Opening Statements: U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq and Afghanistan

CQ Transcripts Wire
Thursday, August 3, 2006 1:26 PM

AUGUST 3, 2006




































WARNER: Good morning, everyone.

The committee meets this morning to receive testimony from the distinguished secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General John Abizaid, commander, the United States Central Command, on progress in Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terrorism and such other aspects as relative to your area of operations.

The committee will also look in for their insights on the ongoing crisis involving Israel, Hezbollah, Lebanon, to some extent Palestine.

Secretary Rumsfeld, the committee appreciates the changes you've made in your schedule you've outlined to me very carefully. And we welcome you this morning.

Last week, in a historic visit, the prime minister of Iraq met with President Bush, addressed a joint session of Congress, spoke with military personnel at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. I was privileged to be present at all of those events. I think it was an extremely important chapter in the ongoing developments in Iraq that he took that time to come over here. It demonstrated the resolve of the Iraqi people to build a free and stable country.

During the meeting with military personnel and their families -- and I witnessed this -- he, in a very passionate and sincere way, conveyed to those military people present at Fort Belvoir, and for broadcast to military people all over the United States and the world, the gratefulness in their hearts of the Iraqi people for their sacrifices of life and limb and that of their families, in order to enable the people of Iraq to gain a measure of democracy, elect their government, share in the freedom that we all have in this country.

In meetings with Prime Minister Maliki, President Bush reaffirmed America's commitment to support Iraq's constitutional democracy, to help Prime Minister Maliki's government succeed.

July 25th, President Bush said, "The Iraqi people want to succeed, they want to end this violence." The president also said that "America will not abandon the Iraqi people."

I am, however, gravely concerned by the recent spike in violence and sectarian attacks, the instability in Baghdad and recent decisions to extend the deployment of 3,500 American troops in Iraq, relocated additional American forces to reinforce Baghdad. Those were important decisions made by you, Mr. Secretary, General Abizaid, of course, you, Chairman. I hope that you will share with us this morning the reasons for doing so.

WARNER: I don't question the seriousness of this situation, the need to do it, but we should have a very clear explanation. Because we had, I regret to say, expectations -- largely generated by certain reports of General Casey -- about the hope to draw down our forces in the near future.

And that's a question that I hope that we address this morning, because I do not like to see the hopes of the men and women of the armed forces raised and then have to be changed, and the impact on their families and, indeed, the confusion that results here at home when those decisions have to be made.

But we recognize -- the president has said, as the secretary said -- that ground conditions vary, and they must be the determining factor.

Additionally, I've expressed concerns about the potential impact of events in Lebanon and Israel, and their cascading effect on the wider Middle East region, and specifically on United States and coalition forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

My concern is -- and I've expressed this publicly -- that Israel was wrongfully attacked by Hezbollah; no one disputes that whatsoever. They have an unequivocal right to defend themselves; no one disputes that.

But as our nation engages in this situation -- and historically we've been an honest broker in that region -- our nation engages in that conflict to try and resolve it, we must do so in a way to be mindful of the implications on our commitments in the Iraq theater.

The messages we send by virtue of our support to try and bring about a cessation of this conflict transmitted throughout the Muslim world straight up into Iraq.

WARNER: It's my fervent hope that our men and women serving in uniform and others in Iraq not be put at greater personal risk as a consequence of the rhetoric that flows, the decisions that are made in trying to resolve that conflict.

I'll have further to say about that in the question period.

In the nearly five years since U.S. forces initiated operations to liberate Afghanistan from the brutal rule of Taliban and to eliminate Al Qaida training bases and sanctuaries, there's been remarkable progress in Afghanistan on the political, economic and security fronts.

The Afghan people have spoken in favor of freedom and democracy. And I'm pleased that NATO is taking an increasing and very important role in Afghanistan.

And you're to be commended, Mr. Secretary, for initiating that move, together with General Jones, who has been a strong advocate of trying to achieve that goal.

However, reports from Afghanistan of recent show that the violence is on the rise. We will learn from you, I hope, your concern as to that AOR, General, and what the future holds in the face of a resurgence of the Taliban forces.

While some in the West take freedom and liberty for granted, Americans everywhere should remain so proud of the contributions of our service men and women deployed in harm's way.

WARNER: They're bringing the best hope for freedom and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, after decades of cruel oppression. And their sacrifices have enabled us, here at home, to fully enjoy the freedoms that we have.

As the current conflict in Lebanon and north Israel proceeds, there is obvious concern that the crisis could spark a wider war.

The firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said, quote, "We, the unified Iraqi people, will stand with the Lebanese people to end the ominous trio of the United States, Israel and Britain, which is terrorizing Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and other occupied nations."

He also said that he is ready to go to Lebanon to defend it.

Now, we've all recognized that he's just a hothead and a firebrand. But he's a troublemaker.

And I hope, General Abizaid, you can give us some assessment of the courage and the will of the Iraqi people, under the leadership of the prime minister, to begin a step that must be achieved. And that's the disbanding of these private militias, notably Sadr's.

Back to Osama bin Laden, his deputy issues a worldwide call for Muslims to rise up against Israel and join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza, raising again the specter of an Islamic caliphate that I clearly remember General Abizaid discussed in testimony before the committee last year.

We hope you'll bring us up to date on the Osama bin Laden situation and the ongoing activities of our forces, together with others, trying to bring about this man being brought to justice or otherwise taken care of.

In light of all these developments, the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan is even more critical.

WARNER: Your time with us today is critical.

General Pace and General Abizaid, I want to express our gratitude to both of you and the countless men and women that you represent for your continued service and historic efforts of our nation's military to bring freedom and liberty to Iraq, Afghanistan and to preserve it here at home.

Secretary Rumsfeld, once again the committee welcomes you.

Now, just before the committee meeting started, General Abizaid offered to meet with Senator Levin and myself for information to members of the committee. And he outlined the progress being made with the various reports examining the activities of the chain of command relative to certain incidents in Iraq.

And it's our understanding, General Abizaid, that those reports will soon be given to you. There is a convergence of the criminal investigation together with the chain of command investigation under General Chiarelli. It is now in the overall command of the Marine forces, General Sattler. And then it comes to you and it is your hope and expectation that, working with the secretary, those reports can be made available to this committee early on in September.

Senator Levin?

LEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this very important hearing.

And thank you to all of our witnesses for being here this morning.

The American service men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world are performing their duties magnificently. We salute them and their families. We thank them for their unselfish service and devotion to our nation.

Despite their heroic efforts, the security situation in Iraq continues to worsen. Sectarian violence is not only on the rise, it has eclipsed the Sunni insurgency and the terrorism of Al Qaida in Iraq, in terms of the toll it has taken and the threats to Iraq's chances of stability.

LEVIN: Our military leadership has identified Baghdad as the key, what they call the center of gravity, to success or failure in Iraq. The highly vaunted recent plan to stabilize Baghdad hasn't worked, and we're going back to the drawing board and sending more U.S. troops to the Iraqi capital. We're having difficulty finding sufficient troops for that purpose.

The fact that the Army Stryker brigade that is being sent to Iraq, being sent to Baghdad, is being extended past its 12-month rotation date by another three to four months speaks volumes about how our military is overextended, unable to find other units ready for immediate reinforcement in Iraq.

And while there appears to be an immediate necessity for additional troops in Baghdad, more troops will not be the ultimate answer. Our military leadership has repeatedly said there is no military solution, and that there must be a political solution in Iraq.

Iraqis reaching the political compromises now is more important and more critical to diffusing the violence and conflict in Iraq. And that is why we need to clearly tell the Iraqi political leaders that our commitment to Iraq is not open-ended, and we will begin the phased redeployment of our troops by the end of the year and that they must make the political compromises necessary to avoid all-out civil war and to defeat the insurgency.

When General Casey was asked at a press conference recently whether he still believed that there would be fairly substantial troop reductions over the course of this year, he said "I think so."

LEVIN: Marine General Conway testified before us last week at his hearing to be the next commandant that, quote, "I personally believe that you will have Iraqis who have started to look at us as occupiers and are resisting us in some instances, whereas they would not resist an Iraqi force doing precisely the same thing."

He also testified that, "It is critical that the Iraqis understand that our presence is not open-ended and unlimited. The president has assured the nation that as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down."

General Dempsey, our senior general responsible for the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces has said publicly that, quote, "The Iraqi army will be built by the end of this calendar year," and that their army would be, quote, "fully capable of recruiting, vetting, inducting, training, forming into units, putting them in barracks, sending them out the gate to perform their missions," close quote.

Congress has been told that over 70 percent of Iraqi combat battalions are capable of independent counterinsurgency operations, are capable of taking the lead in those operations.

The Iraqi security forces are standing up. And we need to begin to stand down, with a phased redeployment starting by the end of this year.

It's time for the Iraqis to take greater responsibility for the security of their own country.

It's time to do what the president repeatedly said he would do. Now that the Iraqis have done a significant amount of standing up their troops, surely by the end of this year we should begin to stand down some of our troops.

