Chaired By: Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
Witness: Admiral Michael Mullen, U.S. Navy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
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SEN. KERRY: The hearing will come to order. Thank you all for bearing with us for a few moments.
Admiral, thank you for your patience. I know you have a busy schedule, and I apologize. But we had a vote on the -- one of our many, many, many cloture votes in order to proceed forward. And this is on the appropriation, on the supplemental. So I know it's a matter of urgent importance to you and the troops. And we're glad that we were able to get that vote under our belt.
We're delighted to have you come here today. We value your insights enormously. And let me say how grateful we are for your service personally. I know how many trips you've been making, to a number of different regions. And diligently you've been pursuing the important issues that we face.
And we also on behalf of all of us would like you, and I know you do this anyway. But on behalf of us, please convey to the troops, in every theater, our deepest respect and admiration for what they are doing.
Everywhere we go -- and we're privileged to go to many of these sites -- we see them working on the front lines, under extraordinary circumstances, and I have never failed to be impressed by the quality of the service. I think I told you when we were at breakfast recently about a naval -- Navy commander in a PRT up in Kunar providence in Pakistan (sic), running the PRT and doing an amazing job, as impressive a briefing as I'd received anywhere. So we really just want to express our gratitude. Thank you.
It's been two months now since President Obama announced the new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The situation in both countries obviously remains challenging. In Afghanistan the trend lines over the past two years have been disturbing to every single one of us. There's no debate about their direction. Casualty rates have risen for American troops, for our coalition partners, for Afghan security forces and especially for Afghan civilians. Security throughout most of the country is as bad as it's been in any time since the ouster of the Taliban.
The Afghan people have little affection for the Taliban. That is very, very clear. And yet support has been rapidly falling for America and for the international community and for the Kabul government.
Regardless of the result, August's Afghan elections are going to be a milestone for the country. If the elections are successful, they can offer a much-needed break with recent disappointments. But if the polling is marred by intimidation, fraud, other forms of abuse, it could push Afghanistan back toward the succession of failed illegitimate governments of the past.
The reality is, with this new strategy, we know from our commanders on the ground, because they have told us, that things may get worse before they get better. Deploying an additional 17,700 troops to Afghanistan is necessary to reverse the tide and prevent the Taliban insurgency from gaining unstoppable momentum.
When I visited our troops in Kandahar and Kelat this winter, I heard repeatedly that our soldiers fully understand the tough road ahead. The American people need to understand it as much as they do.
The Obama administration recognizes the challenge, which is why it has set forth a clear and limited goal of not allowing Afghanistan to again become a safe haven for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that week to attack us.
I might add I know that you've been through this exercise.
Every time one goes through the options -- and they're not many, and they're not great -- but every time you look at the options and consider the possibilities of either not being there, or withdrawing to a level that diminishes our ability to do the mission, the dangers of that option leap out at you loudly and clearly.
To leave Afghanistan to the capacity of al Qaeda to simply return, and of extremist religious fanaticism globally to somehow view it as a -- as a free license, green light, to engage in the activities they've been engaging in, would be far, far more dangerous for the world.
Under the leadership of General Petraeus, we are implementing a classic counterinsurgency strategy that will focus on protecting the civilian population, rather than focusing on the enemy's body count; treating the populace rather than geography as the terrain to be won over; training Afghan security forces; understanding the local culture and tradition, so that we can forge genuine partnerships; empowering the populace itself and local leaders to make this struggle their own.
And I'm confident that the administration and the military understand that if we are ultimately to win over the Afghan people, we must redouble our efforts to reduce civilian casualties. We must also devise a more sophisticated counternarcotics strategy. Unless we provide alternative livelihoods to farmers while cracking down on drug kingpins and processing labs, we're unlikely to break the stranglehold of corrupt government officials and narco-traffickers.
In Pakistan, the challenges are in many ways greater, and certainly our ability to confront them is at the same time far more limited. But make no mistake, Pakistan is an absolutely vital and compelling national security concern for the United States. I don't need to tell anyone, but we ought to underscore it at every occasion, that if a nuclear-armed nation of 170 million people were to become a failed state, it would pose an unimaginable peril to itself, its neighbors and the world.
At our hearing with Ambassador Holbrooke last week, we discussed Pakistan in depth, but I just emphasize quickly a few points. First, to fix a Pakistan policy that has largely failed, we need -- or to the degree there's been a Pakistan policy -- we need to create a new strategy. Senator Lugar and I have introduced legislation which we believe helps to do just that. By tripling non-military aid, authorizing it for five to 10 years and delinking this aid from our security assistance, we believe we can put our relationship with Pakistan on an entirely new foundation.
We can ground our ties on the bedrock of the Pakistani people themselves. That's why President Obama explicitly called on Congress to pass the Kerry-Lugar bill as part of his overall strategy.
Second, I was struck during my recent visit to the Frontier Corps headquarters in Peshawar that -- to hear that after the corps had fought so hard to clear the Taliban out of the Bajaur and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, they had no capacity to bring in the type of development assistance necessary to consolidate their military gains.
The bill that Senator Lugar and I propose will help provide the hold and build parts of Pakistan's counterinsurgency strategy. It was striking to me to hear a competent general, General Tariq Khan, sit there and explain how well they had done and then, in exasperation, talk about how for seven or eight weeks afterwards not a thing happened to change the lives of the people who had been dislocated or impacted by the military operation. That is an invitation to those folks giving up on the notion that it makes a difference. And clearly, in the long run, we're not going to be successful if that's what happens.
If we can employ this new counterinsurgency strategy that is more people-focused than troop-focused, not only in the tribal areas, but throughout the country, before settled areas like the Punjab and Sindh are destabilized, then I believe we may be able to address the emerging crisis before it fully matures.
Third, the current humanitarian crisis in Swat Valley is a pressing, immediate need. It is an opportunity, frankly, and I welcome the administration's decision to follow up on what came out of our hearing with Ambassador Holbrooke and to send $110 million in humanitarian aid. As I noted at last week's hearing, we have a chance here to demonstrate America's friendship and concern for the people and the communities of Pakistan.
After the Kashmir earthquake, the sight of American servicemen and women saving the lives of Pakistanis was incontrovertible proof of our good intentions, and for a time -- for a time -- Pakistanis trusted Americans more than their own government or religious radicals.
The problem is, we failed to follow up on that effort with a broader strategy country-wide. But I believe the bill proposed by Senator Lugar and myself aims to correct that failure.
Finally, we need to be clear about what is possible. Ultimately -- (clears his throat) -- excuse me. Ultimately, we can influence events in Pakistan, but we cannot decide them. We can strengthen the hand of the moderate majority, but the choices need to be made by that majority and by the Pakistanis themselves.
Chairman Mullen, I look forward to your military assessment of this new plan. I know how much time you have spent building personal relationships with the leaders, their military leaders, their intelligence leaders, as well as the civilian leadership. You are trusted over there, and you're trusted, obviously, up here, and we welcome your testimony today. Thank you.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I join you in welcoming Admiral Mullen.
We very much appreciate your willingness to engage our committee today on Afghanistan and Pakistan. You know of my personal enthusiasm for your leadership as CNO and in this new capacity. We are very excited and enthused about all that you are doing and the vigor with which you have done it.
Let me say that this hearing gives members an opportunity to review the situation in the region from a military perspective and to more fully comprehend the scope of the integrated United States effort to combat extremism. Yesterday's JCS briefing for members provided a chance to discuss some critical matters in a classified setting, including reports that Pakistan has continued to prioritize nuclear weapons production, despite other budgetary challenges.
We're also grateful that Admiral Mullen will discuss the Kerry- Lugar Pakistan legislation -- that's 962 -- and how we might improve United States policy toward that country. He has been in the region frequently during his time as chairman of the JCS. His perspectives are extremely valuable to our understanding of what is occurring there.
Chairman Kerry and I have listened carefully to those conducting the strategic review of United States policy in South Asia. We've tried to ensure consistency between our bill and the president's goals. The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 sustains the objectives outlined by the administration and provides tools to help implement them, including additional resources for oversight and accountability.
Our legislation is intended to take advantage of the opportunity for revitalizing our relationship with Pakistan through greater diplomatic engagement, as well as a commitment to economic and political development.
