SEN. BIDEN: (Sounds gavel.) The hearing will please come to order. We have two very distinguished witnesses on our first panel, and I'll get to that in just a moment. I would ask unanimous consent, in the interest of time, that my formal statement be placed in the record at this moment, as if read. And let me just very, very, very, very briefly summarize, because I want to have as much opportunity to get to the issue of discussing Afghanistan with our first two witnesses.
Whenever anyone asks me about Afghanistan and whether or not we should be there and should we expand the force, and so on, I always say everybody ought to try to think back, why did we go in the first place? Why did we go in the first place? And interesting enough, I think, as usual, the American people are way ahead of the political leaders in both parties, the administration, the Congress and throughout the country, in that in a recent Gallup Poll, 80 percent think the United States should keep troops in Afghanistan, while 16 percent of the U.S. population thinks we should take the troops out. The bottom line is they understand why we went in the first place.
And what I want to examine today, because I've had -- and I want to say publicly, I've had absolute cooperation, as chairman of this committee, from the State Department and from the White House. I don't interface as well, and I always -- anything with Secretary Wolfowitz has always been responded to, but I don't interface with Defense as much in my capacity as chairman of this committee. But two things have emerged, and I just want to give the witnesses a heads-up the direction I'd like to take this hearing.
I know I'm a broken record to both of them about the need to expand an international security force. It seems as though we have replaced the strategy -- not "replaced" -- we have -- instead of a strategy of international security force being extended beyond Kabul, we basically have -- my phrase, not yours -- a "warlord strategy," which is that if there is peace and calm in any of the four major sectors of Afghanistan, even though it is imposed by and/or is primarily accountable to the fact that a warlord is in charge, that that constitutes stability.
And I also want to talk about the time needed to build up an all- Afghan army and police force, its status, its personnel, its timing. Because as I understand the basic underlying premise of the administration, one that I don't disagree with, is that there is a need to have a central government have a security force that is made up of all factions, all of the major tribes represented in Afghanistan, and a police force, and that the notion would be they would be the ultimate stabilizers of a government. But there is sometimes -- as my grandmother would say, sometimes there's something missed between the cup and the lip. And we got to get to that point.
How long is it going to take us to get to that point? What kind of progress are we making to getting to that point? And what is the structure for stability in the meantime? That's what I want to talk about today. I'm anxious to hear from both our witnesses.
And with that, I will yield to my colleague Senator Lugar.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would like to join you in welcoming Deputy Secretary of State Armitage and Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz to this committee. I look forward to their testimony and reviewing with them Afghanistan's prospects for the future.
I'm hopeful that we are witnessing the emergence of a free and stable Afghanistan from more than two decades of war and instability. But it's clear that at least for the foreseeable future, Afghanistan's evolution will be marked by both advances and setbacks. And since the commencement of offensive military operations in Afghanistan, I've urged the administration to think simultaneously about what steps would be necessary to rebuild the nation after the Taliban and al Qaeda were removed.
I was pleased that early on President Bush stated that the United States would -- and I quote -- "not just simply leave after a military objective has been achieved," end of quote. The administration correctly recognized that without providing the people of Afghanistan with an environment in which the construction of a democracy and market-based economy was not only possible but likely, the country would remain a source of insecurity and terror.
The United States/international efforts have permitted the people of Afghanistan to begin rebuilding their economy, their government and personal liberties. I applaud the role that the international coalition has played in carrying out the reconstruction effort and the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Unfortunately, despite this strong record of success, the future of Afghanistan remains uncertain. Without a strong international commitment to the reformation of a representative and effective government, our efforts could go to waste.
The loya jirga created to select a new government recently completed its work, selected Hamid Karzai to be president. And Karzai continues to construct a broad-based representational government to rule Afghanistan. Pundits here in Washington and around the world are debating the criteria employed in selecting Cabinet members of the new government, and it's clear to most that the current security situation in Afghanistan was the primary determination in the selection process.
I'm supportive of efforts under way to expand, train and equip a new Afghan national army. A successful transformation is one of the most important elements of long-term security. But in the meantime, I continue to be concerned that the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, may not be up to the task of ensuring the requisite amount of security for Afghan reconstruction to continue. The ability of ISAF to maintain peace and security and to protect power into the farthest reaches of Afghanistan is vitally important if the international community is to assist Karzai in enforcing the rule of law and defending -- the threat posed by extremists, warlords and terrorists.
Only then can we replace Afghanistan's despair with a genuine future of hope.
Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts have benefited for the moment from the capture of major al Qaeda operatives, as well as the dispersal of other major players around the world. Their likely strategy is prepare and to undertake suicidal attacks against Western and Jewish targets, especially in Arab states allied with the West, while larger operations are prepared for the United States, such as the so-called dirty bomb plot.
Though relatively small and widely dispersed, the al Qaeda strikes appear to be coordinated by a senior group of leaders. In short, al Qaeda's command structure may have survived the United States military campaign in Afghanistan, even though its base in the country was eliminated.
Incidents like the bombing of a Tunisian synagogue and French and American targets in Karachi do not have the profile or drama of past military clashes in Afghanistan, but al Qaeda attacks are likely to occur at any time and almost anywhere, including Afghanistan. Countering them has become as much a task for police and intelligence as a military operation. Help from other governments, especially in the Islamic world, is vital, as is effective monitoring of potential targets, including infrastructure and weapons sources.
We know that a substantial number of al Qaeda operatives managed to escape Afghanistan and travel undetected, at least at first, to countries around the region. We also believe a substantial number will look for opportunities to infiltrate back into Afghanistan. Most seriously, the alleged plot involving Jose Padilla, the alleged al Qaeda recruit arrested in Chicago, adds to the evidence that al Qaeda is determined to strike with weapons of mass destruction and is actively seeking to procure or steal them.
It is that concern that has led a number of us to recommend to the Bush administration that the United States form and lead a new global coalition designed to keep nuclear and bio weapons out of the hands of al Qaeda and other terrorists.
In short, Afghanistan is not out of the woods yet, any more than terrorist threats to the United States involving weapons of mass destruction have lessened since September 11. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on how the United States can assist in bridging the gap between ISEF's abilities and capabilities and the threats posed to Karzai's young and still fragile government, even as the Bush administration focuses on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.
I might note that there are a number of people in the audience who have been keenly interested in this subject. Among them, as -- working with the president, have been women's groups in the United States who have testified before this committee about the security question. And today the Feminist Majority, NOW, the Women's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan, the NOW Legal Defense Fund and Education Fund, and the Equality Now are all represented here in the audience and have importuned this committee and this chairman on occasion, and I'm sure they have at the State Department. I know they've spoken with the secretary. And today's paper, the New York Times and other major papers, are full of stories relative to the assertiveness of women in Afghanistan, taking significant risks to make sure they don't go back to the dark ages that they just came out of. And so I welcome them and others that are here today.
We have two very distinguished witnesses. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage recently returned from a mission in South Asia where he successfully averted a nuclear war. Not bad for a few days' work. You did a hell of a job, Rich. Congratulations. I want to state again publicly, I think the administration, and you in particular, played a very significant role in defusing the single most dangerous circumstance that exists at the moment.
And we also have Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who has been one of the administration's leading architects of strategic planning for Afghanistan. I'm particularly looking forward to his discussions on plans for assuring security in the months to come. And I want to thank him again not only for his being publicly available, but privately available whenever we've sought -- I've sought, at least -- any information from him.
I would invite you to make any comments you wish, your statements. And don't worry about the clock. We're anxious to hear what you have to say. So as fully as you think you need to speak, please feel free. This -- don't worry about these lights going on. They'll go on for us, not for you.
Mr. Secretary, why don't you begin?
MR. ARMITAGE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, senators. Paul and I have in our professional lives spent a considerable amount of time in this very room in front of this panel. And we've come to realize -- at least I have -- that the patience of the committee is in inverse proportion to the length of my opening statement. So I'm going to keep it very short, and I know you'll allow me to have my comments submitted for the record.
I just thought I would mention briefly the winners and the losers in the recent loya jirga and what's left to do. And I think the winners first of all are pretty easy to enumerate: the Afghan people, and particularly women. This committee -- the whole Congress, but this committee in particular, has been very interested in the role of women in Afghanistan, and I think the newspaper article in the New York Times to which you refer, Mr. Chairman, is witness to the fact that in basically six months' time women have gone from being held basically in contempt in Afghan society to a role where they felt secure enough to take part in a very robust and boisterous loya jirga. So the Afghan people, and women in particular, are the first winners.
Second, Hamid Karzai is clearly a winner. He was a much better politician than any of us knew six months ago, and he managed competing pressures very, very well. He has to be considered in the winner's category.
Another is a Tajik by the name of Fahim Khan, who's the first vice president and still minister of Defense. He would have to be considered to have come out a winner.
Fourth, the international community has been a winner, because we're -- we've been part of, thus far, what's a great success story, and I think it far outstripped in pace any ideas that any of the pundits had about the ability to resolve the questions of Afghanistan in anywhere near this sort of rapid time frame.
And fifth, the fifth winner is the coalition forces -- primary among them, of course, the United States and the ISAF, because in the minds of many in Afghanistan there's not much difference between the coalition and ISAF. And we're the ones who made it possible for the Afghan people to eschew the role of the gun and the rule of the gun.
Now who are the losers? Well, I think you have to consider, at least in the short term, that the conservatives are the losers. They lost some serious altitude during this loya jirga. They were boisterous. There was some intimidation or at least attempts at it, mostly verbal, but they lost ground.
The second people who lost ground were some of the family of Zahir Shah, who envisioned a much greater role, a more active role, for the former king. And they didn't have their dream realized.
I think, thirdly, one has to realize that there are some in the Pashtun community who feel that they lost ground, or they didn't command as many portfolios as they might have hoped. You know, there's a lot of misinformation in the public about what the makeup of Afghan society really is in percentage terms. We haven't had a census since 1979, so anything that -- any numbers that anybody talks about are extrapolations from 1979. We don't know what percentage the Pashtuns or the Tajiks really have in the overall population, but I think it's fair to say that some in the Pashtun community are a little disappointed.
Now what's left for President Karzai to do? Well, I think, first and most importantly, he has to consolidate the instrument of power -- the instruments of power, and he has to extend them out into the countryside, to get at the very thing you mentioned, Mr. Chairman. That is warlords and warlordism.
