Panel II of a Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "Afghanistan Strategy"
SEN. BIDEN: I'd like to call General Jones and Ambassador Dobbins. And as I do, I want to make a brief comment here before we begin this panel.
I want to thank General Jones for his 40 years of exceptional service to this nation. And at a time when we're hearing about mind- boggling failures in leadership at Walter Reed and with our VA system, it's an honor to have one of the nation's best warriors and leaders with us today.
And Mr. Chairman, I want to make -- I'm going to put this in the record, in the interest of time, but, you know, I find it mind- boggling what's happening out at Walter Reed. I spent seven months, on and off, out there as a patient. I spent close to two months in the ICU unit there. And I found the care out there to be incredible, exceptional, not just for me but for everybody that was around.
So I was stunned to learn what we did, what happened out there. And I'm going to speak a little more to this in a little bit. But I think the combination of contracting out, about the BRAC closing, the constant attempt to underestimate the cost of this war, has led to this deplorable condition.
And there's a number of good ideas out there. I want to warn my colleagues, I'm going to be introducing legislation that will deal with the privatization of military care as well as moving in the direction to change some other bottom-line requirements.
You know, at Walter Reed, the maintenance and repairs were farmed out to a private firm under a $120 million contract, and the contract to replace 300 workers with 50. Now, maybe some of those 300 workers weren't needed, but you can't tell me there's not a correlation between having 300 people dealing with these needs and 50 people dealing with the needs.
And I also am going to move to prohibit the Department of Defense from being able to mandate medical care budget cuts and also to require that managers have contacted their patients at least once a week to improve their training, and also to make sure that trauma brain injury, so-called TBI, is a presumptive condition for those coming back seeking service if they're in an area where there were serious exposure as well as they have symptoms.
As many as 10 percent of those serving in those countries are brain injuries. That's 150,000 service members. We should also require wounded soldiers and Marines to receive new uniforms. The idea -- when I found out from folks back home that one of the patients could not -- had to get their own uniforms because they came back with a tattered uniform and didn't get a new uniform, I found that just absolutely mind-boggling.
There's a lot more to talk about, and I wish we had time to talk to General Jones, not about the specific condition at Walter Reed but about, as a lifelong leader in the military, what some of the line officers think about what's going on. But that's a different subject.
And I welcome you both. General Jones, why don't we begin with your testimony; Ambassador, then yours. And then what we'll do is move to questions. And I'd ask my two colleagues, maybe we could direct most of our questions initially to General Jones, if you have any for him, so he's able to make his appointment.
And we thank you for being here. Thank you both. Mr. Ambassador, thank you.
GEN. JONES: Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, thank you very much. Distinguished senators, members of the committee, it's a pleasure to be back talking about an issue that I am passionate about, and that's our efforts in Afghanistan.
I appear before you this morning in my capacity as a retired Marine four-star, as of 1 February, and a former NATO commander. And my expertise, to the extent I have any on this subject, has to do with my experiences more in NATO than as a U.S. commander. But I have been privileged to be involved with Afghanistan since NATO first started talking about it in 2003, and was privileged to lead the formulation of NATO's plan, which has now been fully implemented and has resulted, in the fall of last year, of NATO moving into all four sectors of Afghanistan as we divided them -- five, really -- the capital, the north, the west, the south, and then the east, in a counterclockwise gradual expansion, which reached its fruition and full completion last fall.
One of the reasons that violence has gone up in Afghanistan, in my opinion, is that, prior to NATO's full expansion, particularly to the southern region, there was virtually no presence in that region. When we were there, it was largely American coalition troops who were there for specific finite reasons, very kinetic, very short-term combat operations.
And as such, reconstruction and stability had not arrived to that southern part of the country, which is enormous. And it was, in fact, a safe haven for the disparate groups which perpetrate violence in Afghanistan, including the tribes, including the remnants of the warlords, including the Taliban, including the narco-traffickers and the like.
With the arrival of NATO troops in the southern region in the summer of last year, Operation Medusa, which was, I think, a very defining moment, which answered the question once and for all whether NATO would fight in Afghanistan, we did, in fact, make a very positive statement in which the opposition suffered a tactical defeat of significant proportions. And I think that's why you see some of the numbers going up, because we just didn't have any reporting before.
Having said that, I remain convinced that my previous testimony before this committee last year remains essentially valid, that Afghanistan is a -- that the possibility of success in Afghanistan is still at our fingertips. But I would like to succinctly wrap up and make five points as to what I think needs to be done, what I would recommend needs to be done, and done a little bit better in order to make sure that Afghanistan turns in the right direction.
The first thing that I would mention, Mr. Chairman, is that we have over 60 countries that are involved in some way, some manner, shape or form, in Afghanistan. Thirty-seven countries are troop- contributing nations, including 26 countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. So there's a huge amount of international effort going on in Afghanistan.
We know what the good things are. We know we've had tremendous national elections in 2004. We know that Afghanistan is generally stable in the north, in the west. We know that the 25 provincial reconstruction teams are the promise of the future for the people of Afghanistan, and they're doing wonderful things.
We know that the Afghan National Army represents a success story as far as it's come, but we know that the army is not big enough. It needs to get bigger and it needs to expand under the U.S. tutelage. The emergency of the Afghan National Army as an army that is representative of the people and embraced by the people and is doing good things is to be celebrated.