The president and his senior leadership have voiced support for this legislation. At last week's hearing, Ambassador Holbrooke asserted that the assistance envisioned in the bill is seen in the region as a central element of enhancing our long-term relationship. The president has stated clearly the diplomatic and military and development efforts related to Afghanistan and Pakistan are among our highest national security priorities. The administration has backed this up with a request for billions of dollars of assistance to these countries and with Admiral Mullen's announcement, the administration has designated Afghanistan as the, quote, "main effort," end of quote, of our strategic military focus.
Such strategic emphasis and the resources allocated for these purposes require considerable planning by the administration to ensure a favorable outcome. Thus far, the administration has provided overarching guidance for policy toward the region and plans for Afghanistan that are somewhat more detailed. But it is yet to produce a comprehensive strategic blueprint of how our assistance will be utilized to achieve specific goals in these countries, also lacking a clear representation of the commitments that the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan will undertake, as well as the contributions of other donor countries.
I've been encouraged by Admiral Mullen's support for appropriate foreign assistance increases in the region. He has long recognized the importance of an integrated civil-military approach to many challenges, a view that has been reinforced by the president's strategic review.
Our committee is committed to strengthening the civilian capacity of the State Department, USAID and other agencies in this strategic region, and we welcome the admiral's views on that process. We're interested in how the Department of Defense has engaged with the White House and other agencies in providing assistance in the region. The dynamic and dangerous environment in Pakistan will require a clear understanding of the responsibilities of our varied government agencies as they engage with the host governments. Are agencies adequately coordinating? And if not, how can we improve the situation?
Has the Defense Department assumed roles out of necessity that are better performed by civilian agencies? The committee is also interested in Admiral Mullen's perspective on the tools necessary to fulfill the administration's regional policy expectations.
After years of United States support for the Pakistani military, it's extremely important for members of Congress to understand how the United States will maintain effective oversight of funds to prevent misappropriation or diversion. The committee is especially grateful for your insights, Admiral Mullen, on the proposed legislation on interagency coordination and cooperation, and obviously, on your recent visits to the region. Thank you so much for coming and thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling the hearing.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Lugar.
Admiral, we welcome your testimony. Thank you for being here with us.
ADM. MULLEN: I thank the chairman and Senator Lugar, distinguished members of the committee. I'm grateful for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss our strategy for the way ahead in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the merits of this committee's efforts to help us resource that strategy.
As you know, Afghanistan and Pakistan are two very different countries very much linked, not only to each other, but inextricably to the national security of the United States. Indeed, our national interests are tied to that region perhaps more than to any other right now, and there's no corner of the world, none, that concerns me more.
I've spent much of my time since assuming this office intently focused on the challenges in this region and on developing personal and professional relationships with leaders there whose decisions are now and will remain indispensable to our common desire for security and stability.
We simply must try harder to see their problems through their eyes. If I've learned nothing else, it is that nothing we do here in Washington will matter much in the end if it doesn't reflect our earnest desire to reestablish lost trust and regain lost opportunities to prevent either nation from being crushed in the grip of extremism.
You don't need to look very hard at the headlines to see that we are not making enough headway in that regard. That's why one of the things I like most about the proposed legislation I see being considered here is the long-term commitment it represents specifically to the people of Pakistan, but also, quite frankly, to those in Afghanistan as well.
It is not just the money; it's the five years of steady friendship and partnership it will demand of us. It's the promise that we will stay and we will help and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in ways we've not always done. That's why I'm also so committed to our new strategy for the region, a strategy that likewise demands commitment from us and holds us accountable to achievable goals to deter, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda through whole of government resources and critical enablers.
Let me speak first to Afghanistan. We are from a military perspective, shifting the main effort there as we draw down responsibly in Iraq. There's no question in my mind that this is appropriate given both the Taliban's dangerous ambitions and their steady progress, but it's also a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of our men and women in Iraq over the last six years. If it were not for their efforts for the relative success we've achieved there, we would, I fear, be unable to devote this level of attention to Afghanistan, and I'm reminded that we still have more than 135,000 troops in Iraq doing critical and dangerous work, that nearly 4,300 have lost their lives in that pursuit and that as we shift the weight of our footprint further east, we must capture their lessons learned, their combat experience and tap into their wisdom.
The war in Iraq has taught us things about counterinsurgency warfare we might never have discovered otherwise. We will be smarter now in Afghanistan and more successful, in my view, not in spite of Iraq, but because of it. To that end, I see four distinct pillars for that success, first, developing better security and better protection for the Afghan people who are the real center of gravity by continuing to train and build the Afghan national security force. Second, setting the conditions for good governance, not just from Kabul, but at the local, district and provincial levels.
Third, devising a sustainable path for Afghan-led development and opportunity, not propped up by poppy, but rooted in legitimate economic ways and means.
And finally, delivering and developing our own and their civilian capacity to overcome the obstacles to sound civil institutions, quality education and the rule of law.
The Taliban may not be some monolithic or homogenous body in makeup or ideology, but they do have governing ambitions. It's not just about instilling fear or spreading violence. They want Afghanistan back.
We can't let them or their al Qaeda cohorts have it. We can't permit the return of the very same safe haven from which the attacks on 9/11 were planned and resourced, and yet, we can't deny that our success in that regard may only push them deeper into Pakistan, which is the main topic of today's hearing.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, Pakistan faces many complex challenges, perceived threats from the north and east, the very real threat of insurgency from within and the growing risks of poverty and illiteracy unchecked. Yet our ongoing engagement with Pakistan is yielding and will continue to yield promise.
We still recover from almost 12 years of silence during which the Pressler Amendment was enforced. Our military relationships, which often have been national relations, have, in many ways, started anew. I value the relationship General Kiyani and I have cultivated over the past year and a half, and more importantly, that kind of relationship is slowly being replicated down our respective military chains and in our war colleges. In all this, there is opportunity now for both sides.
The ancient martial history that is Pakistan's is a proud one, indeed, going back to the days of Alexander the Great and Pakistanis are just as proud today.
We focus a lot of our attention on their conventional and even nuclear capabilities, but they are working to expand their counterinsurgency capability as well. Just a few weeks ago, General Kiyani took me into the field to visit two division-based counterinsurgency exercises for two of their battalions. It was impressive, both in scope and complexity, but clearly, they have more work to do as we have seen in their recent operations in Buner and Swat, and again, as we have learned ourselves, effective counterinsurgency warfare must be permanent enough to displace the enemy and nimble enough not to displace the people.
We are happy to help contribute to relief efforts in those areas, but we look forward to the day as they do when they can return home to more prosperous and stable lives. Here, they need our help as much as we need their results, and with this committee's help, we can provide the right resources at the right time, creating needed flexibility with the Pakistan counterinsurgency capabilities fund for which I ask your continued and expeditious support.
Yet military support alone will not be sufficient. It will also require complementary assistance to the civilian elements in Pakistani society, so that they continue to support the civilian government and its move against the militant threat. Most of all, we must actively demonstrate patience in these relationships on both sides of the table. We must expect that lasting results will take time and be clear and candid with each other about how these results are being realized.
Finally, in addressing these issues, we must always through the second and third order effects from every perspective, for each one is critical. We must remain cognizant of key regional linkages such as India and China, as well as Russia, NATO, Iran and the rest of the Middle East.
More than all this, we must continue to listen and learn directly from the people in Afghanistan and Pakistan themselves to see things through their eyes. Their trust in us is the key to their success and no tactical victory is worth the strategic failure of that trust.
Ours is a common enemy. We face a common task. This is the struggle of our age.
I thank you, sir, this committee and the rest of Congress for your assistance and counsel on these most pressing issues, and I thank you for your commitment through our military and our families, as well as our many civilian expeditionary and foreign service officers and their families.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Well, thank you, admiral, very, very much.
Let me begin by following up on something that you just said. I think the testimony you read from, was that a summary? I think it was a little different from the statement.
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir.
SEN. KERR: From the statement that we had previously, and you mentioned four priorities. Am I correct?
ADM. MULLEN: Sure.
SEN. KERRY: Core security, setting the conditions for good government, sustainable plan for Afghanistan development and deliver the civilian capacity.
The question I think a lot of senators have on their minds and I'm sure you'll hear it today in the course of some of the questioning is the delivering of the civilian capacity in a way in which you're describing it, measurable in the context of the time frame that we have? When do you measure success in terms of that capacity being sufficiently developed? And is it possible that there is a more -- a narrower goal that could, perhaps, reduce the American footprint that still meet America's security needs?
