American ambassador in Baghdad has said the U.S. invasion 'opened a Pandora's box of ethnic and religious violence that could inflame the entire Middle East.'"
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told the Los Angeles Times, in an interview published yesterday, that the potential is there for a full- scale civil war in Iraq.
Khalilzad, a highly regarded diplomat, warned that a victory by Islamic extremists in Iraq would make the Taliban in Afghanistan look like child's play.
Vice President Cheney, on the other hand, speaking in Washington, expressed firm resolve: "Our strategy in Iraq is clear. Our tactics will remain flexible. And we'll keep at the work until we finish the job."
BYRD: Secretary Rumsfeld, bearing in mind the vice president's saber-rattling comments about Iran on Tuesday, do you contemplate that any funds in this supplemental appropriations request bill will be used to plan an attack on Iran or that any funds in this supplemental will be used to carry out an attack on Iran?
RUMSFELD: Senator Byrd, I know of no plans to attack Iran, if that's the thrust of the question.
The Department of Defense -- and I'm not going to get into what the Department of Defense plans for, but it is a responsibility under law for the Department of Defense to consider a variety of contingencies and be prepared to deal with them should the Congress and the president request it.
With respect to attacks on Iran, I would reverse it. At the present time, Iran is inserting people into Iraq and is doing things that are damaging and dangerous to our forces there.
And clearly, in the event we are successful through intelligence of locating people -- Iranians -- in Iraq that are engaged in acts against our forces, we certainly would -- our forces would take the appropriate steps to stop them.
BYRD: Well, I think that the response is generally along the line of responses that I received when I asked a few years ago if we had any plans to go into Iraq. So I'm not surprised that that would be the response.
I'm interested in pressing this question once more. Will any funds in this supplemental appropriations request be used to plan or to carry out an attack on Iran?
RUMSFELD: I don't know how I could answer it any better than I did.
General Pace, do you want to see if you can respond in a way that is more fulfilling?
PACE: Sir, the answer is, no, sir, within the borders of Iran. But if there are Iranians fighting against us in Iraq, then, of course, we would treat them like the enemy in Iraq.
BYRD: Do you anticipate that the Iranians would be fighting us in Iraq?
PACE: We know that they have provided some munitions, some weapons, and that there are some agents -- Iranian -- in Iraq. I do not know the intent with regard to the battlefield.
BYRD: Would you repeat that last, please?
PACE: I do not know the intent with regard to the battlefield as to whether or not the Iranians in Iraq intend to participate in battles, sir.
BYRD: Well, I would think that, based on what was seen and heard thus far and what the situation is there, that we might expect (inaudible) attack.
RUMSFELD: Senator, I think that probably would be a misplaced expectation. It's rather clear that the United States and the European countries and the countries of the world are, as Secretary Rice indicated, on a diplomatic path. They're doing everything they can figure out to work with Iran and try to avoid having Iran develop nuclear weapons.
They are doing it bilaterally, they're doing it multilaterally, they're doing it through the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy committee, the IAEA. And it seems to me the path is rather clear.
BYRD: What was the last comment, please?
RUMSFELD: It seems to me the path that they're on is rather clear.
BYRD: I think the path they're on is somewhat clear, but it's not to be gainsaid that an attack on Iran either by us or by another country would risk triggering a regional war when we already have our hands full in Iraq.
So I suppose we might assume that any funds in this supplemental appropriations request would be used in such an event, with respect to a plan or an attack on Iran. I can only assume that from the answers.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator Byrd.
Senator Stevens, any further questions?
STEVENS: Well, no. I just wish more people would talk about why we're there. I don't know if you noticed the new National Geographic that talks about and has a genocide article: "Genocide in the 20th Century." And it talks about the Kurdish women and children that were found in mass graves that had been shot with AK-47s.
When we were over there, we heard all sorts of talk about what was over there. And very few people talk about that anymore -- why we're there.
They also don't talk about the fact that there's been no 9/11 since we've been there. We have preserved our freedom here by taking on the enemy there.
And I think we're there and we know why we're there. My people at home know why we're there. And I know why the young men and women of Alaska have volunteered to go there.
So I do decry the attacks on us for doing our job. And I congratulate all of you for doing the job. I have great admiration for you and for the members of the defense establishment now, and I support what you do and I intend to support this bill.
The last comment I made is: Our committee, the Commerce Committee, has looked into the problem of the contract that's being reviewed for 45 days. It's a contract to take over from a British company; contract that's been outstanding for some time.
There's similar contracts for Los Angeles, for Seattle -- not for this same outfit. But they are not managing. The ports are managing a function within the port. And they do not manage security.
And the people of the country have been alarmed over the charges that we're somehow or another turning over the security of our ports to a foreign company, which is not true.
And I just wish, somehow or other, we could get some understanding of that fact.
This has turned into a political issue up here -- an overwhelming political issue. We saw it on the floor last night. We're going to see it on this bill. Let's see how far we go to stop this bill with that amendment. And I'm sad to see that our friends in the House have passed that amendment, as I intend to oppose that amendment when it gets to the floor.
We may or may not win, but I do think it's wrong to pursue this and the concept that, somehow or other, that company is trying to manage a port or a series of ports in the United States.
They'll be dealing with the longshoremen functions. And I took our committee, went out and we flew over the port of Los Angeles. It's an enormous port and it has a series of contracts with foreign companies managing various functions within that port.
But they do not manage that port. And I think that we're wrong to have these questions about this contract is to take over the management of ports in the United States.
It's not true, and someone's got to stand up and say that it's not true.
I intend to do that.
Thank you very much.
COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator.
BYRD: Mr. Chairman, may I just add one post script?
COCHRAN: Senator Byrd?
BYRD: I for one do not subscribe to the suggestion that we are avoiding an attack on us on our oil by being involved in a war in Iraq. I did not believe it at the time we entered that war -- I voted against such an entry -- and I believe the same today.
I think that if and when they decide to attack us, even if it is on our soil, they will do it. They did it before; they'll do it again.
COCHRAN: Thank you very much, Secretary Rumsfeld.
General Pace, would you like to respond?
PACE: Senator, thank you. I appreciate your indulgence.
PACE: I wanted to make absolutely sure that my answer to Senator Byrd is as precise as possible, because I'm not sure that what he said after I spoke -- that I was understood.
I believe you asked, Senator, "Is any of the supplemental funding in this bill going to be used to either, A, plan an attack against or conduct an attack against Iran inside of Iran?"
The answer to that question, sir, is, no, sir. It will be used for operations in Afghanistan, operations in Iraq, and operations in the global war on terror, sir.
COCHRAN: Thank you very much, General Pace, for your participation in this hearing, General Abizaid and Secretary Rice. We appreciate your service, your outstanding caliber of leadership for our military forces and our civilian forces in the Department of Defense and the Department of State.
You can be assured that this committee is going to carefully review and analyze this request for supplemental funding for the war on terror. We have a record of supporting the administration's requests to protect the security interests of this country and the safety and security of American citizens. And I have no doubt that this committee will report out a bill that does just that in time for it to be useful and to help ensure that that security is a reality.
The hearing is adjourned.