LEVIN: Now, not only do the operations in the Central Command region have broad implications on the future of that region, they're also having a serious impact on our own military.

Our ground forces, the Army and Marine Corps, are under enormous strain due to several years of large-scale redeployments and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Because a large amount of equipment has been left in Iraq, and because the remaining equipment has been subjected to large amounts of wear and tear, there is a lack of readiness for Army and Marine Corps units which have redeployed to their home bases.

Now, it's argued that our units that are more capable now because of organizational changes and the infusion of technology and better equipment. But that is only true if the units actually have the equipment on hand; and only if what that have on hand is in a high state of maintenance so that they can train for that potential contingencies.

Hypothetically, if 50 combat units could now do what 100 units could do in the past, that would be true only if those units are ready to do so.

Over two-thirds of the Army's combat brigades are not in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Army's own statistics show that the vast majority of those are not C-1 or C-2; in other words, by the Army's own measurements, are not ready to respond to those contingencies for which they must be prepared to do by Department of Defense war plans.

Mr. Chairman, again, I thank you for calling this hearing. And I thank our witnesses, all of them, for making the arrangements which they had to make in order to be with us this morning.

WARNER: Thank you, Senator Levin.

WARNER: Secretary Rumsfeld?

RUMSFELD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. And thank you for the invitation to testify.

Senator Clinton, thank you for seconding the motion.


I know we all agree that the American people deserve a healthy, preferably constructive, exchange on matters that so directly affect the lives, their lives, their families' lives and their country's security.

I'm joined by General Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Abizaid, the combatant commander of the U.S. Central Command. We will be providing an update on the global struggle against violent extremists and certainly will welcome questions.

In the past few weeks, in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, in Iraq and now by Hezbollah, we've seen the face of the early part of the 21st century. In this period of asymmetric warfare, irregular warfare, one side puts their men and women at risk in uniform and obeys the laws of war while the other side uses them against us; one side does all it can to avoid civilian casualties while the other side uses civilians as shields and then skillfully orchestrates a public outcry when the other side accidentally kills civilian in their midst; one side is held to exacting standards of near perfection -- the other side is held to no standards and no accountability at all.

This enemy has called Iraq the central front on the war on terrorism, while some on our side seem to argue that the outcome in Iraq is not part of that global war on terror.

Sixteen years ago this week, Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait, killing civilians, unleashing environmental devastation, provoking a crisis that led to Iraqi attacks on Israel and threats to Saudi Arabia and others in the region.

Last week, by contrast, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, the new Iraqi prime minister, who was elected by the Iraqi people under a constitution the Iraqi people wrote and ratified, came to the United States to thank the American people for their assistance in building a new future for the people of Iraq.

RUMSFELD: He had spent 25 years in opposition to the Saddam Hussein regime. And before a joint session of Congress, he noted that if terror were permitted to triumph in Iraq, then the war on terror will never be won elsewhere.

The enemy understands this as well. They're waging a psychological war of attrition, planning attacks to gain the maximum media coverage and the maximum public outcry.

They want us to believe that perseverance by us is futile, rather than necessary. They want us to focus on our casualties and losses, not on the people causing the casualties and losses. They want us to think about what will happen if our forces stay in Iraq, as opposed to the consequences if our forces were to leave prematurely. They want us to be divided, because they know that when we are united they lose. They want us pointing fingers at each other, rather than pointing fingers at them.

I know there are calls in some quarters for withdrawal or arbitrary timelines for withdrawals. The enemies hear those words as well.

We need to be realistic about the consequences. If we left Iraq prematurely, as the terrorists demand, the enemy would tell us to leave Afghanistan and then withdraw from the Middle East. And if we left the Middle East, they'd order us and all those who don't share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines. And then we would face not only the evil ideology of these violent extremist, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding in telling free people everywhere what to do.

We can persevere in Iraq or we can withdraw prematurely until they force us to make a stand nearer home. But make no mistake, they're not going to give up whether we acquiesce in their immediate demands or not.

Decisions about conditions for a drawdown of our forces in Iraq are best based on the recommendations of the commanders in the field and the recommendations of the gentleman sitting beside me.

RUMSFELD: We should strive to think through how our words can be interpreted by our troops, by the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, by our 42 allies in our coalition in Afghanistan, and our 34 allies in our coalition in Iraq. And we should consider how our words can be used by our deadly enemy.

The war on terror is going to be a long struggle. It's not something we asked for, but neither is it something we can avoid. But I remain confident in our mission, in our commanders, in our troops and in our cause. And I remain confident in the good common sense of the American people.

Americans didn't cross oceans and settle a wilderness and build history's greatest democracy only to run away from a bunch of murderers and extremists who try to kill everyone that they cannot convert and to tear down what they could never build.

Over the past few years, I've had the honor of meeting countless young men and women in uniform, all volunteers, who have answered our country's call.

I remember a service man outside of Afghanistan who looked me in the eye and said, "I can't believe that we're being allowed to do something so important," unquote.

Our troops represent the finest and the most professional troops in history. I think of these remarkable people every day. I know that everything we do in the Department of Defense and what you do on this committee affects them and their wonderfully supportive families.

Thank you.

WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

General Pace?

PACE: Mr. Chairman, Senator Levin, members of the committee, it truly is an honor to be before you today, representing the incredible young men and women in your armed forces.

Since 9/11, over 1 million young men and women in uniform have served this country in the Central Command area of operations.

PACE: And they've done so with incredible bravery and sacrifice and performance that has made us all proud.

And their families have served this nation as well as anyone who has worn a uniform, especially those families today in the 172nd Stryker Brigade whose loved ones are not coming home when they thought they would be coming home, and who, once again, are sacrificing that we might provide the strength needed on the battlefield.

It's now almost five years since September 11th, 2001. And the number of young men and women in our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives that we might live in freedom, is approaching the number of Americans who were murdered on 9/11 in New York, in Washington, D.C., and in Pennsylvania.

We've come a long way in Afghanistan. We've come a long way in Iraq and elsewhere in the war on terrorism. We have a long way to go. We are a nation at war.

Fortunately, most of our fellow citizens are not affected by this war every day. Some 2.4 million Americans, active, Guard and Reserve, have the privilege of defending over 300 million of our fellow citizens and countless millions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Our enemy knows they cannot defeat us in battle. They do believe, however, that they can wear down our will as a nation. They are wrong. How do I know they're wrong?

First, this committee and this Congress continues to provide the resources we need to defend this nation. And I thank you for that.

Second, our service men and women are proud of what they are doing and they are reenlisting in record numbers to continue to have the privilege to do what we do for this nation.

Third, as the secretary mentioned in his comments, the American people have, in the past, are now, and will in the future, respond to attacks on our way of life. Two hundred and thirty years, we have met the challenges.

This will not be easy, this will not be quick and this will not be without sacrifice. But we will persist and we will prevail.

PACE: And I look forward to answering your questions today, and working together with you in the future to defend this nation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

WARNER: Thank you, General.

General Abizaid?

ABIZAID: Thank you, Chairman Warner, Senator Levin, members of the committee. Thanks for the opportunity to testify today.

A couple of days ago I returned from the Middle East. I've rarely seen it so unsettled or volatile. There's an obvious struggle in the region between moderates and extremists that touches every aspect of life.

Such extremism, whether state-sponsored by Iran or ideologically motivated by Al Qaida and its associated movements, remains a serious danger to global peace and stability.

My duties took me to both Iraq and Afghanistan, Central Asia and elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf, where our troops continue to perform with great professional calm and determination under dangerous and difficult circumstances.

Of course, over the past several weeks, the media has been filled with images of war in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Indeed, U.S. forces under CENTCOM helped evacuate nearly 15,000 Americans from Lebanon's war zone.

And while the media's eye often directs public attention to Iraq and Afghanistan, it's important to remember that U.S. and coalition forces serve throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, increasing regional states' capacity to battle extremism and keeping open the vital air and sea links of the region.

In the broader struggle against extremism, we face complex and potentially intersecting problems. Our strategic imperatives are formidable.

With the continuing help of our friends, we must focus on three strategic objectives: We must synchronize the appropriate diplomatic, economic and military means to defeat Al Qaida and its associated movements; we must deter Iranian designs for regional hegemony, to include its sponsorship of terrorist organizations and its development of nuclear weapons; finally, we must find a comprehensive solution to the corrosive Arab-Israeli conflict.

ABIZAID: I fully recognize that each of these tasks is filled with danger and enormous difficulties. I also realize that trying to solve any of these problems will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

But failure to apply coordinated regional and international pressure against these three problems will further encourage extremism and could eventually lead to a broader, even more dangerous conflict.

The arming of independent militias and the subsequent undermining of state institutions by these militias is the curse of the region.

In many ways, interconnectedness brought on by 21st-century globalization has been turned to the advantage by non-state actors. Globalization brings with it great benefits, but it also accelerates the dissolution of sovereignty in weak or corroded states.

If this century is to be dominated by non-state actors with no responsibility to the international community, we are in for even greater dangers.