ADM. MULLEN: I think delivering civilian capacity, both ours and creating it for them, can't be done unless there's a secure environment, and with where we are right now and this is, I think, this is founded very strongly in the AFPAK strategy, the level of violence in Afghanistan, the increasing insurgency in Pakistan, that security conditions must improve rapidly in order to create the conditions to allow the civilian capacity to, first of all, be established and then grow.
I was just in southern Afghanistan, Kandahar, Helmand, and I was struck by the fact that there are 13 civilians from our government in all of southern Afghanistan and that's about half the number that are in the PRT in northern Iraq just for a comparison.
We've got to generate more capacity in that regard and we've got to have a reasonably secure environment in which to do that. The leverage of a civilian, of an experienced civilian that can help in education, that can help in finance, that can help in the rule of law, that can help in the areas that we need to build institutions and not just in Kabul. This is really at the local level, the provincial level, it far outweighs on a per person basis, the leverage of military troops.
So we don't need thousands, but we need more than 13.
SEN. KERRY: Following up on that, again, I want to try to push the envelope of what the options are so that we're all clear about what we're deciding here.
Al Qaeda is basically situated, to the best of our knowledge, in northwest Pakistan, not in Afghanistan. al Qaeda is in Yemen. al Qaeda is in other parts of the Horn of Africa and in other countries. But we don't have the kind of military footprint in those other countries we do here, and nevertheless, we're tracking them. We're keeping a good eye on what they're up to, maybe not as in depth as in Afghanistan, but the question people are asking themselves is: Do we need to have that larger presence in order to be able to protect ourselves against al Qaeda? And might we better disperse these assets in a more effective way, more broadly, so that we're not on the ground trying to do what Alexander the Great couldn't do, the Soviets couldn't do, the British couldn't do and many people are questioning whether or not we can, even under this new strategy.
ADM. MULLEN: I think it's a fair question, and yet the strategy, I think, the comprehensive strategy across all elements of national power focuses on the overall requirements that must be developed, I believe, from a counterinsurgency standpoint, which includes the security piece, the development piece, the rule of law piece, the governance piece and the ability to have a government in Afghanistan that actually delivers good services, including security to its people and that's just not going on right now, a government and an environment in Afghanistan that does not permit al Qaeda to go back and that's fundamentally what I believe would happen should the Taliban return. And while al Qaeda is not located in Afghanistan and they are headquartered clearly in Pakistan, what I have watched over the last couple of years is this growing integration between al Qaeda and the Taliban and the various networks of the Taliban, whether it's Haqqani or Massoud or Hekmatyar and that has alarmed me in its growth and in its integration over the last couple of years and it's that, quite frankly, that also is extent in Pakistan, which is moving towards Islamabad.
So, clearly, with al Qaeda resident in Pakistan, we can't send troops in there to do anything about that. I understand that. That's why the investment in and support of, relationship with, the people of Pakistan, the military of Pakistan is so important because, in the long run, the only way we're going to get at that is with them and through them and that's going to take some time.
SEN. KERRY: We know that narcotics are part of the financial --
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: No more blood money for wars! Stop the killing!
SEN. KERRY: We'll have order. I'm going to issue a warning. The committee will stand in recess --
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: No more blood money!
SEN. KERRY: -- until the police restore order.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: End the wars now!
SEN. KERRY: Order. There will be no demonstrations in this hearing, and if anybody chooses to do so from this point forward, they will be removed.
Narcotics provide the critical financial basis of the insurgency, and we know that the insurgents collect about ten percent in direct taxes. This is known as the Ushur -- we will stand in recess. Can we have the sergeant at arms please remove?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How can you ask somebody to be the last American soldier to die for a mistake? The American people voted for change. It's time we --
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, officer. I appreciate it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: The American people voted for change. It's time we change from a war economy to a peace and justice economy.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Stop the drone bombings!
SEN. KERRY: Thank you.
Let me just make clear to everybody, one of the great things about America is our ability to have people voice their feelings. This is what we fight for. It's what we stand for and everybody has a right to have their voice heard, but we're going to do it in a way that maintains the order and decorum of a good, viable discussion and let me just say to anybody who might be thinking of standing up, we're having a good discussion here and we're looking at this, fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities to examine this policy. I'd like to do that in a competent way and these interruptions, frankly, are both disrespectful to that process and to the ability of people who are following this to be able to listen carefully. So I'd ask people to do that.
Let me say, also, and I want to make this clear. The United States of America did not ask to be in Afghanistan. Since World War II, I can't think -- there isn't an instance in which the United States has been attacked in the way that we were attacked and the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly, I believe, unanimously that this is the place that is the center of the war on terror and a place that we ought to be involved.
Now, how we're going to be involved is now under discussion. We did vote, the American people did vote and they got change and they now have a change in policy and Admiral Mullen is here to discuss that change in policy and we intend to have a competent discussion of it, but he and a lot of other people are doing their best to try to develop a policy that honors the sacrifice of every soldier on the frontline and we're going to respect that process.
On the narcotics issue, admiral, I understand local farmers, that their biggest source of funding is from protecting opium convoys and poppy fields and in 2007, the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime estimated that the core of the Taliban under Mullah Omar collected about $56 million from the Ushur tax, $133 million from taxes on refineries and as much as $250 million from protection fees.
So the Taliban are now earning about half a billion dollars a year from the drug trade even though they're not running the drug trade and half a billion dollars as we all know in that part of the world is a lot of money.
So it seems that they're profiting from the cartels that have operated for a long time in the region and there's considerable evidence linking the Afghan insurgency with those major drug traffickers.
Can you share with us your judgment about how extensive those ties are, whether we should regard the insurgents and the drug kingpins as essentially the same threat? And are there -- tell us what you're thinking about how to tackle this with, obviously, greater returns than we've had over the last seven years?
ADM. MULLEN: Mr. Chairman, first of all, if I may with respect to your statement about dispirit voices and who we are as a country. It's literally why I serve and represent that.
Secondly, with respect to the narcotics, the threat that's there, it's very clearly funding the insurgency. We know that. And strategically, my view is that it has to be eliminated. We have had almost no success in the last seven or eight years doing that, including this year's efforts because we're unable to put viable livelihood in behind any kind of eradication, and so the term I use is alternative development and Special Representative Holbrooke and others, but he has singled this out as an absolute requirement for the rich agricultural potential that actually is in Afghanistan.
It was three or four decades ago, but there was a time when they fed their own people and they exported food. Those fields right now are full of poppies and not full of agriculture.
So I think we've got to have a concerted effort, not just the United States, the international community to displace it and to do it in a way that makes sense so that the season that I'm no longer growing poppies, I'm still able to feed my family.
Secondly, your statement about most of the resources coming in transport, I understand that to be very accurate. There are varied estimates of how much it is; I've heard as low as $60 million up to what you say, which is half a billion. Clearly, it is a significant resource that is funding the insurgency and it is a very healthy mix of drug lords and Taliban and I think we have to go after both.
Recent rules of engagement have allowed us to go after labs, people associated with labs. That's a step in the right direction. But until we get are able to execute a comprehensive agricultural strategy, it's going to be very difficult to really have a strategic impact on that, though I think we absolutely must and that's a key part of this strategy.
SEN. KERRY: Senator Lugar?
SEN. LUGAR: Admiral Mullen, as we've discussed today, this bill 962 enhanced partnership, we've tried to outline the thought that one of the attractive features of this is the idea that it will be at least a five year relationship. That appears to have been from the start very attractive to Pakistan and it's reflected in the press and comments made by governmental officials on the basis of a fear that our relationship would be a fairly short one, we would tire of this and the American people would tire of it, but the thought of five years of commitment is attractive.
Now, the dilemma we face as we quizzed Ambassador Holbrooke the other day, trying to sketch out while you and the ambassador and others are doing so many other things is very hard, in other words, to explain to our constituents how education might be enhanced, how health care might change or how civil governmental reforms might change.
Who physically in Pakistan, city by city or region by region, would be in a position to accomplish any of this quite apart from as you say will the security situation be such that American civilians working with the American military would be able to cooperative in all of this?