We know that Japan has led the demobilization, reintegration and disarmament pillar of reconstruction in quite a satisfactory way. We know that schools and roads and health care is more available to Afghans. We know that there's a tripartite council where NATO, Afghan authorities and Pakistani authorities, military forces meet -- military leaders meet on a regular basis. We know that President Karzai has formed a policy action group which wants to help to prioritize the reconstruction effort.
Having said that, there are three or four things that I would suggest that are, as I've said before, on life support and need immediate attention by the international community. And may I say, Mr. Chairman, that one of the things I'm proudest of to be associated with is that this is an international problem. This isn't only the problem of the United States.
When NATO moved into Afghanistan and took responsibility for stability and security, that is a very powerful statement by the international community. So the optimum word here is "we" -- not we, the United States; we, the family of nations, have all the legitimacy, international legitimacy, that's required to do this mission, five separate United Nations Security Council resolutions and the authority to justify what it is we do.
So what are these few things that are absolutely at the core? In my view -- and it's been well-articulated this morning -- but narcotics is the Achilles' heel of Afghanistan. It affects every aspect of that society. It fuels crime. It fuels corruption. It's the economic engine for fueling the violence in Afghanistan.
In my testimony, Mr. Chairman, I will not link violence in Afghanistan only to the Taliban. I think one of the things that we have to be careful of is that we don't make the Taliban any taller than the Taliban is. The Taliban is a regional problem. It's not a national problem.
But the failure of the international community to coalesce around the U.K.-led campaign against narcotics is a matter of record. In my three years of regular visits to Afghanistan, I've seen very little progress. As a matter of fact, I've seen much more backsliding than anything else.
To develop a cohesive campaign plan that is internationally supported by not just the United Kingdom, which is, I think, the problem -- the U.K. raised its hand and said we will lead this effort. What has happened is that nations have defaulted to the United Kingdom and suggested that they have to solve the whole thing. That's not the intent of the G-8 agreements. So narcotics to me is the number one problem.
Number two, and a problem that has to be tackled at the same time, is judicial reform. This is an Italian-led commitment under the G-8 agreements, and it is also on life support. The average prosecutor in Afghanistan makes $65 a month. The average interpreter for the United Nations makes about $750 a month. There are a thousand prosecutors in Afghanistan, and the court system is not up to the task of prosecuting people, trying them, and then putting them away. Instead, what we see is a little bit of a revolving door.
To be sure, there's been some progress made. But the really big fish, Mr. Chairman, as you pointed out, are still out there and are still operating. So I think that -- I think, if I were able to do anything, I would focus on narcotics, I would focus on judicial reform. And the third pillar I would focus on, which is a German-led pillar, is the adequacy of police forces, trained, sufficient quantities, sufficient quality throughout the region, so that if we do incentivize the farmers not to grow poppies, for example, there isn't a roving band of narco-traffickers that slits their throat at night for not doing that or kidnaps their children or makes them feel unsafe.
So those three pillars of the accords need urgent attention if we are, in fact, going to deliver on the promise of Afghanistan.
The good news, Mr. Chairman, is that all these things are there. Sixty countries on the ground. The U.N. is there. There's a U.N. high representative who is the representative of the secretary- general. But what is lacking, in my view, in Afghanistan is that central authoritative figure that can, in fact, focus the international relief effort in a way that tackles the three or four things that absolutely have to be done.
We -- if you look back at Bosnia -- and we remember Lord Paddy Ashdown, who was such a figure. And when Paddy Ashdown spoke, the Bosnians, the Serbs and the Croats listened. There is no Paddy Ashdown that I've seen at work in Kabul, in Afghanistan. And I think that either a person or a group of people, whatever the solution is, that can bring discipline to the effort that we're bringing to Afghanistan is necessary.
And finally, I think that, to pick up on Senator Casey's comments with regard to Pakistan and Afghanistan, that that relationship between those two heads of state absolutely has to be brought into a -- more coherent, so that Pakistan understand what goes on in Afghanistan is vitally important to their own national interest as well. Because if we're not successful in Afghanistan, I personally believe that that problem will continue to grow and that it will be a problem for Afghanistan in the future. So that the logic of these two countries working together to solve a common problem to me is inescapable.
I left my job in NATO in December of 2006, and the last real big meeting I had was with a senior military official from Pakistan. And I showed him graphic evidence of what was happening across the border. And I've listened -- I listened to them respectfully about what they said their goals were. I believe them, that they mean to do what they say they're going to do. But at the rate that it was going when I left, it was clear that the problem was definitely not -- it wasn't going in the right direction. I think we'll know a lot more this spring about whether the Pakistani government on its side of the border was able to do something. But I think this is one of the four or five things that have to be done.
Mr. Chairman, I summarized as quickly as I can, but I thank you very much for having me, and I apologize for not being able to stay as long as you might like today. And I'd be happy to come back any other time you'd like.
SEN. BIDEN: (Off mike) -- pick up on that, General. We'll still try to get some questions in.
Jim, the floor is yours. And thank you for being here.
MR. DOBBINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members of the committee. I'll try to summarize quickly so we can get to some questions for General Jones.
I think that one can pin responsibility for the current difficulties in Afghanistan on two sources: there's sort of sins of omission and sins of commission. The sins of omission were essentially our failure back in 2002 and 2003 to move quickly when we had a benign environment with the Taliban on the run and al Qaeda largely dispersed, to provide security and begin the process of reconstruction.
