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[H.A.S.C. No. 109–60]










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MARCH 15, 2006



One Hundred Ninth Congress

DUNCAN HUNTER, California, Chairman
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
HOWARD P. ''BUCK'' McKEON, California
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WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina
JIM RYUN, Kansas
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
KEN CALVERT, California
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri
JOE WILSON, South Carolina
JEB BRADLEY, New Hampshire
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
CATHY McMORRIS, Washington

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JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina
LANE EVANS, Illinois
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
ADAM SMITH, Washington
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania
SUSAN A. DAVIS, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington
JIM COOPER, Tennessee
MARK UDALL, Colorado
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G.K. BUTTERFIELD, North Carolina
DAN BOREN, Oklahoma

Robert L. Simmons, Staff Director
John Wason, Professional Staff Member
Mark R. Lewis, Professional Staff Member
Benjamin Kohr, Staff Assistant




    Wednesday, March 15, 2006, Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act—Budget Request from the U.S. Central Command


    Wednesday, March 15, 2006


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    Hunter, Hon. Duncan, a Representative from California, Chairman, Committee on Armed Services

    Skelton, Hon. Ike, a Representative from Missouri, Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services


    Abizaid, Gen. John P., Commander, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Army; Hon. Eric S. Edelman, Under Secretary of Defense (Policy), Office of the Secretary of Defense

[The Prepared Statements can be viewed in the hard copy.]

Abizaid, Gen. John P.

[There were no Documents submitted.]

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[The Questions and Answers can be viewed in the hard copy.]

Mr. Hunter
Mr. Langevin
Mr. Ortiz
Mr. Taylor


House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, March 15, 2006.

    The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:03 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter (chairman of the committee) presiding.


    The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order.

    Today, the committee will consider the challenges facing Central Command (CENTCOM).
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    Our witnesses are General John Abizaid, United States Army commander, United States Central Command; and the Honorable Eric S. Edelman, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense.

    Gentlemen, thank you for being here. And thanks for your continuing, dedicated service to our country.

    As in years past, this budget cycle poses a number of important policy and budgetary issues that will receive considerable debate and attention over the next several months. But at the end of the day, the fundamental issue that this Congress and this committee must address is whether or not the proposed fiscal year 2007 budget establishes the proper policy framework, funding sufficient to meet current and future challenges and supports the needs of our military defending the Nation around the world.

    More specifically to today's hearing, does the budget support the needs of the brave men and women who proudly serve within the CENTCOM area of responsibility?

    A couple of weeks ago, I went to Iraq and met with Iraqi brigade commanders and the American soldiers and Marines overseeing their training. Their reports were encouraging. They told us that Iraqi troops were becoming more and more effective and increasingly holding their ground, in contrast to that memory that I had of the green Iraqi troops who abandoned the battlefield in Fallujah nearly two years ago.

    And according to CENTCOM, as of January 2006, 98 Iraqi Army and special forces operations battalions were conducting counterinsurgency operations, compared to five in 2004. Thirty-seven Iraqi army battalions now control or own battlespace with coalition forces in a supporting role, compared to none one year ago.
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    As far as we have come, there is still a lot more to do. A long and difficult road lies ahead, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in the entire region. Recognizing that, we need to turn our attention to building long-term capabilities to become more effective.

    General Abizaid, this committee and the American people deeply appreciate the work that you do and the service that the men and women under your commander are performing for our country. We are more secure at home because of what they are doing on the front lines.

    We appreciate your appearance today, and the country is fortunate to have your public service.

    But we also have a job to do, and that is to make sure that you have the tools you need to defeat this nation's enemy. That is a big part of what this hearing is about today.

    So before going to our witnesses, let me turn to the gentleman who is back home trying to attend to his district after that natural disaster that took some lives in Missouri—and I am glad the gentleman's back with us today—and my partner on the committee, the Ranking Member, Mr. Skelton.

    Let me turn now to Mr. Skelton for any remarks he would like to make.

