Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I am not here, people will be glad to know, to talk about Judge Alito. I am here as an assignment. Serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, as is the keeper of the chair, I have been there for quite a number of years. I have taken the assignment of giving a grade as to what President Bush, prior to his State of the Union Message tomorrow night, has done in the way of national security and national defense. I am proud to say that I am very proud of the job he has done. In doing this, what I would like to do is break it down into three segments.
First, I want to talk about the problems this President inherited when he became President in terms of our national security; second, the solutions, the very impressive solutions so far to these problems; and third, the challenges he has for the future, for the next 2 or 3 years. In doing this, I know I will come across as being very partisan. Quite frankly, when we are dealing with national defense, I am quite partisan. I think the most important thing we have to do here is to keep America strong, make sure that we have a strong national defense system. I hate to say it, but that becomes a partisan issue. However, it is too serious of an issue to try to be diplomatic, so I will not attempt to be diplomatic tonight. I will be dealing with the truth.
Winston Churchill said: Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may destroy it, but there it is.
First, in dealing with the problems that he inherited, I would like to outline seven huge problems that this President inherited when he became President. The first is, when he was inaugurated he received a military structure that was in total disarray. During the Clinton administration in the 1990s, I will show you in terms of dollars what happened to our system. There was a euphoric attitude everyone had that somehow the Cold War was over and we did not need a military anymore.
This is what the Clinton administration did. If you take this line right here, this is kind of the baseline only increased by inflation. So by doing this, we would say if that President had taken the baseline, the appropriations that he came in with and just applied the inflationary rate, it would be that top line, the black line. However, he didn't do it. Instead, with his budget, this yellow line is what he requested.
Fortunately, we in Congress were able to get this up to what I see as a green line here. So this is actually what happened right here. This is what was actually appropriated. This would have been a static system. This is what the President wanted.
What does that mean? It means that during the years he was President, he decreased spending from the level where it was by $313 billion. If we had not raised the amount that was in his budget, his budget called for a decrease of $412 billion. We are talking about the difference between the black line and the red line. It means that the Clinton-Gore administration cut the budget by 40 percent, reducing it to the lowest percentage of gross national product since before World War II.
The first 2 years of the Clinton administration, I was in the House of Representatives. I was on the House Armed Services Committee. I knew what he was going to be doing to our military. I started complaining about this during the first 2 years of his administration. Then as I saw it taking place, we were on the floor at least every week or two talking about what this President was doing to our military.
When they say the Cold War is over, we don't need a military anymore, I look wistfully back to the days of the Cold War. During the Cold War, we knew we had one superpower out there. It was the Soviet Union. We knew what they had. They were predictable. Their attitudes were predictable. They represented a great country, the U.S.S.R. We knew pretty much where we were. We had a policy that was in place. It was a military that stood up to an Eastern Bloc type of mentality. It was one that was working quite well.
During the time of the 1990s, during the Clinton drawdown of the military, one particular general comes to mind. I considered him to be a hero because it took courage. It is hard to explain to real people, as I go back to Oklahoma, how much courage it takes for someone to stand up against his own President if he is in the military. These are career people. GEN John Jumper, who later became the Chief of the Air Force, stood up in 1998 or 1999 and said: This insane drawdown of our military is something we cannot continue.
Not only were we drawing down to almost 60 percent, in terms of Army divisions, of our tactical airwings, our ships were coming down from 600 to 300, but also our modernization program.
So General Jumper, with all the credibility that he had--and there is no one in America more credible than he is--was able to say that we have a very serious problem and we now are sending our kids out in strike vehicles where the prospective enemy has better equipment than we do.
People don't realize it. When I go back to Oklahoma, I say: Do you realize some countries make better fighting equipment. For instance, five countries make a better artillery piece than the very best one that we have, which is the Paladin.
John Jumper said: Our best strike vehicles are the F-15 and F-16. The Russians are now making the SU-27, the SU-30s, and are proposing to make the SU-35. Those vehicles are better than the best ones we have in terms of jammers and radar.
I could get more specific in how they were better, but they were better. I agreed with him at the time and said so and applauded him when he made the statement that we need to move on with the FA-22 so we can get back and be competitive again.