The amounts of money that are now being spent and being request(ed) for Afghanistan for economic assistance are 20 times than the amounts that I had in early 2002 to begin that process, 20 times more on an annual basis. And the number of troops we have there now is four times more, more than four times more than we had for that first year.
This is -- I've overseen post-conflict reconstruction in five societies and I've studied them going back to 1960. This is the only time on record in which we've spent more money and had more troops five years after we started than we did the first year or two. And I think this is indicative of this early failure to seize the golden hour when we could have done so much more.
But if that's the sins of omission, I think the sins of commission largely lie not in Afghanistan or in Washington, but in Pakistan.
This is not an insurgency led by a discontented population in Afghanistan with an abusive or an ineffective government. It's true that the population in the affected areas don't have a lot of reasons to take risks for their government or place much confidence in their government, but the real source of this conflict lies in Pakistan. The insurgency is organized in Pakistan. It's led in Pakistan. It's recruited in Pakistan. It's trained in Pakistan. It's funded from Pakistan. And it operates into Afghanistan.
And I think that the question, of course, comes as to what to do about that. How can we grapple with that phenomenon? I don't think that punitive actions with respect to Pakistan are likely to be productive. We tried that through the 1990s, we made them international pariahs, and everything just got worse. They proliferated, they sold nuclear secrets to other countries, and they supported terrorist movements. So I think that we need a positive agenda with respect to Pakistan.
I'm not sure that requiring the administration to certify that Pakistan is fully cooperating as a condition for U.S. assistance is particularly productive. Frankly and candidly, it simply requires the administration to come up here and lie to you and you to accept those lies because neither you nor they are actually going to move towards punitive steps toward Pakistan. And what we need, in fact, is a more candid discussion of what's going on in Pakistan. We need to raise the international visibility of what's going on in Pakistan, and we're not going to be able to do that if it gets linked with punitive steps which everybody recognizes are likely to be counterproductive.
So I hope -- I mean, I think that we need U.S. officials to say in public what they freely say in private about what -- the links between the elements of the Pakistani government and Taliban activities, the levels of Taliban activities in the country, and the incentives that Pakistan has to be not fully cooperative. And I'd be glad to go into some of that in response to questions.
As I said, I don't think that we should be looking at punitive things. In my written testimony, I've suggested four things that we should do with respect to Pakistan.
One is to promote settlement of the Kashmir issue.
The second is to address the economic and social needs of the Pashtun populations on both sides of the border. There's no sense -- there's not much to be gained from winning the hearts and minds of all the Pashtuns in Afghanistan if we haven't done the same with the Pashtuns in Pakistan. There are more Pashtuns in Pakistan than there are in Afghanistan, a lot more. And unless their aspirations and their grievances are addressed, we're going to have a permanent problem.
Thirdly, I think we need to encourage the Afghan and Pakistani governments to establish an agreed border regime. Afghanistan doesn't recognize that border. It's insisting that Pakistan assert better control over a border that it refuses to recognize.
And finally, I think we need to encourage Pakistan to move back towards civilian rule.
Now, that's not a particularly punitive list of things to do. Indeed, most of them are things the Pakistani government would like us to do.
Finally, just a word on drug problem, which has been much discussed this morning. I think that U.S. officials and indeed members of Congress are faced with sort of two conflicting imperatives here. One is the Hippocratic imperative to do no harm, and the other is the political imperative to don't just stand there, do something. And as we know, the latter of those imperatives tends to be the operative one in many cases. The administration's five-pillar plan, which includes eradication, interdiction, alternative development, judicial reform and public information does strike me as a bureaucratic response to the imperative of just -- don't just stand there, do something, rather than a well thought out, articulated strategy which emphasizes some things and doesn't emphasize others.
I think that drug strategy needs to be put in the context of a broader national strategy, the objective of which is to build support for the Afghan government and allow it to assume greater control over much of the country. It is true that probably the insurgency gains a certain amount of revenue from drug production, but the fact is that most of the drugs are being produced and trafficked in areas of the country that the government controls, not the Taliban, and therefore people in the government are getting by far the largest rake-off from the drug production, not the Taliban. This suggests to me the strategy that would give principal emphasis to interdiction and judicial reform rather than the other elements.
Now finally, as regards a public information campaign, this is going to be a lot more effective if it comes from the Afghan clergy than if it comes from a government known to be riddled with drug corruption or a bunch of foreigners whose motives are suspect. The problem, of course, in Afghanistan is that in Afghanistan as in many other countries, including most of our democratic West European countries, the clergy depends on public revenue for support. Every village in Afghanistan has a school and a mosque. They don't have any government officials at all. There are no government officials, not even police, at the village level, but they all do have a mosque. Unfortunately, supporting the Afghan clergy is an area that no Western donor has been prepared to take up, and I do believe that we need to find ways of allowing the Afghan government to better fund this aspect of its responsibilities because I think this is one of the most important sources of potential support for that government in that country. Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much. We have only about 13 minutes left, and what I'm going to suggest, as General Jones has to leave in 13 minutes and we're going to get a chance to speak to the ambassador, is each senator get one question and one question alone, and limit it to no speech, just a straightforward question. Otherwise, I'll take my seven minutes and no one will get any chance to ask anything, okay? So let's do that.
And I'll begin by asking you, General Jones, no mention has been -- no -- the phrase "al Qaeda" has not been raised by any witness thus far. How big a problem is it, and if you had the authority from the Pakistani government, could NATO forces go in and do damage in the western province to al Qaeda?