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    Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I appreciate you having this hearing.

    And thank you, gentlemen, for appearing before our committee today.

    And, General Abizaid, we especially welcome you. General, you are the best of the best and we appreciate your duties. I know it is not an easy task. But I think history will treat you well, General. Continue to do your good work.

    We meet today as we do every year to consider the posture of our military force and the Central Command's area of responsibility. And yet today, we are five days away from the three-year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    At the same time, the House begins consideration of whether to appropriate some $72 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people continue to wrestle with the question of whether what we have achieved in Iraq is worth the lives lost and the money spent.

    This hearing cannot be more timely, Mr. Chairman.

    The Congress said very clearly in the fiscal year 2006 Defense Authorization bill that it expected this year to be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, thereby creating conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq.
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    We are nearly a quarter of the way through 2006. And the primary question for this committee, then, is how are we doing on making progress toward that goal?

    If I look at progress toward full sovereignty in Iraq, Mr. Chairman, I am, frankly, discouraged. Three months after safe and fairly successful elections, the Iraqi people still do not have a coalition government with a leadership recognized by all parties.

    I would give credit to Ambassador Khalilzad for all he is doing. But unified government still seems a way off. Getting one is critical for political legitimacy.

    It is also absolutely necessary because of the continuing sectarian violence. As sectarian conflict continues, it will deepen the cracks between groups and make it far less likely that a unified Iraq can emerge.

    General Abizaid, you have recently been quoted as saying that sectarian violence is more threatening than insurgency. While the security forces have, by and large, served well in recent weeks and political leaders have avoided making the worst choices, Iraqi institutions seem to be fragile.

    Ethnic militias still exist within the security forces. Ministries have not yet had time to develop and support a unified national government. There have been reports of significant numbers of Shia fleeing cities. And I question whether national identity has firmly and completely taken root as it should.

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    These issues are truly for the Iraqis to struggle with. But there is a difficult question for us to consider.

    American military objectives are all predicated on supporting the political goal of a unified, sovereign Iraq. If the Iraqis cannot achieve political objectives because they can't get a unified government, what purposes do our forces serve?

    That is a bleak question, a very bleak question, General.

    I know our forces are making progress in training the Iraqis and I know they have made gains in counterinsurgency operations. My own view has always been that American forces should come home when Iraqi troops were capable of taking over the missions based on some reasonable force ratio.

    But I believe right now this effort will be won or lost on the political battlefield. And if the Iraqis cannot form a government and demonstrate national unity in the face of sectarian violence, I do not know what useful purpose American forces will continue to serve.

    General, give us your views on that.

    Now, having said my piece about Iraq, I would like to briefly touch on two other critical countries in this region.

    I continue to believe that we as a nation are not paying sufficient attention to Afghanistan. While there has been a great deal of progress there in the last year, it is not inaccurate to call it our forgotten war. More than 1,600 Afghans and 99 U.S. soldiers were killed in combat last year; the bloodiest period since the fall of the Taliban, and those trends have not abated.
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    Afghanistan still faces a rampant drug trade and a Taliban-led insurgency, which seems to be growing more brazen. Increased North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) participation is a very welcome development. I am so glad to see that.

    I am pleased to see that the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps will assume command of all non-U.S. troops in the country this summer. General Jim Jones shed some light last week on NATO's increasing involvement there. And, General, I hope you will do the same.

    Mr. Chairman, I hope we can continue to hold our periodic hearings dedicated exclusively to Afghanistan.

    Finally, General, I would like to mention Iran. I have been concerned about Iran for some time, not only its nuclear program, but its attempts to influence Iraq's political and security evolution.

    In terms of its involvement in Iraq, the news is alarming. There have been recent reports of elements of the Revolutionary Guards moving into the country, of growing support for insurgent groups, and of Iran's role in developing IEDs that kill American forces.