And second, I think Afghanistan's society has to come to grips with the role of Islam in their nation. Do they envision themselves as a Turkey or a Pakistan or what? And I think that's a debate that we're going to see and witness as we move to the future. And finally, Mr. Karzai and the 29 ministers who make up his Cabinet have to very definitely be seen in relatively rapid fashion not only formulating a constitution to be voted on in about 18 months, but to be able to extend the fruits of the international community's largess, particularly in terms of reconstruction aid, to far-flung areas in Afghanistan.
And those are three pretty big challenges for any Cabinet and any president.
So, Mr. Chairman, I'll stop there and turn it over to my colleague and friend Paul Wolfowitz.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Mr. Chairman, thank you.
This distinguished committee has long provided our country strong leadership and bipartisan support, especially now that we wage this war on terrorism. And I thank you for that, and I thank you for the opportunity to come here today to discuss the Department of Defense's perspective on how the campaign in Afghanistan to kill, capture and disrupt terrorists has helped us to protect the American people, and also to discuss how we are helping the Afghan people help themselves, to ensure that their country does not once again become a terrorist sanctuary.
To chart the way ahead, Mr. Chairman, it's important to understand how we got to where we are. So let me spend a little bit on the early parts of the military operation.
From the beginning of the war on terrorism, President Bush emphasized that the United States must apply, as he said, "Every resource at our command, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and," the president concluded, "every necessary weapon of war to the destruction and defeat of the global terror network."
Each of those instruments has a role, each one reinforces the other. The military is only one of the instruments that we need to wage this war on terrorism. The military cannot do its job without the support of other elements, particularly intelligence and diplomacy, and its role is frequently to support the efforts of those other instruments of national power.
This hearing is focused, and appropriately so, on Afghanistan and on our military effort there, but it's important to emphasize, as we have done from the beginning, that this campaign is not about a single country or a single terrorist network. Al Qaeda alone is spread throughout the world. It is a network. A network, by it's very nature, is based on the idea that should one node be eliminated, the network can still continue to function. Well before September 11th 2001, al Qaeda had burrowed into some 60 countries, including the United States and Germany, France and Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. It had critical nodes in Hamburg, Germany and Jacksonville, Florida, as well as in Afghanistan. The pilots who flew the suicide attacks were not trained in Afghanistan; many got their trianing right here in the United States.
So Afghanistan was an important node in the network, but by its nature, a network does not have a headquarters. So while we focus on Afghanistan today, we must understand that it is only one node of that terrorist network. The very name of the organization -- "al Qaeda" -- which means "base" in Arabic, indicates that the entire organization is the base of terrorist operations. It is spread throughout the world, and it needs to be eliminated, root and branch.
In Afghanistan, where al Qaeda's plots and plans flourished under the protection of the tyrannical Taliban, America's armed forces went to work to root out both. Our intention, as Secretary Rumsfeld said, was to deprive the terrorists of a sanctuary in Afghanistan where they could safely plan, train and organize, not only to capture and kill terrorists, but to drain the swamp in which they breed.
Over the last eight months, with our coalition partners, we have defeated a vicious regime that gave refuge to evil. We have killed or captured many of its ringleaders and we have many on the run.
Even in Afghanistan, however, our work is far from complete. But we are encouraged by the many truly remarkable aspects of this campaign to date. Our military campaign in Afghanistan has had some striking features -- some surprising, others less so. Not surprisingly at all, we have seen America's men and women in uniform conduct their operations with great bravery and great skill, as we saw at Mazar-e Sharif and Tora Bora, and in Operations Anaconda and Mountain Lion.
What may have been a surprise to some was the remarkable speed with which the military plans were put together and the swift success of the military operations, measured in weeks rather than months, and with relatively few troops on the ground.
On September 11th, may I remind you, there simply were no war plans on the shelf for Afghanistan. General Franks was starting from scratch on September 20th when he received the order from the president to begin planning a campaign, but less than three weeks later, on October 7th, we commenced military operations. And less than two weeks after that, we had troops operating on the ground with General Dostam in the North. In many ways, it was a remarkable feat of logistical and operational utility.
If you'd permit me, Mr. Chairman, I'd actually like to read from a dispatch that we received from one of those brave Special Forces captains on the ground, or more accurately, on horseback, in northern Afghanistan. This is from October 25th, shortly after he and his unit were inserted.
"I'm advising a man on how best to employ light infantry and horse cavalry," he said, "in the attack against tanks, mortars, artillery, personnel carriers and machine guns, a tactic which I thought had become outdated with the investigation of the Gatling gun. `The muj' have done that every day we have been on the ground. They have attacked with 10 rounds of ammunition per man, little water, and less food. I observed one man who walked 10-plus miles to get to the fight, who proudly showed me his artificial right leg from the knee down.
"There is little medical care if injured, only a donkey ride to the aid station, which is a dirt hut, but `the muj' are doing very well with what they have. But we couldn't do what we are doing," he went on, "without the close air support. Everywhere I go, the civilians and `muj' soldiers are always telling me they are glad the USA has come. They all speak of their hopes for a better Afghanistan once the Taliban are gone.
"Better go," he concluded. "General Dostam is finishing his phone call with a congressman back in the United States." Yes, we had that element of this fight as well.
One other dispatch, from one of his comrades, on November 10th, after the fall of Mazar-e Sharif. "We rode on begged, borrowed and confiscated transportation," he messaged. "While it looked like a rag-tag procession, the morale into Mazar was triumphant. The locals loudly greeted us and thanked all Americans. Much waving, cheering and clapping, including from the women. U.S. Navy and Air Force" -- this from an Army man -- "did a great job. I'm very proud of my men, who performed exceptionally well under extreme conditions. "I have personally witnessed heroism under fire by two U.S. noncommissioned officers, one Army, on Air Force, when we came under direct artillery fire last night, less than 50 meters away. When I ordered them to call close air support, they did so immediately without flinching. As you know, a U.S. element was nearly overrun four days ago but continued to call close air support and ensured the `muj' forces did not suffer defeat." He concluded, "These two examples are typical of the performance of your soldiers and airmen. Truly uncommon valor has been a common virtue."
In many ways those two dispatches, I think, capture the ingredients of an extraordinary military success.
But another element of our success, which was undoubtedly a surprise to the terrorists but barely noticed by many others, was something that did not happen, something that calls to mind Sherlock Holmes' famous observation about the dog that didn't bark. We did not become bogged down in a quagmire, unlike the British in the 19th century or the Soviets in the 20th.
Nations that arrive in Afghanistan with massive armies tend to be treated as invaders, and they regret it.
Mindful of that history, General Franks has deliberately and carefully kept our footprint small to avoid just such a situation. On balance, our partnership with indigenous forces has been very positive and continues to be so.
From the beginning of the war on terrorism, we have stressed the importance of understanding the nature of our enemy as a network. Al Qaeda is not a snake that can be killed by lopping off its head. It is more analogous to a disease that has infected many parts of a healthy body. There is no one single solution. You can't simply cut out one infected area and declare victory, but success in one area can lead to success in others. And our success in Afghanistan has contributed to the larger campaign.
In Afghanistan itself, through actions there, somewhat less than half of the top 30 or so leaders of the al Qaeda organization have already been killed or captured. Well over 500 enemy are currently detained in Guantanamo or in Afghanistan as a direct result of our operations in that country. But equally important, if not more so, the worldwide efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies in cooperation with more than 90 countries have resulted in the arrest of some 2,400 individuals.
Our military success in Afghanistan has contributed to that larger success, both indirectly by encouraging others to cooperate and also more directly. Abu Zubaydah, for example, one of bin Laden's key lieutenants, was driven out of his sanctuary in Afghanistan and, as a result, was captured last March. His partial cooperation in turn contributed to the detention of Jose Padilla, who came into the United States with the intention of planning and coordinating terrorist attacks. A Moroccan detainee in Guantanamo led us to three Saudis planning terrorist attacks in Morocco, all of whom were subsequently arrested, including one top al Qaeda operative. In December, the discovery of a videotape in a safe house in Afghanistan led to the arrest of an al Qaeda cell in Singapore that was planning to attack a U.S. aircraft carrier and U.S. personnel in that country. And the cooperation of Pakistan under the leadership of President Musharraf has been little short of extraordinary, leading to more -- nearly 400 arrests in that country alone.
These developments are encouraging. However, it is important to remember that al Qaeda is still dangerous and active. This network still poses threats that should not be underestimated. Let me talk now about our efforts to build a more stable Afghanistan in the long term. Because while our primary mission in that country has been to kill or capture terrorists who threaten the United States or those who have harbored them, it is also important to help the Afghans establish long-term stability in that country so that it does not once again become an outlaw country that provides sanctuary for terrorists. While the success of those efforts will depend most of all on the Afghans themselves, the United States and its coalition partners have a critical role to play in achieving that goal.
In shaping that role, as in shaping the military campaign itself, we have been very mindful of that historical Afghan animosity to foreign armies and foreign occupiers. We have always viewed our mission in Afghanistan as one of liberation, not occupation. So with this in mind, we have tackled the challenge of striking the balance between keeping Afghanistan from reverting back to a terrorist sanctuary, and at the same time keeping our footprints small. Afghans are an independent, proud people. And we have worked from the beginning to minimize the number of our troops there and to focus instead on helping the Afghan people to help themselves in their journey to representative self-government.
We have made it clear, and we need to continue to do so, we have no intent of colonizing Afghanistan. We have been careful through our actions and our words to avoid creating the expectation that the United States can solve all of that country's problems. And we have made a determined effort not to take sides in Afghanistan's internal quarrels. But we in fact have seen that Afghans are good at solving problems when they must, and we must help them to deal with as many as they can.
There are positive signs that Afghans are making progress. As Secretary Armitage described in his testimony, the Afghan people made a significant step forward with the successful convening of the loya jirga. But along with self-government must come self-sufficiency in terms of Afghanistan's security. That task is made more challenging by the formidable geography of Afghanistan. It is a country roughly the size of Texas with peaks in the Hindu Kush range -- which translated, by the way, means "Indian killer" -- that reach some 24,000 feet, 10,000 feet higher than the highest of the Rockies.
If I might, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to put up a chart.
When we say that it's roughly the size of Texas, at least for those of us who are not natives of Texas, it may not carry enough meaning. I found it more meaningful to look at a map of Afghanistan superimposed on the southern United States, and you can see that it would stretch from Washington, D.C. down almost to New Orleans, and from St. Louis, Missouri down past Atlanta. It is huge.