GEN. JONES: Senator, the reason that al Qaeda in my view doesn't get mentioned too much is that the al Qaeda portion of the problem is still, in my view, very much manageable. What has come back to the fore is the Taliban. In fact, on the Pakistani side of the border they have been fairly direct at their efforts against the al Qaeda. It's the Taliban that we're asking them to do the same to. So on both sides of the border the al Qaeda has a tough time. It's not the same with regard to the Taliban. With regard to NATO and the western provinces of Pakistan, NATO's mandate would have to be adjusted to have NATO to do that.
SEN. BIDEN: Assume it did. My question is does a capacity exist if it was adjusted?
GEN. JONES: I think that -- I think some of the countries in NATO certainly have the capacity, but it would be -- with the U.S. it would be achieve -- they could do some things, if you had the agreements and if you had the -- if you solve the problem with caveats and all of that. But the capability is there --
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you.
GEN. JONES: -- in NATO.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Lugar?
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Mr. Chairman -- General Jones, yesterday I heard a discussion with Lord Robertson about his experiences in Bosnia. He made the comment with regard to Afghanistan that there is not a contact group in Afghanistan. You are sort of on to that general idea, mentioning Patty Ashdown, a high commissioner of some central control. Is a contact group idea a good one or are there so many nations that the idea at least that was useful in Bosnia would not work in Afghanistan?
GEN. JONES: I think it could work, Senator. I think that the -- what -- despite the -- some of the many good things that are being done what is lacking is the ability to focus the energies and the resources in certain areas that where we know it -- you have to do something.
And so anything that would be -- any group that -- or person that could be created to -- with the authority to bring about that kind of emphasis I think is what's needed. The current structure of the U.N. high representative and the overlapping amalgamation of organizations like the European Union, NATO, the U.N., and disparate groups of NGOs having this loose relationship is not bringing about the focused effort that I think needs to be done in certain key areas. I don't want to overstate this because they're doing a lot of good, but the four or five things that I mentioned I think are really critical to tackle.
SEN. LUGAR: So in addition to money we really need reorganization --
GEN. JONES: Exactly.
SEN. LUGAR: -- and focus --
GEN. JONES: Exactly.
SEN. LUGAR: -- somebody in charge.
GEN. JONES: And to the extent that it's good news is the potential is there. I mean, it's on the ground. It's a question of shaping it in a way where the international community agrees that, "Look, we have to get after this narcotics thing because it's going to eat Afghanistan from the inside out if we don't." I think that's clear.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Obama?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): General, the -- thanks for the very useful testimony. I want to focus on where both you ended up, and Ambassador Dobbins as well, and that's on the issue of Pakistan. Given your history there -- your relationship with both Pakistani military on the ground as well as their government -- can you give me a sense of what their strategic objectives are, and what we can do to encourage them to be more aggressive or more cooperative in the efforts? I tend to agree with ambassador's point that if we pretend that we're going to do things here that we're not going to do that's not particular effective and that sanctions may not be particularly effective. On the other hand, we need to encourage a different approach on their part. Any thoughts on that?
GEN. JONES: Well, I think we have to find a way to scratch the itches on both side(s) of the border in a way that makes sense. My -- our NATO involvement with Pakistan is an emerging one. It didn't take place until NATO took over the east as well, and the United States and coalition forces came under the NATO mandate, and so our military-to- military discussions with them are on the ascendancy. The relationship is evolving, but clearly there's a lot at stake, and clearly the secretary general of NATO understands that if in fact we cannot bring -- we cannot find the right ways to bring about the resolutions to the problem that we see on the border -- that -- and if Pakistan is judged not to be doing enough, then the full weight -- political weight of the 26-nation alliance plus all the countries that are in Afghanistan is going -- will be felt, and they should be felt because this is something that critically has to be tackled. The ambassador is much more expert on the Pakistani side of the border than I am because of my recency in terms of coming to that problem. I -- but I must say that in my meetings I was -- all the right words were spoken by the Pakistani military and so, you know, being from Missouri literally, I think it's fair to say that by spring time we will have a sense of whether over the winter we've seen a change or not.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Corker?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN): I'll pass of the time allotted and wait to ask the ambassador. Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: That's very kind.
SEN. BOB CASEY JR. (D-PA): Yes.
Thank you both for your testimony and your presence here.
General, just one quick question. You've expressed the view that a lot of people have I guess not just in the context of Afghanistan, but in other places in the world, that any kind of military effort is only part of the solution, and that reconstruction and development activities have to move forward. Where do you think we are on that score in terms of -- if you view that as a recommendation that you would make to accelerate or to ensure that we have both reconstruction and development activities at a level they should be? How do you assess that today in light of the president's budget or in light of this administration's policies on both reconstruction and development?
GEN. JONES: Well, Senator, I think the way I would answer that question is to say that we do have the weight and commitment of over 60 countries -- about 60 countries in Afghanistan, which is impressive. So there is a lot of money being spent. My observation is that what I would think would be a good thing to do is to have more focus on how it's being spent, and to make sure that we tackle the three or four things that really have to be done in order to turn that country around. And those were the pillars that I was talking about in my introduction.
So it's a little bit like the question of "Do you have enough troops?" My view in Afghanistan is that we're pretty close to -- I mean, the commanders have asked for a little bit more, but it's not astronomical. But it's what you do with those troops that's important. And if you have enough money, then it's what you do with the money that's important, and some of that money is not being spent in the right directions and it needs to be focused. And that's my message.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Webb.