People wonder why the liberals and, I say, the Democrats do not support a strong national defense. There are some reasons for this. One of the things we have in this country, which people don't stop and really think through, is the convention system. It is kind of a miracle. In a living room in Broken Arrow, OK, Republicans all meet and they decide what we stand for. We stand for a strong national defense, we are pro-life, all that stuff. At the same time, across the street you have the Democrats meeting. They are talking about gay rights and abortion and all the things they stand for. They decide what delegates go to the county convention. So the most activist of each side, liberals and conservatives, become the people who end up going to the conventions. Then they go to the district convention, the State convention, and then the national convention.
The bottom line is, if any Republican wants to run for the Senate or for the House or for a higher position, that person has to embrace the philosophy, at least partially, that is adopted by his party in the national convention of the Republican Party. It is a conservative agenda. For the Democratic Party, it is liberal agenda. That is a long way around the barn, but it kind of explains as to why these Members of the Senate from the Democratic side are not strong in terms of a national defense.
It is because if you really look at a liberal, they don't think you need a military to start with. Liberals believe that if all countries would stand in a circle and hold hands and unilaterally disarm, all threats would go away. They don't say that, but that is what they really think. So we have these people running for President on the Democratic side, and they don't want to perform in terms of what the needs are from a national security standpoint.
I said at the outset, there are two things unique to America. The other one is, we are so privileged in this country. If people at home want to know how JIM INHOFE, as a Member of the Senate, or any other Republican or Democratic Member of the Senate or House is voting, they can find out because we are ranked and rated on a daily basis. If you are back home and wondering what your Member of Congress is doing and somehow your concern is taxes, the National Taxpayers Union ranks all of us in terms of what we do and what we feel in terms of taxes. If we want to increase taxes or decrease taxes, they know.
They don't have to listen to us because, unfortunately, a lot of the Members of the Senate and the House go back home and lie to the people. They tell them they are for reducing taxes when, in fact, they vote to increase taxes.
If you are concerned about whether you are a conservative, then the American Conservative Union ranks every Member of the Senate, every Member of the House in terms of whether they are conservative or liberal. I bring that up because they happen to have me as the most conservative Member this last year. I was very proud of that ranking.
If you are concerned and you are back in Sapulpa, OK, wondering which Members are voting for a more favorable climate for small business, the National Federation of Independent Business ranks each one of us as to what our attitude is insofar as business issues.
I say that because if you want to know how we are voting on national security issues or on national defense issues, the Center for Security Policy is a ranking organization that ranks each one of us. I could name 30 or 40 of them. Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, confirmation of John Bolton, missile defense filibuster, the American Missile Protection Act--these are all things that have to do with defending America. This is significant and people need to know it. The way we are ranked in accordance with how we vote for national defense issues, the most recent report shows that the Republicans voted in favor of national security 82 percent of the time. The Democrats voted prosecurity and prodefense 21 percent of the time. That tells you why defending America is a partisan issue.
We all know what happened during the hollow force that followed the Carter administration. We saw what Reagan had to do to rebuild our defenses. He did it. Now we have a situation where we are going through essentially the same thing. The Bush administration inherited the Clinton military and had to start building on it. That is a serious problem, but he has done a good job.
I said there are seven things that this President inherited. The second thing is an economy that was set up to fall. We all know now that we went into the recession in March of 2000. That was prior to the time that President Bush came into office. So he inherited this recession. People have asked: What does that have to do with national security? What does that have to do with national defense? It has a lot to do with it because each 1 percent of increase in economic activity translates to $46 billion in new revenue. So if we are 5 or 6 percent down during a recession, that is money that the President can't spend.
I often say to my conservative friends when I go back to Oklahoma and they are complaining about the deficit--and you hear the ranting and raving from this side that Republicans are responsible for it--they have to realize that this President not only inherited a military that had to be built up, he also inherited an economy that was down in the cellar and, of course, he had to prosecute a war. That is a serious problem. That is the second thing this President inherited.
The third thing this President inherited were the international challenges that have become threatening to this country. In Iraq, the failure of the Oil-for-Food Program, we all know about that. We know about Saddam Hussein taking the money and using it for other purposes and denying the weapons inspectors access to the country, as he had agreed to do. All these things were happening in Iraq. Sometimes I look at the way people were trying to--I don't think they are trying anymore--talk about weapons of mass destruction. That wasn't the real issue at the time. When you stop and realize, if we hadn't gone in and done what we did to Saddam Hussein, we would have more of what we had for the 12 years, between the first and the second Persian Gulf wars.
