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Prepared Statement for the House Armed Services Committee: Fighting to Win
Testimony Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Washington, DC, Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: One of the things that is most important for troops facing danger on the front lines is the knowledge that their dedication and sacrifice is appreciated by the people of America. On behalf of the men and women who serve our country so faithfully and so well, let me begin by expressing gratitude to you, the Congress, for the support that you have given our Armed Forces.

The young men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to liberate Iraq are heroes, and we and the Iraqi people will remember them as the heroes that they were with profound gratitude. The best thing we can do to honor their memory is to finish the job they began and give the Iraqi people the opportunity to build a free and democratic country—a country that will be forever indebted to the brave Americans who liberated it.

I’ve traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq, as have some of you, and I think you’ll agree, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, that the men and women of America’s Armed Forces support this national endeavor with the greatest pride, their very best efforts, a clear understanding of their mission, and the strongest possible determination to win.

America: a Nation at War

Just two years removed from the most brutal attack on our nation’s soil since Pearl Harbor, we remain a nation at war. Like World War II and the Cold War, this war is fought on a global stage. And like those previous conflicts, the stakes are enormous and our very freedom is threatened. However, we also need to realize that this war is different from any previous war.

When the time came to make a choice, America took the fight to those who would rob us and others of our freedom. We acted decisively to keep gathering threats from becoming even more deadly attacks on the American people—because sitting back and hoping we don’t get hit again is not a strategy.

It will take more than killing and capturing terrorists and dismantling terrorist networks—as important as that is. It will also require winning on what could be called the second front of the war on terror, what the President called "building a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror," particularly in the Muslim world.

In the two years since September 11th, there has been measurable progress in the global arena in rounding up terrorists, dismantling their networks, and denying them the support and sanctuary so important to their efforts. As a result of active cooperation among some 90 countries, hundreds of terrorists have been killed or captured and dozens of plots have been broken up—some aimed at us here in the United States, others aimed at our allies in Europe or elsewhere around the world. As the CIA has reported, although al Qaeda retains many middle managers and foot soldiers, its group of senior planners—those who have bin Laden’s trust and the requisite skills to organize and lead sophisticated attacks, especially in an increasingly hostile climate—are being whittled away. The successes to date should not lull us into a false sense of security or a belief that the terrorist threat has been defeated. We have made significant progress, but we have a long way to go.

Just six months after the war began in Iraq, there has also been measurable progress on that front: We have removed a sadistic tyrant, and liberated 23 million Iraqis from a republic of fear. The killing fields and execution chambers are no longer slaughtering innocents and the genocide of the Marsh Arabs has been halted while a remnant of that ancient people still survives. And we have captured or killed many of those who so brutally enforced the regime’s oppression of the Iraqi people and who made Iraq a sanctuary for terrorists.

This is not a war that’s going to be won on defense. We need to kill and capture terrorists on the streets of Iraq just as we need to do it here in the United States, just as we need to do it in London and Paris and Jakarta and Riyadh, and all over the globe.

During my trip to Iraq, General Abizaid placed into larger perspective the battle in Iraq, saying, "The whole difficulty in the global war on terrorism is that this is a phenomenon without borders. And the heart of the problem is in this particular region, and the heart of the region happens to be Iraq. If we can't be successful here, we won't be successful in the global war on terrorism." Success in Iraq, said the general, offers "a chance, when you combine it with initiatives in the Arab/Israeli theater and initiatives elsewhere, to make life better, to bring peace to an area where people are very, very talented and resources are abundant, especially here in Iraq."

We need to measure progress in Iraq not by a standard of perfection but by what is reasonable to expect five months after the demise of an extraordinarily sadistic dictatorship that tortured and abused Iraq and its people for 35 years. We should not compare Iraq today to what we have achieved in this country after more than two centuries. A more reasonable standard would be to look to what the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have achieved in the 14 years since the Berlin Wall came down. By that measure, Iraq has come an extraordinary distance in just five months—progress all the more remarkable since a low-level war continues by people who attack success in Iraq in order to defeat us and bring back tyranny to Iraq.

As the President said on the same day that he announced the end of major combat operations, "We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes." And he added, "The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort."

In a relatively short time, there have been strides in Iraq’s transition to representative government. But we won’t know for some time the full extent of what we’ve achieved in Iraq. We won’t know, among other things, the degree of democracy that will develop in Iraq, the effects this will have on the region as a whole, or the final costs of removing the threat of the Hussein regime.