SEN. JIM WEBB (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And General Jones, it's good to see you again.
I'd like to ask you a question that actually is a little bit of a follow-on from the Armed Services Committee hearing the other day, when I had to leave before I was able to ask it to you there. But it dovetails in with what you were saying here. I am wondering about your judgment with respect to this recent increase in insurgent activity or military activity on the other side. Are we actually -- or to what extent are we able to measure how much of that renewed activity is a result of the squeezing of the drug lords, the -- this attempt to reduce opium growing, and the resistance from that as opposed to politically?
GEN. JONES: Senator, I think the resurgence in activity -- the heightened activity has more to do with the fact that NATO expansion in the south took place in the fall of last year. Prior to that expansion taking place, which was about 9,000 NATO troops from about a half a dozen countries, there was no reconstruction in the south. There was no permanent presence of large-scale troops to bring about security and stability. It was a -- the south was largely a safe haven for not only the drug cartels, but the Taliban, the disparate groups, the rampant corruption and crime, no governance, and not much to show in the way of reconstruction. With the arrival of those of eight (thousand) or 9,000 troops and Operation Medusa, that was the test of -- by the opposition to see if NATO was going to fight, they learned the lesson and they suffered a military defeat of some significance.
But since we're now in -- we have now disturbed the hornet's nest, the resulting increases have -- are largely due to the fact that we weren't there before. So you have more data.
But I think the NATO forces have acquitted themselves well. I will be interested to see, for all this talk about the spring offensive, exactly what happens there. We've always had something, but we'll just have to wait and see how it materializes. But I do think that we're close with regard to the troop numbers. I think if we work on convincing our allies to eliminate some of the operationally restrictive caveats that are on their forces, that's a force multiplier in itself. The penalty for not reducing caveats on troops that are committed is that you need more troops. So it's a -- you need more uncaveated troops. And there are some real moral issues in my view, whether -- you know, how right is it for troops to be caveated that they can't go to the aid of allies, and yet a nation that is attacked expects everybody else to come to their aid? This is something the alliance is going to have to grapple with. But the quicker they get through that, like -- as they did in Kosovo, where there were virtually no caveats.
In 2003, we had so many caveats, we couldn't move a platoon from point A to point B, and now we have no caveats. And I hope that that will happen in Afghanistan because the commanders will then really have the operational flexibility needed to do their job.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.
SEN. WEBB: (Inaudible.)
SEN. BIDEN: General, we have you to a quarter of. I'm going to ask you a parting question.
You told me when I spoke with you early on -- a year and a half ago, maybe longer -- that you were having trouble when it became a NATO command getting your request of a squadron of 18 intact helicopters, three C-130s, and how difficult it was to -- at the outset to get that. Now the president's committed to an additional combat brigade in the effort in Afghanistan. Does that include the necessary wherewithal in terms of -- do you know, does that include helicopters, C-130 planes, logistics --
GEN. JONES: Yes, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: -- is that a part of the package?
GEN. JONES: There was -- when we talked, there was -- it was on the -- just before the NATO expansion into the south, and we were having a difficult time raising two or three helicopters and some transports and everything else. NATO did, in fact, provide a significant capability package, including the eight (thousand) or 9,000 troops that are now working in the south, and that included some mobility packages and things like that. There still remains maybe 5 percent of the overall plan that needs to be resourced in terms of manpower and mobility. But given where we were when you and I talked and where we are today, we're in a much better situation.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, thank you very much, General. It's a quarter of; actually, it's 14 of. We went over. So thank you very, very much for being here. I hope we can call on you again.
GEN. JONES: Anytime, sir. Thank you very much.
SEN. BIDEN: But to Mr. Ambassador, you're not free. We're going to pick you brain if we can, for a little bit, if you don't mind. Thank you very much.
Mr. Ambassador, you talked about -- and we'll go to seven minutes -- or five minutes, let's make it five minutes -- sins of omission and sins of commission, and you indicated that the -- there are Pakistani incentives not to cooperate. Could you tell us what you think those incentives to not cooperate are?
MR. DOBBINS: I think there are two sets of incentives that lead Pakistan to possibly support insurgency in Afghanistan and, at a minimum, to be tepid about their efforts to suppress it.
One is the sort of geopolitical desire not to face adversaries on two flanks. And to the extent that they perceive that the government in Kabul has a close relationship with New Delhi, allows New Delhi to open consulates all along the border where allegedly Indian intelligence agents are stationed and where -- again, allegedly -- and these are Pakistani allegations -- Indian intelligence agencies are, in turn, supporting insurgency in Baluchistan, this feeds a certain sense of paranoia. And Pakistan would obviously prefer to have a government allied with it and supportive of it, as it had with the Taliban, and in effect to give it what is called -- or what they call "strategic depth," faced as they are with this huge adversary on their other flank.
The second is the desire to externalize Pashtun aspirations. As I said, most Pashtuns live in Pakistan. They've always lived in Pakistan. About, I think, three-fifths of the Pashtuns in the world live in Pakistan and two-fifths in Afghanistan. And the Pashtuns have always had aspirations for autonomy, or even independence -- a Pashtunistan. And if the Pashtun's are going to run anything, Pakistan would prefer they run Afghanistan rather than try to run Pakistan, or try to carve out an autonomous area within Pakistan, or otherwise exert their influence in Pakistan. So a simple desire to externalize these aspirations is a second -- is the second motive.