Let me explain that a little bit. The first freedom fight came in 1991, after the first Persian Gulf war. I was one of nine people selected to go on the first freedom fight. Alexander Hague went, and a Democrat, Tony Cohelo, went. We had one person I will not mention. We had a prominent Kuwaiti citizen, one of nobility, and his 7-year-old daughter. All they could talk about was they wanted to go back and see what their home looked like after the demise took place in the first Persian Gulf war. We found that their home--this was the day after the war was over. At that time, the Iraqis didn't even know the war was over. They were still burning the oilfields. We went to their home on the Persian Gulf, which was a beautiful palace, only to find that--the individual and his daughter who were with us on this first freedom fight found out that Saddam Hussein had used that particular house for a headquarters. I took the 7-year-old girl up to her room--she wanted to see her animals--only to find that her bedroom was used as a torture chamber. There were ears and body parts scattered about the place. Twelve years following that, one of the bloodiest regimes took place, with the torturing of individuals. They were shredding people, and they would beg to be put into the shredder head first to avoid the pain. It was the same with vats of acid. Babies were taken from their mothers; they were taken by their arms and banged against a brick wall until they were dead. This happened for a long period of time. And people think the only reason to go in there was for weapons of mass destruction.
There is something kind of interesting happening right now that I don't think even the Presiding Officer is aware of, and that is there is an individual I met in my office in Oklahoma, a former general in the Iraqi Army. He was an air general of the Air Force in Iraq, Georges Sada. There is a book he has written, which is out today, called ``Sadam's Secrets.'' He witnessed what they did with the weapons of mass destruction. They took them and put them into various aircraft and took them across the Syrian border. It is all in this book. He was on ``Hannity and Colmes'' about 4 days ago. Watch for this guy, Georges Sada. He will let you know that there were weapons of mass destruction. We knew that anyway because he used them on some 200,000 people that he was able to painfully kill using chemical weapons.
But I say that not because we have now solved the mystery of the weapons of mass destruction because that never was important. What was important was the things we knew when we went into Iraq.
Let me tell you the most significant thing and the greatest victory that we could not talk about at that time, which was the three major terrorist training camps that were located in Iraq--Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak. We broke those as soon as we brought down Saddam Hussein.
I said there were seven things the President inherited--a downgraded military, a broken economy, and one was the national security challenge. The fourth one is international terrorism. We had with bin Laden--and during the Clinton administration we remember a lot of things that did happen. We had the 1993 car bomb that went off in the basement of the World Trade Center. We saw, in 1996, Khobar Towers blow up. We remember the embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, that were blown up in 1998. We remember, of course, the USS Cole in Yemen, when a little boat floated up and killed a bunch of our sailors. The Clinton response was comparatively benign, restrained and, at best, inconsistent. The operation ``Infinite Reach'' included cruise missile strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan, which were not the problem. But that was during the Lewinsky scandal, so nobody paid much attention to that.
The fifth thing was the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is something we saw. When the Soviet Union fell, when the vast nuclear stockpile kind of disappeared--we had people going up there, including brokers--and then we could only identify some 30 or 40 percent of that which was stolen from the massive stockpile that the Soviets had put together. That means there is about 60 to 70 percent of the stolen stockpile out there, and we are not sure where that is.
During this time, AQ Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, began an international network of clandestine nuclear proliferation to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.
I remember one thing that happened because I was in this body at that time and a member of the Armed Services Committee. I was trying to get the point across that even though President Clinton's staff had said we don't have a problem in terms of North Korea, I asked the question--I wrote a letter to the Clinton administration on August 24, of 1998 and I asked the question: How long will it be until North Korea has multiple-stage rockets that could send a missile that could reach the United States. I got a reply back, but it wasn't in writing--they didn't want to put it in writing. They said it would be 5 to 10 years before they will have that capability. Seven days later, on August 31 in 1998, the North Koreans fired a multiple-stage rocket with the capability of reaching America. In fact, it did reach some areas of Alaska; that is America.
We have gone through the weapons of mass destruction proliferation, and we didn't have a strong response to that. The strongest response we had back during the problem with Somalia and Mogadishu--you might remember that tragedy--we bailed out, ``cut and run,'' which is a favorite thing for liberals to do when crises appear.
The sixth huge problem that the President inherited was an intelligence breakdown. It had been broken for a long time. I could not blame Democrats for that. When I was elected in 1994 from the House to the Senate, I replaced David Boren. Senator Boren had been chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee for quite some time. After I was elected in that special election, he said we need to sit down and talk about our intelligence system. So we did. He talked about turf battles, that we have the CIA, FBI, NSA, and DIA, and none of them were cooperating or coordinating with one another. I said I will get on the Intelligence Committee, which I did, only to find out what David Boren told me was exactly the situation. We tried to correct it, and we were not successful, the same as he was not successful prior to 1994.
