Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am happy to be here today to testify in support of President Bush’s security assistance request. The timely approval of these funds is critical to U.S. national security and the global war on terrorism.
Security Assistance Programs are Vital to U.S. National Security
In the past, we tended to measure U.S. security by the number of air wings, carrier groups or divisions we could field. But it is clear today that America’s security depends on more than our ability to rapidly deploy forces and conduct military operations against foreign threats. It also depends on the ability of our allies and partners to conduct operations -- within their own borders against terrorist forces, as well as operations internationally as part of a military coalition. To cite one country as an example, when Pakistan arrests terrorists like Khalid Sheik Mohhamed, then America is safer. When Al Qaeda fighters cross from Afghanistan into Pakistan to seek sanctuary, it is only the Government of Pakistan than can send in forces to destroy them.
Regrettably, foreign aid, and security assistance programs in particular, are still viewed by some as charity – unnecessary spending that we can ill afford as we deal with homeland defense, emerging global threats, and our economic and social priorities at home. The reality, though, is exactly the opposite. Security assistance has long been one of the U.S. Government’s most important tools for advancing our foreign policy and national security objectives. But it has become vitally important in the war on terrorism. Enhancing the capabilities of our partners may enable us to avoid having to deploy U.S. forces to dangerous spots. It can bolster the resolve of other countries to confront the terrorist threat. And if we do need to deploy forces, our partners are better able to fight alongside us.
We must invest in the capabilities of allies and partners who fight alongside us in the war on terror. We should think of security assistance and related programs – law enforcement, intelligence, economic support, counterterrorism assistance – as a component of our national defense. Although these programs are largely within the State Department’s purview, they are a crucial part of our national defense. Security assistance funding is in many ways an extension of defense spending. For this reason, it should be protected, much like national defense and homeland defense spending, from across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending.
I urge this Committee to fully support the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2005 security assistance request. I also urge you to push for timely passage of that request, because delays leave less time during the fiscal year to use these funds to achieve their often time-sensitive aims.
Security Challenges in Iraq
The United States and its Coalition partners continue to advance their efforts to strengthen security forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And while these efforts are by no means complete, it is important to stop and honestly assess our successes and disappointments and to adjust our future plans accordingly.
Strategy for success in Iraq
In Iraq, despite all the violence and uncertainty caused by the enemies of a free Iraq, it is clear that Iraqis sense dramatic improvement in their everyday lives and anticipate much more. We need to continue to move forward on all fronts implementing the coalition’s strategy to set conditions that will ensure a free Iraq that is stable and at peace with its neighbors.
Our strategy for success in Iraq involves three mutually supporting lines of operations, aimed at building indigenous Iraqi capacity and transitioning responsibilities from the Coalition to Iraq rapidly, but not hastily. While the lessons learned from the violent events of the past few weeks affect the way we pursue these three lines of operation, these are still the three key elements that will bring success in Iraq.
The first element involves building capable Iraqi security forces to assume a progressively greater role in providing for the security of the country. We have redoubled our efforts to recruit, train, equip and, most importantly, mentor Iraqi security forces – Police, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC), Army, Border Police, and the Facilities Protection Service. Already tens of thousands of Iraqis are serving in the five different branches of Iraq’s security forces and more than three hundred have died in the line of duty in the last year. Over the next few months our aim is to certify the ability of these forces, that they are ready to assume greater responsibilities from coalition forces. There are deficiencies that need to be remedied in the areas of leadership, training, and equipment, but we have a plan for doing so, and a outstanding individual – former 101st Airborne Division commander Major General David Petraeus – will lead that effort.
The second element involves nurturing Iraq’s capacity for representative, self-government with the aim of creating a government that the Iraqi people will feel is theirs and that moves us out of the position of being an occupying power. While many believe that July 1 will be a magical date on which the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) will suddenly complete the transfer of all of its responsibilities to a new Iraq government, it is actually just one step in a process. Already, free Iraqis have been gradually assuming responsibility for governmental functions for quite some time. Many Iraqi ministries report to the Governing Council rather than the CPA. Iraq now has a functioning judiciary to provide equal justice for all. At the local and provincial levels, elected assemblies are up and running. When the Interim Government assumes office on July 1, its most important task will be to prepare the way for elections to establish the Transitional Government by the end of January, 2005. That Transitional Government in turn will be replaced by a new government formed on the basis of elections held under the new permanent constitution.
I want to make very clear that on July 1 the U.S. and its Coalition partners will not be dropping their security responsibilities. Indeed, after that date the Coalition role will be just as important – a partnership with the Iraqis to ensure sufficient security for them to build their new nation.