    As Iran is challenging American interests in Iraq, it is also posing a more serious threat as it moves more dangerously closer to having the ability to produce nuclear weapons.

    It is an important nation and the issues raised there are critical. We must start to get hold of those implications.
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    General Abizaid, I know sometimes it seems like we are heaping a lot on you personally and a lot on your shoulders. As I said before, you are the best of the best, and we want to encourage you to continue, as Harry Truman said, to do you damndest. It is only because your area of responsibility is so important to the security of our country. And we hope to do our very best to support you in this committee.

    Thank you.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.

    Again, gentlemen, thanks for being with us this morning.

    And, General Abizaid, tell us about CENTCOM.


    General ABIZAID. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Congressman Skelton. I appreciate it. It is an honor to be here. And I am happy to be here with the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Ambassador Edelman, and have an opportunity to testify about the posture of the United States Central Command.
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    First and foremost, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you and the committee for your support of our troops in the field. You know we can't achieve our mission without you. And we very much appreciate the great support that we have had, and your many visits, and opportunity to discuss the many issues that are readily apparent in the Central Command's area of operation.

    I think it goes without saying that those of us that are out there and have the opportunity see our young troops in the field, we always come away from them with the impression of—the clear fact that they are courageous, they are committed and they are extremely confident. And we are very proud of the work that they do. And they are very focused on the duties that they have.

    As you know, Mr. Chairman, there are about 27 nations in the Central Command area of operations. Every now and then we will have to operate along the boundary with EUCOM or PACOM, but in those 27 nations, every one of them has some sort of a security problem that they have to deal with that is either related to al Qaeda or some insurgency.

    In that area of operations, we have less than 200,000 troops; just barely less than 200,000 troops. And this is down from a high of about 325,000 back in March 2003.

    We have divided the command into Multinational Force-Iraq, Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan, and the Joint Task Force in the Horn of Africa. And, of course, the operation that definitely has the most troops and the most activity is Multinational Force-Iraq led by General George Casey.
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    This year in 2006, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, will be years of important transition.

    In Iraq, we will move toward security forces on the Iraqi side that take up more and more responsibility for the counterinsurgency fight. In fact, by the end of the year, it is our desire that the Iraqis will have the vast majority of the lead in fighting the insurgency and dealing with the security problems that certainly will continue to be in Iraq.

    In Afghanistan, we transitioned to NATO, as the ranking member was talking about. This transition to NATO is important for the long-term stability of Afghanistan, gives the 26 NATO countries an opportunity to participate in that stability not only with help through provincial reconstruction teams, but also with combat forces on the ground.

    It is a good thing for Afghanistan.

    And I think it is very important for people to know that the United States, as a NATO country, will retain the largest commitment to the NATO alliance in Afghanistan.

    Certainly in the news and a question that I know the Members will want to talk about in some depth is the issue of sectarian violence in Iraq, especially in wake of the Samarra bombings.

    Certainly, we believe that the Samarra bombings were the work of al Qaeda. This is well within their stated intentions. No, I don't have proof, but that is who I think did it and that is who most Iraqis think did it.
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    They have every reason to find a wedge to provide sectarian difficulties, to make the government fail and to cause the Iraqi security forces to lose heart.

    I am concerned abut the levels of sectarian violence. They have certainly shown that bubbling beneath the surface is a great deal of concern in the various communities.

    I do believe that it is absolutely essential that a government of national unity emerge soon that leads the country, leads the country well, builds strong ministries that are not dominated by various sectarian concerns, and move forward in order to move the country toward peace and prosperity and defeat the insurgency.

    I believe that we are not on the verge of a civil war. I believe that the sectarian issues are controllable. I believe that the government of national unity will emerge. And I believe that the Iraqi security forces will continue to improve.

    As a matter of fact, the army in particular did well during the aftermath of the Samarra bombings.

    This is not to underplay what is happening there. It is serious. We do need to be concerned. But I believe that the good people of Iraq still have the majority of the people trying to hold the country together and not pull it apart.