These costs will be substantial, as we have said from the start. While none of us could predict the future, no one ever claimed that waging the war on terrorism would be easy or bloodless, quick or cheap. No one ever suggested that we should go it alone. No one should have thought that winning the peace in Iraq would be quick or easy. In fact, for some time, we have been stressing just the opposite.

Fortunately, our planning helped avert much damage to oil fields and infrastructure. However, we still have to face the damage done to Iraq’s infrastructure—not mainly from war, but from years of neglect and often deliberate abuse. As Secretary Rumsfeld put it recently: "Iraq was damaged by 30 years of Saddam Hussein, with a Stalinist-like economy, denying the people of that country the money and the funds and the resources and the investments that they could have had."

We embarked on this front of the war on terror recognizing that the costs and commitment would be considerable. But, we also recognized that the risks and costs of inaction far outweighed the costs of action. Certainly two years removed from 9/11 is not so long a time for us to forget that estimates of the economic cost of the September 11th attacks on New York City alone over a space of three years would likely reach $100 billion. The cost to the national economy in terms of lost productivity, sales, jobs, airline revenue, and countless other areas were estimated to be hundreds of billions of dollars beyond that. And, of course, the cost in human lives, and the pain and suffering of so many thousands of Americans who lost loved ones that day can never be calculated.

In that context, we estimated that the costs of inaction included:

  • The risk of another disaster on the scale of 9/11 or perhaps 10 or 100 times greater;
  • Continuation of a status quo in the Middle East that has bred terrorism over the last decades;
  • Continued costs of containing Iraq, measured in lives and dollars, and also in the propaganda it provided Usama bin Laden and the strain it placed on key regional countries.

We knew there were risks. But, on balance, we considered that the risks of inaction were much greater than the risks and costs of action, even though the President recognized the significant risks of action. These included:

  • The potential of a large war, with very heavy American casualties;
  • The potential for massive destruction of Iraqi oil fields and accompanying environmental catastrophe;
  • The possibility of a large-scale humanitarian crisis;
  • The possibility of military intervention by neighboring countries;
  • The possibility of ethnic violence particularly among Arabs, Kurds and Turkoman in Northern Iraq;
  • The possibility of anti-American religious extremism particularly among the large Shia population of Southern Iraq;
  • The possibility of bloody and protracted urban warfare in Baghdad or elsewhere;
  • The possibility of Israel being drawn into the war;
  • The possible threats to friendly Arab governments;
  • The possible use of chemical or biological weapons.

Most of these terrible outcomes were avoided, in part because of the way we dealt with them. But no amount of planning can make war predictable, much less risk-free. We repeatedly said that making accurate estimates of major combat and recovery costs would be extremely difficult—as difficult as estimating the risks of continuing to treat terrorism as a manageable international evil.

As the President said in his recent address to the nation: "Our strategy in Iraq has three objectives: destroying the terrorists, enlisting the support of other nations for a free Iraq and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future.

"First, we are taking direct action against the terrorists in the Iraqi theater, which is the surest way to prevent future attacks on coalition forces and the Iraqi people….

"Second, we are committed to expanding international cooperation in the recovery and security of Iraq, just as we are in Afghanistan….

"Third, we are encouraging the orderly transfer of sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people. Our coalition came to Iraq as liberators and we will depart as liberators."

Helping Win the War on Terror

To help this nation finish what it has begun and continue to victory in the war on terror, I’m here today to ask for help in three critical areas:

  1. Obtaining the appropriation and the authority to train and equip foreign military forces; and,
  2. Giving us the flexibility to reduce the stress on active duty end strength by making it easier to convert military jobs to civilian jobs.
  3. Supporting the President’s request for adequate resources to wage and win this war and sending the message to friend and foe that we have the will to finish the job.

Training and equipping foreign military forces: In the Authorization Bill, we asked the Congress to provide us with $200 million in authority to train and equip foreign forces that are fighting alongside our forces—and often in place of our forces. Both the House and Senate deleted that provision from the bill.

We need flexibility to respond quickly to operational needs so we can benefit from contributions that foreign military forces could make—most critically those in Iraq and Afghanistan and friendly nations nearby. In some cases, however, these forces are unable, or are limited in their ability, to provide effective assistance without additional equipment, training, or funding. Currently, when we try to assist these countries, we operate with a patchwork of authorities whose gaps constrain our overall efforts—gaps such as dollar limitations, the ability to pay for salaries of foreign military trainees, and the pending expiration of authorities. The language we are requesting would cover these gaps, and would apply to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in those regions.

