Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - The Nomination of Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry to be Ambassador to Afghanistan
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA)
WITNESS: LIEUTENANT GENERAL KARL EIKENBERRY, THE NOMINEE
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SEN. KERRY: Well, it's a great delight to welcome our colleague, Senator John Warner, back -- Sir John Warner.
We're not allowed to use those titles over here, but he and my colleague Sir Edward have joined an august group now of honorarily knighted public servants, and we are really delighted to recognize that honor, among many others, John. And it's great to have you back here.
General Eikenberry, welcome. We are glad to have you here and look forward to a change in title, though I know a retired general never wants to be anything but a general. But you can wear the title of ambassador, we hope, for a number of years here.
All of us agree that Afghanistan, along with its neighbor Pakistan, represents the central front in the global campaign against terrorism. And in the coming days, this new administration is sending a new ambassador to Afghanistan to implement a new strategy. At this crucial moment, after too many years of drift in the place where al Qaeda plotted 9/11, we need to get our policy right.
In Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, the president has chosen an exceptionally skilled and deeply knowledgeable public servant to represent the United States in Afghanistan. General Eikenberry has already served two tours in Afghanistan, most recently as the top U.S. commander there from 2005 to 2007. He knows the local terrain, knows the military side of the equation as well as anyone can. And I believe he is uniquely placed to get the civil-military balance right as ambassador.
It's clear that General Eikenberry is well equipped to hit the ground running, and this is absolutely vital, because the situation is deteriorating at an alarming rate. The Taliban has been resurgent, attacks are up, U.S. casualties have been increasing and confidence in the Afghan government's ability to deliver for its people has been waning. In a region of suspicious -- of historically long-term suspicion about foreign footprints, we don't have a lot of time to waste in order to turn the tide.
The president has pledged to recommit to Afghanistan, beginning with the deployment of 17,000 additional U.S. troops and a significant effort to increase the size and the capacity of the security forces. In 2006, I argued that more U.S. troops were needed. I believe that, but I also believe they have to be very carefully tasked, and the footprint has to be very carefully managed. And I emphasize, troops alone are not going to bring victory.
Later today, I really look forward to hearing from the administration about the results of the strategic review. And we've been briefed to some degree up until this point. But one thing is clear: Our military commitment has to be matched by a comprehensive, bottom-up strategy that acknowledges Afghanistan's history of decentralized governance and recognizes the capability of our international and Afghan allies.
I agree with the president that our primary goal in Afghanistan is a simple one. It is to make sure that Afghanistan does not once again become a launching ground for terrorist attacks against America or our allies. That is our goal. Achieving this goal will involve improving governance at all levels and helping the Afghan government to deliver better security and better services to the Afghan people.
At next week's NATO summit, the president will ask our allies to do more to shoulder this burden. We have to persuade those countries unwilling to take on expanded combat roles to deepen their involvement in other aspects of the mission, including police training and development assistance.
More will also be required from the Afghan government. Corruption remains a powerful obstacle to progress. Too often the judicial system and police force drive Afghans to the Taliban. That's unacceptable.
President Hamid Karzai has promised to address this chronic problem, but as we devote more resources and put more soldiers into harm's way, we have to insist on more in return.
Afghanistan's presidential elections this August will be crucial in restoring faith in the Afghan government. We will watch closely, and we will work closely with the Afghans in order to make sure that that election is open and fair. We will not pick any winners. We will not back candidates. We want this to be a playing field where the Afghans freely and fairly choose their leadership.
Even as we work to strengthen the performance of the central government, we must redouble our efforts to expand their ability to reach beyond Kabul, empowering women and working more closely with trusted provincial leaders to ensure that development funds reach the Afghan people.
One promising model for success at the local level is the National Solidarity Program, which employs Afghans in reconstruction projects that have actually been requested by the village elders.
One of the most vexing governance challenges is the flourishing narcotics trade, which provides a major source of funding for the Taliban. We need to provide greater subsidies and technical assistance for farmers who abandon poppy cultivation, as we've done in Nangarhar province, but almost must -- also must crack down on drug lords and reduce production, employing sustained force when necessary, particularly in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province.
Our strategy must also reflect the interconnectedness of the region's challenges, and this requires redoubling our efforts to strengthen Pakistan's civilian government and support its activities against militants in the tribal belt.
That's why Senator Lugar and I will shortly be reintroducing the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, which seeks to triple nonmilitary aid to the people of Pakistan while holding its security forces more accountable for assistance provided in their fight against the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda.
We also need to reach out to Afghanistan's other neighbors, including India, China and Iran. In 2001, in 2002, we should not forget, Iran provided critical assistance to helping us stabilize Afghanistan. And the administration is absolutely correct to explore how our interests might again coincide on this issue, beginning at The Hague conference next week.
We went into Afghanistan to hunt down al Qaeda and to replace the Taliban rulers because they refused at that time to break with al Qaeda, and because they harbored those al Qaeda leaders with a legitimate government strong enough to -- our purpose in going in was to create a government strong enough to avoid the destabilization of a vital and volatile area.
Today that goal demands a more robust commitment of coalition troops and reconstruction aid. It's not too late to turn the tide in Afghanistan, as complicated as it may be; but only a comprehensive strategy, only sufficient resources and strong national resolve and only competent leadership on the ground is going to lead us to that success.
And I thank General Eikenberry for joining us here today and look forward to hearing his views on the way forward in Afghanistan.
And again, we're delighted to also welcome one of our most distinguished and senior members of the Senate, Senator Inouye.
I think, General, you couldn't have picked two more capable or respected members to introduce you here today. Maybe we'll just have them introduce you and we'll forget the rest of the hearing. It just about works that way, I promise.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I think you made an excellent suggestion with our colleagues, John Warner and Dan Inouye. Just wonderful to have both of you here.
I would just say, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, among the many important decisions being made in the first months of the new administration, certainly those with relationship to our engagement in Afghanistan and the surrounding region are among the most important. And I welcome Karl Eikenberry, who has been nominated to be our ambassador to Afghanistan.
General Eikenberry has served in numerous positions as a career military officer, including two stints in command of military forces in Afghanistan. He demonstrated exceptional diplomatic skill in these commands, as well as in his current assignment as deputy chairman of NATO's Military Committee.
As our ambassador to Afghanistan, General Eikenberry will be able to draw upon extensive experience in engaging international partners and facilitating a more collaborative effort with the Afghans. I'm encouraged by the renewed emphasis on Afghanistan, as reflected in the appointment of Ambassador Holbrooke and the president's own statements about our policy. Nonetheless, many details need to be fleshed out as more resources and troops enter Afghanistan. And I look forward to hearing the nominee's impressions of the Obama administration's strategic review and of how we can improve Afghanistan's capacity to govern itself.
For the last several years, our government has struggled to gain greater European participation in Afghanistan. We are unlikely to succeed if military and political efforts in that country trend toward greater U.S. domination. Europe has strong incentives to cooperate closely with us to make the NATO mission a success.
The September 11 attacks were planned in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda still operates there. The fate of the country remains -- (clears throat) -- pardon me -- both strategic and symbolic. The drug trade emanating from Afghanistan impacts European society, and the instability in Afghanistan poses a threat to other states in the region.
There should be no doubt that Afghanistan is a crucial test for NATO. Alliance commanders must have the resources to provide security; they must have the flexibility to use troops to meet Afghanistan's most critical needs. President Obama's election was greeted enthusiastically by most Europeans. During his campaign, he made no secret of his intention to elevate the priority of the Afghanistan mission. It's essential the president and European leaders work together to finalize a plan for greater European commitment in Afghanistan.
The appointment of a general to be our ambassador in Afghanistan effectively highlights the importance of interagency coordination between our civilian and military institutions. In this regard, I hope to hear from the nominee today how he intends to employ the experience of senior diplomats in his country team. I also hope the president will soon announce his choice of an experienced and proven USAID mission director.