    We need to fight against those who are trying to pull it apart.

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    Afghanistan continues to move forward. Certainly, there is violence from the Taliban. There is a change in tactics from the Taliban to move away from more guerrilla-type ambushes that we have seen over the past couple years toward assassinations, IEDs and attacks against government officials that are moving more and more out into the hinterlands.

    Certainly, al Qaeda remains our primary target in the region. We continue to fight al Qaeda wherever we find them. We fight them directly every day in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

    Our partners in the region, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, have put good pressure against them.

    Indeed, every country in the region that has an al Qaeda threat approaches it in a way that we all need to pay attention to.

    The good news is that, while al Qaeda is active and it is dangerous, the vast majority of the people in the region don't want it to win. And in this battle between moderates and extremists, we need to understand that we are fighting with the good people of the region, not against them.

    We are confident about the progress that had been made. We know that it is difficult and important work ahead of us. Certainly, I know the committee will want to talk about Iran, and I look forward to the questions from the committee in that regard.

    As you know, Mr. Chairman, we have many tasks and they are difficult tasks. We have to stabilize Iraq, stabilize Afghanistan, help key nations in the region resist extremism, and we have got to ensure that the flow of oil that fuels the global economy continues.
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    We do that day after day after day, thanks to the great work of the young men and women in the Central Command area of operations. Their work is absolutely superb. I couldn't be prouder of them. And I know you share that as well, you and the committee.

    And with that, Mr. Chairman, I welcome your questions.

    [The prepared statement of General Abizaid can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, General.

    I understand, Ambassador Edelman, you are available for questions, but you have no opening statement.

    I have had a chance to talk, General Abizaid, with you before the hearing, so I will defer my questions to the end and make sure we try to get everybody in this conversation, all the Members.

    So the gentleman from Missouri is recognized.

    And after the gentleman from Missouri, we will go to the five-minute clock, and we will try to stick on that religiously so we get everybody involved in this important conversation.

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    The gentlemen is recognized.

    Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you.

    General, I am sure all of us have been to Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months or years, and it is obvious that the young people there are just superb.

    On my last trip there, touring both active duty, guard and reserve, they were concerned about their mission and nothing else, whether you are talking to the corporals, the sergeants or the captains. And we just have to take our hats off to their professionalism. And I know that they are making you proud, as well as all of us on this committee.

    In my opening statement, I mentioned the critical importance of getting a unified national government in Iraq. Two things have to happen: number one, you have to have the Iraqi security forces take over and get the security under control and allow us to redeploy over a period of time; and the second is—even more important—to have a unified national government.

    And I think I am right when I say that calling the parliament together is a week late under its constitution.

    So, General, if the Iraqis cannot coalesce and form a unified government and the sectarian violence continues, what role should our forces play if that is the case?

    And we hope and pray that will not come to pass. But if the past is any prologue to the future, getting that government put together is problematical.
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    But what role will our forces play if that doesn't happen?

    General ABIZAID. Congressman, of course, we are always looking at the worst case and the best case, and we try to plan for what the worse case can be.

    I think the worse case is what you outlined, is that you move toward civil war because the government can't come together, and if the government can't come together, that you then have to be concerned about whether or not the armed forces will stay together and the other institutions.

    But I think we are an awful long ways away from that.

    I think that a combination of security actions to continue to improve the Iraqi security forces, in particular the police—it is clear that a lot of work has to be done to work through some issues that have developed with the police forces.

    The armed forces are developing well. They performed good actions during the aftermath of the Samarra bombings. I believe that they will continue to hold together.

    And I also believe that there is no choice but for a national unity government to emerge. And the Iraqis know that. I believe that good Iraqis are working very hard. There are a lot of hard-knuckled politics going on. I believe a national unity government will emerge.

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    And I believe that we will continue on the path of further development of the security forces. Security forces need to represent the people of Iraq and not sectarian groups. And we certainly need to deal with some of the militia issues that have developed.