And there are historic limitations on Pakistani control over the border areas, which have historically been highly autonomous and self- governing. And this area is the least developed area of Pakistan, which isn't highly developed, but which is certainly much more highly developed than Afghanistan. And therefore, this is a population with substantial grievances as well as aspirations.
SEN. BIDEN: When I met with Musharraf -- I can't remember how long ago it was now -- and I raised the issue, not about the failure of Islamabad to deal with the northeast province and with the Pashtun, but I did raise the possibility of the economic difficulty faced by Pashtun in that province. And I raised the issue about aid. And he was talking about aid for education. And I gave him indications, figures, about the cost of -- because we hear about the madrassas and the funding of the madrassas, particularly in this area and along the border and so on and so forth -- and I said I was prepared to come back to the Senate and make a major case for a significant economic aid package relating to education, but elementary and secondary education. He said, no, no. We want it at the university level. That's where we need aid.
And I got the distinct impression that anything -- now, I'm putting words -- he did not say what I'm about to say -- but I came under the impression with he and his ministers that the idea of enhancing the circumstances of the Pashtun in that area was not viewed by Islamabad as being in their interest.
Now, you know, we think in terms of, you know, we use the phrase that our friend who writes for The New York Times, Mr. Friedman uses, "If you don't visit the bad neighborhood, it'll visit you." I get the impression they think it's better to stay a bad neighborhood, for the reasons you've stated, rather than actually -- even with our help -- go in and try to improve the condition for the Pashtun in those provinces. What is your assessment? Am I misreading that?
MR. DOBBINS: No. I think you probably were reading that correctly. It has been a sensitive region for them -- one that they have certain inhibitions about getting too deeply involved in and probably have even greater inhibitions about our getting too -- more deeply involved.
It's possible, however, that their views and ours have evolved a bit. I believe that the administration has requested, in the assistance package for Pakistan, money -- a significant amount of money specifically for this region. So I think that they recognize that the problem on the Pakistani side of the border needs to be addressed as well.
And as I said, I think that it's not just a question of getting Pakistan and Afghanistan to agree on the border -- that is that the border is formerly recognized -- but to agree on a border regime which takes into account the fact that these people have historically traveled back and forth, have family and tribal relations on both sides of the border, and promotes development on both sides of the border. So I think thinking may have evolved somewhat and it's possible even that the Pakistani thinking has evolved somewhat.
SEN. BIDEN: Speaking of both sides of the border, one of the most interesting things I did in my stay in Pakistan is there was an American two-star, get in an elevator -- get in an elevator -- (laughs) -- Freudian slip -- a helicopter and fly that entire border in the winter. And you can see thousands of smuggling paths through the woods that were there. I mean it was -- I mean literally, I guess it would be a thousand. You just -- and the point was made -- this is five years ago -- and the point was made that, you know, when the spring comes and the foliage is on the trees it's virtually impossible to deal with that. But I think General Jones is right. We'll see what happens here.
My time is up. I yield to my friend from Indiana.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Dobbins, several of the ideas you have are certainly outside the box -- to use that phrase -- and have been fascinating. For instance, the support of the Afghan clergy so that there is some idea of local government.
As you point out, in the many villages or what have you, there isn't -- aside from this. How can you go about supporting the clergy? Is this -- are these persons all of one faith or are there divergences there? Or in just an administrative situation, how would you do that?
MR. DOBBINS: Well, most of Afghanistan is Sunni. There is a Shi'a minority. In the southern region we're talking about I think it's exclusively Sunni. Some of the mosques are privately supported, others have traditionally depended on the government. The government's capacity to provide that support has largely dried up. And I think it's an area that's worth, you know, further study and maybe asking for a plan in this regard.
Clearly, sort of direct Western assistance -- non-Muslim assistance to these facilities and individuals may not be the most productive way. The most productive way is probably budget support to the Afghan government with flexibility, and encouragement that they use that budget support to fully fund the Religious Affairs Ministry, and allow the Religious Affairs Minister, in turn, to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities with respect to village mosques and imams.
SEN. LUGAR: That's a very important organizational point. In other words, once again, aid to the government -- Karzai and what have you -- but the idea is for them that they might find that possible to do. In other words, as a part of our general doctrine or idea of local government, but through them as opposed to attempting to work with local mosques and what have you.
MR. DOBBINS: Absolutely.
SEN. LUGAR: Now, secondly, you just mentioned the problem of lack of development of this area in Pakistan, which is the most in controversy today. Difficult for the Pakistani government to work with historically, and been productive of much of the trouble.
Is there any conceivable way in which the international groups -- the 60 foreign nations or what have you -- could include in addition to resurgence and reconstruction of Afghanistan, that portion of Pakistan? In other words, to see as you have analyzed, the problem basically in Afghanistan is largely Pakistan -- as you commenced your testimony -- but in a special part of Pakistan, as a matter of fact, which the Pakistani government has difficulty. Obviously, questions of sovereignty. The problems that you mentioned of rivalry with New Delhi as a friendly government and so forth.
But I'm just once again thinking outside the box. Our objective is Afghanistan, but in fact, a good part of the problem is at least an area of Pakistan and Pashtun is in Pakistan, as well as in Afghanistan. Is there any conceivable way that we can recommend to our government that you extend the territory?