In 2003, then-Senator Joe Biden and I introduced legislation to improve the capacity of civilian agencies to respond to national security crises. Since then, this committee has frequently emphasized and authorized greater civilian response capacity as a partner to our over-tasked military. Defense Department leaders, led by Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and General Petraeus, have recognized the necessity of such a civilian partner. Multiple reviews of our policy in Afghanistan and Iraq have concluded that up to 80 percent of activities necessary in post-conflict and counterinsurgency situations are civilian tasks. Success in Afghanistan may depend on the attitudes of the people, the progress of reconstruction and the development of the economy, as much as it depends on battlefield victories.
Last year, the Bush administration submitted a substantial Fiscal Year 2009 budget request to fund the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the State Department. I understand that this office is now fully participating in our interagency planning, and deploying civilians to the region. The emergent Afghan strategy appears to direct the deployment of substantial additional civilian capacity alongside the military.
I hope the forthcoming budget requests include at least as much as last year for the critical task of identifying, training and deploying civilian experts. We should sustain the effort to unify such interagency coordination in the current Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, rather than build inefficient redundancies elsewhere.
I appreciate very much General Eikenberry's willingness to take on an extremely difficult mission, and I look forward to his testimony.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Lugar.
Senator Inouye, thanks so much for being here with us. We appreciate it.
SENATOR DANIEL INOUYE (D-HI): Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, I'm pleased to be here this morning, with Senator Warner, to introduce Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, the president's nominee for ambassador to Afghanistan.
General Eikenberry's decorated career in the Army has given him a myriad of experiences that I believe will serve the new administration and our country superbly as United States ambassador to Afghanistan. Throughout his military career, he has served in a number of positions that involve policy, strategy and political-military skills.
A number of these experiences occurred during the general's time as director for Strategic Planning and Policy, at the United States Command Camp Smith in Hawaii, where he interfaced with our neighbors in the Asia Pacific region.
Following his experiences at the U.S. Pacific Command, his focused was placed on Operation Enduring Freedom. This is when General Eikenberry began to establish his working relations with the Afghan government and our allies in the theater.
Mr. Chairman and members, he possesses a thorough understanding of Afghanistan, its history, culture and people. And on several occasions, the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee called upon General Eikenberry, to discuss events in East Asia and Afghanistan, because of his expertise in this area.
General Eikenberry's knowledge of both the military and diplomatic perspectives will be of great benefit as United States ambassador to Afghanistan. The challenges that face the new administration and the Department of State, as noted by you, Mr. Chairman and Senator Lugar, are immense.
If General Eikenberry is confirmed, and I hope he is, the Department of State will gain from his expertise the established relationship he has, in Afghanistan, and the expeditious transition his nomination affords.
Finally Mr. Chairman, I request that a letter of support, from the president of the Hawaii State Senate, the Honorable Colleen Hanabusa, be made part of the record.
SEN. KERRY: Without objection, it will be.
SEN. INOUYE: I thank you, sir.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you so much, Senator Inouye. We know how busy you are with the budget and everything right now. We really appreciate you taking time. Thank you.
SEN. INOUYE: He's a good man. I hope you'll pass him out today.
SEN. KERRY: Well, as soon as Senator Warner stops talking, we're going to take a vote. (Laughter.)
So Senator Warner.
JOHN WARNER (former U.S. senator): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would first say how pleased I am to be with you, Senator Inouye. And you're free to go now. I'll take charge. (Laughter.) You should go on about more important matters.
SEN. INOUYE: Seriously may I be excused?
SEN. KERRY: No, we -- I did. And I completely understand. You're in the middle of very important budget issues.
So thank you.
Senator Warner, is your mic on? Did you put it --
MR. WARNER: I do see this red light.
SEN. KERRY: Yes, you did. Okay. Great.
MR. WARNER: Fine. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and my dear friend Senator Lugar, both of you dear friends of many, many years, and other colleagues here.
I think I'll ask unanimous consent that my statement be placed in the record.
SEN. KERRY: Without objection, the full record.
MR. WARNER: And I listened carefully to two very well drafted and delivered opening statements, and much of that material's in my text. But I think, Senator Kerry, you hit on it. It's the need to get the right balance in Afghanistan between all parties involved in that area.
And Senator Lugar, I'm so glad you touched on the need for the interagency cooperation. When I was privileged to chair the Armed Services Committee, hearing after hearing, pleading with the various agencies and departments of the government to make their contributions -- because, as you pointed out, Mr. Chairman, it cannot be a military operation alone. It's a coordinated effort.
And if I could just say a few personal things: As you know, I've been privileged -- as I sit here, made a little note -- 37 years ago I went into the Pentagon, and you, Senator Kerry, were right on the front lines in Vietnam in those days when I was secretary of the Navy.
Only point that out that all those five years in the Navy Department, I really saw and worked with many, many fine flag officers and general officers. And then continuing in the Armed Services Committee those 30 years, again, many, many hearings such as this, involving the confirmation of our wonderful people who attain the ranks of flag and general officer.
This man is simply one of the most outstanding I've ever met. And that's (where ?) I was pleased to be invited to come today. As each of you said, we should commend our president for having made this nomination. And I'm sure he did it with the advice of the distinguished secretary of State, our former colleague. That was a bold decision by Secretary Clinton, to reach down to an active-duty officer, and then for that officer to express the willingness to resign that commission subject to confirmation by the Senate. That's the type of bold initiatives that I hope this administration continues to take.
I have great respect, of course -- all of us do -- for the professional corps who serve in the Department of State. But every now and then, there comes such a unique situation as this that you reach out and find wherever you can that one individual who combines all of the complex issues that are facing this theater. It's, as you pointed out, not just military, but it's diplomatic. Afghanistan is flanked by Iran and Pakistan, and the pressures and problems there are brought to bear in the -- in his work in Afghanistan.
But this gentleman -- and I'd just like to add one thing about all the things that he has done. He's a soldier first, but he's a scholar, extraordinary scholar, in his attainments in the academic world.
He's a graduate of the academy. He's earned his master's degree from Harvard University in East Asian studies, from Stanford University in political science; was a national security fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He earned an interpreter's certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign Commonwealth Office while studying at the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense Chinese language school, and his advanced degree in Chinese history. A rare combination -- soldier, scholar -- and subject to the wisdom of this wonderful body, the United States Senate, he can add a third title, after a period of time earning it, of statesman. But he's done that in many respects already.
I -- but I mentioned having looked at so many confirmation processes involving -- this truly was a remarkable individual for this administration to find. And with his lovely wife, who's going to be introduced momentarily, they will take on this heavy responsibility, as each has -- of you pointed out.
So with that, I would conclude my remarks and thank you, General, first for the privilege of being with you today and saying a few words, and secondly, as simply a citizen of this country. We're all grateful for your public service to date and your next chapter, which is about as important as any as you've undertaken thus far, if not the most important.
Good luck to you.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, thank you -- (off mike) -- sir.
MR. WARNER: Thank you.
I thank the chair and the members.
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator Warner, let me say, in all seriousness, that we joked around a few moments ago about the importance of your two testimonies, but I must say to you, General, in the years that I've been here -- and it's about 26 on this committee, and Senator Lugar -- listening to Senator Warner describe you and his rationale for supporting this really does underscore the value of your nomination. And I think -- I've heard Senator Warner give introductions before through the years, and when he refers to 37 years and puts you at the top of the list, as he just did, that's high praise indeed.
So, Senator Warner, thank you for taking time to be with us.
MR. WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: And once again we thank you for your remarkable years of service here.
MR. WARNER: Thank you very much.
SEN. KERRY: We miss you.
MR. WARNER: (Without microphone.) I wish you all well. (We're at ?) a unique time in the history of this great nation.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, John, very much.
General, the floor is yours. We look forward to your testimony, and we would like you to introduce any family members that are here with you and welcome them here.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members of the committee. I'm honored to appear before you as the nominee for the office of the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. I'd like to thank President Obama, Secretary Clinton for their confidence in me.
If confirmed, I would be very proud and honored to join the ranks of the United States government personnel who are serving in Afghanistan.
And I'd look forward to consulting with you regularly and hosting you often in Kabul.
I wanted to thank Senators Inouye and Senator Warner for their very generous words of introduction. And in turn, now, I would like to introduce my spouse, Ching, seated behind me.