Nevertheless, our legislation calls for six month reports, every six months throughout the five years, at least ten reports with some metrics as to how we're doing and I think that's probably important because this would proceed through at least two and a half congresses and at least another administration for President Obama or somebody else and the Pakistanis we want to reassure will not be forgotten even if we have a congressional election here or a presidential election. But this is why I sort of stress the need to begin to fill in some of the outline because that will be important to begin with. The American people have been given the impression of vast corruption in governmental officials in both countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, fair or unfair; the need for some credibility of these procedures is of the essence.
How do you see the progress of at least some outline, some report, some metrics, some ability even to get to the first six months report of this quite apart from the rest of it?
ADM. MULLEN: When I go to the region, Senator Lugar, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the question both stated and unstated is, are you staying or are you going? We've left before and I'm reminded that it was a well resourced mujaheddin group by the United States to fight the Soviets and to some degree, we could argue about how much -- I take it, you know, there is responsibility associated with that and how much of that we accept is one thing, believe me, the people that live there remember that and then they remember in both countries we physically left after the Soviets were kicked out of Afghanistan and, secondly, we sanctioned the Pakistanis for that 12 years.
So that question is out there and I think until it gets answered and that's the trust issue that we're going to struggle in reestablishing this relationship and that's going to take time and that's why one of the things I argue for is patience.
I think we know how to do this, meaning the kinds of things, Senator Lugar, you were talking about, what needs to be done, sorry, I think we know what needs to be done. I think there are some significant challenges in the how to do this. You've got to have the security umbrella. But the key is education long-term. The key is village-by-village. The key is putting institutions, which are not corrupt, developing capacity at every level, including the district level, the sub-district level, as well as the provincial level, which provide for their people and that's what the people, certainly, in the west of Pakistan are calling for and actually in other places, as well as the people of Afghanistan.
So it is jobs. It is education. It's an ability to provide for oneself. We know what we need to do. It's a question of exactly how to do it and that's going to take the engagement piece. That's going to take more than 13 civilians in the southern part of Afghanistan. But I also have great hopes given that opportunity and this isn't just for U.S. civilians, given that opportunity that it's doable and it will create capacity over time, but it's over time.
So fundamentally the question is: Are we going to stay or go? And are we patient enough to see that through? We are starting a new relationship with both these countries and that's going to take -- with countries where we have an enduring decade-long relationship. I was just in Egypt. I was struck by the fact that we have provided money to Egypt every year since the Camp David Accords to the tune of about $1.3 billion and I was struck by the solid foundation of that relationship, whatever our differences might be, very critical partner in a very critical part of the world. That's 30 years later at a really critical time. We are beginning that kind of relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
SEN. LUGAR: Let me shift to an entirely different subject. You mentioned, rather -- the importance of your relationship with General Kiyani and this really is profoundly important. In that relationship, is it possible at some point, this picking up, the experience we've had with the Nunn-Lugar Act and with Russia and other countries, this is called cooperative threat reduction. This doesn't mean that every country we've cooperated with has reduced all of their weapons, but it does mean that we shared the threats. We understood the mutual problems that were involved in this and it seems to me this might be a fertile field in due course for cooperation between the United States and Pakistan so that we both understand the threats that we both face, and likewise, have a degree of trust and cooperation that will be important to them, as well as ourselves.
ADM. MULLEN: I agree very strongly, and General Kiyani and I work on that all the time in our meetings and discussions and in our chains of command and that has to do with the relationship between Pakistan and India and they've built a military that's been focused almost exclusively on that. That's shifting. He recognizes the extremist threat that he has in his country and you look at the number of Pakistani citizens that have been lost to bombs in the last several years, when you look at the number of his people, you know, over 1,000 soldiers have been lost in this fight as well and, obviously, in the tough fight they're in right now, those sacrifices continue and he his shifting. I talked about the training I went to. A year ago, I was not aware of any counterinsurgency training and there was a lot of criticism, are they shifting? Again, we would like to see them do this more rapidly. That said, that's his army, his country, his political leadership, his citizens, and in the end, they decide how fast they're going to move in that direction.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Lugar. Senator Feingold?
SENATOR RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for holding the hearing. It provides a nice counterpoint to last week's hearing with Ambassador Holbrooke and given the critical national security issues we're discussing today, having the Defense Department testify before our committee, helps to provide a full and comprehensive framework. And Admiral Mullen, thank you for coming before the committee today. It is good to see you again.
ADM. MULLEN: Sure.
SEN. FEINGOLD: As the president and the Secretary of State have made clear, security in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as for us here at home are inextricably linked. I appreciate your commitment to ensuring U.S. military activity support rather than lead our nation's foreign policies and you have so candidly reminded us of how important it is for our military to be part of as you put it, quote, "A comprehensive, integrated approach that employs all elements of power to achieve the policy goals set by our civilian leaders." However, as you know, I am concerned that by sending 21,000 new U.S. troops to Afghanistan, we may end up further destabilizing Pakistan without providing substantial lasting improvements in Afghanistan.
Weak civilian governments and increased number of militants and an expanded U.S. troop presence could be a recipe for disaster for those nations in the region, as well as our own nation's security.
So I look forward to discussing some of this with you.
Admiral, at the hearing last week, I asked Ambassador Holbrooke whether he was confident that an increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan would not somehow counterproductively drive militants into Pakistan and contribute to greater instability. I think you can certainly argue that that's what happened after 9/11 and what Ambassador Holbrooke said was and I'm quoting here, quote, "No, I am only sure that we are aware of the problem, that we are working intensely with the Pakistani army, that they are aware of it, that the lesson of 2001 and 2002 has been absorbed," unquote.
Do you share the ambassador's concern?
ADM. MULLEN: I share your concern with respect to that. Clearly, first of all, I think the troop level is about right. I was just in RC East. We've added recently a brigade there in January and General McKiernan, General Schlosser, who is the two star that is in the eastern part of Afghanistan. From a force perspective, force lay down perspective thinks that's about right.
The 10,000 Marines that go into southern Afghanistan here starting now and throughout the summer, we think that is about right and I don't know of any other way to provide for the security and what's also -- the 17,700 is one, the other 4,000 who are going in to get the 21 (thousand) are really trainers and it is in the training capacity building for both the police and the military that as take over their own security, that's absolutely key.
But your point and I've discussed this with General Kiyani very specifically, your point about insurgents going, particularly into Baluchistan, but particularly across that border is one we all share the concern for that. He shares the concern for that. Where I'm comfortable is at least planning for it and having some expectation will allow us to address that and that is going on, not just where I live, but certainly where General Kiyani is as well.
Can I -- 100 percent certain that won't destabilize Pakistan? I don't know the answer to that. I don't think it will because we're aware of it and I think Pakistan is further away from being totally destabilized than a lot of people realize. The military and civilian leadership recognizes this potential and so we're addressing it ahead of time.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you. That's a candid answer and I'm also concerned that while the Pakistani military is undertaking operations in Swat, they may be moving selectively against certain militants and not necessarily going after key Taliban leadership and other critical regions. You just mentioned this.
Have you seen a change in Pakistani behavior in Baluchistan?
ADM. MULLEN: Not significant at this point, and where I find General Kiyani in distributing his and apportioning his capability and shifting his weight to the west, he does it in a measured way and he does it within the capacity that he can in terms of rotations and being someone who is also fighting two wars, I have sympathy with the need to provide forces in two different places and, in fact, one being a conventional fight, basically, and the other one being a counterinsurgency fight. So he's changing on the run and he's worked his way through Mohmand and Buner and Dir and he's now back in Swat. The key for Swat is to follow the military capability -- the security with some hold capability, which gets to the importance of this bill and to hold and build and that's -- he's moving, starting to move into that phase in parts of Swat right now, but there's North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Baluchistan, which he also knows is a problem. It's a question of how do you execute a campaign plan and you can't do it all at once.
SEN. FEINGOLD: In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, you expressed continued concern about cooperation between the ISI and the Taliban and Secretary Clinton testified yesterday that the State Department is preparing contingency plans in the event that six months from now we continue to see members of the ISI supporting the Taliban.
How would you recommend that we alter our military-to-military relations in the event that such support continues in six months' time?
ADM. MULLEN: I haven't taken myself out to a specific target date with respect to that, Senator Feingold. I have had lengthy discussions, actually, with Pak civilian and military leadership, the military leadership is critical here and what I've watched and certainly expressed this concern and my belief has been for some time that I believe the ISI has to change its strategic approach in order for progress to be made over the long term.