It should not be lost on us, for example, that Hezbollah fields greater and longer-range weapons than most regional armed forces. If left unchecked, it is possible to imagine chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons being transferred to militias or terrorist organizations by a state actor.

In the highly unsettled Middle East, the problem of extremist- sponsored terror and intimidation is complicated, but we must be willing to talk about Al Qaida's ideological designs and face the implications of revolutionary Iran's ambitions so often and so clearly stated by its president.

There is no doubt that these are dangerous times for the world, but there should also be no doubt that with concerted international action and the application of our own substantial power these dangers can be overcome.

Iraq sits at the center of the broader regional problem. Al Qaida and Shia extremists form terrorist groups and death squads to challenge the new government and undermine confidence in a better future. Iran talks about stabilizing Iraq, but just as in Lebanon, it arms, trains and equips local extremist Shia militias to do Iran's bidding.

As the primary security problem in Iraq has shifted from a Sunni insurgency to sectarian violence, Al Qaida terrorists, insurgents and Shia militants compete to plunge the country into civil war.

Prime Minister Maliki and his new government know what must be done, and in three short months in office are responsibly tackling the complex and difficult problems of security and governance. Iraqi security forces, in conjunction with coalition forces, must bring Baghdad, the center of sectarian violence, under control. Illegal militias must be disbanded. National reconciliation must proceed. Death squad leaders must be brought to justice.

It is a decisive time in Baghdad and it requires decisive Iraqi action with our clear support.

ABIZAID: Despite the many challenges, progress does continue to be made in Iraq, and I am confident that there are still many more people in Iraq trying to hold that country together than there are trying to tear it apart.

Our ongoing support of their efforts is essential for their success, especially as they assume more and more responsibility for their own security.

I know the committee wants to focus these hearings on Iraq. But I close with the reminder that Iraq is only one part of a broader regional struggle under way -- one which requires the wise application of all our resources.

Our own troops, along with NATO ISAF forces, continue to operate in Afghanistan. Pakistani and Saudi forces are fighting extremists daily. Insurgencies, secular violence and terror sponsored by Sunni and Shia religious extremist groups are pervasive throughout the region.

Fortunately, as in our own society, the vast majority of the people in the region do not want extremists to win. Our challenge is to help these moderate forces help themselves in the struggle.

Afghanistan, Iraq, and the entire region remain dangerous and often deadly. Our continued involvement in shaping regional security forces and providing the framework for action against extremist groups is essential for our own safety and prosperity at home.

Finally, we must be ever mindful of the sacrifice of our young men and women in uniform. Out of the over 1.5 million service personnel who have rotated through the Central Command region since September 11th, 2001, over 3,000 have given their lives.

ABIZAID: We owe them and their families an enormous debt of gratitude.

Today, nearly 200,000 of our troops serve in harm's way. These are incredibly dedicated and resourceful professionals. Thank you for your continued support to these great Americans who willingly fight for all of us.

Thank you.

WARNER: Thank you very much, General. That's a very incisive and important statement that you've just made.

We're going to depart from our normal rotation here. Senator Levin and I both serve on the Intelligence Committee. They are now having a meeting. And the senator from Michigan has to go to that meeting. Therefore, I'll offer you the first opportunity to initiate questions.

LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, thank you for your invariable courtesies.

General Abizaid, when General Casey was asked at a press conference recently whether he still believed what he said last year, that he predicted that there would be troop reductions over the course of this year, he said that he still believes there will be such reductions this year.

Do you personally share that view?

ABIZAID: Senator, since the time that General Casey made that statement, it's clear that the operational and the tactical situation in Baghdad is such that it requires additional security forces, both U.S. and Iraqi.

I think the most important thing ahead of us throughout the remainder of this year is ensuring that the Baghdad security situation be brought under control.

It's possible to imagine some reductions in forces, but I think the most important thing to imagine is Baghdad coming under the control of the Iraqi government.

LEVIN: When you say it's possible to imagine some reduction in forces, you mean this year?

ABIZAID: It's possible, depending upon how things go in Baghdad and how Prime Minister Maliki and his government grab ahold of the security situation.

LEVIN: Is it important that the Iraqis understand that our commitment is not open-ended?

ABIZAID: Sir, I think they fully understand it is not open- ended.

LEVIN: Some of their statements have not reflected that full understanding. But I'm glad -- but in any event, would you agree that it is important that they do understand our commitment is not open- ended?

ABIZAID: I believe they do understand it's not open-ended. And they know our commitment and they know the necessity for, over time, to increase their capacity against the extremists.

LEVIN: Thank you.

Mr. Secretary, the president has assured the nation frequently that as Iraqi security forces stand up, we will stand down.

They have stood up. The majority now of their combat battalions are capable of either independent counterinsurgency or capable of taking the lead in those operations.

Shouldn't we, at least by the end of this year, begin to do what the president said we would do? Since security forces of Iraq have stood up in such significant measure, should we not begin to stand down, as the president said we would?

RUMSFELD: Senator, you're correct. The Iraqi security forces are now up to something like 275,000. They are headed toward 325,000 by the end of the year, unless the prime minister makes an adjustment in those numbers, which, as a new government, he has every right to do in a sovereign nation.

I guess the issue of drawdown depends on what you think your base is. We were up at 160,000. Today we're at -- we've gotten as low as, I think, about 127,000. Today we're at a 133,000.

And certainly everyone, from the Iraqis, the troops and the president, would hope that those troops could be drawn down as conditions permit.

The question -- the only difference between the way you phrase it and the president phrases it, as he ends by pointing out that he intends to succeed here and he believes that the determinant should be the conditions on the ground as opposed to some timetable.

I do think the point you raise, the core of what you're asking, is important, and that is the tension that exists between having too many troops and having it feed an insurgency, as you, I believe, indicated General Conway may have referred to, and having too few so that you don't have a sufficient number to allow the security situation to permit the political and the economic activities to go forward.

And that's a fair tension that exists there. And it's an art, not a science; there's no guidebook that says how to do that.

And so, clearly, we would all hope that there could be drawdowns on those forces as the conditions permit.

LEVIN: Thank you.

The press reported that Iraqi President Talabani said yesterday that the Iraqi government is confident that Iraqi troops will take over security duties for the entire country by the end of this year. And then he also reportedly said that the recent increase in violence by insurgents is, quote, "the last arrows in their quivers," close quote.

LEVIN: Now, that phrase is reminiscent of Vice President Cheney's claim a year ago that the insurgency was in its last throes.

General Abizaid, does our intelligence on the insurgency provide any basis for the assertion that the recent surge in violence represents the last arrows in the insurgents' quivers?

ABIZAID: Well, Senator Levin, I think it's clear that the insurgency has a lot of resiliency, it's probably going to last for some time even after U.S. forces depart and hand over security control completely to the Iraqis.

The question is for President Talabani, as I've discussed with him before, whether or not over time the Iraqis can control it. And I believe they will be able to.

LEVIN: You don't agree, then, that it's in its last throes or that they're shooting the last arrows?

ABIZAID: I'm making no comment about what he said about last arrows or last throes.


ABIZAID: I don't see any reason to dispute what the president says. I know that I think it's a long-term problem for Iraq that they'll be able to work through over time.

LEVIN: The British ambassador made the following assessment, according to USA Today: that the British ambassador to Iraq -- it's Mr. Patey, I believe, P-A-T-E-Y -- has warned that Iraq is descending toward civil war. And he said it's likely to split along ethnic lines. And he's reported as predicting that Iraq's security situation could remain volatile for the next 10 years.

Do you agree, General, with the ambassador from Britain to Iraq that Iraq is sliding toward civil war?

ABIZAID: I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.

LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, thank you. My time's up. And thank you again for allowing me to go ahead of you.

WARNER: I want to go back to, Mr. Secretary Rumsfeld, the observations I made in the opening statement.

On July 17th, at about 8 o'clock, I went to the floor of the Senate.

WARNER: The Senate was about to consider a resolution -- an important resolution, reaffirming our support for Israel. But I said the following: I said I was concerned that we should take into account America's broader interests in the region as we approach this resolution.

I said specifically America's operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken the lives of more than 2,500 American service men, over 20 some odd thousand still severely wounded, and over $436 billion of our taxpayers' money over these three years.

That's an enormous investment of this country. And the credibility of our country in many respects rests on the conclusion of that conflict in such a way that the Iraqi government can exercise sovereignty and bring about a measure of freedom and democracy.

We're committed to that. And I stand strongly with our president to achieve that goal.

America's participation with other nations in achieving a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis -- I can think of no problem of greater significance than our resolve to not let Iran possess nuclear weapons.

The stability of the Lebanese government -- that must survive, that government, such that they can once again take an even stronger grip on that nation and govern it.

In our relationship with other Arab nations, a lot is at stake in a region which our distinguished witness, General Abizaid -- who spent much of your lifetime in that region -- just said, "Rarely have I seen it so volatile."

