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Public Statements

Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee

Location: Washington, DC







SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Let me just repeat what all the rest have said-that you two are the right people at the right time, and we're so eternally grateful for the work that you do. And I want to thank you also, General Abizaid, for responding to my request and coming and making that excellent presentation at the National Prayer Breakfast. You were the right person to do that, and I appreciate it very much.

I-along the same line that Senator Kennedy was talking about, we-we do hear from families of deployed people, whether it's Guard, Reserve or regular forces. And I happened last week to be out in California and saw some new technology I think you may be familiar with. One is called CICM-that's Close In Counter-Measures-which is a way of intercepting an RPG after it's deployed. Now, this is mounted on an armored vehicle. It could be on any, I suppose, a tank or anything else. The second one is the Active Protective System, which does the same thing, intercepting the same way as a missile defense system does, missiles that are coming towards the-and actually saw videos on how they work.

Are you-it seems like most of the casualties we have are a result of the incoming small missile or RPGs-are you familiar with those systems? And what would be your recommendation in getting into that type of defense system?

GEN. ABIZAID: Sir, I'm-I'm familiar with both of the systems. I have yet to see the final testing reports that have come out of the Department of the Army, that's looking very closely at them.

As you know, we've got an improvised explosive device task force-that's both at the Department of Defense level, within the Department of the Army, the Air Force has one also-and it comes together in CJTF-7 in Iraq. And we're looking at all these technologies. And any promising technology, we will ask to bring into the field to-if it even seems like --

SEN. INHOFE: Okay-and this-I think we are going to make a request that they look at these two specific technologies. And I think it's very significant --


SEN. INHOFE: -- and very impressive, what they have done.

First of all, let me just say that, you know, the way the whole thing has been executed has been just beyond our expectations. I know there's a lot of criticism in going into Iraq, and now we have the definite connection between Saddam Hussein and the tragedy here in this country. The fact that his intel officers met repeatedly with Bin Laden before this came about, that his top explosive guy, this Salim al-Ahmed, I think it is, actually met with them prior to 9/11, this Shakir helped gain the passports for two of the pilots that went into the World Trade Center, he also was involved in the U.S.S. Cole. Now, in addition to that, there has been a recent interception of a CD-ROM with 17 pages confirming this.

So I-I think that our in-our actions were the right actions and we are doing a great job over there. And I think I'd specifically say to you, General Abizaid, during the time that we were talking about Europe taking this position, you are unique. You have the ethnic background of the culture and the knowledge. You know more about the way people in the Middle East think than probably anyone who is in uniform today. So I compliment you for that.

Having said that, there are those who are suggesting that we abandon the war, bring the troops home and negotiate with the terrorists. Drawing from your background in the Middle East, how do you respond to that suggestion?

GEN. ABIZAID: Sir, I think that one of the most important things that the United States of America must accomplish in the foreseeable future is bring stability to Iraq and allowing a moderate government to emerge there that is representative of the Iraqi people. It's so important that the extremists not gain the upper hand in Iraq. Whatever the arguments may have been before, it is a battle in Iraq now between extremists and moderates, and the vast majority of the people want the moderates to be victorious. They want to live a better life. They want to have a chance to have a say in their future. And if we allow the extremists to win in Iraq, I am afraid that we are in for a very tough time, not only there but throughout the world.

SEN. INHOFE: Yes, sir, and I would assume that by abandoning it and bringing the troops home and trying to negotiate with terrorists would allow the extremists to --

GEN. ABIZAID: That is my opinion-we should not leave until the Iraqis are ready to take control, not only of their government but of their security.

SEN. INHOFE: Thank you very much. General Jones, one of the things that you and I have talked about several times is this, and yet it doesn't seem to get much attention. Is a better way to spend our money and our forward deployed troops, that we have some 40,000 family in Western Europe now-I took the time to go over-in fact, I'll ask our chairman if I can be kind of the point person in bringing this about. I took the time to go to Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and other places over there. A problem that we have that we're all sensitive to in Eastern Europe is that we are becoming more and more restricted every day. A lot of it is environmental encroachments on our training ranges and then, of course, the expense of keeping families over there and having the housing and having everything that's necessary to support that type of thing. The concept of changing these two- or three-year deployments with families to perhaps two- or three-month deployments-keeping the family stateside and going over and-believe me-I don't have to tell you this, but I will share this with my fellow members of this committee-I've never seen groups wanting us more and saying that we won't have restrictions, you can train, use live fire, any hour, seven days a week and, consequently, with the great resources, training resources they have in the countries that I saw personally, I think that's going to be something that we should move up at a more rapid rate.

I have talked to Secretary Doug Feith about this. He is kind of doing that end of it, and do you have anything to comment, General Jones, as to our progress as to the desirability of that program-the restructuring?

GEN. JONES: Thank you, Senator. This is an important moment in time, and it's important that we get this right. It's important that we explain to our friends and allies as we implement a realignment of forces that we are attempting to do more, not less. And I think the plan that we have proposed will do that-it will make us strategically more effective and more agile. We will have access to training areas in the eastern part of Europe that-where we are welcome, where there are wider open spaces, where urbanization has not come up to the front doors or the front gate of our bases as they have in the western part of Europe and, obviously, you and I have talked for many months about the similar problems of the United States. So this is a problem of urbanization and base locations. So we have spent a lot of time in the European Command, going all over, not only Eastern Europe, but also in parts of Africa, where the welcome mats were not only a presence of some type with U.S. forces and engagement is out, and there are open spaces where we can actually train the joint force in the manner in which we need to have it trained so it can do the things that we would expect it to do.

It has the ancillary benefit of strategically reaching out to new friends, new allies, becoming more interoperable in the Alliance and helping the security concerns of our friends and allies come to fruition in a very cohesive way. It is not all that important that every country has its own army, navy, and air force. To an alliance like NATO there are many specialized contributions that smaller nations can make. The example of the Czech Republic, which decided and determined that they could contribute a chemical, radiological, biological, nuclear battalion and did so-state-of-the-art, at considerable expense, available for NATO. Because they accept Article 5 of NATO, which means that they expect they'll be defended if they are attacked, and they will be, and so they are willing to contribute special capabilities that were in short supply in the Alliance. So it's a very powerful movement. From the United States' standpoint, it's an opportunity to expand our presence; that you are aware of the impact of the Georgia Train and Equip program, where if we stay with it for another two or three years, we'll have trained the entire army of Georgia in Western values. They will have an NCO Corps, their young leaders will all be trained at our schools, and this is for very, very small investment. We're looking, in EUCOM, for other countries where we could make that similar small investment with huge payoffs and bring more Alliance capability and, obviously, provide more training areas for our forces.

The future basing concepts of the proposal have more to do with strategic effect than occupation in the traditional 20th century theory. The family of bases we propose are bases that remain already built, second, with small improvements can come up to a certain standard and have a very flexible capability from a usability standpoint. In other words, we could use it for six months, turn off the lights, and go to another base if we need to. It could be a respond to crisis or to training, but the network effect, both to the East and to the South in Africa, and the potential of that effect, is truly very impressive, and we're looking forward to it.

SEN. INHOFE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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