SEN. KERRY: Welcome. Glad to have you.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Her support, as well as that of my entire family, has allowed me to pursue a career of national service. And I'd also wish to mention my mother, Mary Drusilla (sp), whose health restricts her to bed. But she's keeping watch on me today from her care center in Raleigh, North Carolina, courtesy of television. This is a very big moment for her and it's a very humbling one for me.
Lastly, if I could introduce Ambassador Frank Ricciardone, a very great diplomat and statesman who many of you know well. Ambassador Ricciardone led the missions in Philippines and Egypt and with great selfless service and setting an absolutely superb example has now volunteered to go into Afghanistan to serve as the deputy. And if I am confirmed, I would look forward to forming a great team with Ambassador Ricciardone. Thanks, Frank.
If I am confirmed, I'll assume this great responsibility conscious that success in both Afghanistan and in Pakistan is in America's vital national security interest. Afghanistan is where the cold-blooded September the 11th, 2001, attacks upon the United States were conceived and they were directed. Even as we speak, al Qaeda and their allies operate inside of Afghanistan and from across the border in Pakistan. They seek to create fear and chaos inside of Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to regain the territorial control that allowed them to so horrifically overturn the peace and tranquility of our homeland seven years ago.
I'm proud of my 40 years of service to my country, and Afghanistan's been at the center of my career since 9/11, when the terrorist-commandeered aircraft crashed into the Pentagon just below the office in which I was working.
My professional experience inside of Afghanistan has reinforced what I've learned throughout my career, that lasting security can only be delivered through coordinated diplomatic, economic and military means.
The situation in Afghanistan is increasingly difficult and time is of the essence. There will be no substitute for more resources and sacrifice. However, I believe with the president's leadership and direction and with the support of the United States Congress, we can and must foster the conditions for sustained success inside of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
If confirmed, I will work closely with NATO and with U.S. military commanders, United States government agencies and our international partners to ensure that all elements of national power are brought to bear in mutually reinforcing ways. I'll ask for your support to provide the resources needed to make such an effort possible.
Our national efforts inside of Afghanistan require the wide-range commitment of civilian expertise. In order to attract the best and the brightest, we must recognize their service and support their professional development with greater vigor.
And while success in Afghanistan and Pakistan is vital to U.S. national security interests, it is also a global security concern, and accordingly we must redouble our efforts to gain additional contributions from our allies and from the international community.
Critical to our collective progress is helping the Afghans strengthen and expand their national army and police, so that they have the essential capability to secure their own country.
The way ahead is clear, but the resources to date have, regrettably, been insufficient. The United States, our international partners and, most importantly, the Afghans must work together to reduce corruption and strengthen the rule of law. Without real progress on these issues, success will be very difficult to achieve.
Today's sobering reality is that Afghanistan supplies more than 90 percent of the world's illicit opiates. It fuels the insurgency, and it undermines our efforts to develop governance. With Special Representative Richard Holbrooke and other key players, I will review our counternarcotics policy as a matter of urgency.
More development and more aid must be channeled to those areas where the insurgency is rife. Even more important, assistance must be directly targeted to the Afghan people. Currently, too much development money is spent on costly overheads -- namely, foreign consultants, multiple contracts and security.
On August the 20th, Afghanistan will hold its second presidential and provincial council elections. The United States is committed to supporting the Afghans in pursuit of elections that are fair and free of intimidation. The administration is emphasizing a regional approach to the security challenges in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and if I am appointed as ambassador, I will look -- work closely with Ambassadors (sic) Holbrooke and Ambassador Patterson in Islamabad to achieve this goal.
If you'd permit me, Chairman, I'd like now to close with a few words directed directly to the people of Afghanistan:
It's evident to me, after having the privilege of serving in your country, that you share with Americans an overwhelming desire to live in peace, with dignity. With our support, you'll further develop accountable governance, a patriotic army and police that serves to protect you, for access to health care and education and employment opportunities to provide for the livelihoods of your families.
When you achieve your goals, international terrorists will find no refuge inside of Afghanistan. And this is precisely where your interest, America's interest, and indeed the interest of the entire world, come together. Your success is our success.
Mr. Chairman, if confirmed, I will be deeply grateful for your continued support and for your advice. I fully understand the challenges that I now face and would face in the years to come. I'm committed to working with the United States Congress to ensure effective communication and coordination of our policies and our programs.
I again thank the president, Secretary Clinton and the United States Senate for this opportunity. I would be greatly honored and very humbled to serve. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, General. We appreciate it. And let me comment, myself, on your very distinguished academic career, as well as the many different kinds of posts that you've held.
I think it's a great asset, and you bring a lot of different skills to this -- but not the least of which is having survived being a student at Harvard. I think that's great.
Share with us: One of the questions, I think, on the minds of the committee and some people is, you did put in two tours there, and so while you have the experience, you've also been there during a period of time when things have gotten worse. And I think people want to have an understanding of what your interpretation of that is. I mean, why have the Taliban been able to resurge? What are -- have been the most critical missing elements of our strategy? And what will be different, in your judgment, going forward?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Mr. Chairman, I think, looking back to the time of 2001, 2002 and trying to assess why are we where we are now, why are -- why is it increasingly dangerous and difficult in Afghanistan, the first and foremost would be the problem that has come to pass with -- the problem in -- of sanctuary inside of Pakistan: that when we went into Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, we did quickly defeat the Taliban, we did quickly dismantle the al Qaeda. But we pushed them inside of Pakistan, and over the years that presence in Pakistan, with the increase of their capabilities, has not only caused much more chaos and danger in Pakistan, but, accordingly, it has undermined our efforts in Afghanistan.
But that's not the entire problem as well. Of course, there's been challenges that we've had where we've not had sufficient military forces on the ground inside of Afghanistan, which has led then to an inability of providing security, especially in eastern and southern Afghanistan. There has been a lack of effort -- or insufficient effort, as I said in my opening statement -- about efforts to build the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Doing better with the army, but still falling short with the police.
And then, most important, as you said during your opening -- your own opening remarks, Mr. Chairman, an inadequate effort on the non- military side; insufficient civilian expertise to help the Afghans build their institutions of the state; insufficient non-military resources -- reconstruction, aid and programs -- focused in rural areas, focused in critical institution-building.
SEN. KERRY: Where -- at what stage would you say the insurgency is at this point? And how complicated is it going to be to unravel the gains that they've made, particularly in the south?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: It's going to require, Mr. Chairman, a -- it is going to require additional commitment of U.S. and, importantly, NATO forces into eastern and southern Afghanistan, to get a more lasting presence throughout the rural areas. It's going to require additional efforts to bring along faster and further the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army so that they quickly can transition -- or can transition over the next several years to holding the areas wherever the Afghan army and NATO forces go, and developing over time more lasting security.
It's going to require also more directed aid programs into eastern and southern Afghanistan in order to develop an economy that gives the people some kind of alternative to the Taliban and to extremism; it gives them a life; it gives them a livelihood. And then very importantly will be a coordinated regional approach with Pakistan.
SEN. KERRY: Is it fair to say that you felt these -- the frustration of not being able to fill these gaps while you were there, and even expressed the requirements for additional resources?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Chairman, it became evident in -- by 2006 that the security situation was beginning to slip inside of Afghanistan. And at that time, together with Ambassador Ron Neumann, we had started to put in requests then for additional forces. And in 2006 we reversed the steady decline in U.S. military forces that had been -- had gone on from 2005 to 2006.
It was also evident at that time in 2006 that more energy was needed for the Afghan National Army. We put in a fairly significant increase of assistance and elevated the -- increased the size of our training program for the army. And we also had put in recommendations for the buildup of the police, but it was insufficient.
SEN. KERRY: Do you believe that the doubling of the Afghan army as a goal will be sufficient? And is it doable?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: It's necessary, Mr. Chairman. The current -- the former objective of the Afghan National Army was a goal of about 80,000, and now there's been an agreement to expand the size of the Afghan National Army to 134,000. I think there's confidence on the ground that, institutionally, in terms of their own leadership capacity, the Afghan National Army's at a point where they can move forward and absorb a growth up to 134,000.
