Federal News Service April 29, 2004 Thursday
Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service
April 29, 2004 Thursday
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN: SECURITY AND RECONSTRUCTION
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA)
PETER RODMAN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS; LIEUTENANT GENERAL WALTER SHARP, UNITED STATES ARMY, DIRECTOR FOR STRATEGIC PLANS AND POLICY, THE JOINT STAFF; AMBASSADOR WILLIAM TAYLOR, COORDINATOR FOR AFGHANISTAN, DEPARTMENT OF STATE
LOCATION: 2118 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA): Folks, we'll come to order here in just a second. Our guests this morning are the Honorable Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and Lieutenant General Walter Sharp, director of Strategic Policy and Plans at Joint Staff, and Ambassador William Taylor, Coordinator for Afghanistan. Welcome to the committee, gentlemen. We look forward to your testimony and appreciate your appearance before the committee this morning.
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REP. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen, for your service to the country. I'd like to try to understand the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. What keeps their young people in particular from using these drugs, if they're widely available and free?
MR. TAYLOR: They're not free --
REP. COOPER: If you grow it on your own farm, not free?
MR. TAYLOR: You know, what you're doing is you're growing a commodity that is of value so there is a cost to not handing to the guy that shows up on the motorcycle to take it to market. But what keeps them from doing it? One is, it is-use is very clearly against their religion. Islam forbids the use of alcohol as well as narcotics and that's there. Now, it also, I'm told, Islam forbids the growing of narcotics, and that's obviously violated. I asked a group of elders, village elders in the part of the southeast that I was traveling through this question. Actually it was more than elders, it was religious leaders.
And I asked them exactly the question you did, why are you growing it if is against Islam? And their response was, one of them said, well I'll tell you. Eating pork is also against our religion, but we will do it if that's what it takes to feed our children. So, it is one-poverty is one thing that encourages them to grow it. Now, I don't fully buy that answer, because there are people who are also growing other crops, so there are alternative crops. But they don't provide them the same income that growing opium poppy does. But so far, we have not seen a growth in use of this and it is a cultural prohibition, I believe.
REP. COOPER: Apart from religion, is family discipline a factor?
MR. TAYLOR: Family discipline is certainly a factor. Tribal discipline is a factor. On that same patrol that I went with one of the PRTs in the southeast part of the country, we went-it was about a year ago now, and we were going through a lot of poppy fields, frankly. You could see a lot of poppy growing, it was in bloom at the time. But then we moved into another part of that area and noticed that there were no poppy fields. And we picked up a member of the Mongol tribe in that area and we were-he was taking us to a meeting of tribal elders so we traveled through the tribal area, the tribal lands. And we asked him, we kept looking around, there were no poppy fields in the Mongol tribal areas. And we asked him, why was this, and he said exactly, he said, because we don't want our children to go into this.
REP. COOPER: Tell me about education of young people there? The madrassas are the primary form?
MR. TAYLOR: No, sir. This is a real success, one of the successes that we are proud of in Afghanistan. And that is, the government schools have been able to bring back in large numbers, three million last year, four and a half million this year, students into the government schools, government curriculum. We've supported them with school books, with equipment, with school buildings. We have farther to go, the four and a half million is not the full student population there, we have farther to go. Over a third of that four and a half billion-four and a half million is female. So the girls are going back as well.
REP. COOPER: But they are not receiving a Taliban-type education?
MR. TAYLOR: They're not.
REP. COOPER: There's not Islamic extremism in these schools?
MR. TAYLOR: There is no Islamic extremism in those schools. I'm sure there is Islamic extremism in nearby tribal areas across the border, but-and I wouldn't be surprised if there were some on the Afghan side of the border, however the schools are one of the successes.
REP. COOPER: Tell me about Pakistan. Are they really cooperating with us to the extent that we need their cooperation?
MR. RODMAN: Let me start. The answer is yes and it's improving. The obstacles have been first of all terrain which is horrendous for any military to operate in, and secondly the political obstacles. These are tribal areas where no government has had a military presence until recently. And we've seen the Pakistani government extend its authority as well as conducting military operations. So I think it's better than it was before even though there are still some problems.
REP. COOPER: Pervez Musharraf was nearly killed with a large bomb attack some months ago. Is the Pakistani intelligence service really pro-Western and pro-American and reliable?
MR. RODMAN: I would say that the leadership of all the military institutions including intelligence, right now it's people that he has chosen, that he trusts. We think again it's improving. There may be elements in these institutions that are still wedded to an old policy. We see some signs of that. But I think what President Musharraf and his colleagues are doing is to impose on these institutions the policy that we see.
REP. COOPER: Would General Sharp view their military action taken against the supposed Zawahiri group to the south is sufficient and adequate?
GEN. SHARP: They have greatly increased their capability. We're continuing to try to help them with both intelligence sharing through the border mechanisms, border collaboration mechanisms we have and also to be able to help with the foreign military sales and foreign military help on equipment, for helicopters, for communications and for night vision goggles. As Mr. Rodman said, they're in areas that they have never been before and have conducted some successful operations and we just need to continue to push them in order to be able to do that in the future.
REP. COOPER: I see my time has expired. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.