It is not only large, but if I could show you another chart, it is incredible terrain. This is a satellite photograph of Afghanistan and the neighboring regions of Pakistan. And you can see the enormous expanse of mountains and, down in the southwest corner, that formidable desert which, in Afghan language, is called the Desert of Death. The sheer size and unforgiving terrain of the country has been a major factor in planning our military operations, and it must remain a key factor in planning long-term security arrangements.
But encouragingly, the situation is becoming more stable. Out of 32 provinces in Afghanistan, our forces have experienced harassment mainly in only five. The Taliban has so far failed to mount their often-predicted spring offensive, and the loya jirga convened with no serious security incidents despite numerous threats.
Our coalition partners are contributing to stability through their humanitarian work. It is especially worth noting that Jordanian personnel have been running a field hospital, which by itself to date has treated some 77,000 Afghan civilians.
The overall improvement in conditions in the country is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that people are voting with their feet. In just the first five months of the year, 1.2 million refugees are recorded as having returned to Afghanistan already. That was the U.N.'s projection for the entire year of 2002. The U.N. has now doubled its target to 2 million refugees that they hope will return in this year, in this calendar year.
On the security front, we are committed to working with the Afghan transitional authority and the international community to find effective solutions to the remaining challenges to that country's security. One of the most important pieces is training the Afghan army. At the beginning of May, U.S. Army instructors took on the task of helping to build an Afghan national army by initiating the training of the initial group of Afghan recruits. Coalition partners are also assisting in this effort. France has already begun training a battalion, and others, including the United Kingdom, Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, Korea, India and Romania are assisting with personnel or funding or equipment.
I would appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, and all the members of the Senate and of the House, to approve as rapidly as possible our supplemental request for fiscal year 2002. That request contains a State request of $50 million in FMF and $20 million in peacekeeping operation funds that would permit us to accelerate the training and equipping of an Afghan army. The biggest gap, I must say, in this effort has been the lack of authorities for funding. Even though we have a lot of money for other purposes, we have to scrape around and go to some of the countries I just mentioned in order to get the funds for salaries or equipment.
To further enhance regional stability, the 18-nation International Security Assistance Force has been helping to stabilize the situation in the capital of Kabul. The British did a splendid job leading that effort in its first six months, and we expect the same from our Turkish allies, who have now agreed to take over the lead.
Last month, the U.N. Security Council extended ISAF's mandate in Kabul until the end of the year. ISAF forces helped to train the Afghan national guard that protected Kabul during the loya jirga. Other important efforts to provide a more secure environment include the very important German-led effort to train a police force and British counter-drug operations. However, the most important instrument the Afghan authority and we will have to establish a security situation is the leverage provided by economic assistance. It is in our interest to provide such assistance and to help Afghans rebuild their country after almost a quarter century of war so that it will not once again become a haven for terrorists. The leadership provided by the State Department, as described by Secretary Armitage, has been key to that effort. Particularly important was the organization of the Tokyo donors conference that Secretary Armitage described.
In support of those reconstruction efforts, CENTCOM is also executing a plan to co-locate personnel from the U.S. Agency for International Development in the State Department beside our Special Forces and civil affairs teams that are operating throughout the country. This will allow USAID people to get out beyond Kabul and better monitor U.S. assistance, while providing them some protection in what remains an insecure environment.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, the campaign in Afghanistan, along with many other efforts now underway by many instruments of our government, has contributed to the disruption of the global terror network in tangible and far-reaching ways. But our task extends well beyond Afghanistan, and even in Afghanistan it will still be a long and difficult one. But the stakes are enormous.
As President Bush said, speaking to cadets at West Point two weeks ago, we have our best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace, instead of prepare for war. We can do this not by imposing our own model of human progress on other nations of the world, but, as the president said, we can support this effort when we reward governments that make the right choices for their own people. In our development aid, in our diplomatic efforts, in our broadcasting, in our educational assistance, the United States will promote moderation and tolerance and human rights, and we will defend the peace that makes all progress possible.
In Afghanistan today, we see a democratic spirit rising from the remnants of a once-failed state that is trying to defy the ravages of decades of war and misrule. Despite a beginning that will at times be rocky and no doubt suffer some setbacks, the Afghan people are hopeful for a new tomorrow, hopeful that they too can have a chance at peace, instead of war.
We remain committed to doing our part to help them on that journey, and we want history ultimately to judge us as having been dedicated to liberation, not occupation.
We appreciate the continued leadership of this committee and the support of the Congress in these ongoing efforts. Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Why don't we take seven-minute rounds, maybe -- we'll take seven- minute rounds, so everybody gets in, and then, if you have time, we'll -- if there's a second round, we'll try it, if we could.
Let me begin by saying to you both that speaking for myself, I think it is a remarkable military undertaking. Having spent, I think, four or five days there on the ground, it is -- it was impressive. It continues to be impressive. And I think -- notwithstanding the fact that it's going to be fairly easy to Monday-morning-quarterback everything about every operation, I think we should all be very proud of what you've put together and what our fighting women and men did.
I must tell you -- I have had this conversation with Secretary Armitage -- I was -- I wish every American can see those kids -- not kids, those young women and men. I mean, they are incredible. And I -- it would make everybody proud. But at any rate, what I want to talk about is not so much what -- to second-guess anything that we've done so far. I want to figure out what we do from here. And would one of you or both of you -- and I'll just ask a generic question, rather than the finely tuned questions my staff has developed here -- and that is, explain to me what the role is of the warlords. In Mazar, Dostum is obviously the guy in charge, but there's a power struggle going on up there. In Herat, there is -- obviously you have a guy named Ismail Khan, who's a tough actor, and there seems to be some order there.
I'm going to put a map up here, in the absence of my ranking member. And this -- it's just too hard to see from here, but these various indications show armed clashes, attacks against minorities, attacks against refugees, attacks and intimidation of loya jirga candidates, attacks and intimidation of women, and attacks on international humanitarian NGOs. And you can see the concentration of where they tend to be.
Now over in Herat, there's not a lot happening there, which is good, on the surface. But when I was there and -- (to staff) -- you can put it down -- when I was there, the talk was that we were all concerned about each of these warlords having their own sponsors. In Herat, we worried about the Iranians and their cooperation with Ismail Khan. I spent hours and hours and hours, literally -- I mean six, seven hours -- with the now officially near-term elected president and his people, including Tajiks in the administration.
And the concern was that these warlords all had their own agenda, and that although they could maintain peace, there would not be any loyalty to -- and/or allegiance to a central government. And I thought -- I thought, and it may be able to be done anyway. I thought our purpose here was not only to drain the swamp, but, as a -- excuse me, the Congressional Research Service, we asked them to do a little look at this for us, and they came up with the following summary:
"The U.S.-led efforts to end Afghanistan's role as a host for Osama bin Laden and other anti-Western Islamic terrorists requires not only defeat of the Taliban, but also reconstruction of a stable, effective and ideologically moderate Afghan state."
Now, do we think that's true? I mean, do we think -- obviously, defeating Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, everybody agrees on that one. But is it important -- is it important that we be responsible for, the world community and us included, the reconstruction of a stable, effective, ideologically moderate Afghan state? Is that part of our charge? And if it is, what role do these warlords play in bringing that about?
MR. ARMITAGE: Well, Mr. Chairman, I'll give it a go first. You asked at the beginning what's the warlords' agenda, in effect. Well, it's the same as it has been. It's to hold on to power and be able to collect revenues. They want to be a large factor in whatever future -- whatever the future holds for Afghanistan.
Number two, you'd have a very good sense of this after your excellent trip in January out there. The warlords, particularly the one to whom you referred, Mr. Dostum, feels that he and some of his Tajik colleagues had the majority of the burden in the fighting, and they want the majority of the spoils.
The latter question about, is it our role to be involved in a reconstruction, it seems to me that the president has made the decision that it is. He said we're going to be involved for a long time. And he made it very clear, we're going to be involved for a long time, not just in the sphere which Paul and Mr. Rumsfeld are so responsible, in the military sphere, but in the reconstruction, along with the international conference. And I think the fact that it was the United States which was the convener, if you will, of the Tokyo Conference, it indicated that we're not going to have a half-measure. We're not going to make the mistake we made in 1989 and allow what is a very nation state to backslide into becoming a swamp again. MR. WOLFOWITZ: I'd just add to that -- I agree with everything Secretary Armitage, that I think the basic strategy here is first of all to work with those warlords or regional leaders, whatever you prefer to call them, to encourage good behavior. I think we have a number of means for doing so. Some of them are kind of local diplomacy. We have been engaging, particularly up in the Mazar-e Sharif area, where you pointed out there have been some recent incidents, partly because of fighting between two different warlord factions, to use our Special Forces up there who have considerable influence to encourage better behavior. It's one of the reasons why, as I mentioned in my testimony, we are arranging to have State Department people out in some of the provincial areas with our Special Forces, so that they can begin to exercise their good offices.
And I think it underscores the importance of economic assistance because, as Secretary Armitage said, in the end of the day, what these people want, among other things, and perhaps most of all, are money and resources, and I think including money and resources to help their people. The long term is to shift the balance of forces between the central government and the regions. And training the Afghan army is a key element of doing that. But, again, I can't underscore enough how important economic assistance is, because the more that real resources can flow through Kabul, through the transitional government, through the transitional authority, the more that those local leaders have got to work with Kabul --
SEN. BIDEN: Paul, isn't it flowing directly, some of it, directly to these warlords? In other words, one of the things we spent a lot of time talking about in Kabul, in Afghanistan and here with you, with the State Department, with the White House, is that Karzai's popularity and support rest on a couple of factors. One, he is viewed by all the parties -- and when I met with Kanuni and all the rest of these guys, they all said basically, "We're not crazy about the guy, but he's the best thing we have to get aid. He's a magnet for us. He knows -- two, he doesn't have an army. He doesn't have any guns. He can't control it by himself. And number three, he's the guy who represents the majority, but is going to count us in on the deal."
And so I thought initially the notion was that in order to give him some heft, we had to make sure that everybody understood that they had to go through him to get the road built in Herat, go through him to get the school reconstructed in Mazar. And as I understand it, that's not -- well, maybe -- let me just ask the question. Is that happening? How much goes directly so that you have a guy like Baka Kahn (ph), who seized control of the whole province, being the guy who's building the road for the folks down the street?