MR. DOBBINS: Well, first of all, I do agree with General Jones that a the lack of a coordinated and sort of hierarchical structure for deciding on -- for prioritizing international assistance to Pakistan and then overseeing its implementation is an important lacuna in our capabilities there. And I think something analogous to the kinds of structures we've set up in Bosnia and in Kosovo could be helpful. The situation's different and it would have to be structured to take account of those differences.
But the fact is that we have achieved pretty much unity of command on the military side by using the NATO structure, and we don't have anything comparable on the civil implementation side. And the result is a very highly unstructured and overlapping set of national donor programs. So I do think creating a contact group-type structure, and assigning an individual to represent all members of that group and oversee the international community's activities in that regard would be useful.
Now, whether that specific group could extend its responsibilities into Pakistan, I'm a little skeptical. I think that would probably make it more difficult for them to operate within Pakistan. I think you'd probably need a parallel effort directed to the Pakistani side of the border, but an effort that would be based in Islamabad rather than in Kabul. I do think, however, that it's -- that we should be trying to raise the profile of the Pakistan issue in various international forms. I mean, we're in this anomalous situation now where NATO troops are facing an adversary that's coming across the border, and it's like, you know, we -- for 40 years we manned the Fulda Gap waiting for the Soviets to come across the border. It would be like NATO not talking about the Soviet Union for 40 years -- just manning the gap, but not talking about where the threat was coming from. And so -- and that's, in effect, what we're doing now.
We don't -- I don't sense that we've put Pakistan on the NATO agenda. I don't see any communiques that talk about Pakistan. The general has indicated we are developing a military-to-military relationship with Pakistan, and I think that's good. But I think we need to put this on the agenda, and we'll only do that if the administration is prepared to talk somewhat more candidly about the problem than they traditionally have been.
I remember urging one of our senior officials to put this on the North Atlantic Council's agenda, and the answer was, "Oh, no, the information is too sensitive." Well, you know, I mean, we traded intelligence appraisals of what was going on in the Soviet Union for 40 years, and they were in a position to obliterate us. So it's hard to believe that the information is so sensitive that it can't be shared with key allies, and that sharing it wouldn't create a greater overall sense of what the dimensions of the problem were, and ideally would result in larger resources and political influence flowing toward the kind of ameliorative steps that I've already suggested would be desirable.
SEN. LUGAR: Just as a quick follow-up, isn't it possible, though, that, given the enthusiasm of the Congress, the administration and what have you for Afghanistan reconstruction success, and that at the same time they were admonishing Mr. Musharraf and others to do better, we would say to him, "We would like, as a matter of fact, to extend our road building or our turning on the lights or whatever over across the border. We'd like to help you out because we think it's in your best interests and ours." In other words, this is a very different type of incentive --
MR. DOBBINS: Right.
SEN. LUGAR: -- than the fact that he's simply not fulfilling whatever obligations we think he has.
MR. DOBBINS: No, I agree with that. And I -- and to be fair I think the administration has suggested something like that in the budget to you. But that's not to say it couldn't be highlighted and expanded. But I agree with that.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator?
SEN. CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Ambassador, thank you for your time and your great service to the country. I'm struck by where you've been over all the years in no easy places to deal with -- hotbeds, all of them. I've got about two or three. I want to start to pick up where I left off with an earlier witness, and also we've had a good discussion about -- already with regard to Pakistan.
I, like others on this committee, have had contact with the Pakistani ambassador, Mr. Durrani, and he made a passionate case in my office a couple of days ago that what we're reading in the newspaper -- what the administration and others have asserted with regard to the way Pakistan has or -- either has done or has not done to have a more constructive impact and a positive impact on the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban -- that that's -- that we're not getting all the information we need, and the press accounts are inaccurate, and their side of the story has to be told.
I asked him point blank to take the most critical news accounts of the way the Pakistanis have dealt with this issue and rebut them and give us -- give me and give others the benefit of a written rebuttal on the most substantial charges. What's your assessment of that, just point blank, in terms of the Pakistani government's assertion that they're getting a bad rap, so to speak, when it comes to the general battle against terrorists, but in particular within Afghanistan?
MR. DOBBINS: I believe that as regards al Qaeda, that's probably right. I mean, I think Pakistan has been cooperative in trying to locate, roll up arrest al Qaeda operatives.
They see this as a threat to them as well as to us. Musharraf indeed has been -- has suffered from an assassination attempt. So I think insofar as we're talking about al Qaeda, this is true.
As regard to Taliban, it is -- it was until recently not true, and I think it's still probably less true, although there have been some signs that they've stepped up their activities to interdict and interfere with the Taliban's activities in Pakistan. I mean, they in themselves make a distinction between foreigners, whom they're prepared to collaborate against, and people who aren't foreigners. Well, the fact is that many of the Taliban operatives are not foreigners. They're Pakistanis. Some of them are long-term Afghan refugees in Pakistan who've been there 10 or 20 years. Others have always been Pakistani, and that obviously represents a different political inhibition when you're talking about your own citizens rather than illegal aliens, in effect.
And I've cited the reasons why they at a minimum may feel -- may lack adequate incentives to be more aggressive in this regard. I think that there have been repeated assertions -- and indeed I think U.S., NATO, Afghan, and U.N. officials all have said informally and when they're off the record -- that the Pakistani intelligence service has had a relationship with the Taliban and has provided support and assistance to the Taliban, and I have no reason to believe that that is not the case. Now, Musharraf goes -- says, well, maybe retired members of the -- of his intelligence service are doing that but not active duty ones. On the other hand, I don't believe that the ambassador you were talking to was necessarily lying to you or being intentionally disingenuous. Pakistan's a big complicated country with a complex government, and I think there are many Pakistani officials who are entirely sincere in their desire to cooperate with the United States -- cooperate with the international community -- move Pakistan into the mainstream of the international community, and see these extremist threats as primarily threats to their own society.
