Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to update you on our progress in the global war on terror, and to discuss the President’s emergency supplemental request to fund worldwide operations in support of that war.
We are now less than a week into Operation Iraqi Freedom. The major ground war began last Thursday at 10 p.m., and the major air war started on Friday, the following day at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. So while the conflict is well begun, it has only begun—we are still closer to the beginning than the end.
Already, coalition forces have made good progress. The men and women in uniform—U.S. and coalition forces alike—are doing a superb job. They have engaged the enemy in demanding circumstances—enduring wind gusts in excess of 85 miles-an-hour, and sand storms so intense that they literally turn day into night, blacking out the sun. They face an adversary which has demonstrated its contempt for the laws of war—dressing its forces as liberated civilians; sending them out waving white flags, feigning surrender, in order to draw coalition forces into ambushes; using hospitals as a base from which to launch attacks and hiding behind human shields.
In spite of these challenges, what coalition forces have accomplished in less than a week is remarkable:
· Coalition aircrews have flown thousands of sorties, striking leadership and Republican guard targets day and night.
· Coalition ground forces have raced across more than 200 miles of Iraqi territory—through enemy fire and inhospitable terrain—to reach a point just south of Baghdad in less than a week. It is an impressive rate of advance.
· They have secured Iraq’s southern oil fields, preventing an environmental disaster and the destruction of critical resources that the Iraqi people will need once Saddam Hussein has been removed.
· In the North, the coalition has launched devastating attacks on terrorist targets, is having success in disrupting terrorist operations, and has prevented an Iraqi advance on the Kurds.
· In the West, coalition forces have had good success securing the region and dealing with the regime’s capability to threaten neighboring countries from that part of Iraq.
As the battle unfolds in Iraq, coalition forces are also engaged in operations elsewhere in the world in support of the global war on terror. Just a few weeks before the Iraq campaign began, the al-Qaeda network was dealt a serious blow with the capture of one of their most senior operatives—Khalid Sheik Mohammed. And last week, as Operation Iraqi Freedom got underway, coalition forces also launched a major assault on terrorists operating in the southern mountains of Afghanistan—Operation Valiant Strike. Many other anti-terrorist efforts are underway throughout the world—efforts that are, of necessity, often unseen, but which are helping to protect our people from further acts of terror.
The point is this: all elements of national power are fighting the global war on terror on all fronts. The coalition is putting steady pressure on al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan and across the globe. And the Iraqi regime is discovering they made a serious miscalculation in rejecting 12 years of efforts to secure their peaceful disarmament.
The campaign could well grow more dangerous in the coming days and weeks, as the forces close in on Baghdad. But the outcome is assured. Saddam Hussein’s regime will be removed. The only thing that remains unclear is precisely how long it will take.
We do know this much: these efforts cost money. The costs of military operations in Iraq, and the other missions currently underway in the global war on terror, cannot be absorbed without the emergency supplemental appropriation the President has requested.
Since the new fiscal year began, every month since October 2002—October, November, December, January, February and now March 2003—we have had to borrow from other programs to pay for the costs of the global war on terror.
That pattern cannot continue much longer. The Services have already gone through all of their discretionary spending for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2003—and will soon have exhausted 4th quarter discretionary funding.
If this continues, we will run out of discretionary funds by late spring/early summer—which could force us to curtail training, maintenance and other critical activities.
The President has submitted a supplemental request of $74.7 billion. It includes $62.6 billion for the Department of Defense to support military operations in Iraq and throughout the global war on terror. Our troops are depending on it—those engaged in battle, those preparing for battle, those stationed at critical outposts across the globe, and those deployed here in the United States defending the homeland.
The request for DoD includes, among other things:
· $7.1 billion for the round-trip costs of transporting our forces and equipment to and from the theater of operations;
· $13.1 billion to provide war fighters in theater with the fuel, supplies, repair parts, maintenance, and other operational support they need to prevail;
· $15.6 billion for incremental personnel costs, such as for special pay and compensation for mobilized reservists;
· $7.2 billion to start reconstituting our forces by replacing the cruise missiles, smart bombs, and other key munitions being expended in the course of the conflict.
· $12 billion for stability operations, military operations to root out terrorist networks and deal with any remaining pockets of resistance, humanitarian assistance, and operations to search for and destroy Iraqi WMD.
· $1.5 billion for coalition support in the global war on terror—including $1.3 billion for reimbursement to Pakistan and other key cooperating nations assisting the effort in Afghanistan, and $165 million for training of the Afghan National Army.
· And $6.1 billion for other requirements outlined in the request to support military operations in Iraq and the global war on terror.