But this will be very contingent ultimately on our ability to deliver a sufficient number of trainers and the equipment that the Afghan National Army needs to get to that target. And herein, this would be a requirement not only for the United States, but our NATO allies and our partners will need to do more.
SEN. KERRY: There's an article today on the front page of The New York Times talking about ISI, the Pakistani intelligence's involvement in supporting the Taliban and facilitating some of what they've been able to achieve. Would you comment on that?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Pakistan has a very unclear and ambiguous relationship.
And the Pakistan army, Pakistan ISI, has had a very unclear -- has had a very ambiguous relationship with the Taliban over the last 15 years.
Pakistan of course and its security forces and the ISI are the ones that facilitated the rise of the Taliban, when it first advanced into Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. And since that time, it's been unclear if all elements of ISI have dropped their support for Taliban and their extremist allies.
The ongoing discussions that we have right now, with Pakistan, with Afghanistan and with ourselves of course is focusing on this problem. I know that the trilateral initiatives that have begun, under the administration, with Secretary of State Clinton, have appeared to be promising in that regard.
I know that in early May, there are another set of talks between Afghan, Pak and U.S. -- Pakistan and U.S. leaders, which will include intelligence exchanges. And so this is what we're going to need to continue to have to do is to try to get cooperation and collaboration, not only between the United States and Pakistan but very importantly with Afghanistan as well.
SEN. KERRY: General, let me just say, as I turn it over to Senator Lugar, it's my understanding that you're hoping -- up until now, the post of ambassador in Afghanistan has been an unaccompanied post, as we call it. I know you're hoping to take your wife there with you. And I think I certainly and, I think, the committee are entirely supportive.
I think it would be a terrific message and strong boost of morale for the embassy. And obviously wherever possible, we should try to encourage that. So I hope that that will be facilitated.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for that support.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General, if you could, discuss a little bit from your background, in Afghanistan, the conflicting theories there are, with regard to why the people of Afghanistan, starting with their government and their military, but why the people will be cooperative in rejecting al Qaeda but then, even more complex, rejecting leadership by the Taliban.
We've had discussions at least in the press of different kinds of Taliban: those that seem to be of the insurgent variety and prepared really to take steps, with arms, to disrupt affairs, as opposed to others, who simply have a theological point of governance that may be coincident with many citizens of Afghanistan.
And it's not ever been clear to many of us as to how, as you take a look at opinion polls in Afghanistan and their feelings about Americans or about Europeans, NATO and so forth, clearly an ambivalence as to what they feel sometimes, over the destruction caused by the troops, albeit as they're searching for insurgents or al Qaeda, but losses of life in Afghanistan to people that claim to be innocent civilians or to their property.
And so as a result, although we have plans for sending more troops there -- we are encouraging our European allies to do so -- but at the same time we're encouraging civilian components that may be working on commerce and agriculture and education and so forth.
How diplomatically can this fit together? And I ask this because the -- there will be debates in the Congress. There have been, and I foresee more in the future -- not only on the chairman's question of how many soldiers are required in the Afghan army, but likewise, how competent will the police ever become, given all the charges of corruption?
And after it's all said and done, what will be the general judgment of the Afghan people about this government, their own: that is, the army, the police, President Karzai or his successor, as the case may be, accompanied by our aims as Americans and our aims as NATO allies to suppress the Taliban, to suppress a threat to us that might occur in European capitals or in Washington, D.C.
Can you sort of give, from your experience, how this works out into a situation where the plans we have may be acceptable, as opposed to resisted by the Afghan people, and why we would be any more successful with more troops coming in now from any source than we have been in the past?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, the starting point would be what -- in -- what you had laid out, that the -- still today, the Afghan people's opinion about -- their thoughts about Taliban. And still today, every poll will show that over 90 percent of the Afghan people firmly reject Taliban. They reject the dark, Taliban, primitive ideology and what was really just a very feudal and barbarous rule.
The challenge for the Afghan people is that, while they reject that totally, that they need a secure alternative provided for them. If coerced, without any alternatives, then they will go to the side of the Taliban. How do we provide that alternative to them?
And we really need three aspects in order to change things in parts of Afghanistan where the Taliban has control right now. And first of all, we have to be able to secure the Afghan people. The expression's been given that the hearts and minds of the Afghan people very clearly may be with us during the daytime, but if at the nighttime the Taliban comes into your village, then their mind is with the Taliban.
So we have to be able to provide more security. That gets back, Senator, to the question about how many troops are needed. It is not a question necessarily of how many troops; it's what are those troops doing.
Are they out and about? Are they mixed with the Afghan people? Are they partnered with the Afghan national security forces?
Secondly, we need to increase and help the Afghans improve the rule of law. Without that, security sits upon no foundation.
And then thirdly and very importantly, and the point that you had made, Senator, when we were together earlier this week, the need to think very clearly through the reconstruction and development programs, trying to get rural economies developed, trying to get a sustainable system of commerce and economy so the Afghans then are able to have a middle ground of civil society that they can stand upon. And when given that, they will defend that -- they will defend that.
With regard, then, to the growth of the Afghan national security forces, Senator, I think that the numbers that are being discussed right now are about right. It may have to be reviewed in the future. If I were confirmed, of course, I would look forward to working with the -- closely with the military commands in trying to make joint assessments.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much. That's a very concise and comprehensive statement.
Let me ask -- we've all talked now about the integration of the civilians person. How is that likely to work more effectively than it has in the past? Civilians from America or from Europe.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: I think we need a combination, Senator, of more civilian capacity inside of Kabul for focused work and trying to build key institutions -- ministries of agriculture, ministries of health, more work at the ministry of interior -- but even more is a heavier balance now, tipped balance of trying to get more civilian expertise out into the regions. And that will require a call, then, that gets more agricultural experts, more justice experts, more small city managers to help governors with just developing their own bureaucratic capacity.
There we'll have to be very carefully partnered with the military -- with the NATO military, with the U.S. military, which will have to provide some assistance in terms of logistics and security in accommodating the growth of those civilian personnel and diplomats.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, you're ideally qualified to integrate all of these personnel. We wish you well.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Lugar.
SEN. TED KAUFMAN (D-DE): Thank you, and thank you for doing this, taking on this responsibility.
To follow up on Senator Lugar's question, clearly the -- there's a lot of people in Afghanistan. Most people feel that way about the Taliban -- they don't like the Taliban. And clearly, it stops at 7:00. But isn't there beginning to develop in Afghanistan a feeling that they also don't like this war; they don't like the battle, not just at night but during the day? And that -- doesn't that kind of constrain how much time we have to kind of straighten this problem out?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, those are -- those are important points.
I think that the Afghans have two frustrations. One is that the -- they're -- they are aware of the threat that comes from Pakistan, and they suffer from that threat. And so there's a degree of impatience that comes with that. The second is a growing impatience with the lack of development of their government, and this sets any efforts back, of course, in order to try to hold off the Taliban and their gains.
So, yes, we don't have an unlimited amount of time here, Senator Kaufman. Time is not necessarily with us, unless we develop a more -- and are able to implement a more effective strategy.
SEN. KAUFMAN: I know you said this several times, and I know people were interested in explaining kind of the moderate Taliban.
I mean, I think to a lot of people there's only one kind of Taliban, and I think you explained very well what it is we're shooting for in terms of working with maybe the moderate Taliban.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, there's all kinds of -- there's all kinds of Taliban, as you know. I remember attending a meeting with Afghan leaders in 2004, Afghan government -- leaders of the government, and one of the leaders standing up saying, "You'll recall that at one time most of us were Taliban." There are former Taliban who serve in the parliament of Afghanistan. There was a very capable former Taliban who served as the governor of Oruzgan.
