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Public Statements

Hearing of the Senate Committee on Armed Services - Global Posture Review of United States Military Forces Stationed Overseas

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES

SUBJECT: GLOBAL POSTURE REVIEW OF UNITED STATES MILITARY FORCES STATIONED OVERSEAS

CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN WARNER (R-VA)

WITNESSES: DONALD H. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE;

GENERAL RICHARD B. MYERS, USAF, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF;

GENERAL JAMES L. JONES, JR., USMC, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES EUROPEAN COMMAND AND SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, EUROPE;

ADMIRAL THOMAS B. FARGO, USN, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES PACIFIC COMMAND;

GENERAL LEON J. LAPORTE, USA, COMMANDER, UNITED NATIONS COMMAND, REPUBLIC OF KOREA/UNITED STATES COMBINED FORCES COMMAND, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES FORCES KOREA

LOCATION: 216 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

BODY:
SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY (D-MA): Thank you very much, and welcome, Mr. Secretary.

Listening to the-Prime Minister Allawi this morning and the secretary's brief to the Congress yesterday, as the chairman pointed out, it seems like we're operating on two different worlds. Yesterday we heard from Secretary Rumsfeld and others that the military never lost a battle and elections are on schedule, and today we heard from Prime Minister Allawi, saying that we are succeeding in Iraq.

And notwithstanding what the administration says, the July National Intelligence Estimate makes clear that as bad s things are now, they could get worse. As the press has reported, the intelligence estimate paints a very different picture.

Here, for example, The Washington Post said last Friday the intelligence estimate-Iraq's prospects for stability and self- governance over the next 18 months were at best tenuous, according to U.S. government officials who had read the report. The report identified serious problems in recruiting, training an effective Iraqi army and police force, and establishing a competent central government, rebuilding significant infrastructure.

And today the Congressional Quarterly said about the estimate-it forecast three scenarios for Iraq, ranging from continued violence at current levels to civil war.

Now I'm bringing this up, Mr. Secretary, because I listened to the report yesterday. Then I went down and read the NIE report. And I have quoted the public documents that are out in the record now, characterizing it.

The report also included some unclassified polling data that was collected by the CPA, and the CIA obviously felt it was valid enough to include a part of the intelligence estimate. And it certainly rings an alarm bell about the lack of support for our mission. And I have an unclassified version of that page. And it shows that over 90 percent of the Iraqis view us as occupiers, not liberators. It shows that nearly 50 percent of the Iraqis view insurgent attacks as an attempt to liberate Iraq from U.S. occupation. And it says that over 75 percent of Iraqis believe that insurgent attacks have increased because Iraqis have lost confidence in the coalition, and the number of Iraqis who want us to leave immediately has grown dramatically-all in that chart-and support for the coalition has declined dramatically.

Yet President Bush dismissed the ominous parts of the estimate, saying the CIA was just guessing to what conditions what might be like. Today he said he should have used a better word-estimate, not guess.

The intelligence estimate isn't the only alarming sign that conditions in Iraq have gone from bad to worse. During August -- 900 American troops were killed or wounded. The numbers keep going up, not down. The same month, our forces were attacked an average 70 times a day, far more than the previous year. The Schlesinger report, which you commissioned, says that senior leaders in the Defense Department failed to see the insurgency growing in Iraq last year. We know that after heavy fighting, our troops withdrew from Fallujah, which has allowed the insurgents to regroup and gather strength. Other cities in the Sunni Triangle remain violent and dangerous.

Yet we-all we hear from the administration are rosy scenarios. The reality is much worse. The administration failed to plan for it. We seem to be close to "Mission: Impossible," rather than "Mission accomplished." And the failures so far have been-made our job and the job of Prime Minister Allawi far more difficult.

So let me ask you: How do you explain the huge discrepancy between what you say and what we see? And how can whatever government is elected be seen as legitimate if large parts of the population don't feel safe enough to vote?

SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all, I don't agree with your premise that there's a wide disparity between what I say or what General Abizaid said yesterday and what the prime minister said or what the NIE said.

Is the glass half empty or half full? Is it dangerous? Yes. Are people being killed? Yes. Is it a violent country? You bet. Were there 200 and some odd people killed in Washington, D.C., last year? Yes. Were they on the front page of every newspaper? Were they on the television every night? No.

Now, first of all, on the data in the classified material you cited --

SEN. KENNEDY: Just on this point, if I --

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- just --

SEN. KENNEDY: -- just on your point about everything --

SEN. WARNER: Let's give the secretary the opportunity --

SEN. KENNEDY: All right.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Just a minute-this data is probably four or five months old-probably April, May; say May. So it's June, July, August, September.