MR. ARMITAGE: First of all, Mr. Chairman, these warlords have access to their own resources for a lot of different reasons, some of them very bad, like drugs, and they can do anything with that, such as build roads or anything else that they are able to.
Our money goes into the central government, and we have relatively little, thus far, representation in these far-flung locations. This is why I put a lot of stock in what Paul was saying about attaching USAID and State officers to the Special Forces units, whether they be in the number of a dozen or several dozen, in various areas so they can give us better advice on what sort of projects might reasonably be funded out of the central government's coffers.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I'll come back to that. My time is up.
SEN. LUGAR: Well thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As both of you mentioned, the work of our military was tremendous and almost semi-miraculous, from the standing start, as Secretary Wolfowitz said, General Franks starting the planning September 20, and what have you. So that part of the situation was unavoidable in terms of a very quick pick-up of all this.
What is occurring now seems to me does not necessarily have to be improvised in the same way. And I have a sense that it is being improvised.
But let me just sort of review items that you both have discussed among objectives, one of which would be democracy building, or at least some semblance of our ideals with regard to human rights, the treatment of men and women, educational opportunities. Certainly economic assistance, which undergirds this, which leads to at least a reasonable economy, even if not a vibrant economy, as is often mentioned as a goal. In some sense the public diplomacy, in which we've had good testimony before this committee of what's occurring, with Charlotte Beers and others. And it's not clear to me how much of that is occurring in Afghanistan, but some may and probably a lot should. A security framework around all of this so that as democracy, the economy, the public diplomacy begin to work, it doesn't fall apart at the fringes outside of Kabul or in the extremities. And likewise, how this fits with what we are doing, if we have a plan or plans for Pakistan. The commitments there are very substantial -- or at least have been implied that way. And perhaps less substantial, but still some in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, nearby.
Now, my hope would be that at some point the administration would be able to provide if not a book, at least sort of a report as to how all of this is likely to be achieved over the course of an intermediate period of time. What I think that we're getting, essentially, are reports of very commendable activities, but I don't have a confident sense of exactly where all of this heads, except we're hopeful for the best.
In part, there has to be improvisation. We have the 18 countries you mentioned of ISAF, and they have their own agendas, although they are coincident, by and large, with ours. We are committed, as Secretary Wolfowitz said, not to become bogged down, and there is a lot of thoughtfulness about how you do this without becoming bogged down, and likewise, how we do the military operations, the cleanup situation or necessary things at the border even as we try to do the peaceful situation.
Can either one of you give some idea as to what thinking is in the administration, pulling together State, Defense, whoever does economic assistance besides that, public diplomacy, into some coherent plan that all of us could understand and support, and then have some idea of what kind of money commitments are required, not just for this year but for several years down the trail?
MR. ARMITAGE: Senator Lugar, I'll commit to send a letter to the committee outlining just this, but I want to respond directly to your question. But it's a lengthy -- would be necessarily a lengthy response, and we'll do it.
Now, to the extent we've got well-developed thinking -- and I appreciate your comments about the need for a little "improv" along the way -- security is the over-arching necessity. And underneath that we've got agriculture, for the obvious reasons, and health, the next two priorities. And the reasons are quite obvious, because one- half of the 26-plus million people in Afghanistan have a need either in the health area or the food area, malnutrition, et cetera. So it gives you a pretty good idea of your next two priorities. And after that, education, which is right up next to it, and then infrastructure development. And that's sort of the priority we see it, and we're trying to put our money against it.
Right now, Senator, in answer to your specific comments about democracy and human rights, et cetera, we've got, of 21 State people at our embassy in Kabul and seven USAID people, one person for democracy -- for human rights, rather, and one for religious freedoms and democracy. So I think, given that 10 percent of our staffing there is devoted to that, it will give you an idea of the emphasis we're putting on it.
In terms of public diplomacy, I'm kind of happy with our story. You're the ultimate judge, and I appreciate your comments about Undersecretary Beers, but in the last four months we've increased Radio Free Afghanistan broadcasting to seven hours a day. You've got Voice of America up from 2.5 to six hours a day. We've got two transmitters being built which will provide 24/7 coverage for radio, which is the means of expression in Afghanistan. We've got exchange programs, one ongoing now with young students, called a Seeds of Peace program, and we have 12 here. And in August we've got an 18-person women's group, Women in Government. We could have had it earlier, but we didn't know who was going to be in government and who was going to be around. So now that they've had the Loya Jirga, we're bringing them in August. We're dealing in the country with a literacy rate that's about 15 percent above the age of 15, so printed materials are not a desired medium across the board unless they're very much pictographs.
So I think we're alert to the problems of public diplomacy and we're moving out somewhat on those. But I'll send a letter to the committee with our full thinking and the numbers we think would be associated with this over the next several years, Senator.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, that would be very helpful because the letter apparently would be the plan.
MR. ARMITAGE: Indeed.
SEN. LUGAR: And you've illustrated certain elements of that that are important in all of this. And you have money attached to it and that's important, at least in giving us some idea of where we're headed in all this.
Having said that -- you mentioned you have an employee devoted to democracy and one devoted to human rights. To what extent -- granted the States Department may not have resources for more people there.
Our -- people like the National Endowment for Democracy or others likely to be engaged, for example: is this useful?
And sort of secondly, as a comprehensive question, is it not just very important, in terms of our national security, that Afghanistan be a success so that there is in the Muslim world a success? In other words, the overall public diplomacy message that keeps coming to us is that polls of countries indicate people do not like us. In some cases, that understates it. And to what extent does success in Afghanistan as a possibility, as a goal help turn that around, offering models, something that might occur, of a better life for people that represents our ideals and our country?
MR. ARMITAGE: Sir, we are very bullish on the National Endowment of Democracy as a general matter and we make use of them in many countries around the world. I have got Ambassador David Johnson (sp) with me here, and he can provide the specifics about the contacts we have with them right now. I don't know.
On the 21 people, as I mentioned, in the embassy now, we've got two devoted to the issues that you mentioned. We're going up to 31 State people over the summer. We're only limited by the fact that they're living in trailers and we don't have a -- we've got a chancery that partly works and partly doesn't. We don't have any living quarters, et cetera.
On the --
SEN. BIDEN: Do the toilets flush yet?
MR. ARMITAGE: Sir?
SEN. BIDEN: Do the toilets flush yet?
MR. ARMITAGE: They do, sir. And I won't tell the story you told us --
SEN. BIDEN: No, no, no, don't.
MR. ARMITAGE: (Laughs.)
SEN. BIDEN: I just want to make sure that --
SEN. LUGAR: Well, do we need to provide money so you can build something else? I mean -- MR. ARMITAGE: We have the money in the supplemental, sir, for that. And I -- and I'm anticipating no problem other than getting the supplemental voted on.
On the larger question of the necessity of a success, particularly in the Muslim world, absolutely. But it's tied, I think, to the country you mentioned earlier: Pakistan. I don't think we're actually going to have a success unless we're successful in both countries. President Karzai has informed us that he's quite convinced of the sincerity of President Musharraf and the fact that, notwithstanding 10 or 11 years of a failed policy in Pakistan regarding support for the Taliban, that right now Pakistan's on the right side of the ledger. President Musharraf is moving I think quite assiduously against madrases, making them at least registered, if not getting rid of those that are beyond the pale. You saw in today's news broadcast that by virtue of the fact that he has ordered his soldiers into the heretofore forbidden tribal areas, they're suffering casualties, very much at our behest. But I think the success has to be the success of both countries.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Senator Lugar, if I might just mention, on the security front we do have a plan to train 14,400 soldiers for the Afghan army over the next 18 months. And quite frankly, we are looking at whether that number might be increased. The biggest -- the two biggest issues are recruitment and funding. And I'd appeal once again, this -- the State Department supplemental contains $50 million for training and $20 million for peacekeeping operation funds. The sooner we get that money, the sooner we'll be able to look at expanding recruitment. And also, in our request for fiscal year '03, we requested a hundred million dollars in authority to move DOD funds if appropriate from other programs or operational funds into this kind of training. And I'd appeal to get -- I think it has not so far made it through the budget process up here. But I would appeal to you to try to reconsider that, because I think it would give us a great deal more flexibility if the opportunities develop to do more training.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you for those specific addresses. We appreciate it.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Boxer has to leave, and Senator Nelson's been gracious enough to --
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): Well, I got here before he did.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): Of course.
SEN. BOXER: Anyway --
SEN. BIDEN: But I go by the seniority rule. But go ahead. SEN. BOXER: Well, I'm senior to him.
SEN. BIDEN: I know you are.
SEN. BOXER: So, what's the problem?
SEN. BIDEN: No problem. (Laughter.)
SEN. BOXER: Thanks. Well --
SEN. BIDEN: I thought I was being nice here. I -- you know -- (light laughter).
SEN. BOXER: Senator, you're always nice.
I just want to say to both of you, thank you very much for your focus on this. I couldn't agree more with Senator Lugar as far as making Afghanistan a success. And it's in our hands. And that's the burden of the -- being the leader of the free world, and we are. And in this particular case, we cannot afford failure; it is not an option, as they say.
I also wanted to note again the presence of the women's groups who are here today, and to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Mr. Chairman, and our ranking remember, Senator Lugar, I think it's important to note what Bernard Lewis said, who is a great historian -- a pretty conservative one at that. And when asked by Charlie Rose if he could name the one reason that the Muslim countries haven't been able to be successful, the answer came back, without a moment's pause -- the women. They have not allowed the women to be part of the society. And this was -- this was quite an eloquent statement, I think, from him.
So what I want to spend my time doing -- and I hope to be able to do it in a one-on-one with you, Secretary Wolfowitz, if we have a chance, is to plead the case, make the case for immediate expansion of the international force. That doesn't mean our troops, it doesn't mean occupation. Of course you're right on the point. It means protection, and protection is not occupation. And when you have Hamid Karzai asking for this, and when you have Dr. Sima Samar, who the president was so gracious to put in the gallery, the first lady's box, during the State of the Union address, asking for this; and when you have the women coming to us via these women organizations, and also in person, taking the risks of travel, to tell us this is their highest priority. And I would say, Secretary Armitage, you are right, they list security first, then they talk about education, health and the rest.
I just want to put into the record, Mr. Chairman, a couple of third-party quotes from my position here.