So, critical for us to make sure that we make a distinction here about how is the irrecounsable (ph) -- irreconcilable enemies of Afghanistan and ourselves and who are those, through a process of reconciliation, can be brought onside.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Obviously, no one better suited to deal with coordination between State and Defense, having held the Defense post there and now going into having the State post. Can you talk a little bit about your ideas on how to better integrate how State and Defense work in Afghanistan?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Well, first and foremost, Senator, is the example that gets set at the very top, between the chief of mission, between the United States ambassador and between the senior U.S. military commander. So that's important in setting that example. And through that example, then you'll find -- and we have found -- that generally people down the chain will follow that example.
But beyond that, working hard to establish integrated planning efforts between the United States Embassy and integrating those efforts, of course, with the U.S. military command, with parts of the NATO command, facilitating efforts also from the United States Embassy, not just a U.S. government effort but using our capabilities to help the United Nations mission and the entire international diplomatic community to come together and also integrate the military means with that.
And then finally, out in the regions of Afghanistan, out in the provinces of Afghanistan, through our regional commands, through the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which are -- today are integrated teams, but what they're lacking is they're lacking sufficient presence. So, trying to increase that civilian presence and capability. And I'm confident that the military -- our military inside of Afghanistan will welcome that.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Great. To kind of follow up on that, what do you see the state of developmental aid in Afghanistan right now?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: There's been -- over the past six or seven years, there's been, Senator, some remarkable progress that you're aware that we can point to, of roads being built, many schools being opened. A great example: In 2001 there was some 900,000 boys going to school, in very special kinds of schools, under Taliban; today there's 5.5 million children in school, and about 35 percent of those are females.
What is needed, though, is we need, with several of the critical ministries at the center of Afghanistan -- the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Agriculture, more work with the Ministry of Health -- to help those ministries which are critical to central government control over the country, central government good rule over the country, to be built.
And then we need, as I had said earlier, to shift more of our balance towards getting out down at the grassroots level. The chasm between the government of Afghanistan in Kabul and the last districts is too great. And we still today need to help the Afghans to provide that connection and to pay out more to aid and assistance which is going directly into the rural areas, which are the most troubled and the most prey right now to Afghanistan and to narcotraffickers.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Can you talk just a few minutes about the opium trade, what your thoughts are?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: The opium trade right now, as I had said during my opening remarks, 90 percent of the world's opiates are coming from Afghanistan. Much work has been done to try to combat that problem, but there's really two key metrics that we have to look at for success right now. One metric of success: Have we cut the connection of revenue from the opiate production to the terrorists and the insurgency? And the answer to that is no.
The second metric for success: Have we been able to reduce significantly the degree to which the revenue of opium production is undermining the government of Afghanistan? And the answer to that question is no.
So in spite of gains that we've made, in the main, we'd have to look at our policies and the results that we've had on the ground right now as not achieving success, and far from that, far short of that.
Efforts have to be made to try to develop a more coordinated strategy. It's complex. It has to do with law enforcement, building judicial systems. It has to do with education. It has to do with developing alternative economies. What's the right mix? That has to be looked at.
But I would also say, Senator, that with these complex programs that we have on the ground inside of Afghanistan, can more authority be given towards more agilely moving funds from one area to another, because it's an interlinked problem.
And then secondly, I firmly believe that we have to think through our agricultural programs, our agricultural development and subsistence programs -- those are key to develop alternative economies -- so that we are giving Afghan farmers the choice -- all of this, of course, underpinned by security, because there's a direct correlation that we see now. Wherever the highest amount of opium is being produced, that's the areas which are the most insecure.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Thank you. And I -- you know, I'm a big believer in the right person in the right place at the right time, and I think you -- because of your background, experience and who you are, you're the right person for the right time. I look forward to your working in Afghanistan, and I feel much better about our situation there.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Kaufman.
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Eikenberry, I have to say I've had concern that we had the potential for a perfect storm in the months ahead: a deteriorating Pakistan, on the one hand, and the failure of NATO to help us more in Afghanistan. And when I met you the other day and you were kind enough to come to my office, I realized we'd found the perfect nominee for a perfect storm. I mean, to have a man coming from Brussels, going -- and NATO -- going in fact to Afghanistan, and given the fact you've been in 31 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan and served in the military there, I join the chairman and others to commend the administration on your nomination.
I also had the pleasure of -- one of my dear friends in life's son, Captain Hunter Hill, was called up to go to Afghanistan, and he is in the Military Police in the United States Army, and his specific charge was to lead some of the training of the Afghan police. And he told me -- when he returned, we had a number of conversations, and from what he told me, you and your testimony have put the finger on one of the key things we've got to do, because he told me that culturally law enforcement and civilian rule of law is something that's not a part of the Afghani makeup, and that it's not just training police office, it's actually talking about the rule of law and training the civilian population to respect the rule of law and its enforcement.
So you had mentioned in your printed prepared statement the FDD program, the Focused District Development, which is focused directly, I think, on training military. Can you expand a little bit on that?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, the Focused District Development program was an initiative that was begun about a year ago. And the genesis of the program was that there was a recognition that we could -- we could train an unlimited amount of Afghan national policemen, but unless they were properly mentored over a longer period of time, that anything that was achieved inside of the training, any competencies and, more importantly, any of the values training could not be sustained. And that gets back to the culture you're talking about.
So Focused District Development was the idea that a group of policemen from a particular troubled district, a district that was more prone towards the insurgency, would be pulled out; a -- replacement police would be put in -- a replacement force, highly trained. And then over about an eight-week period, these policemen would be trained in an area outside of the district. They would go back in with better leadership, and there'd be permanent mentoring that was maintained with them.
The results to date have not been 100 percent successful -- very little is in a very difficult environment like Afghanistan -- but continues to get positive reviews. And so what's critical here -- but it's also critical with the Army -- but it's also critical, really, with all of the institutions in Afghanistan -- it's not only about training, but it's about sustained mentoring over time.
And therein, with the police program -- this is really a very important shortfall that -- still today that we'd have. We don't have an adequate number of police mentors. We should really be hoping and expecting our European allies to do more in this particular area.
SEN. ISAKSON: Yeah, it seems like to me that when the awakening took place in Anbar province in Iraq, it kind of was the sea change of difference when they came over and started helping enforce civilian law in Iraq. And if we can get the same type of thing, although it might not be an awakening in Afghanistan, once we might have had some military success, maintaining it is going to depend on that police force.
On NATO, since you're coming from NATO, I have two concerns. One, will they be willing to put the troops in necessary to complement what we are doing in our additional deployment, number one? And number two, if they do, will the rules of engagement be sufficient that they can be effective? Because I know, in certain cases, even though troops had been committed from NATO countries, there had been rules of engagement that were restrictive in terms of the activities they could -- take place in Afghanistan. Any comment you'd have on that I'd like to hear.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, I think that NATO will send additional forces, which -- into Afghanistan to support the 20th August presidential and provincial-council elections. That will be important.
Over time, what may be even more important from NATO is to provide more mentors, trainers, equipment and money for the development of the Afghan national security forces.
And then third: as we've talked today about, the need for more civilian expertise of all kinds inside of Afghanistan -- more resources, more money for reconstruction and development, more money for justice programs and rule-of-law programs. I think in that particular area that not only NATO but the international community, again, not only needs to do more, but they should really be expected to do more.
SEN. ISAKSON: I guess my last question is, I -- all of us focus on the border with Pakistan and the special operations there, but I have come to understand from listening to you and others that our military success in the long run is going to depend on more troops in the rural area and in the south part of Afghanistan.
Is that correct?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: It is, Senator.
SEN. ISAKSON: And that's where the Taliban, we anticipate, might make their next initiative?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: That's where -- that's where over the last four or five years, that's where they've been trying to expand their presence. They have sanctuaries inside of Pakistan, and from those sanctuaries they've continued to have built up strength and influence inside of areas of Afghanistan. And those areas are not only along the borders of eastern Afghanistan and southeastern Afghanistan, but they've extended into the interior parts of the country of Afghanistan.
SEN. ISAKSON: Well, I thank you for your testimony, and particularly, I thank you for your willingness to serve. I think you're a terrific nominee for a very difficult post at exactly the right time.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Isakson.
SEN. ROBERT CASEY (D-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And General, we welcome you here, and we appreciate your service, what you've done for this country in the past and what I know you'll do for this country with this particular challenge that we have in Afghanistan.