General Abizaid and his commanders have said repeatedly that not only don’t they need more American troops, they don’t want more American troops. What they do want is more international troops to share the burden of providing stability forces and to reduce the political liability of a US-only occupation. What they need most of all are Iraqi police and security forces who are prepared to fight and die in defense of a free Iraq.

Former New York City police chief Bernard Kerik, who just completed four months helping Iraqis rebuild their police force, also favors empowering Iraqis over sending in more American troops. He said: "If you triple the number of coalition forces, you’ll probably triple the attacks on the troops. The future is not in the military but in getting control back in the hands of the Iraqi people."

Currently we have more than 60,000 Iraqis serving with us in providing security for their country, making Iraqis the single largest member of the coalition after the United States. These Iraqis are fighting with us and taking casualties with us.

Their numbers are made up of roughly 40,000 members of the Iraqi police, as well as members of the new Facility Protection Service, the new Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, and the border guards. By January, we plan to have 15,000 members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, and 20,000 members of the Facility Protection Service.

With additional resources, those numbers could be expanded further, because there is no shortage of Iraqis willing to serve. We also have plans to field 66,000 police and 3 divisions of the new Iraqi Army which could be speeded up substantially with the additional resources the President has called for.

We should not find that we are held back by a shortage of money or authority to give those willing and able to fight on our side the proper training and equipment to do the job.

Converting military jobs to civilian jobs: As long as we have to continue deploying large numbers of ground forces in Iraq, the stress on the force, both active and reserve, will be considerable. We are working to reduce that stress by accelerating the pace at which Iraqis assume responsibility for the security of their own country, by seeking additional contributions of coalition forces, and by examining ways that contract and civilian personnel may be able to provide some of the support capabilities now provided by reserve formations.

In this regard, it will also help if Congress gives us the authority we have requested to transform the management of our civilian personnel, to facilitate the rapid shaping of our civil work force to meet immediate needs. With the flexibility requested in the FY 2004 National Defense Authorization Bill, the Department plans to convert military in functions such as Law Enforcement, Personnel Support, Installation Management, Administrative Support for Recruiters, and Training Development. The converted military would be used to provide Light Infantry and additional high demand capabilities such as Military Police.

The National Security Personnel System we seek is essential to managing the demands of the Global War on Terrorism without increasing military end strength. While estimates vary, it is widely believed that tens of thousands of military billets are today devoted to activities and responsibilities that could be assumed by civilian government personnel. The use of military personnel instead often reflects the great flexibility that the statutes governing military personnel provide, in sharp contrast to many of the rules under which we must manage civilian personnel.

We realize that achieving the goal of reforming the Defense Department’s civil service system requires some bold moves to constitute real transformation. We are asking you now to help us take such a bold step and help us with our proposed National Security Personnel System. That we are fighting a tough and sustained war on terrorism only makes the need to take that step to reform our personnel system even more pressing.

Providing the necessary resources: We fight this war to win. That is why, in his recent address to the nation, President Bush submitted a request to Congress for additional funds to pay for military and intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the war on terror and to help pay for the recovery of both nations.

The bulk of the President’s request ($66 billion) will ensure that our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to complete their missions in the war on terror. The rest ($21 billion) provides for essential investments in infrastructure and security for Iraq and Afghanistan that can help bring the stability our forces need.

The undertaking in Iraq, as the President told the nation a couple weeks ago, is "difficult and costly—yet worthy of our country, and critical to our security." This undertaking is so critical because, as the President said, "Iraq is now the central front" in the war on terror. "Enemies of freedom," he said, "are making a desperate stand there—and there they must be defeated."

There is no question that a powerful signal will go out to the terrorists and their allies that defeat in Iraq will be theirs when Congress acts quickly on the President’s request. Prompt approval is especially vital for the Coalition Provision Authority (CPA) to continue recovery at a time when rapid progress is essential to a stable and peaceful Iraq. Accelerating progress now can hold down long-term recovery costs and hasten a scaling back of U.S. operations and troops levels. Adequate funding now is also critical to getting the Iraqi economy moving, which will improve security and strengthen the Iraqi people’s resolve to defeat those seeking to sabotage success.

The costs are large, but it is a battle that we can win and we must win, because victory in this battle will be a major victory in the war on terrorism and a major defeat for the global terrorist networks. As large as these costs are, they are still small compared to just the economic price that the attacks of September 11 have inflicted, to say nothing of the terrible loss of priceless human life.

America is behind the troops: By those actions and what Congress says, you can help us send the message to the world, and particularly to our enemies, that America is behind her troops, and has the staying power to fight this war on terrorism to victory.