Of the $62.6 billion the President has requested for DoD in this supplemental, $30.3 billion are funds that have already been spent or committed—including the cost of flowing forces into the region to support the diplomatic efforts before Operation Iraqi Freedom began.
If the Iraqi regime had agreed to voluntarily disarm and prevent a war, the costs of sustaining that military pressure through the rest of the fiscal year would have been in excess of $40 billion. So even without a war, the costs of disarming Iraq would have been significant.
The President has also requested funds in this supplemental for both an Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, and a Natural Resources Risk Remediation Fund to help with emergency fire fighting and repair of damage to oil facilities. It is important that we have these resources available.
But let me be clear: when it comes to reconstruction, before we turn to the American taxpayers, we will turn first to the resources of the Iraqi government itself and the international community. That is why the President last week seized frozen Iraqi assets in the United States—so that they can be put to use to rebuild the country. Once Saddam Hussein is gone, the U.S. will work with the Iraqi Interim Authority that will be established to tap Iraq’s oil revenues, the funds Iraq is owed in the UN’s “oil for food” program, and other Iraqi resources to fund their reconstruction effort.
Reconstruction will require a significant international effort. The threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime is a global threat—which is why some 47 nations have publicly associated themselves with the coalition in Iraq, and many more are helping privately. Already, a number of countries have indicated that they want to help with reconstruction and stability in a post-Saddam Iraq.
Mr. Chairman, in addition to needing this supplemental, we also need greater flexibility in how we spend it—so we can adjust to the constantly changing circumstances of the war.
It is our hope that the period of intense combat in Iraq will be as short as possible—and that the coalition operations can shift quickly from combat to restoring stability and civil order, supplying humanitarian assistance, and helping Iraq’s people rebuild and assume functional and political authority from the coalition.
That is our hope. But when it will happen is not knowable.
· We do not know when the period of intense combat will end.
· We do not yet know how much damage there will be to Iraq’s infrastructure—though the coalition forces are making efforts to keep that damage minimal while inflicting maximum damage to regime targets.
· We do not know how the international effort will unfold and the specifics of what each country is willing to offer.
· Moreover, France has announced it will veto any new Security Council resolution and block coalition efforts to give the UN an appropriate role in the post-Saddam reconstruction effort.
· That means we cannot know the extent to which the UN will be permitted to help the Iraqi people, what access the coalition will have to the UN’s “oil-for-food” program funds, when economic sanctions might be lifted, and the answers to many other unknowns.
The point is that: with so many unknowns, we will need some flexibility. Just as the military plan General Franks developed has flexibility built into it so that our forces can deal with unexpected events on the battlefield, our budget plan must also have flexibility to deal with changing circumstances on the ground.
That is why it is important that the funding requested for the Defense Emergency Response Fund (DERF) be appropriated in that fund—with its own transfer authority—so we will have the flexibility to respond to the inevitable changes on the ground.
It is also important that Congress approve the general provisions the President has requested in the supplemental—especially the request for increased general transfer authority (GTA). The President has requested a General Transfer Authority ceiling of 2.5% of the FY 2003 DoD budget. That figure is reasonable. Increased flexibility is needed.
The President has requested a war supplemental of $74.7 billion. That figure is not the cost of the war; that figure is the best estimate of the money that the State Department, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense need to carry us from October 1, 2002 through the end of this fiscal year.
We can't know how long the effort in Iraq is going to last—and we certainly can't tell what it is going to cost. It is not knowable.
What I do know is that, whatever it ends up costing, it will be small compared to the cost in lives and treasure of another attack like the one we experienced on September 11th—or a weapons of mass destruction attack that could be far worse.
The Milken Institute estimated that metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. sustained losses of about $191 billion as a result of 9/11 and some 1.6 million jobs were lost as a result of the attacks. And that's not to mention the cost in lives lost and the pain and the suffering of so many who lost husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers on that terrible day.
Our mission in the global war on terror is to do everything in our power to prevent a chemical, biological or nuclear attack that would make 9/11 seem modest by comparison—an attack where we could lose not 3,000 people, but 30,000 or 300,000, or more.
Yes, $74.7 billion dollars is a lot of money—but the cost of not investing that $74.7 billion would be far greater.
Mr. Chairman, we need the funds—and we need flexibility in how they are spent, so we can adapt to unforeseen and unknowable circumstances that will unfold in the weeks and months ahead.
We will continue to brief the Congress regularly as events unfold on the ground, as these unknowns come into better focus. We appreciate the strong support you have shown for the President, and for the men and women in uniform. They are doing a remarkable job and I know that they will succeed in their mission.
I’d be happy to take your questions.