I remember once going down to the NSA in Virginia and they were showing me, at that time, a new listening device that could listen to somebody through 2 feet of concrete. I said: That is great; it is what they need in New York City right now. The FBI has a need for this type of technology. They said: This is ours, they cannot have it. That is the type of situation we had. It was something that had been that way for a long period of time. Nonetheless, the President did inherit that.
The last thing that falls into the class of the huge inherited problems by this President is the problem of China, and I was critical about this on the Senate floor. I stood here at this podium and said at the time that the first thing Clinton-Gore did when they assumed office was go to our energy labs and start tearing down the security system. They did away with color-coded badges. We remember that. Everybody knew that. Do you know why? They said: This is demeaning for someone who has a color that designates a lower form of security. We want everybody to be the same. Then they did away with background checks and with the FBI wiretapping, and as a result of that--remember Wen Ho Lee who ended up taking to China everything we had from our energy labs? We lost at that time to China our W-88 warhead capability. This was a crown jewel; this was the device that would allow us to have nuclear capability where we could attach 10 nuclear missiles to a single warhead. We lost that and the Chinese got that.
Remember what happened with the Loral Corporation? At that time, we had a system the Loral Corporation had that was a guidance technology that we were using in this country. However, they were precluded from sending it to other countries because this was something we didn't want anybody else to have. In order to send this to China, the President, Bill Clinton, had to sign a waiver, and he signed a waiver so Loral could sell guidance technology to the Chinese so they would be more accurate in their efforts to use their missiles. I am sure it was not related at all to the fact that Bernard Schwartz, the head of Loral Corporation, was their largest single financial contributor. Now they are talking about how terrible this thing is with this guy that was contributing to both Democrats and Republicans and, yet, that wasn't half as bad as what happened during the time that President Clinton signed a waiver so the Chinese would have our guidance technology.
Tomorrow night is going to be the State of the Union Message. I sat in the House Chamber and watched the second or third one that President Clinton had. He made the statement--and it was documented that at the time he made the statement the Chinese had between 13 and 18 of our cities targeted, and he stood up and said: Not one missile is pointed at one American child tonight, not one. Everybody applauded, but at that time between 13 and 18 of our cities were targeted by the Chinese.
So we have had a problem that is a very serious one and one that the President had to deal with. Of course, we knew the Chinese were transferring the prohibited weapons technology to Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea and other countries. That is the ninth thing the President inherited. That is the real serious problem. Yet if we look at this chart again, the President had the lowest, in terms of percentage of gross national product, since before World War II.
This President came in, and the first thing the Bush administration tried to do is rebuild this broken military system. This is what President Bush did. I was so proud of him for doing it. You saw the other one, where you take the static line up there and it looked like a bathtub, where Clinton was $400 billion below, down here, just a static increase that would go with the inflationary rate. This is what the Bush administration did. If you take that black line, instead of being below that, they proposed, and the Senate and House agreed, to increase it during that period of time. That is up now, and that is 5 years. So it is $334 billion more than the static inflation-rate increase--not $400 billion less, as it was in the Clinton administration. Now, if you take, in addition to that, the emergency supplementals that went to military, that is another $292 billion. Add that together, and it is $626 billion more. That is a lot of money.
It is hard for me, as a conservative, to stand here and brag about the fact that we are spending more on the military, but we had to in order to strengthen our programs and build up our troop strength and our modernization program. Bush went in and he did a lot of other things, too. He helped the troops by increasing salaries and their housing allowances. Prior to this time, they were having to spend 15 percent of their housing out of their own pockets. He took care of that for them. He increased their capabilities and readiness, the growth in the language training and funding of intelligence, and we have seen an increase in lethality across all forces by focusing much more on precision instruments.
If I could, I will go through our different services and make some comments as to what this President did when he inherited this broken defense system.
In the Army, he moved it from the old system of dealing with divisions and organized them into modular brigades, combat teams that are much more capable and much faster to be deployed. These are ongoing plans to increase our force size from 33 brigades to 42 brigades to build back up what came down in the nineties.
Because of this reorganization, about 75 percent of the Army's brigade structure should always be ready, and with the increase for the Special Ops, for the Psych Ops, for the military police, and for the logistic units, he has done a remarkable job.