What General Kiyani has done and the civilian leadership has done has changed out the leadership of that organization, almost the entire leadership, not just Pasha, but the principle directorates are all people that General Kiyani trusts. We've had this discussion. This has happened over the last six months.
So I think this is going to take some time. The ISI is very supportive in ways and constructive in ways that we concur in. There are still challenges about connections with militants and their support of those militants as well, and I've constantly address those concerns, will continue to do that. I think part of that answer is answering the question about how Pakistan sees it future. Pakistan, as you know, created the ISI and its strategic approach has been to foment towards India, foment towards Afghanistan and in their insecurity in that regard, the ISI has a mission.
I think that that has to change. A lot of that will change, I believe, long-term if they have more confidence in their own security.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you very much, admiral.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Feingold.
SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Admiral Mullen. Great to have you back.
ADM. MULLEN: Hi, Senator.
SEN. ISAKSON: Wednesday morning, I had breakfast with a member of parliament from Pakistan, represented the Punjab Province and we talked at great length about the Swat and about the current situation. He made a comment to me of his biggest concern was post-confrontation in terms of the need for reconstruction and economic support in the Swat Valley and to the refugees from that battle. And in your remarks, prepared remarks, you addressed the supplemental and the $497 million for, and I quote, "to help stem rapidly deteriorating security and economic conditions confronting Pakistan."
Is that money, in your judgment, enough? And is it targeted in the area of the Swat Valley?
ADM. MULLEN: As best I can understand, Senator Isakson, it is certainly enough right now for the needs that we understand. The whole IDP issue, actually, I've been -- the two star Navy admiral that we have who runs our office of development there was the lead for the earthquake relief. So he has an awful lot of experience in Pakistan and great relationships, and the general that Pakistan has appointed, General Ladeem is the right guy to address this issue.
I've been impressed from what I've seen, and, obviously, this is being here with the initial efforts in that regard, even though its grown on some estimates as high as 1.7 million. I've seen the camps. They're very well organized; certainly, there's assistance that we've given and I think that's critical, as well as other international organizations.
But it does -- and so the amount of money that's in the bill right now as best I can tell is both focused in the right areas and will hit the target for the time frame that we're talking about.
SEN. ISAKSON: Well, I'm really glad that you've made reference to the earthquake in your response because at that breakfast with the parliamentarian, he made the comment that the positive feelings toward the United States in Pakistan were never higher than following the earthquake when we delivered so much humanitarian relief to that country and he equated our helping with the economic and destabilizing situation in the Swat Valley to the level of that, saying, he felt like it would bring back that positive feelings toward the United States.
ADM. MULLEN: The feedback I get from that part of Pakistan, in particular, is not unlike the challenges in Afghanistan in the sense that there are people there waiting for their government institutions, local, at every level, to deliver the goods and services, I mean, it has a counterinsurgency -- very strong thread to it just like it does in other counterinsurgencies. And so the ability to not just get the aid there, but then get it to the people and that's the key that we've got to focus on, not just the United States, international organizations, NGOs, to deliver it to the people. That's where the impact will be felt and that's the government of Pakistan's next step, as well as ours.
And on the local infrastructure issue with regard to Afghanistan, of those 4,000 troops that'll be deployed for the training --
ADM. MULLEN: Right.
SEN. ISAKSON: Most of them are coming out of Fort Stewart and the 48th, I think --
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir.
SEN. ISAKSON: -- if I'm not mistaken. And I talked to General Cucolo, who's just returned from there a couple of days ago, and I had a dear friend who was there two years ago, Captain Hunter Hill, who was one of the first to go in as a military police to help train the civilian police force. And as I understand it culturally, police and civil justice in local communities really didn't exist in Pakistan. Is this 4,000--
ADM. MULLEN: Pakistan or--
SEN. ISAKSON: I mean in Afghanistan, I'm sorry. Is this 4,000 going to be the jolt that we need to get enough people on the ground between these local folks?
ADM. MULLEN: This is the hold piece, really, which is -- which are the local police. And this brigade, the fourth of the 82nd, will in fact focus almost solely on training police. And it is that piece that we've got to -- we've got to increase both dramatically in size and as quickly as we can.
And we went through this -- there was a time not that long ago in Iraq where there was the -- the MOI was corrupt. The Ministry of Interior was corrupt. We had great problems with the police in Iraq. It comes in after the military meaning it's slower; we are progressing more slowly there. So we know we have to do that.
And so -- but fundamentally this is the piece that will get at the whole so that when security is established it actually will be sustained.
SEN. ISAKSON: Thank you very much for your service and leadership.
SEN. : Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Admiral Mullen, it's a pleasure to have you before the committee. Thank you very much for your service.
I want to get your views on the challenges that are being posed because of nuclear weapon capacity in that region. We know that Pakistan has the capacity and India has the capacity. We are unclear as to whether they are increasing their capacity or not. There is always the issue about the stability of the government as it relates to the control of nuclear weapons in Pakistan; at least that is an issue that has been talked about frequently, more recently. And then there is the development within Iran, and the pressure that that puts within the region on nuclear issues.
I'd just like to get your assessment as to how you see this -- these developments, challenging our goals in that region, or whether you have any specific recommendations?
ADM. MULLEN: I am extremely concerned about the whole issue of nuclear weapons in the region. Senator Webb asked me at a hearing last week about whether or not the Pakistanis were increasing their inventory. My answer to that was a single word, which was yes. And -- in -- in an open environment I wouldn't want to talk more about that right now.
I was struck with the Mumbai attacks, that 10 terrorists, obviously supported by more, could move -- with relatively simple technology, I mean AKs, hand grenades, cell phones and a Garmin GPS receiver -- could move two nuclear states closer to war. That really alarmed me. It took on a new -- for me, a new perspective on terrorists. This wasn't about hitting one country or one building or a series of buildings or you know sort of a single attack. But strategically that really got my attention in terms of how the impact that terrorists can have, and the need to address that, and then move these countries who have certainly a spotted history with respect to this, and obviously they are both nuclear capable countries.
I am confident in the controls that the Pakistanis have on their nuclear weapons. That is basically under the military. We have invested a significant amount of resources through the Department of Energy in the last several years. They have improved those dramatically; they still have to improve them.
They -- that being said, and I'm also comfortable with the command and control architecture that is in place to both control them and make decisions about whether they'd use them or not; and that we have -- we have an understanding of that.
Moving to Iran I -- now I'm one who believes that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is calamitous for the region and for the world. And part of me -- it's in addition to having it and destabilizing it -- it then in my view generates neighbors who feel exposed, deficient, and then develop or buy the capability themselves. So I just take that region, and if I take India and Pakistan and what's going on there with respect to nuclear weapons, and now I just project that to the Gulf region, 20 or 30 years from now, I just think the downside potential is absolutely disastrous.
So that's why I feel -- one of the reasons I feel so strongly about you know Iran not achieving that objective, because I think it's incredibly destabilizing now as well as in the future. And I think -- I think, you know, big powers, major leaders, internationally, have got to come together to arrest this growth. Or the long term downside for the people in the world is really really tragic and drastic.
SEN. : I appreciate that response. It appears like we do have a common interest with our allies around the world to make sure that does not happen, and we need to energize that group if we are going to be effective in our policies to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power and to deal with the current threats that are in that region.
I'm going to change gears and just mention one other issue. I had the opportunity to chair the Helsinki Commission and the -- and the Congress and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. I mention that because one of the president's stated goals in Afghanistan is to bring in more international presence in dealing with our objectives, whether it is civilian or governmental capacity.
Currently Afghanistan is a partner in OSCE for cooperation, and there are OSCE resources in Afghanistan, I believe mainly dealing with border security or border training issues.
One of the suggestions that's being made that Pakistan might want to consider becoming a partner in the OSCE, allowing that organization's capacity to bring in resources to help build governmental capacity and civilian capacity.
I mention that because I think your involvement here in trying to bring in more international support for nation building is a positive step in the U.S. objectives in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and would just urge you to focus on this and see whether you all can't have a workable strategy.
ADM. MULLEN: Senator, I spend most of my time in NATO, obviously, in Europe, because of that alliance and my responsibilities. But what I'd do if I were to going to use NATO -- and I'm not trying to directly compare OSCE and NATO except to say where I see NATO going is increasingly toward a broader and more in depth relationship with Pakistan, because of the common interests.