The third element of the strategy involves the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure and the restoration of essential services that are providing better lives for Iraqis and putting people back to work. Iraq has tremendous potential. It has well-educated and industrious people. It has fertile land and water resources, and it has abundant natural resources. Our strategy aims to put Iraq on course to realizing that potential and to setting conditions for Iraqis to reap greater prosperity in the future.
Strengthening Iraqi security forces
In this strategy, Iraqi security forces clearly are key.
During the increase in combat activity over the past several weeks, the performance of the Iraqi security forces has been mixed. At least half of the security forces stood their ground, and – even in the extremely tough fighting in Fallujah -- some ICDC units fought bravely and well. But other units did not face the enemy or avoided contact altogether, and a small number even cooperated with the enemy.
Our disappointments with the security forces have to be tempered with realism. Their shortcomings should not surprise us. We have been fielding Iraqi security forces as fast as we could, but we never expected Iraqi security forces to take over responsibility for Iraq’s security by June 30th, much less by April 5th. Our plan was and is for Iraqi forces to develop capability and experience under the security umbrella of the Coalition, while the Coalition retains its overall security responsibilities.
Moreover, Iraqi security forces had many successes before the recent upsurge in violence. Iraqi security forces have demonstrated their ability to confront terrorists, confiscate arms caches, and reassure their fellow Iraqi citizens. Security personnel are based mostly near their local area, where they can recognize strangers and changes in neighborhood routines. They speak the language and know the people. Even though they lack the military capabilities of our forces, they provide a valuable complement in many circumstances.
We must continue to strengthen Iraqi security forces. Clearly it is preferable for these forces to become more effective, and progressively relieve the security burden on Coalition forces.
Recent events provide lessons we will apply to improve Iraqi security forces. We will emphasize leadership – to include integrating Iraqi officers with Coalition forces and embedding Coalition officers with the Iraqi security forces. We will help build a strong chain of command for all Iraqi security forces. We will provide additional training. We will get the security forces more and better equipment, so that Iraqi units will not be outgunned, as some were in recent action.
Flexibility to help Iraqi security forces
Our efforts to improve Iraqi security forces, especially meeting their equipment needs, underscore the importance of having sufficient flexibility to address urgent wartime requirements.
Before the FY 2004 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act became law on November 6, 2003, funding to accelerate the building up of Iraqi security forces came primarily from seized and vested Iraqi state assets and from the Development Fund for Iraq. (DFI funds come mostly from Iraqi oil revenues.) To begin to meet pressing requirements, some commanders -- through procedures established under the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) – were permitted to use DFI funding to buy uniforms and communications gear for Iraqi security forces. Additionally, some former Iraqi Army equipment was provided to local Iraqi security forces under the Spoils of War Act.
CERP is a great example of flexibility in wartime, and we appreciate Congressional support for it. The program enables commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction needs. It has been remarkably successful. With quick turnaround projects averaging around $10,000 each, commanders not only help people in their operations area, but also gain their support in defeating terrorists and building themselves a better future. The President has requested that CERP authority be continued, with authority up to $300 million. Without Congressional support of this program, we will lose a valuable tool in the war on terrorism.
Some delays in providing the Iraqi security forces sufficient equipment have been caused by the time required to get through the contracting process and to execute our plans. We had to specify what the forces needed, and then follow established, often time-consuming procedures. Inevitably, human error creeps in, especially under the difficult conditions of a war zone. This raises the question of how best to balance the necessary regulation of public expenditures with the urgency of requirements during war and its immediate aftermath.
In sum, the urgency of wartime requirements necessitate greater flexibility than normal peacetime practices allow. Combatant commanders have broad flexibility in how they allocate fuel, spare parts, or ammunition. They can shift these resources rapidly between individual targets and entire missions as needed. We need to be as agile with funding as we are with combat assets. Major General David Petraeus has said, “Money is ammunition” – referring to the ability of our commanders to use small cash outlays to get help to the Iraqi people quickly.
Challenges in Afghanistan
Turning briefly to Afghanistan, here again security forces are essential to helping the Afghans build a moderate, democratic, and representative government. The Afghan Ministry of Defense is going to meet its goal of 10,000 Afghan National Army (ANA) troops by the summer. The 8,265-strong operational force has already contributed to the success of Coalition stability operations throughout Afghanistan. In addition 2,495 soldiers are in training, and about 12,000 more will complete training in the next year if recruitment goals are met, and the requested funding is available at the start of FY 2005.
The Afghan National Army has performed very well in several diverse missions. Since last July, the ANA has been conducting combat operations and patrols with Coalition forces. By all accounts, their performance has been commendable and well received by the local population. In December, the ANA successfully secured the Afghan Constitutional Loya Jirga – a critical and symbolic role for the ANA – while Coalition forces continued to fulfill their broader security responsibilities. In recent weeks, the ANA has deployed to three different locations to keep the peace between factional units in the North and West.
