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House Armed Services Committee - Progress in Iraq

Location: Washington, DC

Federal News Service June 22, 2004 Tuesday

June 22, 2004 Tuesday







REP. HUNTER: I thank the gentleman. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Cooper.

REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Secretary and General. We appreciate your service to our nation.

Mr. Secretary, on page two of your testimony, you write the following sentence: "The $25 billion budget amendment that this committee authorized will ensure that our forces continue to have the full resources necessary to complete their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan."

We all know that $25 billion is a lot of money. But do you think that's an accurate statement?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Yes, if we understand-the $25 billion, as we've explained, is a kind of a bridge to take us into the first quarter of next year, when we'll have a much better fix on what the full requirement is for next year. It should in no way be taken as implying the $25 billion is what we need for FY '05. In fact, the number could very easily be twice that. It's hard to predict. It could be even more than twice that. It's certainly not going to be less than that.

And what that allows us to do-and I don't know if we've explained this for this committee or not-it allows us to get into the second quarter of the fiscal year, the first quarter of the calendar year, when we should have a very good fix on what the expenditure rates are for the full year and come up to the Congress with a full supplemental request for FY '05. This is a kind of bridging request.

REP. COOPER: I understand that the $25 billion would fund about four, maybe five months of activity.

MR. WOLFOWITZ: At current expenditure rates, that's right.

REP. COOPER: So I think you're giving this committee and this Congress far too much credit when you say that somehow this expenditure enables us to have the full resources necessary to complete our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MR. WOLFOWITZ: No. I'm sorry. If the sentence read that way, it's bad language. It gives us the funds we need to get us safely into the first quarter of next calendar year, when we will be back here with a much bigger request for funding. And we've been very clear on that in all our testimony. I'm sorry if that sentence was in any way misleading.

REP. COOPER: I wanted to give you the chance to correct your statement, because we have been worried about-you know, we want to have a clear fix on what the expectations are. Do you have any idea what the funding expectations are likely to be next year?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Again, I'll repeat what we said in other testimony. We don't know. And at this stage it's-any prediction we make is likely to be wrong, either too high or too low. If you do a sort of monthly calculation, you can easily come to the $50 billion or $60 billion figure. It could be more than that and it could be less.

REP. COOPER: Mr. Secretary, I want to focus on the money and the money it takes us to win in Iraq. Why couldn't-why shouldn't this Congress have gone ahead and looked at $50 billion for our troops to give them staying power, not for four or five months but maybe eight or 10 months? Wouldn't that have shown a greater commitment?

Almost everybody in this Congress, Democrat and Republican, already voted in our respective budgets to set aside $50 billion to take care of this need. And yet the only money we're coming up with is $25 billion. Why wouldn't it have been better and more accurate and a more sustainable show of strength to come up with $50 billion instead of $25 (billion)?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: I think you can argue it different ways. I think the judgment was made that it is better to work ourselves into the first quarter of next year and then proceed on a much more precise estimate of what we're going to need.

There is a little bit of a danger when you get too much contingency funding without specified requirements. You suddenly find yourself using it in an undisciplined manner. And I think there's a little bit of discipline in the way this request has been put forward.

REP. COOPER: But surely we don't anticipate funding this war three or four months at a time.

MR. WOLFOWITZ: No. And we've made it very clear we will be up here in the first quarter of next year with a full year supplemental request that will be substantially larger than that $25 billion.

REP. COOPER: Secretary, last year you testified that Iraq would basically be so oil-rich that they would have money to, quote, "really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." You also said that the oil revenues of Iraq could bring in between $50 billion and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years. We're not seeing those sorts of revenues being produced, are we?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: I think we actually are. The numbers that I have most recently are some $20 billion of Iraqi funds. About half of that is from oil-for-food and about half of that is from oil revenues that have gone into Development Fund of Iraq. That finances the government operations, it finances reconstruction, and an additional $8 billion are projected to be produced from oil revenues by the end of next year assuming, and it's a big assumption, that the enemy isn't successful at disrupting oil production. It's a big uncertainty, but that money has paid the salaries of 350,000 teachers and professors. It's paid the salaries of 100,000 doctors and health workers. It's paid for $1.2 billion-this is Iraqi funds -- $1.2 billion of Iraqi funds for improvements to the electricity infrastructure; $300 million for water, sewage and irrigation; $660 million to sustain and expand oil production. I think I mentioned earlier there's some $800 million in Iraqi funds that have gone into the CERP program, which is our Commander's Emergency Reserve Program, or a similar program by the local Iraqi government.

And to go back, that statement that I keep seeing quoted back over and over again, it was made after the war began. It was prefaced by saying very carefully, because we had no idea at the time, that there would be several so little war damage to the infrastructure, that we had no idea what the reconstruction bill would be. But that, unlike Afghanistan, or for that matter Bosnia or Kosovo, which have no resources of their own, and which are permanent wards of the national community, probably, Iraq has substantial resources of its own, and it is contributing substantial resources. We are having to as well, and I never meant to imply we wouldn't. But, this is a country that has a lot to contribute to its own reconstruction, and it's doing so already.

REP. COOPER: How much has the war so far cost the American taxpayer?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: I would have to do the numbers in my head, I'd rather not do that. You know it's a lot of money.

REP. COOPER: Can you give us a ballpark estimate? How about in terms of American life?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Over 800 Americans killed, and every one of those hurt. As I think I said also earlier, a lot of Iraqis are dying for this cause. We estimate some 400 of them have died, and that General Petraeus thinks it may very well be twice that number. We are up against a very vicious enemy, there's no question about it. The total shown here for military-I can give you this sheet, and this number shows enacted for Iraq so far, on military and reconstruction side together is $119 billion, of which $20 billion is reconstruction, and obligated so far is $72 billion, of which $6 billion is reconstruction.

REP. COOPER: The total as we see it is about $150 billion all in all, and that's not counting the next 25, and then the supplemental request that we'll get at the beginning of the next year.

MR. WOLFOWITZ: You have to compare our numbers with yours, and figure out where the difference is.

REP. COOPER: It's getting to be in the neighborhood of $200 billion. Is that right?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: I'm telling you what I'm given here by our comptroller says $119 billion enacted so far by the Congress for military and reconstruction expenditures in Iraq, of which $65.8 billion has been obligated for the military, and $6.1 for reconstruction.

REP. COOPER: And our allies have contributed $1 billion?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, they support their own forces, which is not insignificant. Contributions to reconstruction, again, I would want-there's been a great deal more pledged. There's quite substantial amounts pledged by the international community at the Madrid Conference.

REP. COOPER: $13 billion pledged, $1 billion delivered.

MR. WOLFOWITZ: So far, correct.

REP. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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