The rotation of units is kind of interesting, and I will get to that in a minute.
In looking at the Navy, the biggest problem he inherited there was spare parts. None of our ships would float. He concentrated on spare parts, and he now has the ships so they are out and ready and are actually out in areas that could be combat areas.
One of the changes he made was, instead of bringing it all the way back to the United States and changing the crews, he leaves the ship in the battle area and flies the crew back and puts a new crew in. As a result, the percentage of ships routinely at sea has increased by more than 50 percent.
In the Air Force, the modernization program--we are back with the Joint Strike Fighter working for that, and we actually have our FA-22. It is flying. We have increased that fleet. We are actually going to be ahead of the other countries.
Keep in mind--I talked about China a minute ago--back during the time the Russians were selling the SU-27s which are better than our F-15s and F-16s, in one purchase, the Chinese purchased 240 of those. We have a long way to get back.
One of the things the President did in the Air Force was recognize our ALCs, air logistic centers, and start funding them again so we can maintain and rebuild our aging aircraft fleet. We now have three ALCs. They are located in Utah, Georgia, and Oklahoma.
It is amazing what they have done. The rate of aircraft grounded due to parts issues decreased by 37 percent, it has bettered our flying goal of 922,000 hours, the rate of aircraft incidents due to parts issues has decreased by 23 percent, and logistics response time has increased by 20 percent. Good things are happening, and we see tangible results.
On force posturing, this is something the President did, and I am very proud I had something to do with this. It occurred to me as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee that we have all these families deployed in Western Europe and South Korea, and yet, as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I know what some of the far-left environmentalists are doing to our ability to have live ranges.
In Europe, that same thing was happening. So our families with our soldiers training over there could only train on live ranges, sometimes 5 days a week, sometimes 3 days a week, only during daylight hours, and the restrictions were so cumbersome that we were not able to train these guys.
It just made sense, if we tried something totally different and changed our force structure, instead of having them in Western Europe where they cannot train, put them in Eastern Europe. I went to Bulgaria and Romania and a number of places where they have training ranges that they will allow us to use free of charge. They will even billet us while we are there.
In changing our structure, we will bring all the families back. Instead of having 2-, 3-, 4-year deployments with the families going over to Western Europe, we will have 2- and 3-month deployments and not send the families, just the troops over to the eastern areas, and they can get as much training in 3 months as they could before this in 3 years. That is one of the major changes. Right now, we are in the process of bringing back 70,000 troops, and 100,000 family members are coming back. It is a major improvement.
That is how Bush responded to the national security threats. He did it swiftly and decisively. After taking office, he was faced with a couple of crises. The first one was not quite as severe, but it was serious. That was back when the Chinese shot down one of our EP-3 Navy surveillance planes, and he was able to, because of the decisive action he took, bring the plane back and the crew and no one was hurt.
Then along came the tragedy of all tragedies, 9/11. I thought: Boy, am I glad we have somebody in there who is decisive and can respond. The World Trade Center and the Pentagon got hit. If it had not been for the courageous bunch of people over Pennsylvania, very likely this building, where I am speaking right now, would have been one of the targets and one of the victims. That is what we are dealing with and the changes that were made.
The third part is policy change. I am going to run through this quickly, but I would like to have people think about this. The President changed the policy, and I think we can pretty much take his rhetoric that he has lived up to and see how different this is from the decade of the nineties.
The President said: You are either with us or against us. That is what the President said to other countries. If you are not with us, you are an enemy. He said that Americans are asking how will we fight to win this war:
We will direct every resource at our command, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every necessary weapon of war to the disruption and defeat of the global war on terror network.
The President went further to say we are going to do four things. He said we are determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist networks before they occur.
Second, we are determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes and to their terrorist allies who will use them.
Third, we are determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes.
Fourth, we are determined to deny militants control of any nation.
Within weeks of 9/11, he sent the military to Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. Operation Enduring Freedom was successful.
He asked Congress for the PATRIOT Act.
He established the Department of Homeland Security.
He formed the 9/11 Commission. The 9/11 Commission had 39 recommendations, of which we adopted 37.
He launched a preemptive attack against Saddam Hussein, and that worked successively. That was Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He established the National Counterterrorism Center, which is now up and running.
He established a Domestic Nuclear Detection Office where just one single Federal agency is in charge so these things don't get lost in a barrage of bureaucracies.
He established the Terrorist Screening Center.