    It is clear that we will continue to rely on the security forces as long as it takes for a government to develop. We expect Iraqi security forces to be in the lead on sectarian issues. And we will assist them to the point that we can when they need assistance.

    Mr. SKELTON. One last question, General. When, in your opinion, will the unified government get its act together and form the government with active and successful ministries? When?

    General ABIZAID. I don't know that. I can make a prediction on when it will happen. I think it needs to happen soon.

    Mr. SKELTON. Thank you.

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank the gentleman.

    The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Hefley.

    Mr. HEFLEY. Mr. Chairman, I, unfortunately, was unable to get here when you started, so I would defer my questions to later and let someone else——

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank the gentleman.
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    Mr. LoBiondo. You all set?

    The gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Kline.

    Mr. KLINE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thank you, gentlemen, for being here.

    General, it is always great to have you. It seems like we were just talking to you last week. So I appreciate the time that you are spending up here and the great job that you are doing with our soldiers.

    Like everybody on this committee, I am really proud of the men and women that are serving in Central Command. And I am especially proud of my son, of course, but I am proud of all of them.

    I have been talking to the service chiefs and to Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and to anybody who will listen about my concerns on resetting the force. I understand that is not your role, to reset the force, but it is in your command that we are just flat wearing out equipment.

    The rates, as I know you are much aware, that we are wearing out Humvees and trucks and tanks and rotorwing aircraft and everything is really phenomenal.

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    We have been going through a process of leaving equipment in Iraq as units are rotated because we didn't have enough. In some cases, we needed up-armored vehicles that were there and for a variety of reasons we have left equipment there.

    So I am going to continue to press for resetting the force to make sure we are not left with a bunch of junk. But could you just address for us what you think the state of the equipment is and how we are doing on making sure that we are not leaving you, right now, with junk, in Iraq particularly but Afghanistan or anywhere else?

    General ABIZAID. Congressman, thanks.

    The state of the equipment is good. Operational availability of our equipment is combat-ready. And the vast majority of it is combat-ready.

    But we are wearing it at a rate three or four times the rate of what you would expect in peacetime.

    So what is coming out of the theater for refurbishment, either sometimes being refurbished within the theater or being shipped back to the States for refurbishment, the recapitalization of that fleet is extremely important to both the Army and the Marine Corps.

    And I know that, within the supplemental and within the budget, there are funds to address the recapitalization issues. But we are wearing out the equipment because of the high operational tempo. And we are taking combat losses on the equipment because of the combat operations that we are in.
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    We have been very gratified by the way that combat losses are replaced. And we are very grateful for the incredible response to the up-armoring of the Humvees that we receive from the Congress in providing funds and capability to get to the field quickly.

    And so the equipment needs a lot of work. And I am satisfied that we have got what we need to fight in the Central Command area. But as it rotates back into the force pool, it needs to be recapitalized, no doubt about it.

    Mr. KLINE. Just a little follow-up because I see I still have a green light.

    I understand, for example, that because this equipment is wearing out at an enormous rate and, obviously, the conditions are horrific in blowing sand and so forth, that the maintenance man-hour per flight hour, that the maintenance effort is starting to go up.

    Are you sensing that? Is it putting an extra load on our soldiers and Marines to keep this stuff working, because it is getting worn out so fast?

    General ABIZAID. The load on our troops in the combat zone is heavy. And the load on our contractors that work to support our troops with regard to maintenance is heavy.

    That having been said, they are doing terrific work, and they keep what they need to have fighting in the field in very good order. And our Army theater command that works logistics both for Iraq, Afghanistan, and also the Marine logistics folks that work logistics for the Horn of Africa, do a terrific job in getting us what we need in a timely manner.
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    So I am satisfied that in the theater we have got what we need to keep fighting.

    Mr. KLINE. Okay. Thank you.

    Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank the gentleman.

    The gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez.

    Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    And thank you, General and Secretary, for being here with us today.