WARNER: And it is subject to the corrosive relationships coming out of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

My concern is that, as we go into this situation -- and we have an obligation to try and work as an honest broker, I hope, in resolving the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah -- as we pursue that and as our actions are interpreted by the Muslim world -- and I have read some of the statements of the clerics, of recent, in the last few days. I do not want to see our forces put at greater personal risk, subject to greater intensity brought against them by the adversaries in Iraq.

So my question to you, Mr. Secretary, as we take up our role, hopefully, as an honest broker in this, are we mindful of the broader picture and the enormity of our investment in Iraq, as we try to do what we can to bring about a cessation of the fighting in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah?

RUMSFELD: Mr. Chairman, in the meetings that I've been in with the president and the secretary of state and those that are intimately involved in the situation in Lebanon and Israel with respect to the Hezbollah, there is a sensitivity to the desire to not have our country or our interests or our forces put at greater risk as a result of what's taking place between Israel and Hezbollah.

I think I'd suggest that it be phrased slightly differently, because there are risks, as you point out, but it's a matter of relative risk. There are also risks, if one thinks about it, that Iran is the principal sponsor of Hezbollah.

RUMSFELD: Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, as you posed. Iran is the supplier of weapons to Hezbollah. The rockets that are heading into Israel by Hezbollah tend to be, in a number of cases, Iranian rockets.

And clearly, to the extent that Iran were to achieve weapons of mass destruction, and with a history of a willingness to work intimately with a terrorist organization like Hezbollah, there is that risk as well.

So there are a variety of risks that we face in that region. And it's a difficult and delicate situation.

As I indicated in my opening remarks, I do believe what we're seeing is really the face of the 21st century. The wars we're engaged in and we see are not wars between militaries only. They're clashes between systems: political, economic and military. And they are being fought with asymmetric and irregular warfare, which is very much to the advantage of the attackers.

WARNER: Mr. Secretary, that situation in Iraq is fragile. We need only look at the Baghdad situation. Baghdad could literally tilt this thing if it fails to be brought -- about a measure of security for those people -- tilt it in a way that we could slide toward a civil war that General Abizaid recalled.

General Pace, I go back to the resolution of October the 16th, 2002, which I participated in, my good friend to the left, in drawing up that resolution for the Senate.

It authorized the president of the United States to use the armed forces of the United States to: one, defend the national security of our country against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; two, enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

Many of those missions set out and envisioned by the Congress when it gave this authority, namely the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, have been achieved.

WARNER: But now, in the words of General Abizaid, we're on the brink of a civil war.

And I don't have the exact words before me, but I was struck by General Chiarelli's statement the other day that in his 35 years of military training, he really never had spent a day preparing for what faces him as our commander of forces in Iraq: sectarian violence, civil war.

What is the mission of the United States today under this resolution if that situation erupts into a civil war? What are the missions of our forces?

PACE: Sir, I believe that we do have the possibility of that devolving to a civil war, but that does not have to be a fact.

I believe that U.S. armed forces today can continue to do what we're doing, which is to help provide enough security inside of Iraq for the Iraqi government to provide governance and economic opportunity for their citizens.

The weight of that opportunity rests with the Iraqi people. We can provide support. We can help provide security. But they must now decide about their sectarian violence.

Shia and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other. If they do that and seize the opportunity that the international community has provided to them, then this will be what we want it to be, which is a success for ourselves and the Iraqi people.

PACE: But the weight of that shift must be on the Iraqi people and Iraqi government.

WARNER: I think we have to examine very carefully what Congress authorized the president to do in the context of a situation if we're faced with an all-out civil war and whether we have to come back to the Congress to get further indication of support.

General Abizaid, I've had the privilege of knowing you for a long time, and I really think you speak with remarkable candor and draw on an extraordinary career professionalism. You spent one year of your career in Lebanon. Lebanon is a part of your area of responsibility as CENTCOM commander.

Do you agree with the premise that in this current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, recognizing that Hezbollah attacked Israel, recognizing that Israel has got a perfect right to defend itself, but in so executing their military campaign, it is essential, in my judgment, the Lebanese government not be toppled as a consequence of the infrastructure that's being destroyed during the course of this war.

And can they achieve in this military operation such degradation of Hezbollah, its command and control, its inventory of weapons, as to result in a situation whereby a multinational force can eventually come in, subject to some form of a cease-fire, and begin to shore up, stabilize that government and allow it to take firm control over the entirety of all aspects of sovereignty of that nation of Lebanon?

ABIZAID: Mr. Chairman, U.N. Resolution 1559 clearly calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the extension of Lebanese sovereignty all the way from its northern border to its southern border.

Had that resolution been implemented or started to move toward implementation, the current problem would be much less severe than it has become.

The Iranians, who have armed Hezbollah with cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, missiles that can reach as far as Haifa and beyond, have given Hezbollah a state-like existence and capacity that is unlike any other militia anywhere in the region.

It is absolutely essential that the Lebanese government regain its sovereignty over its own territory. It will, in my opinion, need an international force to help it do that.

There are ways that, in conjunction with the international community, Hezbollah can be disarmed over time and the Shia people that participate in the political life of Hezbollah can be readily accommodated within the Lebanese body politic.

The question as to whether or not they can -- the Israelis can degrade Hezbollah, over time degradation can take place.

And I think it's also very clear to say that over time the consensus of holding Lebanon together under external pressure starts to break down. It's very important that Lebanon stay together as a sovereign country. It is key to stability in the Middle East. And it's essential that that take place. And the international community needs to move in that direction.

WARNER: Thank you very much, General.

Senator Kennedy?

KENNEDY: Thank you very much.

General, just to -- first of all, thank you, General Abizaid, General Pace. Thank you very much for your service.

Welcome Secretary Rumsfeld. I think you can understand why it's so important for your presence here, given these range of issues that are front and center for the American people.

Let me ask you, General Abizaid, if we have difficulty with 130,000 troops in Iraq trying to disarm the insurgency, how in the world do we think we're going to be able to get an international force that's going to disarm Hezbollah?

ABIZAID: Well, Senator, I think with the weight of the international community and the right rules of engagement and the right participation of the various parties concerned that over time Hezbollah can be disarmed.

KENNEDY: Just to come back to a point that the chairman had mentioned about the costs in Iraq -- the $400 billion total, 2,579 have been killed, 19,000 wounded, 54 casualties in my own state of Massachusetts, 70 percent of these from IEDs -- we've been in Iraq for 40 months and 13 days. The Korean War, 37 months. World War I, 19 months. Persian Gulf War, three months. World War II, 42 months, V.E. Day -- 42 months for V.E. Day; 45 months for V.J. Day. Civil War was 48 months.

We've been in there now for 40 months and 13 days with the finest military that's ever been developed in basically rather a third-rate military situation.

How much more do we really expect our military can do? How much more can we demand of them when they are out there doing such a proud and noble job of serving our country? How much more can we demand of them?

And why isn't this demand for political accommodation? Why isn't that front and center so that we can start to bring our Americans home with honor?

RUMSFELD: Senator, I think there is a demand for a combination of military, political and diplomatic activity that moves toward a solution that brings Iraq toward stability.

I think over time, it becomes less military and more diplomatic and more political. And I believe that this current government, that's a four-year government, has that opportunity.

KENNEDY: Mr. Secretary, just to continue, the exact words that General Chiarelli said just last week, quote, "Quite frankly, in 33 years in the United States Army, I've never trained to stop a sectarian fight. This is something new." Now we hear General Abizaid talk about the increase in sectarian violence.

How are our troops trained to deal with sectarianism?

We know that they weren't trained as well as they should have been. We first went into Iraq when they weren't trained at Abu Ghraib.

How are they trained now with this new sectarian? How are they trained not to take sides?

And is this new addition of troops in Baghdad the beginning; we're going to have to have more troops to deal with this?

And what are our troops told in Baghdad now to quell the violence in this sectarian? How are they going to not get drawn in to one side or the other with the escalation of the sectarian violence?

KENNEDY: What is in their background, what's in their training, what's been in their leadership that would give them the ability to not be involved in this, to quell the violence, and to eventually help President Maliki disarm and dismantle the militias?

RUMSFELD: Senator, I think your point is a valid one: that ultimately, the sectarian violence is going to be dealt with by Iraqis. And it's going to be dealt with by Iraqi security forces as a part of the solution, but it's going to be dealt with through a reconciliation process, a political process that will -- Maliki, the prime minister, and others in the country are trying to design in a way that it will pull together elements within the country and thereby reduce sectarian violence.

I'd rather have either the generals comment on the training, except to say that the situation in Iraq, with 18 provinces, is really quite different in different provinces. And we have forces in most provinces. And the training is different for the different circumstances that they face.

One of the things that the department has done is have extensive lessons learned from what's taking place in Iraq in different parts of the country brought back to the joint forces command and the national training center and the troops are being trained up, carefully, to assure that they have the best kind of training they can have for the circumstances that we believe at the time they're going to find in the areas they're going to be assigned to.

KENNEDY: My time's just about up.

General Abizaid, could you, sort of, expand on this, about their getting in with the growth of the sectarian violence? How do our troops get in there, not get embroiled in the sectarian violence?