Number two, the data that you cited comes from three cities: Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. It doesn't come across the entire country.

Is the data probably right? Yes. Was it right then? Probably. Is it true today? I don't know. Do polls swing around depending on the circumstance? You bet. Is this exactly what the terrorists want to have happen? Yes. They want to have the people of the country lose heart. They want to have the people of the country decide that the terrorists and the extremists are going to win, and that a free Iraqi government and the coalition forces that are trying to help that country are going to lose. And it's a test of wills.

Now, I do not believe that you've heard from General Myers or me or others, even Abizaid, a rosy picture. You can't think it's a rosy picture when you see people killed every day. And we understand that, and I think it's a mischaracterization.

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, let me point out-this is what the president said, August 23rd: "We're making progress on the ground." August 24th, the vice president: "We're moving in the right direction in Iraq." September 14th, Donald Rumsfeld: "I'm very encouraged about the situation in Iraq." I could continue to read these.

I'm also talking about the growth of violence --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well --

SEN. KENNEDY: And I'm also saying that that poll was-I'm not pulling that poll out. That was in the NIE report, Mr. Secretary. Evidently, the CIA thought it was of at least some value --

SEC. RUMSFELD: It is.

SEN. KENNEDY: So we ought to include it in the report.

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's fine.

SEN. KENNEDY: And the point that you can't get away from is the dramatic increase in violence. You might be able to dismiss a poll, but we've got this dramatic increase in violence.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't dismiss the poll, Senator.

SEN. KENNEDY: I'm talking now about the violence.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I said it was probably accurate when it was made. So don't --

SEN. KENNEDY: Okay. Well, let's put it in whatever perspective you want.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Okay.

SEN. KENNEDY: Let's get to the dramatic increase in violence-that's the violence has increased --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah.

SEN. KENNEDY: -- no two ways about it.

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's right. I said that.

SEN. KENNEDY: It's increased and it continues to increase, and that is --

SEC. RUMSFELD: And Abizaid said it yesterday in the hearing you were attending. We all say that.

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, what's the plan? What's Plan B then? How are we going to get people out to vote, with the dramatic increase in violence in these places? How are we going to expect that you're going to have a real election in Fallujah when we have the dissidents and the insurgents controlling it today? How are you going to have elections there?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, let me see if I can respond this way. The situation in Iraq is notably different in different parts of the country. It is not a single picture. It is quite different.

The prime minister today has said that he believed that a large fraction of the total provinces, elections could be held today. Now, when the elections are held in January, it may be that some of those provinces have higher levels of violence. But you can-I believe he's right, the prime minister, that you will be able to hold elections and that there will be elections in January.

As he said today, everyone said you couldn't go pass sovereignty. We did it. We passed it two days early. They said you couldn't hold the conference of 1,000 people and pick 100 people for the constituent assembly. They did it. They have met every single benchmark politically. They are making progress.

Now, they're making progress at a time when the people, the extremists are trying to chop people's heads off. Does anyone think that's a good idea, to chop people's heads off, to encourage that? I don't. I think it's a terrible thing.

And-but it may be-I shouldn't even be saying this, because I just don't know enough about it. This is something that the ambassador is working on, but let's pretend, hypothetically, that you get to election time in January, and let's pretend that it's roughly like it is or a little worse, which I could be, because you've got to expect it to continue. They're not happy the way it's going. They don't want a government elected in that country. Badly, they don't want that. And let's say you tried to have an election, and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country, but some places, you couldn't, because the violence was too great. Well, that's-so be it. Nothing's perfect in life. So you have an election that's not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet.

SEN. KENNEDY: You planning to have more troops?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't have a plan for troops, more or less.

SEN. KENNEDY: For the elections.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I know that General Abizaid has said that it may be that he'll want some more troops. He is getting more troops every day. If you think about it, the Iraqi forces are now the biggest part-almost the biggest part, one of the-second biggest part of the coalition. We've got 39,000 police trained, equipped and on the duty. You've got 14,000 border guards trained, equipped and on duty. You got 5,000 in the army trained, equipped and on duty. The national guard's got 38,000. The intervention force has 2,000. The special ops has 500. And that number will keep growing. So there will be more troops by time of election. It'll be somewhere between 110- and 140,000, I would guess, Iraqi troops, forces of various types.

Coalition forces, I don't know. Some forces have said they will come in to help protect the U.N. Some countries are considering whether they want to bring in forces to help with the election. In the event General Abizaid decided he needs more forces to assist in the elections, like he has, for example, in Afghanistan, he'll ask, and he'll get it.

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