It is paramount to have Afghan national security forces break up fighting between factional forces, thereby exerting central government control in the outlying provinces. To perform these critical tasks, it takes a trained, professional force, such as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.
This progress is reinforced with other achievements – most notably, the Afghan people adopting a constitution laying the foundation for strong democratic institutions and guaranteeing civil liberties such as freedom of religion and equality between men and women. Also, with the more than $2 billion that you helped provide, President Bush was able to commit personally to accelerate progress in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and security. And we are actively engaging NATO countries to expand their security presence in Afghanistan.
Critical to accelerating the fielding of the Afghan National Army is the more flexible drawdown authority that Congress provided in the 2002 Afghanistan Freedom Support Act. The President has asked Congress to increase the ceiling on this valuable drawdown authority by $200 million.
Train and Equip. In his FY 2005 budget request to Congress, the President asked for special authority to transfer up to $500 million to train and equip military and security forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and friendly nearby regional nations to enhance their capability to combat terrorism and support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Train and Equip authority is especially key to keeping our nation prepared to challenge terrorists wherever they may be next, and not have to wait for a threat to develop before special authority is requested. Traditionally, only after a threat has been around long enough, has there been enough time to seek and for Congress to enact legislation for that specific circumstance.
For example, Congress enacted special authorities to permit the Department of Defense to fund counterdrug-related training and equipping of forces in Colombia. In the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act, Congress provided the President with expanded drawdown authority to help build an effective Afghan National Army and meet other security-related requirements in Afghanistan. The enactment of these authorities reflects a recognition that special assistance authorities are required to provide those countries with the wherewithal to contribute meaningfully in support of activities that further U.S. national security interests.
The FY 2004 Supplemental included Train and Equip authority, but restricted its use to the New Iraqi Army and Afghan National Army. Approval of the President’s request for expanded Train and Equip authority is especially important because the main threat in Iraq is internal. Building up the Iraqi armed forces is not as pressing a priority because external threats are not the central problem, especially with the presence of Coalition forces.
Global Peace Operations Initiative
Looking at our global security challenges, we can see an ever-growing need for competent forces to engage in peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions. The requirement for missions to stabilize trouble spots around the world is growing. We have seen this in Haiti, Liberia, and Burundi, among other countries, in just the past year. I urge Congressional support for another request from President Bush that is designed to address the gap between peace operations mission requirements and the supply of forces: The Global Peace Operations Initiative.
With an emphasis on Africa, the U.S. and its partners would work to increase global capacity to conduct peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions. President Bush’s initiative will increase our efforts in Africa nearly three times, and work to bring in other partners from around the world. The program will be managed and funded by both the Department of Defense and Department of State. We are requesting this authority to allow us to implement the initiative quickly.
Other Requested Authorities
Regional Airspace Improvement. The Department of Defense is seeking authority to use $150 million for improving air traffic control in the Caucasus, Central and South Asia. The Caucasus is the main strategic air corridor for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Support of Sensitive Military Operations to Combat Terrorism. This proposed authority would help our Special Operations Forces gain the cooperation of small numbers of foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, and individuals who could support or act in concert with U.S. counterterrorism operations. It would authorize the Department of Defense to expend up to $25 million of Operation and Maintenance funds during FY 2005 to provide certain types of support. This proposal is designed to facilitate U.S. military operations in the global war on terrorism and not for the primary purpose of developing foreign capabilities and internal security mechanisms.
Congressional Support is Essential
It is clear from our security challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe that Congressional support is essential for America and its international security partners to prevail in this time of war. I urge Congress to fully support the legislation related to these challenges, which the President has requested:
· Train and Equip authority.
· The Commander’s Emergency Response Program.
· Drawdown authority under the Afghan Freedom Support Act.
· The Global Peace Operations Initiative.
· Regional Airspace Improvement
· Support of Sensitive Military Operations to Combat Terrorism
I also want to underscore the importance of Congress increasing the Department’s General Transfer Authority (GTA) to $4 billion – which would still represent just one percent of total DoD funding. Higher GTA would give us a greater ability to shift funds from less pressing needs to fund must-pay bills and emerging requirements – especially those related to the global war on terrorism.
Finally, I urge full Congressional support for the President’s Department of Defense budget request. That is essential to keeping our forces ready and capable of quick and lethal action in the global war on terrorism. It also is essential to transforming our military so it is able to counter 21st century threats more decisively and more efficiently.
In closing, we in the Department of Defense look forward to continuing to work with the Congress to help support our Armed Forces – as well as our allies and friends throughout the world who are working with us to make the world more secure. In this time of war, we need close partnerships with Congress to ensure that we are using the strongest possible means and authorities to defeat terrorism and to foster a safer and more stable future. Thank you.