I have to say, we have a lot of nominees that come before us, and they're introduced by distinguished Americans and their qualifications are reviewed and commended; but to have Senator Inouye and Senator Warner give you that kind of recommendation is high praise, indeed. In fact, I had to leave here to give a speech about the budget, and I was in the elevator with Senator Inouye and he told me to make sure that we move this quickly. So we have another directive beyond what he said here. But we're grateful for what you've done.
I wanted to talk about something that's been -- it's been bothering me lately because of the experience in -- (audio break) -- and I think it's incumbent upon not only the president and his administration, but those of us in Congress, to be very clear about why we're there, what the objective is, what the exit strategy is. And once we articulate that to the American people, once he does it and others amplify it, we have to keep saying it over and over and over again. Because unless we do that, all of the troop commitments, all of the resources, all of the good intentions won't matter, because when the going gets tough and the sacrifice gets even greater, we have to be able to sustain support for this mission.
So the objectives are very important, and also, I think the language is very important. When I was in Iraq in the summer of 2007, I said to both General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, I said the president -- then-President Bush -- was using terminology like "victory" and "defeat," which I thought was misleading. I thought it was misleading and inaccurate about what was going to happen in Iraq no matter what the result was. So using that language is -- even in this context, I think is dangerous. Now, maybe the word "success" is more accurate.
So I really believe that we have a long way to go in articulating, to the American people, these basic points, the objectives of why we're there.
The problem is, we haven't spent a lot of time talking to them about this war. We've talked a lot about Iraq. And we've had debates for years about Iraq. The American people have not heard enough, from their government, about this conflict. And I know you have a concern about that as well.
So can you talk to me about that, in terms of how -- as someone who has had a distinguished military career, who has been a diplomat as well and understands the difficulty of communicating a message and sustaining support, for a difficult engagement, talk to me about that, in terms of the leadership you can bring to those set of questions.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, the -- as you -- as you indicated, trying to articulate what are our goals, what are our objectives, what's the stakes inside of Afghanistan; in my opening remarks, I addressed that.
What's clear is that we know that the overriding objective, inside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, is to disrupt and eventually defeat the international terrorism, their capabilities that still threaten our homeland that are there.
On the Afghanistan side, what will be essential is that we over time help the Afghans to create the conditions so that international terrorism will never regain a refuge there. We can see what the outlines of that program look like. It's developing Afghan national security forces that increasingly can secure their own people.
It's developing a system of government, in Afghanistan, and a rule of law, so that those security forces sit on top of a foundation of good governance, and then beyond that developing an economy of Afghanistan, so the Afghans can sustain themselves over a period of time, all of that then nested within the regional approach between Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond.
And I know that it would be premature for me to talk about the strategic assessment. Of course, the president will very soon, I know, be talking to the public about his decisions, with regard to that strategic assessment.
But what I would pledge as, if confirmed, as the ambassador, Senator, to work extraordinarily hard to try to communicate effectively, to the American public, and of course very importantly in maintaining consultations and close contact with you, as I said in the opening remarks too, welcoming frequent, many trips by the United States Congress, to Afghanistan, in order for you to take stock of the situation firsthand, and then for you making your own judgments in turn of course to communicate to your constituents.
SEN. CASEY: I appreciate that. I think it's critically important.
One of the -- and I have about a half a minute left. One of the difficult assignments you'll have is bridging the gap between the military -- military officials and our civilians serving in Afghanistan. I just want to have you comment about that, how you obviously have a lot of experience in this area and how important that is.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, it is vital. I've served -- in the course of my career, I've served twice as members of country teams in China and in Kabul. I know the importance of the close cooperation between the military and the civilian sides. I pledge to -- as I said, to set a good example and a very positive example by showing great collaboration with General David McKiernan, the commander of NATO ISAF and the commander of U.S. forces, and also trying to set the best example more broadly within the international community to be seen as a team player.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you, general.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Casey.
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar.
General, thank you so much for your testimony today and thank you for the courtesy visit to my office. I enjoyed getting to know you. And I do want to thank you for your honorable and selfless service to our nation, as a soldier, as a commander. And you've taken on some significant challenges, and this may be the biggest one of all.
In your previous tours in Afghanistan, you've got a lot of experience and a lot of relationships to build on. And that gives us a lot of confidence in your ability to take on this challenge.
The fact remains that Afghanistan is a critical front in what will continue to be a global war on terror, despite what some might want to call it these days. I seriously doubt that our troops consider this a run-of-the-mill overseas contingency deployment. You know that it's so much more than that, and they're taking the fight to terrorists on their turf instead of here in America.
And as you know, until 2001, Afghanistan was an internationally neglected breeding ground for terrorist training and financing. And today our brave men and women, along with our NATO partners and our other allies, battle terrorists who have been forced into the mountains and across into Pakistan.
And while I applaud the renewed focus that we're now hearing on Afghanistan and the efforts to update our strategy, I still have a lot of concerns. And you've covered many of them already, but my trips and my staff trips to Afghanistan, one of the challenges I don't think we talked about much this morning really comes in -- the concern about U.S. assistance and the billions of dollar that we're spending in Afghanistan. You know, with multiple campaign plans, 26 reconstruction teams acting kind of semi-independently, there doesn't appear to be a comprehensive, coordinated vision of what we need to do.
So the -- I'm really concerned about the coordination and the oversight of reconstruction activities. You know, when I was there and what I've heard from a number of folks who've been there, there's more emphasis on competing for U.S. assistance money and actually more interest in spending money than actually making it effective. And the reports now are showing as high as 70 percent of what we direct towards Afghanistan never gets there.
And so in your role as ambassador, I would just like you to talk for a moment about how we're going to deal with a lack of coordination, the duplication of effort across Afghanistan.
How can we get a coordinated approach, which I think is going to be more the emphasis now than fighting and troops, it's going to be training and building. And it's that infrastructure that's going to be important. So if you'd just take a few minutes of our time here and comment on how we can coordinate the money we're spending.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Thank you. Thank you, Senator. These are very important -- these are very important questions.
I'd make three points on the reconstruction development aid and assistance. As I said, and as you're aware, we have had some good results on the ground. But there's three very important challenges that we have.
Right now we have a lot of international donors and aid programs from nations, through the United Nations, from various -- very excellent NGOs, but still not terribly efficient, in fact many times grossly inefficient, in trying to bring these programs together to avoid duplication, to not being able to identify gaps, and the result, then, is wastage.
The second problem that we have is what I had said in my opening remarks, is that -- and this gets to your point, Senator -- 70 percent, whether that number is 70 percent across the board, but it may be about right -- a lot of money which is being allocated and it's not getting to the Afghan people, it's not getting to the Afghan targets of the aid. And so that has to be looked at very carefully. Multiple contracts, and when we establish aid programs, too many subcontractors, not Afghan subcontractors.
And then the third is, when you get out into the provinces themselves, when you get to the Provincial Reconstruction Teams inside of Afghanistan, the military having one fairly large pot of money, the Commander Emergency Response Program, but USAID and our Department of State not having commensurate funds and flexible use of the funds that they have. So, perhaps needing to take a look at that, as well, about what's the right blend of funds and authorities that we do push out to the provinces.
And what I would commit to, Senator, if confirmed, upon arriving in Afghanistan I'd want to work very closely with our country team out there to do an assessment of this.
SEN. DEMINT: Thank you. I know I've heard stories, for instance, of -- and this actually came from a missionary who got beyond where most of us are allowed to go when we're there -- of money that was used to build a hospital, and so they constructed it, but there were no plans to staff it or actually maintain it. But we spent the money for construction, so part of the mission was accomplished, but it was not coordinated with the goal of actually operating a hospital and helping deliver health care.
So you know that all better than I do, and you seem to have a grasp of what we need to do. But I think it's an incredible amount of money we're spending; that maybe job two after winning the fighting part of the battle is making sure our money is spent well there.
But thank you so much. And again, I appreciate your service to our country.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator DeMint. Appreciate that.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-MN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm pleased that we'll soon be receiving the much-needed review of our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan that President Obama has ordered.