The international think tank, the International Crisis Group, wrote, quote: "The security situation outside Kabul remains tenuous. And roadside banditry and flare-ups of fighting between rival military factions have been common. Many unemployed former fighters, with weapons and time on their hands, represent a dangerous element." And they say: "It is deeply troubling that some Afghans are expressing nostalgia for the relative security and stability that were present before."
I think it's important because we have to know history, that it was this very lack of security that led to the Taliban coming into power in the first place. The Taliban first gained the support of Pakistan in '94 when they rescued a 30-truck Pakistani trade convoy that was hijacked by a warlord just south of Kandahar. The Taliban gained popularity throughout Afghanistan at that time by continuing to eliminate roadblocks that were set up by local warlords where hijackings and extortion were common. And we know what happened then. Osama bin Laden was given haven, et cetera.
None of us want that to happen. You don't. We don't. It can't happen.
But I say that there is this lack of security. The International Crisis Group has recommended the force be increased from its current level of 4,500 to 25,000 troops. Another respected organization, the Stimson Center, called for 18,000 troops.
And I guess I am puzzled -- because on this issue we have been so close together, people from different sides of the aisle -- why there seems to be this hesitancy, when it isn't going to be American troops. Karzai's asking for it, and we know in two years, hopefully, the Afghan people can protect themselves. This is an interim kind of solution.
During February and March of 2002, Human Rights Watch documented cases of sexual violence against Pashtun women perpetrated by the three main ethnically based parties and the militias in the North. Many women describe how they have to fight off attackers or hide young female relatives out of fear of rape. And we know Sima Samar herself had threats. She had to spend one night at a United Nations guest house. And outside of Kabul, it's far worse.
Reuters reported in April an acid attack on a female teacher in Kandahar after handwritten pamphlets were found circulating in the city warning men against sending their daughters to school or their wives to work. I have heard firsthand from Afghan women who call my office who say that security is their number-one concern.
So I would say one more thing here. Barnett Rubin, an expert on Afghanistan, wrote the following in the New York Times, quote: "Both Afghans and international officials see the refusal to expand the international force as the start of American disengagement, repeating the mistake of the '90s despite promising to learn from that experience. Providing security for rebuilding Afghanistan is now the front line in the war against terrorism. Failure here will undermine all other commitments. And many fear failure has already started. There is still time to prove them wrong."
Now, I don't believe that failure has started. I see so many wonderful, good things. And when Secretary Armitage talked about the Loya Jirga and the women's voice and the fact that in this amazing setting, things got accomplished and got done, and Karzai was -- these are all wonderful things. I am just concerned that for some doctrinaire reason -- occupation, that isn't what we're asking for. We're saying protection of the people is a short-term thing. I would hope we could get past this idea that if we do support a larger troop deployment, it's occupation, because I don't see that at all. I see it as an interim measure.
And in the time remaining, I wonder if you could comment. Is your mind open at all to this? MR. WOLFOWITZ: First of all, let me say I agree with a great deal of what you said, particularly about the importance of women, both in Afghanistan and the Muslim world at large -- in a larger sense. There are a few things that are just factually wrong, and it's important to start from the right set of facts.
Whoever referred to the relative stability and security that were provided by the Taliban obviously didn't read about the reports of 5 million people on the verge starvation, or the civil war which was raging in that country.
SEN. BOXER: Oh, no, no. You misunderstand. Those were people who were telling reporters this. Of course it's ridiculous. But if even some people think that, it's dangerous.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: But there's been a huge improvement in the situation. That it's not perfect is not surprising. It's a country that's been through 25 years of civil war, and it's going to take time. Things are not going to change immediately.
But the other one is, there is no refusal to expand the Afghan force, whether it's referring to the Afghan Army, where I've been saying over and over again we would like more money to be able to look at expanding it faster, or whether it's referring to ISAF, where there is absolutely no doctrine -- I mean, no one is saying that we're opposed to expanding ISAF or opposed to having it play other roles.
Our biggest problem so far has been sustaining ISAF in its present role. One of our big diplomatic challenges the last few months, which we were successful at, was finding someone to take over the lead from the British in ISAF. And when the Turks agreed to take it over, they expressed extreme reluctance to take on missions outside of Kabul.
That doesn't mean that we're doctrinally opposed to looking at other roles.
But it is important to remember both the magnitude of the problems that this government has inherited and the sheer size and unruliness of the country. There are going to be problems. You're going to make progress on them, it seems to me, step by step. I think we are making steady progress, but one of the reasons why we say it's going to be a long road is that there's a lot of work to do. But there's no doctrine involved here at all. We're trying to do whatever makes sense to stabilize that country.
MR. ARMITAGE: Mr. Chairman, may I -- if I may? You have an exquisite understanding of the problems of women in Afghanistan, but I want to get on the record about this.
Security is the overarching one, but the -- 23 years of war, the years of Taliban rule, have all brought other things to the fore that we have to be attacking simultaneously. It's not just a matter of empowerment of women, which is important in and of itself. We have an education problem. During the Taliban rule, of those eligible for primary school, 39 percent of boys went to school; only 3 percent of women were enrolled in school. Right now, out of 4.4 million primary school-eligible kids, we've got over three million enrolled, so almost 75 percent. Now, women -- or girls lag behind boys, but we're well up to the 60 percent now mark of girls going to school.
If you look in the healthcare area, one in 15 Afghan women dies as a result of a pregnancy or a problem -- post-natal problem. That compares to one in 3,000 here in the United States. One in four kids in Afghanistan die before they're five years old. So, we've got a whole bunch of problems to attack at the same time, and not just the ISAF one.
SEN. BOXER: Right. Mr. Chairman, I'm going to end here, and just say this. I sense a little bit of spark of hope there, when you say there's no doctrinaire approach to this, you're going to look at this. So, I feel that's hopeful.
Let me just say, you can't go to the doctor and you can't go to school, indeed you can't go out of your house if you don't feel safe. So, protection, it seems to me, is the key here. I hope we will listen more to the voice of the women there because that really is the voice of the people, I think. And if we do that, I feel so confident that this will, in fact, be the model that Senator Lugar is looking for.
I thank you for your indulgence.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you. Let me make sure of, I guess, something factual. There's no doctrinaire position, but did we -- I met with the British one-star who was in charge of that operation, and with our military there, and I -- did we -- we're not opposed to expansion of ISAF. We're not -- we made it clear we'll be no part of it, is that right?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: The ISAF leadership is with -- held by the British and then by the Turks. And we are trying to keep our forces focused on their job of finding terrorists and finding Taliban.
SEN. BIDEN: That's not my question, Paul. I know that. That's our first job. But didn't we -- I was told by the Brits, we explicitly said we would not be part of an ISAF force. Period. Is that right or wrong?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: And we are not part of ISAF.
SEN. BIDEN: No, not that we are not. We would not, under any circumstances, be part of an ISAF force. Is that correct?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, actually, Secretary Armitage's reminding me, we have 36 people in the headquarters helping to advise them. There is a --
SEN. BIDEN: Those are liaison.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: -- very close relationship between ISAF and CENTCOM. We provide a lot of the basic support that makes them safe and secure. They're really two operations that are connected to one another.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, let me say it another way.
And you sound like a State Department guy now. No offense, Mr. Secretary. (Laughter.)
MR. ARMITAGE: What's a "State Department guy" sound like, Mr. Chairman? (Laughs.)
SEN. BIDEN: That's right. Not like you! (Laughter.)
MR. ARMITAGE: (Laughs.)
SEN. BIDEN: Thank God!
MR. ARMITAGE: (Laughs.)
SEN. BIDEN: I mean, thank God you don't sound like it.
Let me make sure I understand this. I was told the following by -- with a U.S. colonel standing with me, who was the liaison to the ISAF force, and a captain, after a two-hour brief. I was told in February and then again in May that we said we would not be part of an expansion of ISAF, no U.S. boots would be on the ground with an ISAF force if it expanded. And secondly, I was told by -- I don't want to -- I was told by ISAF officers that they thought that would be all right if we had made a commitment to be an extraction force, if they expanded, or if we were prepared to provide other guarantees of participation with them.
As the British one-star -- his name escapes me now -- said, "Senator, how long do you think my Parliament will let me stay here absent your full participation with us?"
I then met with Mr. Brahimi, who indicated that the Turks had told him they were looking forward to this command, as long as the big dog was with them -- us.
When the president stated, as I thought I heard him say, we would not be part of ISAF, the secretary of Defense said, I thought -- I'm -- stand to be corrected -- we would not be part of ISAF. It is not at all surprising to me that the little dogs said, "Well, wait a minute. We're not interested in expanding." And so I'm trying to get that connection. Are we -- did we or did we not say we would be part of ISAF if it expanded?
I -- the way I got it, we basically said, "You guys want to expand, you go ahead, but don't count us in on the deal." If that's what we said, there's no question -- (chuckling) -- no one's going to expand ISAF. I'm trying to get a sense here what the real story is.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Senator, we have been crucial to making that operation work. The British were in at the beginning. They stayed for six months. They didn't leave because we weren't participating. They left because they couldn't sustain it longer than six months, just as they can't sustain some of their operations on the other side with our coalition forces.
Our people have important work to do that only American forces can do, or a few allies in small numbers, and that is rooting out terrorists and capturing them. And it is difficult work, and it is work that's uniquely suited to the U.S. military.
As you mentioned, the Turks said they wouldn't come in without the big dog around. We gave them the assurances they needed to come in. And we will give whatever assurances of those kind are needed for other countries that want to participate.
Our biggest problem to date has been that even the countries that started out there, like the U.K., can't sustain those commitments, for logistical or other reasons. And there's not a huge number of people signing up to volunteer.
SEN. BIDEN: I apologize to my colleague for the interruption.
SEN. CHARLES HAGEL (R-NE): Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I appreciate you asking the question, because I think we could probably take that down two or three more levels, and maybe some of our colleagues will do that. And if I have time, I will come back to that.
Gentlemen, thank you both. As always, we are grateful for your leadership.