General Chianti (ph) asked -- sorry, the chairman of the military committee in NATO asked General Chianti (ph) to come to the military committee last year. He came and laid out you know a very clear view, the military charge that chiefs from all 28 -- or 26 countries at the time. There are ongoing discussions in various venues outside the military to -- to connect more internationally through these organizations, alliances, whatever they might be. And I see that as growing, and certainly the capacity in some of these other areas that other organizations have and represent are critical, and the more of that we can do and the sooner we can do it I think the better off we'll be.
SEN. : Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you,
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN): Mr. Chairman, thank you. And Admiral, thank you for your service.
ADM. MULLEN: Senator Corker, good to see you.
SEN. CORKER: One of the first high high military people I met when I came here, and I certainly appreciate your service.
I wonder -- I missed part of your testimony. I read your testimony last night; I missed some of the other questions with the markup, and if I'm being redundant, I apologize. But I wonder if you might just state what our mission in Afghanistan is?
ADM. MULLEN: It's a mission that is tied to the Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. It is to make -- it is basically to ensure that governmental organizations, security organizations, developments, organizations economic, rule of law, all those things are put in place in such a way that an environment to which -- or in which the al Qaeda could return is not possible. And I believe -- first of all I think there is a strategic goal the Taliban have is to move back, take over the country. And then secondly, in that goal, in that environment, that that is fertile ground for al Qaeda who continues not just to be in Pakistan, but is now moving into Yemen; is connected very well in -- in Somalia and in other parts of the world. Their strategic objectives remain the same, to threaten us, to threaten the West, and that fertile ground to do that would be Kandahar and Kabul again if we don't get this right.
SEN. CORKER: So does that mean, listening to the testimony, that we will be doing the same thing we're doing in Afghanistan in Yemen and Somalia soon?
ADM. MULLEN: No. I'm increasingly concerned about the growing safe havens that are in Yemen, and that are in -- that are in Somalia. And those are -- those are issues that I think the international community is going to have to address. Because al Qaeda is not going away, at least at this point. And -- and that said, the -- the very proximate location of al Qaeda in the border area to Afghanistan gives them an opportunity to return very easily.
SEN. CORKER: So is the difference between us not being in Somalia and Yemen the fact that we just happen to be in Afghanistan already? I mean I'm having a hard time--
ADM. MULLEN: Afghanistan is the place from which 9/11 was originated. Al Qaeda was there--
SEN. CORKER: But those guys are not there today, right?
ADM. MULLEN: No, they are not. Their -- plenty of their agents are there. They are very well connected with the Taliban. They have mutually converging goals, and in fact you know their headquarters and their leadership is in Pakistan not very far away.
SEN. CORKER: (Inaudible) -- what you laid out sounded to me like we are nation building in Afghanistan. So I mean that -- everything you just laid out, we are in essence taking a nation that was basically hollowed out in earlier years, and we are building it. Would that be a fair statement?
ADM. MULLEN: I would -- I think that to some degree we are speaking about things that were there before, and to an additional degree we are talking about things that haven't been there in any kind of capacity in the past. Let's say economic -- in the recent past for sure.
SEN. CORKER: But in Iraq at least they have been accustomed to a central government. In Afghanistan that certainly is not the case. It's a tribal country. And so in essence in many ways our task in Afghanistan as far as building a nation is much greater than in Iraq; is that correct?
ADM. MULLEN: Actually, I would -- in terms of building a nation, yes, because of the resources they don't have. But in terms of the requirements -- and it's in Iraq as well -- we are not just in Baghdad. I mean we're in local governments, provinces, throughout Iraq. This is not going to work in Iraq, and it's not going to work in Afghanistan, unless we build that capacity at the districts, the sub-districts, in the villages of Afghanistan, as well as some capability, institutional capability in Kabul.
SEN. CORKER: So if I understand what you said, and I respect you tremendously and certainly appreciate your service, we are nation building in Afghanistan. So let me just -- let me just -- I think that has been made clear. And that to me has been said over and over again, kinda, sorta. I think the part that we are leaving out more so in Afghanistan is we are not so sure about building a really great democratically functioning country because of some of our partnerships and other kinds of things. But we in essence are nation building.
So let me just move on then. I have asked for some benchmarks and objectives. Look I support our military. I support our country's efforts to certainly rout out terrorism, the transnational terrorism, the transnational type that would affect us certainly.
I've asked for some objectives and benchmarks. I think we have finally made a deal on the floor that in this supplemental there will be -- the National Security Council or somebody will have to come forth and tell us what our objectives are. By the way I think that would be very helpful to the president of Afghanistan, who I don't think has a clear idea either. So it would help him, okay. Certainly help us, I think, as -- as legislators to know what it is our objectives are, some benchmarks, and then some reporting.
You don't have any -- there is no strings attached. There are no timetables. It's just asking you to tell us what our objectives are and to benchmark those and to give us reports. You have no issue with that, do you?
ADM. MULLEN: No, sir. I'm a big fan of benchmarks. They are being developed. I think they will be available in the very near future, and I do think we need to assess ourselves later this year, early next year, about how we're doing and then adjust the strategy accordingly. And it will cover security area, the economic development area, the rule of law, governance area. And it will go national to local.
SEN. CORKER: I guess -- I know my time is up -- I guess the one thing I've learned over the last two years and four months is that if we as a country plant our flag in another country, we are going to be there until we rebuild that country. We've been in Afghanistan for eight years now. Based on what I'm hearing you say we need to do, and others -- and I understand that we don't want it to be a safe haven for transnational terrorism, I understand that. But it sounds to me like there is a great possibility that we will be there another eight years; that this is a long tough slog.
ADM. MULLEN: It is a long tough--
SEN. CORKER: And once -- once we put our flag down it's very tough to leave, because more than just as in Somalia and Yemen where we have the same similar dynamics, repeated myself, similar dynamics, okay, and Afghanistan the fact is, another reason is we're there. And once we've -- once we plant our flag, we don't want to leave folks behind that have been supportive, but once we're there, we are going to be there for the long haul until that country is rebuilt, even though our partners may be corrupt, even though our partners may not share our goals, even though our partners actually are hugely benefiting, because their country's budget couldn't even pay for half of their army I don't think. So while we are there we are building roads, we are doing everything that they cannot do themselves. And so the longer we're there, the better they are as it relates to their own country. And that's something I think all of us need to understand and know; that once that flag goes down, we are probably going to be there until that entire country is rebuilt. I don't know if you want to rebut.
ADM. MULLEN: Just -- I'd only comment, sir, that the flag went down in 2002. We have not resourced Afghanistan, haven't even come close to resourcing Afghanistan, to put ourselves in a position to succeed since then.
That's where we are now. I take your point about this is the eighth year of war. I understand that. That said, we have gotten to a point now of a much more comprehensive view, and a commitment and ability to resource it, and it's not 2002. The conditions have changed dramatically in Afghanistan. And I think this strategy with its objectives gets at the -- at the future recognizing where we are and the requirements that we have.
SEN. CORKER: And I applaud you for that.
SEN. KERRY: And you support the bill?
SEN. CORKER: (Inaudible)
SEN. KERRY: We're trying to figure it out.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Admiral, thank you for your exemplary service to our country.
ADM. MULLEN: Thank you, sir.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Appreciate it. And I -- probably -- I've been questioning our Pakistan side of this equation last several hearings. And you have probably given me the greatest sense of solace here about being a big fan of benchmarks, and making commitments to it. Because you know, I asked for a GAO report with Senator Harkin about what we did in Pakistan over the last several years, we spent $12 billion, and we have very little to show for it. And now I'm looking at a supplemental that has about $1.6 billion in it, in this vote probably later today, 400 million (dollars) for the Pakistan counterinsurgency capability fund; $439 million in economic support funds, and 700 million (dollars) in coalition support. That coalition support funds is largely what we didn't have accounted for in the last effort.
So I have two lines of questions that I hope you can help me with. One is, can you tell me that in fact we've improved, and will have the accountability necessary, for these funds moving forward, which was not the case in the past, number one.
Number two, and if so, how. Number two is, you know, in April we saw reports coming out that the Interservices Intelligence, the ISI in Pakistan, was actually assisting the Taliban. That was April, just last month. Now I understand that the Pakistanis are on an offensive, but I'm wondering what is ISI's role here at this point in time? How engaged are they, because when I -- when I look at those reports, when I look at the release of the video of our CIA director which should have been a private meeting, and obviously was meant to undercut whatever that conversation was, and when I look at the set of circumstances of acquiring nuclear weapons, when we are giving money, money is fungible at the end of the day, it makes for a concern for me.