What is your estimate: Is this the beginning or is this the end of the increased numbers of troops that we're going to need over there?

And how is their background and training actually going to quell that sectarian violence that you have identified as escalating at the present time?

ABIZAID: Senator Kennedy, the first line against sectarian violence is the Iraqi armed forces. The Iraqi armed forces know where the problem's coming from. They know how to deal with the problem.

ABIZAID: They can recognize it easier than our troops can.

But I would also tell you that our forces do have the capability to precisely target the cellular death squad structure that is responsible for this activity. And more and more over time we have become proficient at being able to attack the cellular structure of Al Qaida, and we intend to use that capability and intelligence activities that we have used before to target the militia death squads that we are seeing operate now in Baghdad with a certain degree of freedom.

WARNER: Thank you.

For the record, this is the General Chiarelli's full statement. It is July 27, 2006. He said, quote, "For the military the plant is uncharted ground. Quite frankly, in 33 years in the United States Army I never trained to stop a sectarian fight," he said. "This is something," end quote. That's the quote to which I referred to and Senator Kennedy referred to.

Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I thank the witnesses.

And I want to repeat at the outset my firm belief that we can and must win in Iraq and that the consequences of failure would be catastrophic.

General Pace, you said there's a possibility of the situation in Iraq evolving into civil war. That correct?

PACE: I did say that, yes, sir.

MCCAIN: Did you anticipate this situation a year ago?

PACE: No, sir.

MCCAIN: Did you, General Abizaid?

ABIZAID: I believe that a year ago it was clear to see that sectarian tensions were increasing. That they would be this high, no.

MCCAIN: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?

ABIZAID: The number is closer to 3,500.

MCCAIN: Three thousand five hundred?

ABIZAID: Plus military police that were going there for other duties that are being used in the outer cordon areas, military policemen in particular.

MCCAIN: And where are these troops coming from?

ABIZAID: The troops, the Stryker brigade, is coming down from Mosul.

MCCAIN: From Mosul. Is the situation under control in Ramadi?

ABIZAID: The situation in Ramadi is better than it was two months ago.

MCCAIN: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?

ABIZAID: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.

MCCAIN: And the troops from Ramadi came from Fallujah, isn't that correct?

ABIZAID: I can't say, Senator. I know...


MCCAIN: Well, that's my information.

What I worry about is we're playing a game of whack-a-mole here. It flares up. We move troops there. We all know that Fallujah was allow to become a base of operations and insurgency, so we had to go into Fallujah and fight one of the great battles in Marine Corps/Army history.

Then when I was back there not too long ago, they said, "We're got big problems in Ramadi. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi." And I said, "Where you going to get the troops?" "Well, we're going to have to move them from Fallujah." Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else.

It's very disturbing. And if it's all up to the Iraqi military, General Abizaid, and if it's all up to them, then I wonder why we have to move troops into Baghdad to intervene in what is clearly sectarian violence.

ABIZAID: Senator, also Iraqi troops are being moved into Baghdad. The number of Iraqi troops in the Baghdad area are greater than our troops. We are in support with them in the main operational areas, and I believe that under the current circumstances that the Iraqi forces need to benefit from our command and control capabilities and the systems of a unit such as the Stryker brigade that's been moved to the south.

MCCAIN: I would anticipate putting American troops into this very volatile situation means that American casualties will probably go up.

ABIZAID: I think it's possible that in the period ahead of us in Baghdad that will take increased casualties. It's possible.

MCCAIN: The situation in southern Iraq -- I was briefed by British military and others that there is a grave concern about Iranian penetration throughout southern Iraq. Is that a serious issue?

ABIZAID: Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force, intelligence agencies, arm and train and equip what I would call rogue Shia groups. And, yes, it is a concern.

MCCAIN: Is Basra in control of the militias?

ABIZAID: I think that the militias have greater control in Basra than they need to have, and that is why Prime Minister Maliki has appointed a military officer to go down there to get the security situation back under control.

MCCAIN: Do you have confidence in the Iraqi minister of interior?

ABIZAID: I don't know the Iraqi minister of interior the way I know the defense minister. I have no reason not to have confidence in him.

MCCAIN: Well, all the reports we have is that day after day is that people are running around in police uniforms and army uniforms and they're actually malicious and they're killing people. Story after story, they say when you see the people come in uniform, it's an emergency, that people are going to be killed.

Which brings us, obviously, to the state of the training not of the Iraqi military but of Iraqi police and law enforcement. Can you comment on that situation?

ABIZAID: During the period after the national election, when no governance formed, the Interior Ministry in particular did not develop its forces in the way that we had anticipated that they would or should.

Military forces, on the other hand, continue to develop well, they continue to perform well. But there is no doubt that police units -- especially local police units -- were infiltrated, in Basra, in particular, but elsewhere as well, by local militias. And they put their allegiance to the militias ahead of their allegiance to the state.

It's vital that we turn this around.

MCCAIN: The cleric al-Sadr continues to be a major obstacle to progress in Iraq. And I believe there's still an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Are we going to address that issue?

ABIZAID: The issue will be addressed by the Iraqi government.

MCCAIN: Not by us?

ABIZAID: Be addressed by the Iraqi government.

MCCAIN: All of my colleagues are here, so I want to not take time. I just want to conclude.

Secretary Rumsfeld, we passed an amendment on the armed services authorization bill, which I am confident will be accepted in conference. And that requires that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, funding for it, be included in the regular budgetary process.

We're hearing story after story about mismanagement of funds, corruptions, et cetera. We must have sufficient congressional oversight.

I hope you are making plans to include the expenses involved in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in the normal budgetary process and not as a, quote, "emergency supplemental."

And I think you should be able, at this time, after this many years involved in this conflict, to be able to predict what those costs might be.

And I want to say, again, we will have a showdown, both within this body and with the executive branch, unless we start going through the normal budgetary process to fund this conflict, which I think all of us agree we'll be involved in for a long period of time.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

WARNER: I'd have you respond, Mr. Secretary.

RUMSFELD: We're aware of the amendment. And, needless to say, we'll comply with the law.

From our standpoint, we can do it either way. And it's been a matter that's been worked out, generally, over the years, between the White House, the Office of Management and Budget and the leadership in Congress.

And the reality is that what we would have to do, as you suggested, would be to provide the best estimates that we can, and projections, and then make adjustments for them as time actually passed. And we'd be happy to do that.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

PACE: Mr. Chairman, can I make one clarification, so that the parents watching this do not believe that, somehow, their sons and daughters are not properly trained to handle the kind of violence that the sectarian violence is creating?

What General Chiarelli said is exactly true: that we do not train to separate sectarian violence and that that is very much a responsibility of the politicians. And as we've talked about already, the Iraqi people need to do that.

With regard to Lieutenant Pace, who's on patrol in Baghdad with his platoon and the kind of violence that he's going to come across, regardless of it's Sunni, Shia or whoever, if it's an armed group, our soldiers and Marines certainly are well trained to handle that.

So there's a difference between the kind of violence they have to handle and what will prevent that violence. And preventing that violence is very much the role of the political leaders in Iraq to solve, sir.

WARNER: Well, that's the purpose of this hearing: to allow you and other witnesses to clarify these bullet statements that come before us and the American public.

Thank you, Chairman Pace.

Senator Reed?

REED: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

General Abizaid, in your opinion, is the Mahdi Army a terrorist organization with the implicit -- at least -- support from the Iranian government?

ABIZAID: In my opinion, there are groups within the Mahdi Army that are under the pay of the Iranian government that are terrorist organizations. I'm not sure I can say that's necessarily true about the entire organization.

REED: And, as Senator McCain pointed out, there was an outstanding warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr, who is the leader of the Mahdi Army. But also his followers are prominent members of the Iraqi government, is that correct?

ABIZAID: That's correct.

REED: So when you say the Iraqi government will dispose of Sadr and the Mahdi Army, he, in fact, is part of that government.

ABIZAID: Well, I believe that the prime minister and his government will take the steps necessary to get the sectarian violence under control and do what has to be done against the death squads.

REED: Do you have any, sort of, sense of the timing of this, particularly with respect to the Madhi Army and to Sadr?

ABIZAID: Again, I wouldn't characterize the target as being either Sadr or the Mahdi Army.

I would say there are elements within the Jaish al Mahdi that will be targeted because they're participating in death squad activities.

REED: With the encouragement, the permission, the tolerance of Sadr?

ABIZAID: I couldn't say whether there's a permission or tolerance or anything of Sadr.

I can say that the prime minister knows and has been very forceful about saying that militias must be brought under control. He has a wide range of points that go all the way from direct military confrontation to agreement with various militias.

REED: But we will not be involved in that process? It'll be exclusively up to the prime minister and his security forces?

ABIZAID: I wouldn't say it would be exclusively the work of Iraqis. It's very clear that our forces, in conjunction with the Iraqis, will help target known death squad organizations.

REED: Mr. Secretary, the chief of staff of the Army testified before the House Armed Services on June 27th that $4.9 billion in funding that the Army requested for reset, which is to repair equipment and replace equipment, was denied before the request was submitted to the Congress.