Secretary Armitage, you mentioned that you believed the success in Afghanistan and Pakistan was tied together, or -- I assume what you were referring to was our success in the overall region, of our policies. My question is this: does the administration have an integration of policies that, in fact, builds on your observation that you just shared with us a few minutes ago that would, in fact, enlarge just the Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship? For example, do you believe, do you have a policy, and is it so integrated, and how are you doing it, that the success in the relationships in our involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan have an impact on or are tied to and coordinate with our policies in the Middle East, Indonesia, other trouble spots in the world? Do you believe as we reverse the optics here, which has been mentioned this morning -- Senator Lugar talked about it, why is it people seem not to care for us, some people? Do we have an integrated policy that reverses those optics to say the Muslim world is looking at us, or the Arab world, or any world, through their optics, not America's? And your comment led me to believe -- and I want you to respond to this -- that, in fact, the administration does have a policy to understand that these areas are all linked together -- Iran, Iraq -- that you cannot, in fact, deal in this universe without having some certainly spillover, symbolism, words, deeds, actions that if you do one here, in Afghanistan or Pakistan, that it is tied, in fact, to how the world sees us and our actions in the Middle East, or in Indonesia, or anywhere else. So I would appreciate it if you could take that a little further and explain to me if we have such a policy and how it works.
MR. ARMITAGE: Senator Hagel, I think Paul and I would say we have an integrated policy and strategy. I think you'd be a better judge of it, and you can tell us after you have examined this.
I mentioned two states. But I think you immediately could expand it to the Central Asian region, the so-called front line states in the war on terrorism. We have in everything from the supplemental to our appearances up here in front of the committee and other committees, we've made it very clear that we see it as a total package.
I think when you talk about Indonesia and others, it gets back to our joy and pleasure with Turkey leading the ISAF, because it makes the point here's a Muslim country who's leading not a foreign occupier to try to put some other religion on top of the nation's religion, it was a very deliberate choice of ours to go after Turkey, to make the point that we're trying to make through public diplomacy that Paul was so eloquent about up here: we don't want to occupy, we're not here to change your way of life other than a few items, and that once we've completed our task we'll leave. The public diplomacy aspects are, I think, the area where it's all most tied together. We are able to make the point in the Muslim world -- in Indonesia, which you mentioned is the largest Muslim country in the world -- that we're not opposed to the great religion of Islam. We do this in a number of ways we think are integrated. It's quite clear that terrorists themselves are not bound by any geographic region. We've recently seen al Qaeda, we have reports of al Qaeda meetings in Indonesia. Malaysia has accomplished, I think, a magnificent endeavor on the arrest of the 15 terrorists, along with Singapore, who arrested a bunch more. So I think we're pretty integrated.
We're not as far along on our public diplomacy strategy as we ought to be, and I think -- I'm sure Undersecretary Beers was quite open about that. But if understanding is the beginning of wisdom, we understand that. And then we'll go ahead and try to get smarter on it.
SEN. HAGEL: Paul, would you like to respond to any of that?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I agree with everything that Rich just said. It is important -- the president has said this -- not just to kill terrorists, but to build a better world beyond this war on terrorism. And I think a key part of that is reaching out to the Muslim world. And my own experience as American ambassador to Indonesia, with some 200 million Muslims, the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, convinces me that the great majority of the world's Muslims would like to be part of successful, free, democratic, prosperous societies, those that embody what might be called Western values but that are, in fact, universal values. And I think whoever made the point earlier that success in Afghanistan can be a useful model, I think, was on the right track. I think success in moderate countries like Turkey or Indonesia can contribute to a larger dynamic. But we need to work on the positive side of this as well as the more negative side of fighting terrorists.
SEN. HAGEL: A follow-up question to that point. Is it just our interpretation or understanding, as you just said and has been said here, that the role-model Muslim countries really would be Turkey, other nations -- isn't that the designation of the other Muslims, Arabs, to decide rather than for us to decide for them, "Now, you want to be like Turkey"? I've heard from others, Arabs, Muslims from around the world, that Turkey isn't necessarily the secular country that many Muslims would emulate. I happen to be a great supporter of Turkey. But my bigger question is, are we making these determinations through our optics or trying to understand the optics of the others, how they see it, and not just how the United States sees it?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I think, as those lines I quoted from the president indicate, it's up to people to choose their own futures. I think where they are going on paths that are embracing democracy and freedom, then it's in our interest to support them. It's their decision, if they're Muslims, to decide what they think Muslim values are. But my comment about Turkey, my comment about Indonesia -- and they're very different countries, by the way. The Indonesians would emphatically reject the idea that it's a secular country, but it recognizes five different religions, not just a single one. I remember many years ago -- Senator Boxer referred to Bernard Lewis. He came to visit me in Indonesia when I was ambassador. We had a long discussion late one evening with a group of some dozen Indonesian Muslim intellectuals. At the end of it he said, "You're Indonesians, you're Indonesian Muslims, you have to decide for yourselves the place of religion in society. But after what I've heard this evening, I hope someday you'll send missionaries to other Muslim countries."
It's things that people have to decide for themselves, but I think what we can decide for ourselves is that those countries that choose to be on the path of democracy, that chose to be on the path of freedom, that choose to be on the path of economic growth fueled by private enterprise, those are countries that I think represent the future and a future we want to support.
MR. ARMITAGE: I think the way I look at it, Senator, is there's nothing necessarily contradictory about Islam and democracy. And beyond that, I agree with Paul that they can choose their own brand, or form, et cetera. But that's kind of the basic thing.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: You know, Senator, sometimes people suggest that if there's a state -- if Islam is a state religion, that somehow that's inconsistent with our outlook. And I'd ask people to stop and think how many European countries have Christianity as an official state religion.
There are many ways to pursue paths that represent democracy and freedom. There are many different ways. But I think we can tell the difference between those who are on that path and those who are not.
SEN. LUGAR: Senator Biden is temporarily out of the room, has asked that I preside temporarily. In that role, I recognize Senator Nelson.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Both of you know how personally I am a fan of the job that both of you are doing. I think you and your respective two bosses are some of the finest appointees in the whole administration.
And I would use this subject of Afghanistan just simply to say to Secretary Armitage, as I have already said to Secretary Wolfowitz, let's don't make the mistake that we made in Iraq when we left a downed pilot who happens to be from Jacksonville, Florida, who was declared dead, Commander Scott Speicher. We didn't go back to get him. There were a series of mistakes. And then, after a live sighting, his status has been changed to MIA and there's consultation now going on as to whether or not his status ought to be changed to POW, but in the meantime, a few weeks ago, we have confirmed his appointment to captain. And so, I just -- I take every opportunity as I can to remind you all, and on behalf of Senator Pat Roberts and Senator Bob Smith and myself, I will be offering an amendment to the DOD authorization bill today, again putting this issue front and center.
Now, what I want to talk about on Afghanistan, I'd like you all to respond, please, is that in my case, having been to Afghanistan twice since the first of the year, having talked to our troops, having seen that inhospitable kind of environment, having been so proud of the phenomenal military success that our nation had at the outset, as summarized by that photograph on the front pages, of marrying high- tech and low-tech of the Special Operations troop on horseback with the Northern Alliance calling in the pinpoint airstrikes. And we had this phenomenal success to begin with, and then we came to Tora Bora.
And it looks like that we let the back door stay open so that they could get out and our prime objective not only of the al Qaeda, but bin Laden himself, escaped. And that part of the -- part of trying to remedy that is us trying to help close that border or have hot pursuit. And I have spoken directly with the president of Pakistan about that issue. And he has to say one thing publicly, and I understand that, but it's just like Bonnie and Clyde in the '20s. They'd rob a bank and they'd go across the state line, and then the sheriff that was pursuing them couldn't go after them. He'd have to stop at the state line.
But there was a lot more involved in Tora Bora. There was questionable loyalties, questionable -- why did we, for example, go with a guy named Hazrat Ali instead of Gamshiric (ph), and then he hired a guy named Ilias Keel (ph), and some question about them being -- actually giving cover to the retreating al Qaeda so that they got across the border.
Can you enlighten us, in light of our phenomenal military success, how did we goof there? And then further answer the question, if you would, I take it that we tried to correct some of our mistakes when we went in on the Anaconda mission.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Senator, I think to understand it, there are a couple of tactical considerations that have to be kept in mind, and then a larger strategic one. From a tactical point of view, first of all it has to be underscored just how quickly everything was happening. This operation in Tora Bora took place, I think, only three weeks after the fall of Mazar-e Sharif, and even less time than that after the fall of Kabul.
General Franks was assembling what he could assemble very quickly. It was his judgment, and the judgment of tactical commanders, that to do that operation alone in that incredibly difficult terrain would have required a massive, highly visible build- up and a major logistic undertaking, which would have ensured the departure of many more enemy forces before we even arrived.
Secondly, and related to that point is -- I'd like to go back to my satellite photograph of Afghanistan. We're talking about incredible country. You don't seal borders there. It's not even clear if we had had an all-American operation, if we'd had the time to assemble people, that our people would have done a better job. It's true they wouldn't have been bribed. That was a problem. But on the other hand, they wouldn't have know the terrain as well, they wouldn't have known the local people.
The net effect of that operation was, in fact, the capture, both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, the capture or killing of several hundred al Qaeda. So I would not judge it a failure. But in fact, in the circumstances, the speed with which it was it put together, I think is pretty impressive.
So when in Anaconda we relied more heavily on American and coalition forces, it wasn't because we had, quote, "learned a lesson," but because we had more capability available. But I would also -- I think this discussion, and many others, would benefit from recognizing the strategic point that I made in my testimony, which is that we deliberately did not plan an operation in Afghanistan based on putting in 100,000 or 150,000 American troops along the model of the Soviets. I think that's what the terrorists expected us to do, and they expected us to get bogged down and have opportunities to kill us in great numbers and to make a lot of new enemies in Afghanistan.