He established and transformed the FBI to focus on preventing terrorism.
He strengthened the Transportation Safety Administration.
He improved border screening and security through the US-VISIT entry-exit system.
For the first time, he started looking at our problems with regard to cargo coming into this country. He set up the National Targeting Center, which is responsible for that.
He expanded shipping security through the Container Security Initiative, which worked successfully.
He developed Project Bioshield. This is an organized defense against chemical weapons and biological weapons, as well as nuclear attacks.
He aggressively cracked down on terrorist financing with many international partners. Over 400 individuals and entities have been designated pursuant to the Executive order, resulting in nearly $150 million in frozen assets and millions more blocked so they cannot get to the terrorist activities.
The international successes he has had are incredible. We are safer today.
Mr. President, 9/11 was a wake-up call. We are doing the right things.
Another measure of success is Iraq. You would never know it, listening to the media. The first thing the troops ask me when I go over there is, Why doesn't the media like us? Why don't they understand what we are doing? I think now they are catching on that the American people are aware of our success.
They have had three successful nationwide elections. They voted for a transitional government and drafted the most progressive democratic constitution in the Arab world, approved a new constitution, elected a new government under a new constitution, with each election less violent, with a bigger turnout than the one before.
The Sunnis, the ones who were not cooperating, are now cooperating. There was an article about a week ago in the Los Angeles Times that talked about the killing by a suicide bomber of literally hundreds of Iraqi troops, and most were Sunnis, and 225 Sunni families each offered another member of their family to replace those who had been killed. That is Iraq.
Still, there are international successes with terrorism. The terrorists who attacked on 9/11 are in jail, dead, or on the run. They are isolated. Al-Qaida and bin Laden no longer have a safe haven in which to hide. The Taliban is deposed, and democracy is in its place.
The al-Qaida structure has been taken out. No major attacks on the United States have taken place since all this took place. We have had the disruption of at least 10 serious al-Qaida terrorist plots since 9/11. Three of those plots, incidentally, were plots to do something to the
United States of America within the confines of our borders.
We had the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that was taking place during the nineties and the AQ Khan network in Pakistan. They are no longer distributing weapons of mass destruction or information about them.
There are now six-party talks ongoing with North Korea, and the United States is no longer alone in pressuring the North Koreans to give up their nuclear programs.
Libya opened its doors to inspection. This is really critical because Libya, during the Clinton administration of the nineties, was building weapons of mass destruction, their unconventional weapons program. I can't help but think they equate President Bush with President Reagan because we remember and they remember, certainly, what happened in 1986 when President Reagan sent about F-111s into Libya and pounded them into the ground. All of a sudden, Libya opened their doors to our inspectors, and they have admitted the country had sought to develop unconventional weapons, but now they are eliminating them.
In missile defense, this is significant because since 1983 when the SDI program started and people were deriding it--the liberals didn't want us to be able to defend ourselves against incoming missile attacks. We now have the beginning of one coming in place. We can now knock down incoming missiles into the United States. That is huge. Not many people are aware of it, but that is what is happening.
We talked about the problems he inherited and about the solutions. How much further do we have to go? In the State of the Union Message tomorrow night, we are going to hear the President talk about Iraq and about some of the things we need to continue in Iraq, the successes we have had, but also the international community, the fact they are going to have to come up with what they agreed to. They agreed to supply $13 billion toward the war in Iraq. They have not done it yet. I think he is going to invite them to do it tomorrow night.
The Iran problem, with the President of Iran declaring Israel must be wiped off the map and the Holocaust was actually a myth--a far more serious issue is Iran's attempt to restart their nuclear program. Against the International Atomic Energy Agency directive, on January 10, Iran reopened Natanz nuclear complex. That is a serious problem.
Mexico and the borders--we have talked about that and recognize it is a serious problem.
The NSA eavesdropping--I think the President will talk about that. Everyone is concerned about people's feelings being hurt and not about the intervention of the President to eavesdrop and try to get information from known terrorist groups coming into this country and trying to communicate with terrorists within the country. I am really proud of this President for sticking to his guns on this issue. We need to keep that going. I am sure he will mention something about that tomorrow night.
China--I am sure he will talk about the problems with China. I have to say this: As a member of the Armed Services Committee, during the nineties, during the Clinton administration, I watched the dismantling of our system. At the time, we were going down to about 60 percent of what we had at the end of the Persian Gulf war, and at that time, China had increased its military procurement by 1,000 percent. That is bad enough, and that is serious, but the other thing they are doing, their problem with us is we are the No. 1 and No. 2 country in terms of having to depend on other countries to have the energy to run our country and certainly to fight a war.