Did you deny this request? Or did the Office of Management and Budget deny the request?

RUMSFELD: Senator, as you know, the normal process is that the department is given a budget by the Office of Management and Budget, and we take that budget and work within the department to try to fashion a budget that is balanced and makes sense.

And then, in the event that there's from time to time a need to go back to the Office of Management and Budget or the president and request additional funds, we've done that.

I don't know precisely which $4.9 billion I think...

REED: Mr. Secretary, did you go back to the president and ask for more funds because of the critical needs of the Army and the Marine Corps for reset?

RUMSFELD: We have certainly gone to the president and the Office of Management and Budget and explained the need for reset and negotiated it extensively with the Office of Management and Budget.

And regrettably, there have been cuts made by Congress every year in the defense budget. There have been not only reductions in our budget, there have been things that have been added in that we did not request that required us to take money from other things.

RUMSFELD: And, third, there have been things required of us that we were prevented from making savings.

And the net effect of it, if you look just today in the authorization and appropriation bills between the House and the Senate, it runs somewhere between $10 billion, $15 billion or $20 billion, depending on how you calculate it.

REED: So the White House did turn down your request for additional money for reset?

RUMSFELD: That would not...

REED: Yes or no.

RUMSFELD: ... be correct.

REED: So you did not ask?

RUMSFELD: I can't say that because we went through an extensive discussion and negotiation, and we ended up with the budget we ended up with, which was then reduced by Congress.

REED: Last Tuesday evening, the Senate passed an appropriation for $13 billion of additional funding for reset. Is that money appropriate, or is it in some way a waste of resources?

RUMSFELD: It is clearly needed.

REED: And why didn't you ask the White House before they sent the request to Congress for that clearly needed money?

RUMSFELD: We did talk to the White House about it and that's where the number came from, was from the Department of Defense.

REED: Mr. Secretary, what you're saying, I think, is either you asked for the money and they said no, or you accepted a limit despite the needs that you recognized for reset. It's one or the other.

RUMSFELD: You've lost me. At first you were talking about...

REED: I think you've lost everyone with this dialogue.

RUMSFELD: First you were talking about $4.9 billion, I thought. Now we're talking about the $13.1 billion, I think. And we have requested that of OMB and they have requested of Congress, and Congress has put it in the bill, as I understand it has.

REED: Well, when did you request the $13 billion, Mr. Secretary?

RUMSFELD: Within the last period of months -- weeks.

REED: Weeks?

RUMSFELD: Yes, weeks.

REED: Days.

Why didn't you request the $13 billion when the budget was being prepared to be sent to the Congress?

RUMSFELD: When the budget was being prepared to be sent to the Congress, it would have been January of last year for the budget that's being -- still has not been passed by the Congress this year.

RUMSFELD: And for the supplemental, it would have been late last year -- not the beginning of last year, but late last year -- when those budgets are prepared.

We gain knowledge every month that goes by. And it's very clear the Army has a reset problem. And it's also clear that the $13 billion is needed.

REED: Mr. Secretary, it's very clear that two-thirds of the Army operating force, active and reserve, is now reporting as unready. There's not a single nondeployed Army brigade combat team in the United States that is ready to deploy.

The bottom line is that we have no ready strategic reserve. And this is a stunning indictment of your leadership.

RUMSFELD: I think it's an inaccurate statement.

REED: How so? Have you seen the readiness reports, Mr. Secretary?


REED: And it's inaccurate to say that the readiness report for the Army does not indicate severe equipment shortages leaving many brigades in the United States as nondeployable?

RUMSFELD: If you'll allow me a few minutes to respond. It's complicated, but I'd be happy to do so.

I stand with what I say. I think the characterization that you made is not accurate.

And it is complicated. If one sees a chart that shows a deterioration like this over a five-, six-, seven-, 10-year period, one has to assume that the readiness of the military, in this case the Army, has deteriorated.

Now, the fact of the matter is, if you begin with a standard, a requirement that is X, and then you show the beginning of the chart, and then at the end you have changed your requirement because you've decided you need different things, you've learned from the experiences of the last period of years, and you've increased your requirements to 5X, and then you compare yourself against 5X -- so if you've improved 300 percent -- you were at 100 percent to begin at 1X, and now you need 5X -- you've decided your requirement's different -- and you've improved 300 percent to get there, you're still short of that requirement. And that's what shows the deterioration.

The fact of the matter is, the equipment that the military has today is vastly better today than it was five years ago. The readiness of our capabilities are -- if you measure them against full spectrum, you can say they're not ready to do everything that anyone conceivably might need to do.

RUMSFELD: On the other hand, if you ask the readiness of the forces with respect to what they're being asked to do -- ask General Abizaid, "Are the forces over there capable of doing what they're doing, equipped and trained to do what they're doing?" he will tell you, "Yes."

If you ask General Schoomaker, "Are the armed forces of the United States considerably better today, more capable, better equipped than they were five years ago?" he will say, "Yes."

And if you ask General Pace the question, "Is the United States today capable of fulfilling the requirements that the country has put on them?" the answer is, "Yes."

REED: Well, let me take that opportunity.

General Pace, have you seen the last readiness...

WARNER: Senator, wait a minute. You're way over your time...

REED: Excuse me.

WARNER: Now, just a minute. We need to allow the witness to fully respond to your question. And I think your question's been stated. We'll have another round and you can pursue this at that time. But I have to accommodate other members -- quite a bit over your time.

Has the witness had the opportunity to fully reply to the question before him?

RUMSFELD: I have. I think it would be useful just for the context if the senator's last question could be responded to by General Pace.

REED: Listen, Mr. Chairman, would you allow me to ask my question rather than have the secretary ask my questions for me?

WARNER: Well, now, Senator -- just two minutes.

REED: And if I've given up my time, then my time is gone.

WARNER: We allowed you to ask your question very fully. It was stated. It is in the record, I think, with clarity, and the secretary was responding.

We'll have a second round, at which time you can further pursue this important subject. I recognize the importance of this subject.

Now, the secretary's asked for General Pace to give his perspective in response to the senator's question.

PACE: Mr. Chairman, thank you.

Readiness is reflected in personnel, in training and in equipment. Anytime a unit comes back from any deployment -- when I was battalion commander -- the unit has people change out and, therefore, the personnel numbers go down. The training as a result of the unit coming back starts out anew into the new cycle. And equipment is taken from what has been used and put into depot maintenance. That's in normal peacetime.

In wartime, we are using equipment at much greater rates.

PACE: So we have a notional unit that has 100 trucks. And they deploy and they come back. And the trucks normally will be driven 1,000 miles in a year and they're driven 10,000 miles in combat.

You have a larger number of those vehicles that end up being put into the depot maintenance, which for the unit that is home them reduces their readiness based on availability of equipment.

The units that are forward have had not only the equipment that they went over with but have been augmented, thanks to the Congress providing the funding -- for example, our up-armored Humvees. The requirement globally, when we started in September of '01, was about 2,000. That number, now, is up at 12,000.

We have bought up to those 12,000 and we have used them in combat. And now a number of those 12,000 are currently in depot maintenance waiting.

So we're way over the 2,000 we started to begin with, but now, because of maintenance, usage and combat losses, we're below the 12,000 that folks are asking for today.

So it's very difficult, when you turn the kaleidoscope, to see all the pieces. And it does not allow itself to have a straight, easy answer.

Fundamentally, the United States Army is much more capable today. Fundamentally, the Army that is fighting, our war force, today deployed is in tremendous shape, personnel, training and equipment- wise.

But it is absolutely a fact that, for various budgetary reasons, some of which are result of actions taken by the Congress, that we do not have enough funding currently to provide for the repair of all of the equipment that currently sits at our depots waiting to be repaired. And I believe that's where the dialogue is, about how much money is needed.

That $13.1 billion, as I understand it, if approved by Congress, will, in fact, allow the Marine Corps and the Army to take the equipment that is currently stacked up at their depots, hire the workforce and begin the process.

But what has happened when we've not had budgets and we've had continuing resolutions, some of the workforce has had to be let go. And we cannot have the depots not know whether or not they are going to be able to have the funding, long term, to hire people. We cannot go out and hire a mechanic Pace for six months and then to let him go and expect to hire him back again.

I would ask, as we look at this, that we look at some kind of no- year funding that is focused on the backlog of equipment repair that will allow the depots to consciously go out and hire people who can stay in the workforce long enough to get this work done.

Thank you.

WARNER: The senator from Rhode Island raises a very important question. And we will further explore it in the course of this hearing.

Mr. Secretary, I'm going to seek to get documentation that I looked at where you did engage with OMB about the need for these funds. So I think that documentation will be put in this record.

WARNER: Senator Inhofe? But before you begin, Senator, I'm advised by the cloak room that we have two back-to-back votes. It's my intention to go over quickly and vote the first vote.

And, Senator McCain, I would ask that you chair because I'm going to be absent for that vote.

And we'll keep the hearing going, colleagues, as members come and go on these votes.

Senator Inhofe?