It's my hope that this strategy will address the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan with a comprehensive and regional approach recognizing the critical role that Pakistan plays when it comes to our nation's security and, of course, to Afghanistan's stability. Pakistan has been the home to a strengthened and reconstituted al Qaeda for many years now. And so I think we have to ensure that our actions in Afghanistan, including sending additional U.S. troops, do not make the situation worth -- worse in either country. We cannot afford to take an overly Afghan-centric approach to a much broader problem.
We also need to scale up our diplomatic engagement and redouble our commitment to reconstruction in order to help build a secure, stable Afghanistan in which insurgents and terrorists have no room to operate.
But we also need to keep in mind where the insurgents, along with al Qaeda, have found a safe haven -- and obviously, as the witness knows very well, that's Pakistan, as we address a very complex and very serious threat to our national security.
As we begin to shift to a new strategy, we'll need an ambassador who has a strong command of dynamics on the ground and in the region and can coordinate with many different actors. And I am pleased that General Eikenberry has been nominated to this post, and look forward to our discussion today.
With the president's policy review expected to be rolled out later today, there's been a lot of discussion about the role of our military in Afghanistan and how we can address the significantly increased insecurity when much of that insecurity, again, is coming from across the border in Pakistan. If the goal of our Afghan mission is to make sure, quote, "Al Qaeda cannot attack the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests and our allies," unquote, as the president recently stated on "60 Minutes," how does Pakistan fit into that picture?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Senator, the administration -- the president, the secretary of State -- have put a tremendous emphasis right now on our approach to the problems of the region of -- to not address Pakistan alone, not to address Afghanistan alone. They see the interdependencies between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Indeed, part of the -- a good part of the problem, the deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan, has to do with the sanctuaries that existed and do exist inside of Pakistan, with al Qaeda and their Taliban allies.
What can be done -- what I think the administration will be putting an emphasis on -- is the collaborative, combined, regional diplomatic approach. You're aware that, with the appointment of Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, that is symbolic now and that is clearer about the emphasis the administration is placing on the Afghanistan-Pakistan combined approach.
Some progress has been made. The 24th and 25th of February, the administration invited and was able to get leaders from the Afghan government ministries and the Pakistan government to come to Washington, D.C. for trilateral talks.
There's an intention, in early May, for the next round of those talks. Very importantly, Senator, those talks will include not only economics, political issues, but they will specifically include intelligence.
And so the way forward for us is very clear, and that is to try to develop further intelligence collaboration between Afghanistan, the United States, NATO, Pakistan and also to try to develop more collaborative security approaches, but this will not be easy.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Absolutely not. And I appreciate your response, but I just hearken back to what I think was one of the real low points in the last administration -- I think I heard it in this room -- when a witness said that with regard to Iraq, we do what we must, and with Afghanistan, we do what we can. This policy better not end up being we do what we must with regard to Afghanistan and what we can with regard to Pakistan, because that's not going to work. And your comments obviously suggest you understand that well.
For the most part, conventional wisdom has been and continues to be that an increase of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is the right course of action. I have, as you know, been asking some questions about this decision, as well as the logic of deciding to send more troops to Afghanistan before the comprehensive review has been completed. I'm also concerned that there's not a sufficient increase in political engagement or development or, again, an adequate focus on Pakistan.
So your comments on that.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: The troops that the -- the 17,000 troops, Senator, that the -- that President Obama has committed to and which are currently being deployed and will continue to be deployed, the main effort and the main effects that those troops will be sent to achieve are to help spread out throughout the east and southern Afghanistan and provide more security, along with the Afghan National Army and police, to the rural areas where Taliban has gained control in areas in the east and the south.
Secondly, they will be fully committed to training Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police and to partnering with them to develop further capacities.
And so that decision was a timely decision, a decision that had to be made. But it'd be premature, Senator, until I had an opportunity to look at the comprehensive review -- the president still has to make his public announcements about his decisions. But after those have been made, I look forward to very carefully working with the administration, consultations with you, about the implementation of that strategy.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Finally, can you lay out for me what you think is most urgently needed in terms of supporting the Afghan government, while also ensuring that we maintain our credibility among the Afghan people?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Two areas, Senator: first, more effort for building the Afghan national security forces and, secondly, more effort needed to build accountability and rule of law within Afghanistan, which is absolutely critical if the people of Afghanistan are going to stay on-side with the government.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Chairman, I've finished my time.
SEN. KERRY: Senator Shaheen.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Eikenberry, I apologize for missing your opening statement and much of this hearing. I had another commitment. But I do appreciate the critical nature of your nomination and the need to move forward as quickly as possible.
I got a very personal reminder yesterday of just how critical our actions in Afghanistan are, when I talked to the parents of a 29-year- old Marine corporal from New Hampshire who was killed over the weekend in southern Afghanistan. And it was a very important reminder of making sure that our strategy in Afghanistan is worthy of the great sacrifices that men and women have made already in Afghanistan.
So I do echo Senator Casey's comments about the importance of being clear with the American people about what our strategy is there and what we hope to accomplish.
We had an interesting panel -- it was really a roundtable discussion -- before this committee about a month ago on Afghanistan. And one of the participants was a woman named Sarah Chayes, who I'm sure you're familiar with. And she made a very important point, as did several of the other members of the panel, about the importance not of our military activities in Afghanistan, but about the other actions that we take to support those that can win over the Afghani people; and spoke to the importance of agriculture in doing that, and also about addressing the poppy trade.
And I wonder if you could speak to both of those, and particularly when you talk about the poppy trade, if you could talk about whether you think the eradication efforts are working and, if they're not, what alternative we have to those efforts.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Thank you, Senator. I do know Sarah Chayes, and I have immense respect for her insights based upon firsthand experience inside of Afghanistan.
With regard to, Senator, the poppy trade -- and in talking about the poppy trade, it actually relates strongly to agriculture.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Right.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: I have said earlier that getting a handle on this, getting a grip on this, is absolutely indispensable to our overall success inside of Afghanistan and Pakistan; that without getting a grip on this, we are ceding increasing areas to the Taliban and to narco-traffickers, which stand juxtaposed then to what should be a legitimate government of Afghanistan, and it increases the threat to all of us.
Secondly and at the same time, it's undermining all of our efforts to build a legitimate government of Afghanistan. Not all of the narco-trafficking money, of course, is going to the Taliban. Some of that money is going to what should be the legitimate government of Afghanistan. So it's a very severe problem.
And we need a multi-prong approach. And what we have tried in Afghanistan is a multi-dimensional approach to what is a very complex problem. And there's an aspect of needing to have better law enforcement, better justice systems, better education, the opportunity to produce alternative economies. And within that mix, eradication plays a -- certainly does play a role.
There have been successful eradication programs. Interestingly, though, the most successful have been led by Afghan governors and by the Afghans themselves. But there's certainly a role to be played there. But I think what the -- the way forward will require first of all a very thoughtful approach to trying to project the legitimate government of Afghanistan's influence, and the security that comes with that government influence, throughout the troubled places of Afghanistan where poppy production is highest. There is a very direct correlation now between where is the most poppy being grown, and where the government of Afghanistan and its security forces are not.
So that is critical.
Secondly, it's going to be essential that in terms of justice and accountability, at some point, some of the big drug barons of Afghanistan are brought to justice. There has to be accountability, and there has to be an example.