    I have really great confidence in the work that our troops are doing in Iraq, and I want to thank you for your leadership. I think it has been very, very good there.

    I also have confidence in you trying to train the Iraqi army and police, et cetera, that we have out there. I think that has really gotten better and back on track.

    But I have a real concern about the counterinsurgency war that is going on. And I don't think that the military strength is just the only thing that we can put toward it. We really have to look at the political situation, as Ranking Member Skelton said, and I think also this whole issue of economic empowerment of the Iraqi people themselves.
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    And I am a little concerned about the fact that in the last couple of supplementals the President has really moved back from putting money toward the economic situation and rebuilding the economy of Iraq.

    And so when I look at the levels of unemployment, the economic underperformance, when so many young people in particular are underemployed and have nothing to do on their hands, I mean, it is always a concern in the U.S. when we see some of these things; it is an even bigger concern when you see this counterinsurgency and you have these very bad indicators. Power and utilities are in a worse situation, if you will, than they were when Saddam was in state.

    So my questions are: One, are there sufficient resources available to continue economic reconstruction in Iraq at a level that supports the counterinsurgency war? Do you believe that the United States and coalition partners have contributed enough economic assistance to give us a reasonable prospect of victory in this counterinsurgency war?

    Two, does it make sense to continue our military effort at the current level if we can't match this military commitment with an equally robust economic recovery plan for Iraq?

    And three, can we continue the lopsided strategy which puts such an emphasis on military operations, but we don't seem to be matching it on the economic side?

    In other words, should we continue to ask our troops to risk their lives without helping them on this other end, on this economic end, to support the Iraqi people?
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    And, finally, you obviously have much more knowledge than us about what is going on in Iraq, on the ground. You speak fluent Arabic, et cetera.

    Do you believe that the Iraqis feel that we are doing enough for them to rebuild their country economically speaking, or are they becoming embittered in the same way the Kurds did a decade ago with us, and others who say, you know, ''You come in, you promise change, and you don't put your money where your words are''?

    Both of you. Either one of you.

    Ambassador EDELMAN. Congresswoman Sanchez, thank you for the question.

    Before I start my response, though, in light of the fact that I didn't have a chance to make an opening statement, I just wanted to say that I am also proud and glad to be here with my colleague and friend John Abizaid.

    I very much want to echo what he said about the great work—and what many of the Members have said—of the men and women we have out in the area of operation (AOR); and also to thank the chairman and the committee for their continued support.

    I agree with you that a counterinsurgency effort has to employ all the elements of national power and cannot rely purely on the military piece. There has to be a political piece, there has to be an economic piece, and there is a governance piece on the Iraqi side.
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    I think with regard to reconstruction efforts, however, one also needs to bear in mind that Iraq is not a country at this stage without resources. It does have considerable resources of its own and it needs to bring them to bear, because ultimately, really, Iraqis need to reconstruct their country. We need to help them and enable them, but they need to be the ones to actually carry this out.

    Some of the economic indicators are encouraging in the sense that you had about 2.5 percent growth in 2005. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is projecting economic growth of about 10 percent this year. The government has reached an IMF stand-by agreement which enables it to realize the benefits of the Paris Club agreement on its debt rescheduling and have access to international capital markets, and foreign investment will ultimately be a big piece of this.

    I think we do have, in the State Department supplemental—I am not here to represent my colleagues at State, but we support their supplemental request. And there is, I think, over $3 billion in that supplemental request to help provide economic and political stability through job creation and building up of local governance and local and provincial reconstruction efforts in some strategic cities that Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey have identified.

    Ms. SANCHEZ. Is that $3 billion over the next year?

    Ambassador EDELMAN. It is in the 2006 State Supplemental request for this year.
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    Ms. SANCHEZ. I am just saying, we spend $1.5 billion a week on the military side, and you are telling me you think there is $3 billion on the political and stability——

    Ambassador EDELMAN. What the State Department is asking for in addition to what they already have in their regular budget is for this particular purpose.