The Baathist bitter enders and their foreign terrorist allies believe that if they inflict casualties on us, like in Beirut and Somalia, we will give up and go home.

The sooner these terrorists understand clearly that our will can’t be broken and that the Iraqi people, despite hardship and difficulty, will persevere in building their new society—the sooner the terrorists will come to terms with their defeat.

That is why we urge the Congress to expedite passage of this supplemental request to cover ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to ensure our troops have the resources they need to complete their mission.

Indivisibility of Recovery and Security: The request for supplemental funds for Iraq addresses the situation there as a whole—it recognizes that the issues of security, recovery of the infrastructure, invigoration of the economy, and the creation of a new political reality are all of a piece. Progress in one area depends on, and contributes to, progress in the others.

It would be a mistake to argue that, while the military portion demands quick passage – to "support the troops" – it would be safe to delay the civilian part, and perhaps condition it on a host of factors, some of which involve secondary matters, and others which we simply do not control. This approach misunderstands the situation. Standing up Iraqi police and security forces will hasten the day when our troops can step back. Progress in recovery—especially on items that affect people’s daily lives, such as electric power production and transmission and employment—will strengthen the sense among the Iraqi population that the transition that began with the overthrow of Saddam’s regime can and will result in a prosperous and free Iraq.

Delaying funds for the acceleration of the recovery effort doesn’t "support the troops" – it makes their job that much harder and more dangerous.

A speedy bipartisan passage of the entire supplemental request would send a strong message to our friends and our enemies—and to our troops, who are giving us 100 percent. They need to know we are behind them 100 percent.

View of the Military Front: Afghanistan: The United States remains strongly committed to success in Afghanistan, which entails the establishment of a moderate and democratic political order that is fully representative of the Afghan people. Afghanistan has suffered a great deal over the last quarter century and it has come a long way since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. The United States shares and supports President Karzai’s and the Afghan people’s hopes for a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous country that can serve as a partner in the region and as a model for other Muslim states.

As part of our ongoing commitment to success in Afghanistan, we seek to accelerate the progress the United States, our Coalition partners, and our allies in the Afghan government have been making to bring lasting peace to the war torn country.

We have accomplished a great deal and we recognize that much more remains to be done to ensure success in Afghanistan. The war on terror is one aspect of our involvement in Afghanistan. The other is our commitment to promoting a functioning moderate and democratic political order that can serve as the foundation for lasting peace in the country. Realizing this vision will require increased commitment on the part of the United States and the international community.

Iraq: There are still many challenges remaining for our troops in Iraq. And, as our commanders consider military operations in Iraq, there are at least two things they tell us they would like more of. Number one is Iraqis fighting to secure their own liberty, which I mentioned earlier.

Their number two critical item is forces from other countries, and we’re making substantial progress there. So far, 31 nations have sent over 23,000 personnel to Iraq. So far, 60 nations have made pledges or contributions totaling about $1.5 billion. In southern Iraq, Polish forces have assumed command of an international division, and we are hoping to add another division above and beyond that. The President’s request will provide financial support for the troops of our coalition partners with limited resources who are interested in providing support.

In that same multinational division, the Spanish brigade has taken charge of the other major holy Shia city, Najaf. Further south, under the British multinational division, an Italian infantry brigade of 2,300—including some 400 carabinieri—is performing security and stability operations.

To facilitate more international assistance, we are actively pursuing the option of a UN resolution, which would lead other countries, whose laws or domestic politics require such a resolution, to contribute more.

Before the war began, we consistently voiced our support for another UN resolution, because there are some countries for whom that is necessary for them to commit troops. For example, I said in March that "it would be nice to get another resolution because there are some countries for whom that’s crucial." We are encouraged in the efforts to finally bring that about.

Before the war, there was also a unified, interagency policy to appeal for international troops. We sought international participation in this effort from the beginning. In December, I went to NATO to seek support from out Allies in the event of war and in post-war operations. In March, Secretary Rumsfeld told members of the SAC and HAC that the enormity of the challenge in tackling the recovery of Iraq "will require a significant international effort."

From the outset, our diplomatic effort that began last November included identifying and engaging countries that might be prepared to contribute assets for an Iraqi stabilization effort in the eventuality of a conflict. Not surprisingly, it was only after the conflict itself had begun that detailed discussions on this question began with most of the interested countries. In planning for the post-conflict phase, we repeatedly engaged those interested countries bilaterally and repeatedly solicited additional countries for potential contributions. We continue to do so.