So as I hear a new strategy, particularly on the Pakistan of this Afghanistan-Pakistan equation, I get concerned. So help me out here if you can.
ADM. MULLEN: Money is fungible; I understand that. I spoke earlier about our investment in Egypt post-Camp David Accords, over 30 years now which was significant in providing a long-term relationship in a really critical part of the world. And -- but I think that -- we are starting over. Actually I would argue we are starting in a hole with Pakistan, because we sanctioned them for 12 years. So it's not even like a fresh relationship.
The question they ask is, are you sticking around? And that has an impact on ISI's role, and I'll come back to that.
We have not had good controls on the -- on the CSF, the Coalition Support Funds. Although they are not the only country that gets them. And we have improved that fairly dramatically in the last year, year and a half. So it gets audited at the embassy by our military team there; it gets audited again in CENTCOM, and it gets audited in the comptroller's office at SECDEF level when the requests come back.
And these are coalition support funds. They are funds which essentially reimburse them for operations. So they asked most recently for a billion five I think, and out of that we approved about 400 to 500 million (dollars) if I remember the figures correctly.
So the controls are much more focused than they were a year ago. So that is one point.
In the PCCF (ph) piece, this is basically money that we and FMF (ph) for that matter, that we essentially administer, so we see where it goes. Going back to the CSF for just a second, when we reimburse them, it goes into their treasury, just like we would put it in our treasury. So tracking it, tracking what happens to that 400 million (dollars) once it drops into their -- into their accounts, we can't do that.
The controls that we have on the PCCF, the FMF, or we would have, if it gets approved, essentially we would look to that. And it would be the embassy and certainly the military section, for the military areas, to see if it in fact bought helicopters, bought ISR, bought training, and we saw an increase there, and we could measure that over time, and we could look at it over time.
I don't know how much we can in the next six months to the direction of report every six months how we're doing. But certainly over time we'd be able to do that if we had that time. So I'm confident we've got more visibility, we will have more visibility than we've had in the past.
What I've also learned in the 18 months and 10 trips that I've taken to Pakistan, a couple of things that -- that -- that don't work for them, or really have an impact on our ability to move forward. One is public criticism, and I found that out personally. I'm not -- this is because I have, and then secondly are conditioning. And we, as I've looked back through our history, we've had conditions on financing and programs, and we've not had. So I'd only ask that as we condition things, we create as much flexibility as we can, and then look at it over time as opposed to heavy conditions up front and almost make it impossible to get started.
And then the new piece is, controls are good. I believe that command and control, security measures on the part of them have improved dramatically in the last several years. We have put resources; so have they. They still -- they still need to improve, and that the military has good visibility on the weapons as well as their security as well as if and when they'd ever be put in a position to be used.
SEN. MENENDEZ: The ISI?
ADM. MULLEN: The ISI is an organization that as long as last summer I've talked publicly about needing to change its strategic direction. I think at a very high level it gets to the question of how -- how Pakistan ensures its security. And it has historically done that by agitating both in Afghanistan and in India. And to the degree that they are secure, they feel good about their security in the future, I think that that argues for -- and presents potential for a strategic shift.
Chianti (ph) has changed out the -- all the principal leaders in the ISI with his people. He certainly knows of our concerns, because I've expressed them. And there's ongoing work.
That said, there is a gray area in the ISI that many of us don't understand. And clearly those kinds of connections that you talked about have been there. And they need to cease at some point.
SEN. MENENDEZ: I appreciate your answer. Let me just make one comment and then I'll cease. Twelve billion dollars later, largely without conditionality, it may not have worked for them, but it certainly didn't work too well for us.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Menendez.
SEN.JIM WEBB (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And to Senator Menendez, I actually offered an amendment yesterday going to the exact point that you just made.
I'm going to discuss it in a minute with the admiral, but I think it's a very valid point.
Admiral, with respect to our -- your comments about our exchange last week, let's let the record show that we both left it as a "yes" --
ADM. MULLEN: Sure.
SEN. WEBB: -- that I also declined to pursue that because of venue, and I will not pursue that in any detail today.
ADM. MULLEN: Sure.
SEN. WEBB: I would like to start by saying something about what Senator Corker was mentioning, and that is that I don't believe it's always necessary that, if the American flag goes down, that we end up staying to rebuild a nation. It has happened, I think, pretty frequently over the past eight or nine years. I wrote a piece in The Washington Post, six months before the invasion of Iraq, basically saying this was a strategic error; and the subheading of the piece was, "Do You Really Want to be in Iraq for the Next 30 Years?"
And I think that Senator Corker made a very valid point, in terms of how we define our strategy, when he raised Somalia. It's another failed state; we see al-Qaeda relocating. The question here is valid, in that we need a strategy that has clearly articulated endpoints, not simply benchmarks, so we really know where we are going.
With your, I think, very valid comments about people in this region needing to know -- or asking you the question, "Are we going to stay or are we going to go," I still think we need to be very careful in terms of how we are articulating what that means to us. Militarily, we should go -- at the right time. I think everyone should know that. Diplomatically, culturally, we should be staying.
But, when I see the situation with the Pakistanis, the hesitation that I have, in terms of the way these are being presented, is that they should understand that this is -- there is reciprocity, in terms of understanding interests. Your comments are that we need to understand the world in terms of how they are seeing it, and in terms of recent history, but they need to understand it in terms of "us."
And that's why I asked the question about their expanding their nuclear capability. And this is not simply a question of whether we should be addressing that in a visible way, but it does relate to how Americans see -- you know, the measure of assistance, that it's a very complicated environment where they have other strategic concerns. And it also relates to how we are perceived around the world, outside of Pakistan, in terms of potentially being seen as assisting in a program, when, in reality, we are trying to discourage proliferation.
So, with all that in mind, I drafted an amendment yesterday and introduced it yesterday. Essentially, my thought at the time -- and with some discussions that we had after I had introduced the amendment, in terms of refining it, was that we could just clarify this. We could basically say -- have a certification saying that none of the monies that were appropriated were going to go to support, expand, or in any way assist the development or deployment, the act of deployment of nuclear weapons, or to support programs or purposes other than those in the appropriations measure.
And that actually goes to Senator Menendez' comment -- which you and I discussed last week in a different way, about the $12 billion, in various forms, that have gone over there, and the inability to follow the money. This isn't simply a comment about their nuclear program -- which is, the way I think it has been perceived. It's a comment about removing the opaqueness from the process; getting a comfort level, from the United States' perspective; and basically saying, yeah, we're not doing this -- we're not contributing to corruption, we're not contributing to a program that they are developing in a strategic area that is outside of where we do have agreement.
And I understand there is some significant hesitations from the administration on that amendment. I wonder if you could clarify that?
ADM. MULLEN: I haven't seen all the hesitations. I've gotten some feedback on it, Senator Webb.
Probably the biggest concern is the conditioning of all the money against that requirement, and the ability to actually do it, and to be able to do it so quickly. Where I am on these kinds of things is -- and I don't have a rich history in the last eight years, in terms of CSF, and, you know, how it started -- I mean, all the kinds of monies that we sent. And I recognize it's a lot of money, and I would certainty -- you know, (it) certainly, in many ways, didn't deliver what we'd hoped it would deliver.
What I'm asking for is some time on these conditions, so that the conditions aren't so rigid that we can't get started. And I agreed with, and take your point, about this isn't just about the Pakistan people, this is -- these are American dollars that are funded by American people, at a very significant financial time in our lives. I don't think -- I don't think we have different objectives, I just think, how do you get there?
And what I understand about your amendment is that it would really restrict and condition almost every dollar we take to them. And then I get to a point, you know, can I do it? Can I even execute it in time, that it's going to make any difference where time is so critical?
SEN. WEBB: Well, that's certainly not the intention of the amendment. And one of the strong focuses here, as I mentioned, is that we do not want to be perceived, outside of the nature of this relationship, as being in any way assisting that. And at the same time, I take the point, this is -- strategically, it's off the table from the area that we are working with Pakistan on.
I go back, actually, to the instability that came out of the Iran-Contra situation, when we were pushing, you know, around the world saying, "we're not going to support terrorism," and then it came out that we actually were giving weapons to Iran in this sub rosa program, and it dramatically affected our credibility. This is an attempt just to clarify that.
