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Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee - The Defense Department's Fiscal Year 2009 Budget


Location: Washington, DC


REP. JIM MARSHALL (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I appreciate all of you being here and I appreciate very much your service.

Mr Secretary, picking up on what you've just said, and something that Admiral Mullen's mentioned in his testimony, building partner capacity winds up being a critically important ingredient to future success where defense is concerned for the United States. We just can't do this alone. We can't do it effectively.

With the growing lethality of hatred and the kinds of threats that are developing worldwide -- global pandemics, terrorist organizations, climate change, simple disparities where economies are concerned -- those things call for global partnerships and building partner capacity. And I've been one that's regularly said, when asked to support closing the School of the Americas, now the School of the Western Hemisphere, no, I think you're stuck in the '60s; we need a school of the world. So this is music to my ears. The reference to the Building Global Partnerships Act, Admiral Mullen's reference, specifically mentions this was brokered between the two secretaries.

My question, Mr. Secretary, would be, what were, give me the top three things you did not get. I frankly think most of this stuff needs to be maintained in Defense, because we'll cut the budgets -- the State Department, USAID, et cetera. We do that historically; we'll do it in the future.

What are the three things you didn't get in this dickering with the secretary of State that you would have like to have seen in Defense that went to State?

SEC. GATES: I think with respect to both Section 1206 and 1207, based on everything I hear, we're very comfortable with where we are, and the division of labor particularly in 1207. I don't recall, in the year I've been in the job, a single debate being brought to me where we just couldn't agree on a 1207 commitment overseas.

Now, that money's in our budget. We have $200 million in the '09 budget for it. We had 100 million last year, and it pays for things like ordnance disposal, police training in Lebanon. It pays for community policing in Haiti, and I just am not aware of any differences, in terms of priorities or projects, between ourselves and State.

REP. MARSHALL: Excuse me. Is my time expired?

REP. SKELTON: I think the clock was in error, so please proceed. (Laughter.)

REP. MARSHALL: There wasn't anything in addition to what was agreed upon between you and the secretary of State that you would have liked to have gotten on the Defense side.

SEC. GATES: I'm not aware of any. I can certainly ask.

REP. MARSHALL: Well, if this was brokered between the two of you specifically, I thought perhaps you'd have something in mind.

You mentioned in your testimony that you are worried -- well, you do not see how a partnership where one of the partners fights, the other partner or some of the other partners provide Social Security work, that sort of thing, will work. And I'd like you to elaborate a little bit on that. When we organize teams, not everybody's a center, not everybody's a guard, you know, et cetera. We pay attention to what our capabilities are.

The United States has conventional military capabilities in spades. It doesn't seem sensible for a whole lot of people trying to duplicate force that's already in existence and can take care of any conventional problem. Where we really lack strength is in building partner -- well, building the capacity in Afghanistan and Iraq politically, economically, that sort of thing. Why shouldn't our partners provide that capacity which we don't seem to be able to provide?

SEC. GATES: They are providing some of that capacity, but for the most part, they do it in an EU hat. The EU has a lot of projects in Afghanistan, a lot of civic action kinds of things.

But what I remind the allies of is, NATO is a military alliance. It was created to defend all of the allies against threats from one another or an external threat. Is is not a mini-U.N. It is not an EU. And where -- the speech I'm going to give in Munich this weekend to a certain extent gets to your point because it's going to say NATO cannot be purely military, it also has to have some civic action kind, civilian construction and economic capability as well. And the EU cannot be strictly civilian. EU probably has to have some military capacity as well, as the French have been trying to get EU members to join them in Chad.

So -- but my view is that you can't have some allies whose sons and daughters die in combat and other allies who are shielded from that kind of a sacrifice. I think just realistically speaking, as we've heard from the Canadian government just in the last couple of weeks, the willingness of those who have engaged in combat to continue to do so will disappear.

REP. MARSHALL: Mr. Secretary, if it's very important that we build political-economic capacity in Afghanistan and Iraq, and if we can't do that, would you encourage NATO, our NATO allies to put more of their resources toward that and maybe less toward the military end of it, since we can do the military end?

SEC. GATES: Well, again, I think the Europeans have a fairly significant civilian component. My worry is that the leaders of NATO committed in the past that each country would spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense. There are only six allies out of 26 that spend 2 percent or more on defense. So they're not even at the minimal level of spending on military capabilities, and that's my concern.

REP. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Chairman.


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