Not everyone that we enlisted at Tora Bora obviously were people we want to enlist. But on the whole, we've had a good deal of success in enlisting local forces to do our work for us, and in the process, do some of their own. It's imperfect. I think anyone who sets a standard of perfection really doesn't understand anything about the history or the geography of that country. I think against a reasonable standard, I believe that General Franks and his people have been remarkably successful and shown remarkably good judgment.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Well, as a matter of fact, in Anaconda it's my understanding that you actually ran a feint of the old Soviet model of the frontal attack, and when that was repulsed, the al Qaeda were high-fiving about how they had done it again just like they had done to the Soviets over a decade earlier, but then you swooped in them -- on them from the rear. And you're certainly to be commended for that.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: It's our military that deserves to be commended. But I think they've learned either by studying or by intuition a great deal of the lessons of the terrible experience of the Soviets there. And I think as you correctly point out, it took the terrorists by surprise. I think they expected to repeat some of what they'd seen 10 years ago, and we didn't let them do that.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Did over a thousand al Qaeda get away in Tora Bora?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: It's very hard to measure numbers. I -- the numbers I've seen are less than that. We think hundreds got away, but even more hundreds were killed or captured. But even those estimates are a bit uncertain because some of those killed people are still buried in the bottom of caves and tunnels that we'll probably never find out about.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Did many get away in Anaconda?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I don't -- I'd have to -- I'd like to answer that for the record. My impression from recollections at the time -- and again, let me start out by saying there's an awful lot you don't know in that terrain in those conditions. Our estimates -- and their estimates, I believe, were much smaller in that case.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Nelson.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the chairman of this committee for holding this timely hearing, and I want to thank both these gentlemen, these two secretaries for their just truly exceptionally outstanding leadership. It's been magnificent listening to you. I continue to be impressed with your leadership in that you have an understanding of situations. You're principled, but you're also very pragmatic. And following up on part of the question that was -- part of the answer to Senator Nelson's question, running into a lot of history here, history and geography. And for everyone -- and I'm glad to hear your positive outlook, and it's good to be optimistic. But let's recognize the history of the instability and violence and the lack of democracy in this country just in the last 100 years of the so-called country of Afghanistan.
In the last hundred years they've had 12 rulers, most of which ended their terms being assassinated, deposed or exiled. One is -- in fact, to go through them, you ought to go through them all from the 1919 Durrani Pashtun Habibula Khan, assassinated because too much under British influence. Amanullah Khan, deposed and exiled, 1929 due to a revolt by the Gilzayahs (sp) in opposition to his modernization ideas. 1929, one who didn't even last one year; another Tajik overthrown and killed; another one assassinated, next one deposed and exiled, overthrown and killed after that; next one, killed in a shoot- out. 1978-79 Amin's in, overthrown and killed, invading Soviet military forces; Kamal, 1986 replaced and exiled. Another Pashtun, 1992, overthrown and killed. The mujaheddin retreated to the extreme northeast. And, of course, Mullah Omar fled in the face of the United States attacks and bombings, and also attacks by anti-Taliban forces. This is what you all are facing as we're trying to bring some stability and concepts of universal freedoms and human rights to this country, which has a history -- no history really much of it.
In fact, when it was ever tried, it ended up being to the detriment -- extreme detriment of whomever was trying to move it that way.
Now we're talking about draining this swamp. The people of Afghanistan are fortunate that the good leadership and efforts of our military forces have removed from that swamp the Taliban forces and their repression and intolerance. But once draining this swamp, what we now need to do is fill in that swamp with soil, so that these concepts of security and freedom and individual liberty can take root and grow.
Now in doing so, we first have to install security in a structure that will endure, so that you can have this concept of individual rights and a concept put into a constitution that one's group rights or ethnic rights or tribal rights are protected and that individual rights are protected, and also, obviously, a constitution.
Now how this is going to be formed -- I'd like to hear your views as to whether this is a federation or a confederation that secures security, number one. You talked about agriculture and health, economic development, education and opportunities through individual freedom.
Now some of the more powerful warlords have expressed reservations about the loyal -- the loya jirga and intimated that they would resist any control, centralized control, from Kabul. And this is not at all surprising, again, looking at Afghanistan history.
But it does certainly present a problem as far as having a unified country. So what we're going to end up with -- and this is my concern and -- like you all to address it -- is whether we're going to end up with all of these -- try to get a regional force or a national force, but you may end up with regional forces, and you're either going to have this current regime being a transitional regime, hopefully to a pluralistic democracy with respect and protection of individual rights, thereby securing all ethnic groups, or you're going to end up with a divided country, with the Northern Alliance group, the Tajiks and the Hazaras and the Uzbeks, and then the southern part generally by the Pashtuns. Or the third approach: it's going to be a very long-term caretaker ward of the international community of obviously all the bordering, neighboring nations, as well as others, which means a very, very long deployment and just probably not very satisfactory as well. Now do you -- where do you see this moving? And in the short term, I see this as a Balkanized country. How do you see our ability to influence people to actually join a national force, as opposed to being in a regional or tribal or warlord force? And how do you see us, as well as our allies, trying to be James Madisons, in a different sense, in structuring a constitution that has buy-in from all the people and all the factions and the warlords of Afghanistan?
MR. ARMITAGE: Well, Senator, I -- Paul -- neither Paul nor I are people who look at the world through rose-colored glasses. And if we were -- (laughing) -- your short history lesson would certainly take care of that. But there's one difference, and I'll go through it now and all of the other 11 or 12 leaders whom you mentioned.
The first is, we're trying to bring about several things at once. We're trying to reduce the availability of money to certain warlords from the eradication of poppy, the heroin crop, which will have, I think, a positive effect on the country.
We are trying to develop simultaneously a national army. We're -- the French are training battalion. We're training now our second -- we're in the midst of our second battalion training, or will be 1 July, to be a multiethnic national force. So that's part of it as well.
I think, on the diplomatic side, the one difference from the previous hundred years is that at least for a time -- and this is in play now, but at least for a time, the great powers played the great game as something other than zero-sum. That was certainly the case at Petersburg, the Bonn agreement, where the Russian, the U.S., the Iranian, the Pakistani states all worked positively toward Afghanistan, rather than in a more traditional way.
Now our job in diplomacy is to try to make sure that that prevails. Now there are some bad straws in the wind. The Iranians, as the chairman mentioned, are busy in Herat. Thus far, the Russians have been pretty good. We think the Pakistanis are playing the game straight with us now. But it's something that's going to take constant attention, because if we're not successful in keeping this as something other than zero-sum, then the Balkanization to which you refer will be a fact.
And as regards the constitution, over the next 18 months as the transitional government writes its constitution, and I don't know what they're going to come up with, we're going to make available to them people like the National Endowment for Democracy, we've used the Asia Foundation for some activities up through the Loya Jirga, NGOs such as that, to try to give them exposure to the best possible advice. But I don't know what they're going to come up with at the end.
SEN. ALLEN: Well, will we be insisting that, regardless of how they form this confederation or federation or constitution, that obviously security matters, but also that these universal rights are respected?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Absolutely.
SEN. ALLEN: In -- by law.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: And I think the two things we don't want them -- I think your purchase was -- to become a permanent ward of the international community, and we don't want them to descend back into the kind of lawlessness and violence that made them a sanctuary for terrorists. I do think it's important that we help them find their own way, but while the history is important, I believe in many places around the world over time the United States has been able to use its influence to work with local people, whether it's Korea or the -- I happen to think of Asian examples because Rich and I have worked a lot on Asia, but if you think about Korea or the Philippines or Taiwan, American influence over a period of time has greatly strengthened those people who favor freedom and democracy and progress over those who don't.
And it's not -- there's not an instant fix, especially not for a country with Afghanistan's problems. I believe whatever fix they come up with is going to involve some considerable degree of regional autonomy. We had it ourselves, especially in our founding. It's not a -- doesn't mean lawlessness. But hopefully, even the regional governments will begin to be held to higher standards in the standard of how they treat their people.
And I'd like to repeat again -- I don't think it can be said often enough -- security is not just a matter of guns, it's also a matter of money. That when people are rewarded financially for good behavior or have those resources withheld when they don't, it's a major instrument in the hands of the central government. And that's why, at the same time that we in DOD are putting a big emphasis on training an Afghan army, we support in every way you can the efforts of State Department and Secretary Armitage to raise as much support as we can from the international community and the United States to give that central authority more leverage over the regions.
SEN. ALLEN: Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: I think it's important to note that those three examples you gave, Korea, Philippines and Taiwan, we invested about 50 years. I hope we understand that we're in for a long haul and no one calls for a timetable for withdrawal.
SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R-RI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding the hearing on building stability and avoiding chaos in Afghanistan.
It's a tall order. And as Senator Lugar said, it has the opportunity to be a model if we are successful. And I commend you on your hard work you're doing. But I'm curious, in both your testimonies and reading through it -- and I did have to duck out, but I haven't heard one mention of the United Nations yet. Have we had -- or seen it in either testimony, thumbing through it -- have we had a bad experience with the U.N. in our relationship? And why aren't they even ever mentioned here in a two-hour hearing?
MR. ARMITAGE: Well, we make great use of the United Nations special representative, Mr. Brahimi, Ambassador Brahimi, who has worked very closely with us. Secretary Powell speaks to Kofi Annan, the secretary-general, regularly about Afghanistan. So we haven't had a bad experience. We've found them very helpful in the political buildup through Bonn, the Petersburg agreement and laterally as we went through the Loya Jirga. But the structures that exist for reconstruction, et cetera, are the G-8, the Afghan Support Group for Humanitarian and the Afghan Reconstruction Support Group, co-chaired by the United States. So there are a bunch of ad hoc groups that are responsible for the money. But there's no bad odor associated with the U.N.; quite the contrary.
SEN. CHAFEE: Secretary Wolfowitz?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I even mention them in my testimony. As Secretary Armitage said, their role is -- Brahimi's role is quite key as a coordinator of all international support to the Karzai government.
And we view them as really crucial in that effort.
On the military side, on the security side, the ISAF does operate under a U.N. Security Council mandate, in fact.
SEN. CHAFEE: If I could take more of my time. We talk about the size of Afghanistan and trying to reconcile how an organization such as the Taliban could control such a large amount of territory. And then Senator Lugar said the miracle of our success in our military campaign naturally leads one to wonder, what happened to the Taliban? And I think in your testimony, you say we have 2,500 arrested worldwide members of al Qaeda. But is there -- on the worst case scenario, did the enemy just melt into the mountains and are intact in their sanctuaries they might have had prepared there? I mean, is that still a fear?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I think they're all over the place. Some of them just changed uniforms. And they didn't even have to change uniforms because it was the same uniform. They changed sides. It was inevitably, as in a country like that, a loose structure. We've tried to focus on those people that we really think were hard-core. Any number of people, I think, have actually come over to the new authorities, which also is a warning. They could be rented by a different side in different circumstances.
So, you have a combination of people who have been killed and captured, some numbers who are still very hostile to us who are in hiding or in the mountains. And we've had rocket attacks, which we assume probably come from people like that. So far, small scale. But as I mentioned in my testimony, there has been a fear all spring, and predictions from some quarters of our intelligence community, that there would be a major Taliban offensive. I think they were trying to mount one. They were not successful. That doesn't mean they aren't out there still trying.
This -- I could not agree more strongly with what the chairman said. This is a long-term project. There's still a lot of work to do, not only in reconstructing a stable Afghanistan for the future, but in clearing out those bad elements that caused us so much grief.