When we do this, I see China out there all of a sudden has its $70 billion deal with Iran, and now they are importing 13 percent of their oil from Iran. They are refusing to go along with us on sanctions against the Sudan with all the atrocities going on there. Now they are importing 70 percent of their oil from Sudan. We know what they have been doing with Chavez in Venezuela.
These are real serious problems we are facing with China. I am sure he will talk about these tomorrow night.
He will talk about our overreliance on foreign oil. I cannot be critical of the Democrats or Republicans. We are all responsible for that.
Back when Don Hodel was Secretary of Interior during the Reagan administration, we had a little song and dance where we would go out to the consumption States, such as New York and Illinois, and we would tell them that our reliance on foreign countries for energy is really not an energy issue, it is a national security issue because we are relying on them for our ability to fight a war.
Do you know what our reliance was at that time? We were relying on foreign countries for 35 percent of our total amount of oil imports, oil to run our country. Now it is at 63 percent. That is serious.
I have to say in conclusion I believe the President deserves excellent grades. What this administration accomplished in the last 5 years is phenomenal. If we compare where we were and where we are now, we are a more secure nation. We have finally awakened and we have started to deal aggressively with the threats that are facing us. We are no longer treating the terrorist enemies of the United States like disadvantaged people. We are no longer turning a blind eye to the nuclear proliferation by negotiating without the real threat of military action. Our negotiators can now go to the table with more credibility.
We are no long underfunding the readiness challenge. If we had an administration without the willingness to fund defense, take decisive action and stand up to our allies with their heads buried in the sand, we would be in far worse shape than we are today. I believe Europe is slowly awakening to the threats that exist. Fortunately we have had one very strong ally who stayed with us through this challenging period, Tony Blair. I am sure the President will renew his praise for Tony Blair and all the help he has given to us.
I wish to say one thing. Let me ask the Chair how much time I have remaining?
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. TALENT). The Senator has approximately 14 minutes remaining.
Mr. INHOFE. Let me make a comment about this thing, ``The U.S. Military Under Strain and at Risk.'' It is amazing that the media would give any attention to this group. Do you know who this group is? This group is Madeleine Albright, Burger--this is the group, Podesta--these are the ones who gave us the problems we had in the 1990s and so they came with a report and say the military is under strain, at risk.
We are undoing the damage they did. The far-left Democrat club that gave us the broken force of the 1990s is the one in charge of this report. If you watch TV, you would think they are actually people who are seriously concerned about the United States of America and concerned about undoing the damage that has been done there when they in fact were the ones who caused damage. The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Schoomacker is a good guy. He came out of retirement and agreed to do this. He didn't have to do it. He is not one of the guys who had to do it for a job. He is retired. He is down on a ranch. He agreed to come in and become the commander of the Army, and he read this report and said there is no truth to it. Our Army is not broken. We are actually going through modernization challenges, but it is trying to modernize, modularize, and mobilize, and fight a global war at the same time.
The accusations that were made, let's look at one of them in particular. It says:
Nearly all of the available combat units in the U.S. Army National Guard and Marine Corps have been used in the current operations.
That is true because we started with a force that was underfunded and had been drawn down during the 1980s by the very people who came out with this report. They didn't have the right kind of a mix. So we are changing that and taking it away from the Cold War military to one that is facing this asymmetric threat we have out there. We are currently raising the number of our brigades from 33 to 42. Congress has given us now, through the leadership of the President, authorization for 30,000 more troops.
The shortfall, that was their fault. Again, you can go in and read more of this report saying the Army is experiencing the beginnings of what could become a major recruiting crisis. Right now we are raising our number within the Army from 484,000 to 512,000 and, while we are doing that, our recruiting and our retention is very good. Right now the Active Force retention and recruiting figures combined for 2005 were 99.1 percent. It may not be growing as fast as we would like toward the 512,000, but we can hardly call that a failure. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2006, we achieved 104 percent of the recruiting mission and 100 percent of the retention mission for the quarter.
The Guard and Reserve are all overworked, but in the first quarter, recruiting figures for the National Guard are 106 percent and the Reserves are doing even better at 122 percent. General Fuzzy Webster, who came back with the Third Infantry Division--that was their second rotation--they now have a 133-percent retention. That is the third ID that has been over there fighting for freedom on two different occasions.