And then third, which may tie in to your question about agriculture, agricultural programs and the need to develop functioning agricultural economies is really going to be essential here; that it's not necessarily true that it's only in the areas of Afghanistan where there's no agricultural potential that poppy flourishes. Indeed in Helmand province, where a lot of poppy is being grown, it's a pretty rich agricultural area, potentially. But the ability to have a comprehensive approach with the delivery of agricultural systems, to be able to help train farmers, develop rural roads that allow farmers to get their crops to market, microfinancing -- this is going to require much more effort on our part, on the international part, and I think that we should be and are exploring different initiatives which will enable us to do this.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you. I know there's been some discussion about Pakistan, a lot of discussion about the role of Pakistan and what happens in Afghanistan. But can you also talk about efforts to -- whether it makes sense to also try and engage India? Obviously India -- what happens between India and Pakistan is going to be important to get Pakistani attention to what's happening in the tribal areas. But can you talk about how important you think it is to engage India in supporting our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: India makes a -- Senator, India makes a very positive contribution towards Afghanistan's development. It has good agricultural programs. It's been a generous aid donor. It also has extraordinarily good capabilities of developing civil service and helping to educate Afghan bureaucrats. So given its proximity, given its own interests, but given really its capabilities and the generosity it's shown to date, yes, they have a very important role to play, as do all of Afghanistan's immediate neighbors and the neighbors in the near abroad.
SEN. SHAHEEN: And does that role create any tension with Pakistan?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: It -- Pakistan and India have had a -- of course a very difficult relationship at times, which has -- over the years, which has seen points of severe tension and points of rapprochement. But what's critical is that within the region, facilitated by the United States, to the extent that we can, that we try -- and facilitated by other critical nations, that we find ways to have cooperative approaches made towards Afghanistan and it doesn't become a location of competition but it becomes a location for cooperation.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you very much.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Shaheen.
General, we're almost wrapped up here, but I do want to probe a little bit a couple of areas that concern me, and particularly one based on the answer that you gave to Senator Casey's question. Senator Casey asked you sort of about the general mission, et cetera, and keeping the support of folks. And you started to run down a list of things that we need to do, and I think I heard you say developing a system of government, developing an economy, et cetera.
I began to get worried when hear you saying all that. That's not what I certainly defined -- I mean, there's some component of that, but that's, in my judgment, not our mission.
And I want to hear, with clarity, what you're saying the mission is or what you understand it to be as we come out of this review, because there are just going to be some limits, I think, speaking realistically; I think you have a sense of that.
So, yes, we have to help them develop a system, but that's very -- I mean, that's sort of what President Bush described, and that's not what I view as the current definition of the mission as we're thinking about it, but to help the to help themselves. It's not up to us to develop a system of government. We have to help them to develop their economy, and it's up to the Europeans and a lot of people to be part of that.
So I'd like to hear you sort of reiterate with a clarity sort of how we're approaching this mission.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Again, defining success, success is, in Afghanistan, inside of Pakistan, that we have defeated al Qaeda and international terrorism which threatens our country; and then in order to achieve that, creating the conditions in Afghanistan so that we don't have the environment which pervaded in the 1990s which allowed al Qaeda, international terrorism to have open sanctuary, to have an open safe haven inside of Afghanistan.
SEN. KERRY: But al Qaeda is fundamentally not in Afghanistan today.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Their presence inside of Pakistan, of course, fuels the insurgency and fuels attacks of terror inside of Afghanistan.
SEN. KERRY: But the mission, I mean, of Afghanistan with respect to al Qaeda is to keep them from coming back. Correct?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: That's correct, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: They've been driven out. They're not there. So with respect to al Qaeda -- I mean, the quandary here is that the place where al Qaeda is, we aren't. And the difficulty is, nor is -- are the Pakistani army or government. There's some Frontier Corps that has the ability to penetrate here and there. But events in the North-West province, in Swat, seem to indicate, you know, an enormous challenge in that part of the area that none of this that we've talked about on Afghanistan is going to impact.
I guess I should rephrase that. Success -- if we are successful in reducing their capacity to penetrate Afghanistan, I think that will embolden our capacity in Pakistan.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: I would -- I believe also, Mr. Chairman, that if we are unable, if we do not succeed in helping the Afghans -- and you're characterization is the correct one. If I was characterizing it as "we will develop," as opposed to "we will assist the Afghans develop," then I would like to stand corrected, because this is about enabling the Afghans to develop governments and rule of law, enabling the Afghans to develop their own security forces, enabling the Afghans to develop a sustainable economy. Those are the three critical components. When they come together, success would be defined then as an Afghan state strong enough to not become an open safe haven for international terrorism.
We can succeed in Afghanistan, it's true, but if we don't address the problem, the linked problems in Pakistan, then we'll have no lasting success.
But I would also say, Mr. Chairman, that if we don't move forward to try achieve this success in Afghanistan that was just outlined, then all al Qaeda and their confederates will do is, they will move then into ungoverned space of Afghanistan, as they did before. And they'll set up shop there again.
SEN. KERRY: I concur with that. And I think that is the most significant rationale, for why we have to find a footprint that works, to prevent them from doing that. I know the president has three different sort of tiered alternatives, in front of him, as to how we might do that.
What I'm concerned about, and I think we have to be really careful of it, and you're an expert at this, and that's one of the reasons why we're glad you're going there. But finding that balance, in the right level of that footprint, where it is not so great or incompetent that we are inviting people to push us out, that we invite an unwelcome departure, is critical.
At the same time, we don't want to have such a level, of military engagement and footprint, that we're also inviting an unwelcome departure. So this is a very delicate balance. And I think in the process, we want to be careful of how much we raise the stakes ourselves on ourselves.
The mission is to keep al Qaeda from coming back. It may take the Afghans a little longer to develop their government. But they haven't proven, in the last six years, a particular disposition to want to do that frankly. And that's one of the reasons why the Taliban have been able to move back in, because of the absence of governance.
So I don't have a lot -- I mean, you know, we want the government to succeed. But I think our strategy, as I think it is, is beginning to focus on how we empower people locally and provincially and otherwise and play to some of the tribal realities historically that would re-empower people locally, to be able to take control of their lives and reject the Taliban.
Is that a fair statement of the balance here?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: I know, Senator, again without the president having made his public announcements on the strategic assessment, I'd like to be careful about being premature in prejudging that.
That particular balance though that you're talking about is certainly part of the equation in the reassessment. After the assessment has been decided upon, the president -- if I am confirmed, as I said earlier, Chairman, I would look forward then to looking closely at the assessment and then moving forward the president's decisions and to implementing that and to staying in close --
SEN. KERRY: Are you confident? Are you confident, General, at the ability, of the level of forces that we're talking about, to maintain a sufficient level of security that we can actually enforce this transformation at the local level?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: There, Mr. Chairman, I would really ask to have time to look at the assessment, to look at the numbers that are being discussed. What I do know is that in terms of the Afghan National Army, that their growing competence provides a real opportunity for all of us -- for the Afghans -- and there's more possibilities with the police. And this gets back to your point about making sure that this is Afghan-led and enabled and not necessarily is perceived or indeed is all about our own forces.
SEN. KERRY: And just a final question, with respect to Pakistan, do you have any recommendations to the committee as to what steps you think are feasible, immediately tangible, that could make a difference with respect to the border and the FATA and what's happened in the North-West Province? What's your sense of the ideal of what would make a difference?
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Chairman, trying to get -- trying to get immediate gains, as you know, is very difficult in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But what will be important is more honest collaborative exchanges of intelligence and a willingness to conduct combined operations between the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan; secondly, focused aid and assistance programs to the Pakistan military that can -- to give them the capabilities and the wherewithal to attack al Qaeda and the extremists that are along the border areas and in the North-West Frontier Province; and then, thirdly, helping the Pakistanis develop aid programs, which, just as you've talked about on the Pakistan -- on the Afghan side of the border, important that the Pakistani authorities adopt the same approach on their own side of the border and perhaps finding ways to collaborate between Afghanistan and Pakistan to have combined economic programs that will be win-wins across the border.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, General.
Senator Lugar, you all set? (No audible response.)
Well, Senator Shaheen, do you have any more questions? (No audible response.)
Well, General, we really appreciate your willingness to take this very complicated task on, and we wish you well in it. We're going to meet next Tuesday -- the record will stay open just for 24 hours, in case anybody has any written question they want to submit. I don't think there will be. But we'll try to expedite this out next week and, you know, hopefully your bags are packed and you're ready to go.
Thank you, sir.
GEN. EIKENBERRY: Thank you very much, Chairman. My wife's told me that our bags are packed.
SEN. KERRY: Good to hear. Thanks.
We stand adjourned. Thank you.