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Public Statements

Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, D.C.

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Madam President, very quickly, this amendment restores the amount of money for the training of the Afghan security police and military back to the level that was requested both by the President in his budget submitted to this body, as well as restores the number that was approved in the Defense authorization bill that has previously been voted on by this body and is now in conference with the House.

The fiscal year 2010 Defense appropriations bill takes $900 million from the President's request for Afghan security forces at a point in time when our troops are in the trenches fighting and defending us, defending the Afghan people from both the Taliban and al-Qaida, and there is no more critical issue out there right now than training both the Afghan military as well as the Afghan security police.

We have just received General McChrystal's assessment, and let me quote a portion of that assessment where he states as follows:

Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall cost, and ultimately a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure.

General McChrystal's No. 1 issue is the training of the Afghan military and the Afghan security police because of the fact, if we are ever going to achieve success over there, we have to know that once we root out the bad guys, once we take out the Taliban and al-Qaida, that we can turn that country over to the Afghans, as we are doing in Iraq today, and we can remove our troops with the confidence that the Afghan military and the Afghan security police will be able to maintain security within that country as well as to protect the Afghan people from external sources. But the only way we will be able to do that is to train the military as well as to train the security police.

The President's budget that came over for this particular issue requested $7.5 billion. That is a lot of money--a lot of money for any issue--but certainly a lot of money for training. But it is obviously absolutely necessary if we are going to complete the job.

We are at a very critical crossroads in Afghanistan right now. The President has under consideration the issue of whether to call for additional troops to be sent into Afghanistan. He is obviously weighing that very heavily. While he should, I would hope he is going to make a very quick decision on that particular issue. But whatever the decision is, and whenever he makes it, we know for a fact that the Afghan military and the Afghan security police have to continue to receive the training our troops are providing for them today.

Let me just quote a couple of other statements from other very high-profile individuals who are very knowledgeable and very thorough in their assessment of the situation with respect to the Afghan military and the Afghan security police. First of all, Admiral Mullen, during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 15, said the following in response to Chairman Levin:

I share your view that larger and more capable Afghan national security forces remain vital to that nation's viability. We must rapidly build the Afghan army and police.

Senator Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, at that same hearing stated:

We basically need a much larger Afghan army, much quicker. That is the bottom line. That is the winning strategy.

Senator Lieberman said in July that the commitment to the expansion of Afghan forces ``is a decision that we have avoided making for far too long. Every day we continue to drag our feet and fail to commit to the indigenous security forces hinders the fight against the extremists and delays the pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.''

Lastly, the outgoing Supreme Allied Commander for Europe--the SACEUR--GEN John Craddock, said during his testimony this summer:

I don't think the intent there is to ever occupy and stay. The key, as has been pointed out, is the enabling of development of the Afghan national security forces. As the SACEUR for the last 2 1/2 years, I repeatedly told NATO nations the very first thing we need are more trainers for the army and the police, particularly the police.

Madam President, what this amendment does is add $900 million basically back to the top line. The reason we can do that is that under the appropriations bill, as has been passed, and as compared to the President's budget and the budget passed here, this bill is about $3.5 billion under the budget. So there is room to add this $900 million back in to make sure we are giving the Afghan people the ability to protect themselves from external forces as well as the ability to protect themselves from dangers within their own country.

Last, let me say the President has been very critical of the reduction of this $900 million. In the statement of administration policy, or the SAP that was put out on the 25th of September, here is what the President said:

The administration opposes the reduction of $900 million for ANSF sustainment. Accelerating the growth in size and capability of the Afghanistan National Security Forces is a key component of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. The President's full request reflects his commanders' plan for Afghan forces to assume a greater share of responsibility for security as quickly as possible.

Simply stated, it is critically important that this training proceed at a very rapid pace. In order to do that, we have to resource the training that our troops are doing today and we will need to continue to do over the next fiscal year.

I ask this amendment be called up at the appropriate time for a vote by this body and that our colleagues will support the amendment.

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Madam President, this amendment is a sense-of-the-Senate amendment on a weapons system that is critical to the U.S. Air Force from an intelligence gathering standpoint. It has to do with the re-engining of the Joint STARS weapons system. Real-time intelligence is critical to our warfighters in fighting the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as in all other military conflicts. Secretary Gates and our military leadership have consistently highlighted to us the importance of collecting and disseminating critical intelligence and battlefield information to our troops on the ground and theaters of conflict, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the most effective ISR assets operating today is the Air Force's E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, also known as Joint STARS, or more succinctly, JSTARS.

I ask unanimous consent a memorandum signed yesterday from Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense, addressing JSTARS be printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.

The PRESIDING officer. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(See Exhibit 1.)

Mr. CHAMBLISS. JSTARS has proven itself to be a critical asset to our military since deploying to Iraq in 1991. It is one of the most highly tasked systems in our fleet today. Our commanders in the field are constantly asking for JSTARS so they can access its tremendous ISR capability to give them a long-range view of the battlefield and detect moving targets in all weather conditions. There is no other current or programmed aircraft or weapons system that can provide the detailed, broad-area ground-moving target indicator and airborne battle management support for the warfighter than JSTARS provides.

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, GEN Norton Schwartz, has stated that the Air Force is ``all-in'' for the joint fight. JSTARS is truly a joint platform. Flown by a mixed active-duty Air Force/Air Guard unit, it operates with an Army and Air Force mission crew and, in Afghanistan, also with a Marine. It also supports missions of all the military services.

With over 55,000 combat hours and 900 sorties flown by only a handful of airplanes over Iraq and Afghanistan, JSTARS has directly contributed to the discovery of hundreds of IEDs.

Having flown with the 116th Air Control Wing out of Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, GA, I have seen firsthand the remarkable capability that JSTARS can bring to the battlefield in support of our warfighters. Although developed and built to fight the Cold War for tracking Soviet troop movements, JSTARS is an integral part of today's battlefield and will be even more relevant in the near future.

JSTARS needs to be modified with new engines to keep this critical asset available to better support our soldiers. Air Force studies show the airframe is sound and will be useful well beyond 2050. JSTARS faces limitations in operational restrictions because the engines are the original 1960s-era engines. They have never been replaced. They are old and expensive to operate and maintain. Replacing them is a safety issue as well as an operational necessity.

What this sense-of-the-Senate resolution does is to emphasize the importance of funding the re-engining of the JSTARS weapons system.

And it is my hope that in conference, the chairman and the ranking member will do what they can to make sure this funding is available. I have talked with Senator Inouye as well as Senator Cochran about this. They are well aware of the value of this weapons system. It has been funded in the House appropriations bill. By adopting this sense-of-the-Senate amendment, it sends a strong message for the conferees to do everything possible to make sure the appropriate funding will be available when this conference report returns to the Senate.

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