SEN. CASEY: And I was struck by something you had in your written testimony. I'll read from portions of it on Page 6, where you make the assertion about Afghanistan that it's, quote, "Simply too poor to be able to provide security and effective governance to its large and disperse population, so unless the Pakistani government can be persuaded to" and then you list things that they must do -- the United -- then you conclude with, "The United States and its allies are going to be forced to patrol Afghanistan's southeast frontier indefinitely." So obviously you're making the case as I think everyone agrees that Pakistan has much to do to prove itself and to make sure that they're a constructive force in Afghanistan.
And I was also struck by the list of priorities you see with regard to Afghanistan, the first one being an age-old challenge. You say that United States should intensify quiet efforts to encourage both India and Pakistan to resolve their differences over Kashmir. What do you think the likelihood of that -- if that's the first priority among several, what do you think the likelihood of that is in what is now two years left in this administration, and how do you think that's best accomplished? Is that diplomacy that's at the level of secretary of state, or is it diplomacy that operates on several tracks? What's the best way to get there?
MR. DOBBINS: I think that's actually one of the more hopeful areas. I think there has been progress between the Pakistanis and the Indians. The Indians react very strongly. The Pakistanis would love to have us mediate this, but the Indians react very strongly and rebuff us in that regard. And therefore, that's why I said I think it has to be done quietly and informally.
And, I mean, we're building up a lot of credit with India. We've intensified our relationship. We've offered them a nuclear agreement which is a real breakthrough in our relationship. We're treating them as an emerging world power. And I think we need to, at the same time, make clear that we regard settlement of this issue as one of their responsibilities and that we're not going to publicly try to engage ourselves in the process but that it is an important aspect of our attitude toward them over the longer term.
And to be fair, again, I think that this is an area where the administration has been making efforts. And I think probably American efforts going back to the efforts that Colin Powell made to avoid a nuclear confrontation between the two countries back in 2002 have yielded some results.
SEN. CASEY: I know I'm over, but I have more. But I'll wait.
SEN. BIDEN: If you have a follow-up question --
SEN. CASEY: Let me do one more.
Something you've written about, the topic being nation-building, and you contrast or compare efforts undertaken by the previous administration, the Clinton administration, and what you call -- I think you call, quote, "low-profile, small footprint approach" to nation-building.
And, among other things, you talk about successful nation- building being measured by the level of effort made in terms of troops, time and money. What's your sense of that when it comes to -- obviously the past is prologue and it gives us a lot of ideas on this -- but in future efforts in terms of nation-building, what do you think we must do or what hasn't been done recently that you think (in ?) those three areas in troops and time and resources, or do you think there's something else that we haven't done?
MR. DOBBINS: Well, I think the way we organize ourselves to do this is important. Obviously just throwing resources at a problem doesn't solve it. So it's the competent employment of those resources.
But I think we need to recognize that there's an important relationship between the scale of one's commitment and the scope of one's ambitions. When nation-building missions fail, they usually fail because that relationship hasn't been adequately recognized; that is, we went in with inadequate forces and very large-scale ambitions.
Afghanistan should have been a mission that could have been accomplished with a relatively modest input as compared to some other ones, because we had a very favorable international climate. We had support of all of the neighboring states. And we had support of most elements of the Afghan population, and we were able to put in place a moderately responsible and broadly based government very quickly. And on that basis, we should have been able to make progress with a comparatively modest commitment.
Unfortunately, we didn't go in with a comparatively modest commitment. We went in with a scandalously inadequate commitment. I mean, in the aftermath of the war in Kosovo, the average Kosovar got 25 times more assistance the first couple of years than the average Afghan, who had 20 years of civil war. And the average Kosovar got 50 times more security in the form of international troops than the average Afghan got. So Afghanistan was the least-resourced of any American nation-building operation in the last 60 years during that first two- or three-year period.
Now, again, the administration has largely recognized that, and beginning in 2004 began to provide much more adequate resourcing. But again, the experience of these missions over the last 60 years suggests that beginning big and building down is a much wiser approach than beginning with minimal forces and then having to increase them as you're challenged.
That said, one approach is to set high ambitions and then commit large-scale resources. The alternative is to commit limited resources but also to scale back one's ambitions to what is likely to be achieved within those limited resources. And sometimes that is a viable option. So not every operation requires hundreds of thousands of troops and billions and billions of dollars.
We didn't go into Afghanistan saying we were going to make it a model for Central Asia and that, once we democratized Afghanistan, we were going to change the form of government of every one of its neighbors. We went in with a more limited set of objectives, which were essentially to make sure it didn't become a launch point for global terrorism. We were therefore able to get bases in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan; Russian, Iranian, Pakistani support. And with that, we could have made more progress than we did.
In Iraq, where we went in with a much, much higher set of objectives, the resource requirements would have been and were commensurately much higher.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.
Senator Lugar, do you have any (thoughts ?)?
Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much. Your insight is always very helpful to this committee and to me in particular, and I appreciate it. And this is just the first of hearings we're going to have on this. We're going to follow this up through the spring, and I hope you'll be available to us.
MR. DOBBINS: Thank you; always a pleasure.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much. We're adjourned.