INHOFE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And I do want to thank you for giving General Pace the opportunity to respond to that question. I think that was an excellent response.

Let me just make a couple of observations if I might.

I find it really interesting -- I think most of the members of this committee have been to Iraq varying numbers of times. There are some of them who have not been at all. And when you get the reaction, the response and opinions that are formulated by those who have not been there, it's totally different than those who have really been there and they understand first-hand what's going on.

There's no better example of that than an article that was in the paper in USA Today, just this morning, that said the only -- without quoting a source -- at least I didn't see a source -- of the 18 provinces, only one was able to be secured just with the Iraqis.

On the other hand, Dr. Rubaie, who is a person I've known for quite some time, the new NSA, has said that right now, four out of 18 are under the protection and security of Iraqi security forces and there are nine more that will be in a very short period of time, which is 13 out of 18.

INHOFE: When you hear people who have not been there and depend on press reports, there's no way that they can get the resolve that our troops have. There's no way.

I will share with you, General Pace, since this is up in the Marines' area in Fallujah, an experience up there with this Dr. Mahdi that you've met many times I'm sure. Dr. Mahdi or General Mahdi was actually the brigade commander for Saddam Hussein. He hated Americans, until he started embedded training with the Marines.

And he learned to love them so much that he said that, when they rotated him out, that they cried. And he then renamed the Iraqi security forces at Fallujah the Fallujah Marines.

Things like that that are going on that you can only get by being there and experiencing it.

Now I came back from my 11th trip to the CENTCOM AOR. And I timed that trip so that it was right after Zarqawi saw his demise and after the new cabinet appointments were put into place. And you hear a lot about Maliki and so forth and perhaps even Jasim.

But when you sit down and spend quality time with them, you get a different impression than you do by looking at the media here. And, certainly, Dr. Rubaie is the same way.

Jasim at that time, General Pace, said -- or maybe General Abizaid could respond to this -- he said at that time that, of the 36 brigades, 17 -- we're talking about the Iraqi brigades now -- 17 were at level 2 or, in other words, were capable of autonomous operations. And of the 112 battalions, 62 were at level 2.

Now this was two months ago. Do you agree with his assessment at that time of those who are trained and equipped --Iraqi security forces -- and has that changed in the last two months?

ABIZAID: Senator Inhofe, I think the best way to characterize where the Iraqis are doing well has to do with their units that are in the lead -- in the lead in the security structure in whatever area that's been assigned to them.

In October of '05, one division, four brigades and 23 battalions of the Iraqi armed forces were in the lead in their sectors. Today, it's four divisions, 21 brigades and 77 battalions. That's a pretty impressive gain.

And I think it's really important for people to understand that while there are a lot of very important warning signals that can't be lost to us about where sectarian violence is heading in Baghdad, the most important point that we've got to keep in mind is that the army is holding together and that the government is committed to bringing the sectarian violence under control.

So the question is, am I optimistic whether or not Iraqi forces with our support, with the backing of the Iraqi government can prevent the slide to civil war? My answer is, yes, I'm optimistic that that slide can be prevented.

INHOFE: Well, that is consistent with what we get from the other side. I like these hearings here where we get it from you, but also to go over there and see what they have to say about it.

And I have to say this, I was incredibly impressed. I mean, we all are familiar with Maliki, but Minister Jasim and this Dr. Rubaie, someone I had known sometime before, they are very, very optimistic about their level of professionalism.

And when you talk to the troops, getting back up to Fallujah, I was up there during the elections, and knowing that they were actually risking their lives, they were just rejoicing at that time, asking them the question, "Do you see the time in the future where you're going to be able to take over your own security?" they just very enthusiastically say it is.

There's one area...

ABIZAID: Senator Inhofe, if I may, I just want to say the Iraqi soldiers are fighting, they're taking casualties, they are fighting for their nation, they are trying to get the sectarian violence and the insurgency under control. And they deserve an enormous amount of our respect and support.

And so I think sometimes we seem to think that we're the only forces there. We're not. There's 220,000-plus Iraqis that are out there fighting and doing a pretty good job. And, yes, there are some problems within their organizations, but they are maturing and they are doing better, and they'll continue to do better.

INHOFE: And they're committed. I happened to be in Saddam's hometown when the training area was bombed by the terrorists.

INHOFE: And about 40 of them -- 41, I think it was -- were either killed or very seriously injured.

Those families -- those 40 families resupplied a member of their family to replace the one that was killed. I mean, this is the type of thing, the stories you don't hear.

I know my time has expired, but for the record, Senator McCain, I'd like to ask them to give us some information.

According to Chiarelli and several others, including the Iraqis, probably one of the most serious problems, even though it doesn't have a lot of sex appeal to it, is the logistics, both civilian and military, and the problem that we -- the organizational structure to distribute civil equipment and supplies isn't there.

And I'd like to get your opinions as to what we're trying to do to correct the problem of logistical problems.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

MCCAIN: Senator Ben Nelson?

BEN NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Again, thank you, gentlemen, for being here today. I think your testimony in response to questions has been very helpful.

In connection with the number of Iraqi troops who are combat- capable, out of the over 250,000-plus security forces that are there, is there any estimate of the number who would be combat-capable?

ABIZAID: Well, Senator, for the record, the number of trained Iraqi police, border security and Iraqi military forces -- the number is closer to 275,000.

The combat capability within the army -- I think, again, the best measure are those units that are in at the lead, which are four divisions, 21 brigades and 77 battalions. But there's a very detailed list of what unit is at what level that we can certainly provide to you.

BEN NELSON: That would be very helpful. Then, of the...

ABIZAID: They are much improved and they continue to improve every month.

BEN NELSON: Which is part of the emphasis on standing their military up so that we can stand ours down. The faster and the more capable they are, hopefully then there should be some sort of connection with the reduction of our forces as a result of that.

In terms of the police -- let's say the municipal police -- do we know what percentage or what number of the total number you would look at as being not only capably trained but honest and as part of the overall government, as opposed to a militia?

ABIZAID: It's a difficult question to answer. There are some places where the local police are exceptionably efficient and very honest, very capable.

ABIZAID: There are other areas where we know that they've been infiltrated by various militias, such as in Basra, where the government and the British forces that are down there are doing their best to stand down those units, retrain them and bring them on-line in a credible and capable manner.

As far as the national police forces are concerned, in Baghdad it's clear that there are a number of battalions -- again, without my notes in front of me; I'd take it for the record -- but there are a number of battalions that need to be stood down and retrained. And General Casey and Dempsey are working to do that now.

BEN NELSON: Do we know whether approximately 50 percent or 30 percent?

ABIZAID: No, I'd say it's probably 30 percent.

BEN NELSON: Thirty percent.

ABIZAID: That's national police, which is separate and distinct from municipal and/or the military.

BEN NELSON: You know, I think the debate about whether we have a date for withdrawal or there's an open-ended commitment -- hopefully the debate will continue. But I wonder about an approach that is different than setting a date for withdrawal and to close any question about whether it's an open-ended commitment would be better approached on setting conditions for staying with the prime minister, with the Iraqi government.

In other words, there's a lot of slippage on how we have standing up to stand down in terms of their military versus our military because things change on the ground.

But do we have some idea of what our conditions for staying are? Is there a tipping point in terms of their ability or inability to get to a certain level so that they can deal with sectarian violence on their own or the Sunni insurgency, to govern themselves but also to secure themselves?

I guess I would feel more comfortable if we could establish some sort of metrics to know what it takes in terms of percentage, numbers and what it would take in terms of time so that we can say that they are capable of not only governing themselves with the elected government but also in terms of securing themselves so they can govern themselves.

BEN NELSON: I don't know who would like to take that question, but I throw it out to all three of you.

ABIZAID: Well, Senator, the government's been in existence now for three months. They've got a lot of work to do to cement their capability of governance. It's a very difficult thing to bring in a new government under these conditions of sectarian violence and insurgency.

I think it's very important for people to understand that, while there may be a military metric to units in the Iraqi army that are equipped and trained and them taking over a certain battlespace, there is also a very, very important political aspect to this reduction of sectarian violence, which is the various communities getting together and agreeing upon ways to reduce the sectarian violence themselves.

It's important that there be a national reconciliation effort. And it's important that there be agreed-upon measures to move forward with various militias that are operating outside of government control.

I think a combination of those things will lead to less violence over time, establish the role of the national government in Iraq, and allow us to bring our level of forces down as appropriate.

RUMSFELD: Senator Nelson, I'd just add that the U.S. ambassador and General Casey have established a committee or a commission with the new Iraqi government and the national security officials in that government to address the very issues that you're raising as to what are the things that need to be done because, as General Abizaid correctly points out, they reach well beyond military capability.

BEN NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you for your answers.

WARNER: Senator Thune?

THUNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, General, General, Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here and for your responses to the questions.

THUNE: General Abizaid just asked a question. I talked to a soldier last week who has had two deployments to Iraq, and raised the question about whether or not the objectives and the goals that we have in Iraq are aligned with the goals that the Iraqi people have, and that they aren't.