Anyway, the surprising thing is the press would give them any attention at all.
Last, let me share my own personal experience. I have had occasion to go to Iraq or the Iraq area 10 times now. I take very seriously my job as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Let me share with you, not all 10 times but a little anecdotal experience on 3 of those times.
First, in January, January is the first vote. I remember one lady--I had an interpreter and we were interviewing--and she said I couldn't see the ballot because of the tears in my eyes. Then it occurred to me, this is not the first time in the 30 years of the butcher Saddam Hussein, this is the first time in 7,000 years we have had an opportunity at self-determination.
A few days later I decide to spend my time in the Sunni triangle because that is where they are supposed to hate us the most. There is a general in Fallujah by the name of Mahdi, the brigade commander for Saddam Hussein, the brigade commander for the Iraqi security forces in Fallujah. At that time he hated Americans, until they started training with the Marines in Fallujah, called embedded training. They became so fond of the Marines, when they rotated the Marines out we all got together and we cried. He renamed Fallujah Iraqi security force the Fallujah marines. That man is now in charge of security in Baghdad because he is doing security for us. In Tikrit, I was there when they blew up one of the training centers where 40 Iraqis were seriously injured. What you don't see in the media is the 40 families who had that loss replaced their loved ones with another member of the family.
When you go across the Sunni triangle 50 or 100 feet off the ground in a helicopter, little kids are waving American flags. When we send care packages to our kids, cookies or candies, they don't eat them, they repackage them and throw them to the kids there. That is the truth of what was happening.
I was up there last month during the election.
Everybody expected the problems of the terrorists, the insurgents, to spike at that time, but it didn't happen because they have run out of steam. The IEDs, they went down by 30 percent in the month before the December election. Suicide bombs went down by 70 percent in 90 days. The road from the airport that goes into the green zone, I have been on it many times, they were having about 10 terrorist activities each week and now there have not been any for 7 months. Not one. That is when we turned over the security to the Iraqis and they are taking care of their own security.
These are the successes that are taking place. The number of tips that come in from Iraqis, they used to be 500 a month, now they are up to 5,000 a month. This is what is happening.
When we see that this general is now in Baghdad, and more than the eastern half of Baghdad, there is not one American boot on the ground, they are all Iraqis. They are the ones taking care of their own security and the 112 battalions they have right now, approximately 220,000 troops, 32 of those 112 battalions are either level 1 or level 2; that is, they can go into battle on their own. In January a year ago none were in that position.
Is it going to be over? People are always asking that question. People are not answering. I will answer that question. If you take the trend where we are right now, right now we have trained and equipped 220,000 Iraqi troops. By the end of this year it will be 300,000 Iraqi troops. The goal was to get up to 325,000. Why? Because all the military people tell me we need to get to 10 divisions before we can turn the security of Iraq over to the Iraqis, and that will be 325,000. We will be there by June of 2007. By June of 2007 we will have turned over the security to the Iraqis. We will still have a few troops there--we still have troops in Bosnia and Kosovo--but the security will have been turned over to them.
When you go through the towns and see the hospitals, the schools, the businesses--$22 billion in oil reserves are going in. Yet you have several Senators coming back, Senators who, I might add, are running for President in 2008, trying to make you think things are not successful there. Senator Biden came back and said they only had 30,000 troops. It was not 30,000, it was 200,000 when he made that statement. Senator Kerry said our troops are out at night terrorizing women. I talked to the troops. None of them even know what he is talking about.
I have to conclude, and I say this in all sincerity to the authors of this report and to the 1990s crowd that got us into this mess, and I say to the naysayers, and I say to the cut-and-run caucus, I have named them--I say to the hand wringers: I am sure glad you are not in charge because, if you were, what happened to the military and national security in the 1990s would be happening again right now. We would be right back to the same path where surrender is always an option. Back where? Negotiating with terrorists. There is nothing wrong with that. Negotiate and appease, negotiate and appease. I thank God every day our President, George Bush, is not an appeaser. An appeaser is a guy who throws his friends to the alligators hoping they will eat them last.
Hiram Mann said:
No man survives when freedom fails.
The best men rot in filthy jails.
And those who cry appease, appease,
are hanged by those they tried to please.
Back in 2000 we came within six electoral votes of being hanged by those we tried to please.
Looking at what this President has done, grading the President on national defense and national security, very clearly President Bush--I am anxious to hear him tomorrow night--very clearly he will get an A.