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Public Statements

Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee - Transcript

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service June 16, 2004 Wednesday

Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service

June 16, 2004 Wednesday

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: STATUS OF U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ AFTER JUNE 30, 2004

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA)

WITNESSES: PETER RODMAN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS; LIEUTENANT GENERAL WALTER L. SHARP, U.S. ARMY, DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC PLANS AND POLICY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF; AND AMBASSADOR FRANK J. RICCIARDONE, COORDINATOR FOR IRAQ TRANSITION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

LOCATION: 2118 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

BODY:

REP. HUNTER: The committee will come to order.

This morning the committee continues its examination of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a specific focus on the status of U.S. military forces following the handover of sovereignty on June 30th. We are also planning another hearing on this topic next Tuesday, June 22nd, with Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who is presently in Iraq reviewing these very issues for Secretary Rumsfeld.

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REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Ambassador, I'd like to focus on U.S. embassy personnel over there. What are their rules of engagement? Will they be allowed to carry weaponry when they leave the Green Zone or the embassy compound or the chancery, whatever you want to call it?

AMB. RICCIARDONE: Normally we deploy with talking points. In --

REP. COOPER: I know what you do normally, but this is an exceptional situation. This will not look like any other embassy in the history of U.S. diplomacy.

AMB. RICCIARDONE: In each embassy, the ambassador determines firearms policy, about the-not just the carrying of them, for all agencies under his authority or her authority, but also the import of them. That will be done there as well.

To be honest --

REP. COOPER: What are going to be the rules? It starts in a couple of weeks. What are the rules?

AMB. RICCIARDONE: I'd have to check and see what the firearms policy would be there. It really is a post-specific decision. It's done in the best judgment, taking into account what all the law enforcement and the security people believe is necessary.

REP. COOPER: What waivers will U.S. embassy personnel have to sign before they go to Baghdad? Is this considered the ultimate hardship post? Is this --

AMB. RICCIARDONE: It's a danger post. It's a high-danger post. We recognize that.

No waivers or special authorities would be necessary, to go back to your first question.

As diplomats, they would be free to carry firearms. It would be a determination made by the ambassador as to whether the ambassador will permit them to do so and in what circumstances.

REP. COOPER: Will spouses and children be allowed to accompany embassy employees?

AMB. RICCIARDONE: No. Not initially.

REP. COOPER: But-my impression, reading the columnist Tom Friedman, that even the highway linking the airport and Baghdad with the Green Zone has been subject to violent and fatal attacks in recent weeks.

AMB. RICCIARDONE: Yes, sir.

REP. COOPER: Now, that's the main artery in the entire country. So if that highway is not secure, then I would presume that no highway is secure, and certain car bombs have been detonated even entering the Green Zone. So it looks as if our embassy personnel will not be able to mix freely with the population of the nation and will not be able to conduct their normal State Department activities.

AMB. RICCIARDONE: It will not be normal. It will be very difficult. Not all highways are blocked at all times. Indeed, the airport to the downtown highway is not blocked at all times, or, you're right, we couldn't survive. It's a dangerous environment. It will be difficult. We will not have the normal environment of free and easy contact with the host people that we have-but we will have contact.

REP. COOPER: Will U.S. embassy personnel when they leave the compound always be escorted with U.S. military troops?

AMB. RICCIARDONE: Not U.S. military, necessarily. We have the Department of State Security Bureau that specializes in protecting civilians, diplomats, dignitaries all the time in dangerous environments. This is a far more dangerous wartime environment than we normally operate in. We have DS security people, broad area security provided by the multinational coalition. We have a very precise memorandum of understanding, as I mentioned in my testimony, between State and DOD that specifies who will provide what forms of security in what circumstances. I'd be glad to brief you on that in great detail, sir.

REP. COOPER: Let me turn to Iraqi security forces. They will be under the command of the interim government?

GEN. SHARP: Yes, sir. They will be under the command of the interim government, the Ministry of Defense for the army and the civil defense corps and then the police under the Minister of Interior. They do have the authority, and Prime Minister Alawi's letter lays out in there, that if they are going to do operations with the coalition under unity of command, they can chop them-what we call take-on tactical command to our forces in order to be able to employ them on that operation, or they can go do operations on their own as long as they're deconflicted, and those mechanisms we talked about earlier are out there to do that.

REP. COOPER: So our General Petraeus is training Iraqi security forces who are under the command of the interim government-non-U.S. forces.

GEN. SHARP: For training purposes-for command purposes, that is correct. They are under the command of the Ministry of Defense. However, for the operations during the actual training portion itself, they are under the command or the control of General Petraeus. It --

REP. COOPER: Well, unfortunately, some of the Iraqi security forces in the past who have been trained by us have then either not fought or, in some cases, turned on us while wearing the uniforms that we gave them, and using the weapons that we gave them. What is there to ensure that the forces we are training now will not turn on us?

GEN. SHARP: Sir, we have taken a lot of the lessons learned out of the time that you talked about, and that's one of the first things that General Petraeus is working on over there. What happened is that-is that we did not have the leadership from the top level on down through the middle level of the Iraqi security forces in place during those operations. We train very hard, on-for example, on the police on very basic police skills-did not have the mid-level or the upper level leadership in place. That has been-that is and has been corrected. There's new schools out there. We're establishing non-commissioned officer schools that will work in order to be able to establish that strong chain of command.

Secondly, and I think what may end up being most importantly, is as Iraq takes full sovereignty and as the minister of Defense and minister of Interior and prime minister have said over and over again, this is our responsibility. We are going to take charge of security. And that high level, you know, leadership that-of pulling this country together is apparent now and will be even more apparent. Combine those two together, and I'm very optimistic on success.HASC-FORCES-IRAQ PAGE 60 06/16/2002 .STX

REP. COOPER: Leadership is important. What experience-

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