The decision-making process for countries contributing to the stabilization effort has taken the time necessary to address and resolve legal, financial, transportation, equipment, and sustainment issues. Arrangements for most of the 31 countries and the 23,000 troops that are now deployed were completed late in the spring. From the start, our planning effort has taken into account this necessary time lag from decision to deployment and we have acted to expedite deployment by other countries wherever possible. We continue to plan in advance in this way with the approximately 14 countries with which we are in ongoing dialogues about possible future contributions.

In addition, we went to the UN before and after the conflict and Security Council Resolutions 1483 and 1500 are evidence of broad international understanding and support for what we are doing.

Specifically, Resolution 1483 appeals to member states to contribute to security in Iraq, among other things. The Administration regarded this as a sufficient mandate for foreign forces. However, some others did not. Therefore, in July we began working with our colleagues in the State Department on the outlines of a new resolution that would go beyond 1483 and 1500 and more explicitly endorse international participation in the security of Iraq. Our current efforts at the UN are a direct result of those efforts.

Our efforts to attract international help for the post-war phase have already been successful. Thirty-one nations have sent military forces to Iraq, and they are augmenting and in some instances replacing U.S. troops. We believe that the recovery of Iraq is a global security task in which the international community should be involved, and we expect additional foreign force contributions.

This interagency effort to give our commanders more international support will continue.

Iraqi People are With Us

The Zogby Group conducted a poll in August—the most scientific poll yet conducted of Iraqi public opinion—that gives some sense of how Iraqis felt four months after the fall of Saddam’s tyranny. The results are generally heartening. For example:

  • 70% said they expect their country and their personal lives to be better five years from now.
  • 60% opposed Islamic government; 33% were in favor. Despite what one might gather from the press, Shi’a were less receptive to Islamic government than Sunnis.
  • By a heavy margin of 74% to 18%, Iraqis favored punishing Baath party leaders who had committed crimes.

Finally, more than two-thirds of those who expressed an opinion wanted Coalition troops to remain in Iraq for at least another year.

These numbers offer some encouragement, especially as we continue the difficult work we have left to do. Even though the enemy targets our success, we will win the peace. But, we won’t win it alone. We don’t need American troops to guard every mile of electrical cable. The real center of gravity will come from the Iraqi people themselves—they know who and where the criminals are. And they have the most at stake—their future.

When inevitable challenges and controversies arise, we should remind ourselves that most of the people of Iraq are deeply grateful for what our incredibly brave American and coalition forces have done to liberate them from Saddam’s republic of fear.

When we’ve shown Iraqis we mean to stay until the old regime is crushed, and its criminals punished – and that we are equally determined to give their country back to them – they will know they can truly begin to build a society and government of, by and for the Iraqi people.

Planning: It seems to have become fashionable for some to say that there were no plans for post-war Iraq. These suggestions somehow ignore the fact that, without a plan, it we could not have gone from no Iraqis helping us the day Baghdad fell to where more than 60,000 Iraqis are helping us today, as police and other security forces in the field.

A military or political-military plan is not like a blueprint and detailed schedule for the building of a skyscraper, that is, a statement of exactly where every I-beam, window, pipe or electric circuit is supposed to go, and in what order it is to be installed.

In truth, the first principle of military planning is that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Unlike the Stalinist planning system favored by Saddam Hussein, we know that we cannot prescribe every detail from Washington or Centcom. Instead, we strive to create a construct, engage good people, give them the resources to do the job, and support them as they make adjustments to reality on the ground. In the course of several months, this approach has succeeded. In fact, our commanders in Iraq who have served in the Balkans tell us that we have moved substantially faster in Iraq than we moved in Bosnia or Kosovo. One particularly important achievement is the standup of the Iraqi security force.

* * *

America's troops and those of our coalition partners—among whom we would emphasize are the Iraqis themselves—are determined to win. And they will win, if we continue to give them the moral and material support they need to do the job. As the President said recently, our forces are "on the offensive." And as Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane said in congressional testimony, "They bring the values of the American people to this conflict. They understand firmness, they understand determination. But they also understand compassion. Those values are on display every day as they switch from dealing with an enemy to taking care of a family."

I’ve seen the troops in Iraq, as have many of you here. And I think you’ll agree that Gen. Keane is absolutely right.

America’s armed forces will not be deterred from their mission by desperate acts of a dying regime or ideology. And there is no question that America’s commitment to secure a peaceful Iraq, back home, must be at least equal to the commitment of our troops and to the stakes, for it is related to nothing less than our security and that of our children and grandchildren.

We look forward to doing our part to work with the members of Congress to help support our Armed Forces throughout the world who are doing their part to make America and her people more secure. We thank you for your support.