SEN. CHAFEE: If -- you say they might have just changed uniforms. Is there also a fear that there are sanctuaries still in those mountains that we saw from that satellite picture, those rugged, rugged mountains? MR. WOLFOWITZ: I wouldn't call them sanctuaries. I mean, if it's large enough to be identifiable as a training area or base of operations, I think we can be pretty good about finding and going after them. But for individuals to hide all over the place is a fairly simple thing. But we're accomplishing a lot also by keeping them in that condition as opposed to out organizing and fighting.
SEN. CHAFEE: And so, if they're not in the sanctuaries in the mountains, then they're still amongst the general population?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: In some numbers. In some numbers, I'm sure --
SEN. CHAFEE: A follow-up question would be, is it -- you talk about not being in a quagmire. In Vietnam, I think one of the problems we had was that our enemy was everywhere. It was just members of the general population. Is that a fear here in Afghanistan?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Not in most parts of the country. And as I said in my testimony, there are only five provinces today where we find significant pockets of hostile people. So, that already, I think, tells you that the problem is confined geographically.
I think it's confined in size, but most importantly the allusion you made to Vietnam, these are not, in the old guerrilla phrase, fish swimming in a friendly sea. I think most of the population is not very friendly to them. And one of the ways in which we find them -- or find their hiding places is because they are very frequently turned in by local people. And that's a major part of our effort.
Sometimes it's lubricated with money, but sometimes I think it's simply because they've earned the hostility of a great many of the local populations around the country.
MR. ARMITAGE: You've seen, Senator Chafee, press reports of some arms caches being identified by local populations to either the coalition forces or ISAF, and I think this is indicative of just what Paul is saying.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I might say, I think your questions bring out what a complex environment it is there. And I must say, one of the things that was so impressive to me and Secretary Rumsfeld in the briefings that we got from our Special Forces people that operated there was not only the extraordinary level of military skill that they display, but their sophistication about local customs and local languages and local politics. And they've got to have it, but they seem to have it and they seem to find their way through that complexity with a great deal of skill and effectiveness.
SEN. CHAFEE: Thank you very much for your testimony.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Thank you.
MR. ARMITAGE: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. BIDEN: Mr. Secretary, how many al Qaeda do you estimate are left in Afghanistan or on the border with Pakistan?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I don't know of a reliable estimate. It's easier to estimate the numbers that we've captured or killed than to know how many are left. I can try to get you a classified answer for the record.
SEN. BIDEN: That would be helpful if you could.
And the -- well, I'll refrain from any more questions.
(Aside) Do you have any questions?
I know that the senator from Florida had another question.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Go ahead, finish yours.
SEN. BIDEN: Oh, no, no, no. I'm finished. You go ahead. SEN. BILL NELSON: The last time I was in Afghanistan, I was just struck with the enormity of the task that we have in trying to bring about stability there -- the lack of infrastructure, the lack of law and order. The United States, in a heroic effort not only in our military operations, but then in our military operations as an outreach to the community, helping them build up institutions. It -- you know, it came foursquare to me as we went from Bagram to Kabul to visit with our ambassador and they were still trying to de-mine the grounds of the U.S. embassy. And as we proceeded from where we landed in the helicopter to the embassy, suddenly someone stopped us in the road and said, "Wait a minute, we just found a mine a hundred yards up the road, on the side of the road." And they blew it up. And we're in this now so much for the long haul, and yet it's so important to us. They had a huge drought there when I was there in January.
MR. ARMITAGE: Still do.
SEN. BILL NELSON: And, you know, that's going to make it difficult to try to get farmers to grow crops instead of growing poppies, and so forth.
Give me some reason to have optimism.
MR. ARMITAGE: (Chuckles.) I wish you hadn't asked the question that way! (Laughter.) You should be optimistic, sir, they stopped the car in time. (Laughs; laughter.)
SEN. BILL NELSON: They did. I'm grateful for the little things, Mr. Secretary.
MR. ARMITAGE: That's a big thing!
Part of our program to get people out of the poppy business is to get them back in the farming business. And we've supplied 7,000 metric tons of seed and 15,000 metric tons of fertilizer getting ready for the fall planting season, which would be realized, of course, in the spring.
At the same time, USAID and the international community is trying to put together again the infrastructure for the delivery of water. The drought has continued, and, at least in my building, they say now it's a drought of almost biblical proportions. But there was a water system that transferred water from the mountains where there were snows, et cetera, at one time. We're trying to rebuild that.
Along with talking people out of growing poppy, there are other ways to get them out of the business and to dissuade them from poppy cultivation. Some of it is covert, obviously, but part of it is international. We've worked very closely with the Russians, who realize they've got a huge problem in Moscow because that's where the heroin goes first now, to have them do a better job with the border control and to be more of a prosecutorial mindset in terms of drug flow. And this is happening to some extent.
I don't want you to accuse us of being optimists. We realize just what the chair meant. Others have said this is a long, tough slog. We've started on the journey. I think the good news is that the president of the United States has said we're in it for the long run. We realize it's not going to be a one-, two-, three-year fix. If you look at 23 years of war and three-and-a-half years now of drought, it gives you an idea of the enormity of the task. The fact that literally a generation is without education. So, we're going to be at a long, long time. It's not a matter of optimism or pessimism, I think, Senator; it's a matter of just realism and willingness to put shoulders to the grindstone.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: (I'd ?) say, Senator, on the optimistic side, I am impressed by that statistic about the 1.2 million refugees who have come home, which was the goal the U.N. had set for the entire calendar year, and they reached it in May. I think people are voting with their feet. And there's still an enormous amount of work to be done, but it is worth remembering how far that place has come in a relatively short time.
SEN. BILL NELSON: You know, when Senator Shelby and I were last there, we found ourselves in the unusual situation, as we were having a luncheon meeting with Chairman Karzai in the old king's palace, with the plaster cracking on the ceilings and so forth, found ourselves in the unusual situation of impressing upon him the need for him to be more careful about his personal security. We urged the same thing when we met with President Musharraf. What can you tell me about our attempts there to surround him with troops that would be loyal and to get him to stop from wading into crowds and that kind of stuff? MR. ARMITAGE: There's not so much I think we'd want to say here, other than the fact that we've noticed the same phenomenon, and we've been involved in some training. It's very difficult to persuade natural politicians from wading into crowds. We've seen that happen even closer to home. (Laughs.) It's a natural impulse of a born politician. But -- be more than happy to provide on a classified basis just what efforts have gone into this, sir.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Well, I figured that Senator Shelby and I were instruments to be used by you in trying to convey that message when we were meeting with him. This was several months ago.
Let me ask again about how, Mr. Secretary Wolfowitz, did we get in the situation where we were having to decide on the Tora Bora assault between two warlords, one of whom seemed not to provide the closure of that rear exit? And what did we learn from that that we can avoid those kind of mistakes in the future?
Tell me just what you can for the record here as we prepare for the future on trying to go get the number one guy, which we still don't have.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Yeah. But I guess I don't accept the premise of -- that General Franks or his people made a mistake. They made a judgment. They made judgments in circumstances, as I said earlier, of a very rapidly evolving tactical situation. They obviously know things about the particular individuals that they didn't know at the time. And with that knowledge they would rely on some of them and not rely on others. But I think the notion that you somehow could have avoided relying on local forces, if we had not used local forces, I think even more people would have gotten away. That's certainly General Franks' judgment, and everything that I've seen reinforces that.
So, you know, if there is a lesson there, the lesson is you can never have enough good intelligence on the people that you're working with. You need to learn from experience. We were there basically for three weeks when all that happened. I think we have a much better read on who we can work with and who we can't work with now. But, look, betrayal is part of that culture as well. People fight for one side one day and another side the next day.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Mr. Chairman, may I follow up with one additional comment?
I want to commend you all for your success in defusing the extremely high tensions -- they're not completely defused -- between India and Pakistan. But I bring that up, having been there myself, having gone from Islamabad to New Delhi with Senator Shelby, arguing the same things that you all have done very successfully recently. And I congratulate you on that. But I bring up this issue in terms of not only what that would mean to world peace were they to get into an exchange of nukes, but what that would do to our effort to go after al Qaeda, because I believe that porous border of highly mountainous terrain with Pakistan-Afghanistan is where a lot of the al Qaeda still are. And yet we see the troops at least being threatened to be pulled off of there, the Pakistani troops, to the Kashmir border, and therefore not guarding that rear door. Tell us what you can about that.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: You're absolutely right in expressing that concern, and I'd say it was one of several reasons why we in the Defense Department were very appreciative of Secretary Armitage's diplomatic efforts. If that conflict breaks out into war, not only will it be terrible for the people involved, but it will be a real set-back for our effort to get terrorists. Some significant numbers are in these very wild tribal areas of Pakistan, areas where, by the way, the Pakistani government has never exercised a great deal of authority. They made significant efforts over the last few months to put more people in there, but some of those people were diverting by the building crisis on the Indian border. And if it were to break out into war, I think it would serious degrade those efforts.
So far I must say that the troops that are there seem to be doing a very aggressive job of going after al Qaeda. It's wild country, it's difficult country. I think they're making progress. We'd like to see that progress continue.
MR. ARMITAGE: It's a generally held view, Senator Nelson, that nothing would represent a success in a greater way for al Qaeda than a dandy little war between India and Pakistan. They would be the only beneficiary.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.
Gentlemen, thank you very much. We'll have a few written questions, if that's okay. And let me say in your parting here that I think you've done an incredible job.
I do think that one area of disagreement, personally, is that I think that U.S. leadership is still possible to expand ISAF beyond Kabul. I think absent doing that, and relying on warlords as much as we do while we're trying to set up this interim government is a judgment call. I respect the call, but I think -- I think we're making some mistake. Every time I see the president, the first thing he says to me, "Do you have anything to say except about Afghanistan?" And so I'm a broken record on this.
But I appreciate your answers, and I appreciate your making yourself available. And you are excused, unless you have any closing comment either one of you would like to make.
MR. ARMITAGE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (Chuckles.)
MR. WOLFOWITZ: No! (Chuckles.) Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: You're acting like good trial lawyers. Never ask a question to which you don't know the answer. (Laughter.)
Thank you both very much.
MR. ARMITAGE: Thank you, Senator.
Testimony prepared by Federal News Service. Copyright (c) 2002 by Federal News Service, Inc.