And I think what I would like to do, since this has evolved on our staff over the past week, is to sit down and work with you, and perhaps the National Security Council, and let's come out with a way that we can inject transparency and accountability into the process, for all of the reasons that it went the other way after 9/11, but in a way that would be workable.
ADM. MULLEN: Transparency into our process, I think, you know -- clearly committed. Getting transparency into what Pakistan does is going to be a -- going to continue to be a challenge. It's the "sovereign country" piece; it's the "they'll only tell us so much." Not that we don't know more than we used to, I just think it's --
SEN. WEBB: But, in terms of where American money goes --
ADM. MULLEN: Right.
SEN. WEBB: -- this is where reciprocity comes in.
ADM. MULLEN: Understood.
SEN. WEBB: And we require it in other areas. They need to understand us every bit as much as we need to understand them. So, I will look forward to working with you -- (inaudible). Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Webb.
Let me emphasize, Admiral, that -- I think you know this, but General Kiyani needs to know it, or General Pasha needs to know it, President Zardari and others need to know it, and that is that while they are coming to us and asking us for additional assistance, and we understand the stakes, there is a significant unease here in the Congress, in all of us, for what has happened previously in the transfer of our funds.
And many of us did not learn until last year some time that, for those six or seven years that the prior administration was supporting and transferring very significant sums of money to Pakistan, they didn't have a clue where it was going. And we learned, subsequently, that most of it -- particularly funds that were ostensibly being spent to support their military, was going into their general revenue, their general budget and being spent simply to sustain normal activities in Pakistan.
That is not going to fly here. And they need to know that, point blank, which is why Senator Lugar and I have put in our legislation what we think is adequate levels of scrutiny, accountability, benchmarking and so forth, without getting to the point where you begin to create havoc in terms of the relationship and the sovereignty issues and all the rest of it.
I don't think anything we've done is insulting. I think it is a protection to the American taxpayer. I think it's a de minimis expectation from the Congress. And I would hope you would agree with that --
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir, I would.
SEN. KERRY: -- and convey that as powerfully as possible to your counterparts. And to the degree you want to point to us as the, you know, people putting these requirements in place, please do so. Happy to do that.
On this track, yesterday, The New York Times, a front-page story, suggesting that arms procured by the Pentagon have leaked from Afghan forces for use against American troops. And that raises the question of the Afghan controls on the vast inventory of weapons. Can you speak to that a little bit and just comment on that story and share with the committee the steps the Pentagon is taking to deal with it?
ADM. MULLEN: That weapon -- there were 10 weapons in that story, one of which had come out of the Afghan National Auxiliary Police, issued in February of '07, a unit, an organization that no longer exists. There have been significant steps taken with respect to this. In 2008, General Cone, the American major general who was head of the organization which trains and equips the Afghan national police and army, and subsequently General Formica, who relieved him, put in very strict controls. And so that story was focused 2007, some concerns in 2008. And we've put in very strict accountability and auditing controls on those weapons.
The ammunition that was spoken to in the story, we've been unable to source. There was varied ammunition there. But we recognize the serious potential there.
And the other thing that's happened is Minister Atmar, who I know you know, who is the minister of Interior, has also initiated in recent months very strict controls and accountability in the police as well. So significant steps taken, certainly we're not going to be in a position of issuing weapons and issuing ammunition that's going to come back on us.
SEN. KERRY: I would assume, and I'm glad to hear that explanation. We thank you for it.
Also, the committee would be interested to know, in the context of this larger shift in American policy, perhaps you could share with us the expectations you now have about how this policy will be implemented differently under the leadership? I mean, it's not a small deal when you make a change of command. You've chosen to do so. You've obviously chosen to do so with a purpose in mind. And I think if you could share with the committee the expectations that you have now from General McChrystal's assumption of the command, I think that would help us understand how we're moving down a different road here.
ADM. MULLEN: Certainly not presuming confirmation of General McChrystal and I think also General Rodriguez, it is the respect and regard that these two individuals are held in by such a broad spectrum of people that actually gives me great hope in their ability to lead at this time. It is a very critical time, 2009 and 2010. It's my belief we've got to stem the violence over the next 12 to 18 months there, to put ourselves in a position to develop these other capabilities, and we've talked about that, in classic counterinsurgency form.
I have great faith in both of them. General Rodriguez, who will initially be the U.S. deputy there, was the two-star commander in RC- East, so he has a wealth of experience in Afghanistan. General McChrystal had been in theater and fighting two wars for the better part of almost five years before he was brought back. I've watched him as my director over the last year. That was malice of forethought to understand him.
One, I admired him greatly, far beyond his ability to hunt down terrorists, which he did better than anybody else. But really, his expanded mind, his intellectual capability and understanding of what really needs to happen here, so I would expect him to take significant steps in the area of Afghan civilian casualties. We cannot proceed forward. If we're killing Afghan civilians, we're backing up. And we've got to protect our own people certainly, obviously carry out the missions, but we've got to be more protective of Afghan civilians. And so that's a specific charge.
He understands the fullness of the challenge. I look for his assessment when he gets there to say, this is what I need to do before I say it's going to change one way or the other.
SEN. KERRY: Well, Admiral, I know you have a White House meeting and a fairly hard departure here, and that's the appointed hour.
So if I could just say to you, first of all, I personally admire your leadership enormously. And I've watched you dig into this issue, and I know you've done a lot of reading and examining in quarters that aren't normally the areas that the Pentagon digs into. And I respect the fact that you're doing that and looking at all of the aspects of this challenge.
But I would just say to you that I think that it is a mistake for us as a country to overly raise the stakes in the context of the language of war. This is a counterinsurgency challenge above all, as you know, and you've defined it that way. And the normal applications of war fighting are not what are going to win this. And you know that.
This is going to require America's significant commitment on the things that -- I mean, you know, I can't figure out yet whether Senator Corker supports it or doesn't support it in terms of those efforts, but I think he's been accurate in defining some of it. It is impossible to define getting to a place where you have a sufficient level of stability, where you have a sufficient level of reliance on an Afghan army, a sufficient level of reliance on a police force, a sufficient presence of a structure of civilian institution that you can pull back with confidence that the insurgency doesn't just take over and al Qaeda doesn't just return. It's impossible to get there unless you have done some of this sort of ground-up rebuilding.
For a lot of people, that's a tough confrontation up here because many people have always opposed that kind of thing. I think it's the nature of the new beast that we confront. But it's not a traditional war, and I think, you know, we sort of get into our box when we frame it that way.
I'd like to see our military footprint be as small and as careful and as restrained as humanly possible. I know we're going to need to do some Special Ops. We're going to have to take out bad people when that opportunity presents itself. But to the degree we can give people a sense of security with a minimal amount of proactive, big- operation, traditional military kind of footprint, the better off we're going to be here.
ADM. MULLEN: Chairman, there's nobody that understands that better than Stan McChrystal.
SEN. KERRY: Well, that's why I think this is a pivotal moment for us. And obviously, the next months are going to be key to that. We stand ready to work with you as closely as we can. And we understand the difficulties. And I repeat, you know, for those people who are concerned about the presence, we're all concerned about it. We're there for a purpose, and that's to protect the security interests of our country from a repeat performance of what we experienced in 2001. We're trying to find the best way to do that. We are certainly not there because, you know, it's a place of choice, it's a place of obligation and critical to our security.
So we thank you for your thoughtfulness here today. We need your help on this legislation, and we'll look forward to continued work with you.
SEN. LUGAR: Just one more comment, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate very much the comments you have made about General McChrystal. This is probably too-concise a summary, but he has been successful in hunting down terrorists. Frequently, no one knew where he was, according to the press, for periods of time.
If the mission is in fact hunting down terrorists, whether they be in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Somalia, Yemen or anywhere else, and General McChrystal is able, working with you and others, to fashion a strategy for the United States, this would be an extraordinary achievement. So I'm excited about what we have read about General McChrystal. But we're looking forward to hearing more about that. And likewise, how our own planning, as the chairman has mentioned, takes into consideration his views as they mesh with General Petraeus and your own. And I think it's a potentially promising force for us.
ADM. MULLEN: We all see it the same way.
SEN. KERRY: Admiral, thank you very much for being with us. We wish you well. Thank you, sir.
We stand adjourned.