And one of the reasons -- it seems to me, at least, if we're going to get control of the sectarian situation there, the Iraqi people have to buy in to what's happening in Iraq. And his suggestion was that they haven't.

And I know that when we've travelled to Iraq, and I was there a couple of months back with Senator McCain's delegation, you know, we hear from, obviously, the commanders and we talked with some of our troops. In most cases, we don't have a lot of interaction with the Iraqi people.

But I just wanted you to comment about the overall -- the interaction that we have with the Iraqi people, our troops on the ground over there, the temperature, in terms of their willingness to be a part of a national unity government, a democratic Iraq, and that sort of thing, relative to what we're trying to accomplish there.

I mean, this was one soldier who says he visits with these folks all the time and thinks that their interest and their objectives and goals are not aligned with what ours are over there.

ABIZAID: Well, there's certainly people in Iraq that don't want Iraq to come together as an independent state. There are terrorist groups that have views that they want Iraq to descend into a state of anarchy and chaos so they can establish safe havens for terrorism in the region.

But I think that, as I go around and I talk to Iraqi military officers, Iraqi government officials, and people throughout the country -- and I think General Casey certainly would echo this -- the majority of the people want Iraq to come together as a free and independent nation that is capable of being a meaningful member of the community of nations in that part of the world, that's not dominated by either Iranians or dominated by Sunni extremist groups.

ABIZAID: And I believe that know they have to fight in order to achieve that.

RUMSFELD: I think it ought not to be surprising, Senator, that an American soldier would visit with Iraqis and see that they do have a different perspective. They live in a different part of the world, they have a different history, and it's fully understandable.

On the other hand, 12 million of them went out and voted, and they went out and fashioned a constitution and then ratified it that's there for the world to see, and they have been voting in increasing numbers.

So while you're right and General Abizaid is certainly right that there are Baathists who want to take back the country, there are Shi'a who would like to dominate it to the detriment of the Sunnis. The fact of the matter is that 12 million Iraqis went out and voted for that constitution, and that's not nothing, it's something important.

THUNE: Yes. And I appreciate General Abizaid's comment, which I've heard you make previously as well, that the forces that want to hold the country together and see it succeed outnumber and are greater than those that want to see it fail.

But I just wanted to get your assessment of sort of on the ground, the average Iraqi on the street type view of what's happening there, because it seems to me at least that that's a key component in starting to turn over information on some of the bad guys who are committing the violence there and really making this thing work.

One other question has to do again with the borders and how are we doing with respect to Iran and Syria. Foreign arms serve as the lifeblood of the insurgent groups. Does the Iraqi government see that as a threat to their sovereignty and are they stepping up and doing some of the work to protect the borders and make sure that a lot of the arms that are coming in are cut off?

What's your assessment of that? I've asked a lot of questions of your colleagues who have been in front of this committee about IEDs, for example, and where are they getting the materials to make these IEDs. And seems, at least, a lot of that's coming from some of these other countries.

And I know it's important with the length of the borders and everything else to completely shut it off, but are there efforts being made to regulate and control the materials that are coming in that are being used to inflict causalities on our troops?

ABIZAID: Yes, Senator, there is a lot of effort building a border force. The border force is effective in some areas, less effective in others. The Iraqi armed forces also back up the border forces.

The Syrian border remains the primary conduit for foreign fighters. I think those numbers remain less than 100 or so that are transiting back and forth.

The vast majority of the munitions that are used inside Iraq come from inside Iraq. There are certainly smuggling routes that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force people are using to bring in IEDs into the south and into some of the northern portions of Iraq that have been used, and it's clear that that's taking place.

THUNE: Were those weapons caches that were discovered this last week -- has it been determined whether those were leftovers from the previous regime are those that have come in -- that flooded in from other countries?

ABIZAID: Sir, I'd have to see the specific report. There are weapon caches found every day.

THUNE: Yes, all right.

PACE: Sir, just to help with that number, we've had 420,000 tons of ammunition captured and destroyed in some over 14,000 locations in- theater. So it's a huge cache location and we find them every day.

THUNE: Thank you. I thank you for your outstanding service to our country.

And, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

MCCAIN: Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: Thank you very much, Senator McCain.

Mr. Secretary, we're glad you're here.

In your opening statement, you reference the common sense of Americans. Well, I think it's fair to say that that collective common sense overwhelmingly does not either understand or approve of the way you and the administration are handling Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under your leadership, there have been numerous errors in judgment that have led us to where we are in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a full-fledged insurgency and full-blown sectarian conflict in Iraq.

Now, whether you label it a civil war or not, it certainly has created a situation of extreme violence and the continuing loss of life among our troops and of the Iraqis.

You did not go into Iraq with enough troops to establish law and order.

CLINTON: You disbanded the entire Iraqi army. Now, we're trying to recreate it.

You did not do enough planning for what is called Phase Four and rejected all the planning that had been done previously to maintain stability after the regime was overthrown.

You underestimated the nature and strength of the insurgency, the sectarian violence and the spread of Iranian influence.

Last year, Congress passed the United States Policy in Iraq Act, which I strongly supported. This law declares 2006 to be a year of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq.

However, we appear to be moving in the opposite direction, with the number of U.S. troops in Iraq scheduled to increase, not decrease. That's the only way I think you can fairly consider the decision with respect to the 172nd Stryker Brigade.

So, Mr. Secretary, as we returned to our states for the August recess, our constituents have a lot of questions and concerns about the current state of affairs in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't need to remind any of us that we continue to lose our young men and women: 120 from New York alone.

Beside the U.S. losses, violence does seem to be increasing. From January to June of this year, there were 14,338 Iraqi civilian casualties, at least as far as anyone can count; in May and June alone, more than 5,000 deaths and 5,700 injuries.

In a July 22 article in the New York Times, General Abizaid was quoted as saying, "Two months after the new Iraqi government took office, the security gains that we had hoped for had not been achieved."

Then there was the big, ballyhooed announcement of Forward Together and the commitment by the new Iraqi government to secure Baghdad.

CLINTON: Two months into that, it's clear it's not working and we are now putting in more American troops and -- following the lead of Senator McCain's line of questioning -- removing them from other places that are hardly stable and secure.

In Afghanistan, your administration's credibility is also suspect. In December 2002, you said, "The Taliban are gone." In September 2004, President Bush said, "The Taliban no longer is in existence."

However, this February, DIA Director Lieutenant General Maples said that, in 2005, attacks by the Taliban and other anti-coalition forces were up 20 percent from 2004 levels, and these insurgents were a greater threat to the Afghan government's efforts to expand its authority than in any time since 2001.

Further, General Eikenberry made a comparable comment with respect to the dangers that are now going on in Afghanistan and the failure to be able to secure it.

Obviously, I could go on and on. A recent book, aptly titled "Fiasco," describes in some detail the decision-making apparatus that has led us to this situation.

So, Mr. Secretary, when our constituents ask for evidence that your policy in Iraq and Afghanistan will be successful, you don't leave us with much to talk about. Yes, we hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios, but because of the administration's strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy.

Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?

RUMSFELD: My goodness.

First, I tried to make notes and to follow the prepared statement you've presented.

First of all, it's true: There is sectarian conflict in Iraq and there is a loss of life.

RUMSFELD: And it's an unfortunate and tragic thing that that's taking place.

And it is true that there are people who are attempting to prevent that government from being successful. And they are the people who are blowing up buildings and killing innocent men, women and children, and taking off the heads of people on television. And the idea of their prevailing is unacceptable.

Second, you said the number of troops were wrong. I guess history will make a judgment on that. The number of troops that went in and the number of troops that were there every month since and the number of troops that are there today reflected the best judgment of the military commanders on the ground, their superiors, General Pace, General Abizaid, the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense and the president of the United States.

I think it's not correct to assume that they were wrong numbers. And I don't think the evidence suggests that, and it will be interesting to see what history decides.

The balance between having too many and contributing to an insurgency by the feeling of occupation and the risk of having too few and having the security situation not be sufficient for the political progress to go forward is a complicated set of decisions. And I don't know that there's any guidebook that tells you how to do it. There's no rule book. There's no history for this.

And the judgments that have been made have been made by exceedingly well-trained people: the gentleman sitting next to me, the people on the ground in Iraq. They were studied and examined and analyzed by the civilian leadership and by the president, and they were confirmed. And so I think your assertion is, at least, debatable.

The idea that the army was disbanded, I think, is one that's, kind of, flying around. My impression is that to a great extent that army disbanded itself. Our forces came in so fast -- it was made up of a lot of Shia conscripts who didn't want to be in it and thousands -- or at least many, many hundreds -- of Sunni generals who weren't about to hang around after Saddam Hussein and his sons and administration were replaced.

The work to build a new army has included an awful lot of people from the prior army, and it has benefited from that.

Third, the assertion that the government rejected all the planning that had been done before is just simply false; that's not the case. The planning that had been done before was taken into account by the people who were executing the post-major combat operations activities.

The comments about Baghdad I'll possibly let General Abizaid comment on.


Aug 03, 2006 13:17 ET .EOF

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