    But I am not sure that one can compare—comparing the levels of money are not—I think may be a little bit apples and oranges in terms of what is needed.

    But I do think we are making efforts to work with the Iraqis. But they will need to have a government in place, as Mr. Skelton said—and that is an urgent matter—in order to get these other efforts under way and get them to take responsibility themselves for the reconstruction. We can help them, but in the end we can't rebuild it.

    You talked about the energy infrastructure, for instance, and the power. A lot of that is a function of under investment historically. And they will need both their own investment and foreign investment to help build up that infrastructure.

    As the political process gets going, I think you will see more and more Iraqis putting demands on their political leaders, as your constituents put them on you, to make sure that the government performs.

    I think we could always use more contribution from our allies in this effort in a variety of ways. One of the things that is going on is the use of the provincial reconstruction team concept that we used in Afghanistan now begun to be applied in Iraq. A number of international contributors have expressed some interest in doing that. And that will help, as well, develop the provincial and local governances and connections to the central government once it is in place.
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    Ms. SANCHEZ. General, do you have any comments, in particular to the last question I asked, given your knowledge of the country, this whole issue of: Have we turned our backs?

    I mean, considering that a lot of the money that was in the supplementals we have approved over the years was supposed to go toward that and ended up being pulled into security.

    The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask the gentlelady.

    One of my heartfelt goals is to get through one of our full committee hearings and make sure everybody gets a chance to ask a question. So if the gentlelady could have the general respond in writing to this last question, we need to move on and make sure that we get everybody a shot at the conversation.

    Would the gentlelady go along with that?

    Ms. SANCHEZ. Do I have a choice, Mr. Chairman?

    The CHAIRMAN. You have gone a couple minutes over your five.

    General, why don't you make a brief response to this and maybe a more expansive response, we could do after everybody gets a chance to talk?

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    And we will have a second round, I would tell the gentlelady.

    Go ahead, General, if you want to make a fast response and then we will go to Mr. Schwarz.

    General ABIZAID. I think it is absolutely correct that government, economics and security all have to come together. And where you underinvest in one, it delays your ability to defeat the insurgency and delays the ability of the country to come together the way that you want it to come together.

    Do I believe that the Iraqis are doing enough for themselves? I guess I do. I believe that they are fighting hard; they are taking casualties; they are fighting alongside our people against a common enemy.

    And a matter of fact, they are taking casualties at least triple the rate of our own forces. So we shouldn't underestimate their willingness to sacrifice.

    They want their country to come together.

    There is a tremendous amount of economic activity in the Arabian Gulf. That economic activity will start to move into Iraq and Iraq will start to boom once a stable government emerges and people have confidence that their investments will be protected. That is my opinion.

    Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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    The CHAIRMAN. Thank the gentlelady.

    The gentleman from Michigan, Dr. Schwarz.

    Mr. SCHWARZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Either Ambassador Edelman or General Abizaid, let's move in a southwesterly direction, if we can, from Iraq.

    I would like to talk first about the Strait of Hormuz and then the Bab el-Mandeb and about the safety of those narrow passageways which fall within CENTCOM, about our relationships with the government of Yemen across the Bab el-Mandeb from our forces, actually, on the Horn, and about whether or not the recent brouhaha in the southern part of the Persian Gulf has in any way affected our ability to defend the Strait of Hormuz and the traffic of material and oil through that strait and the traffic of mostly material but some oil through Bab el-Mandeb.

    Is the security situation in both those narrow waterways still good? Are we comfortable with what we have? Should we improve things? The general picture, if you don't mind.

    General ABIZAID. I think the general security situation with regard to the flow of strategic resources through the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb and the Straits of Hormuz is relatively good.

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    We should keep in mind, however, that al Qaeda, in particular, has clearly announced and has actually carried out an attack here recently on the Abqaiq refinery in Saudi Arabia, that they want to disrupt the flow of oil because they want to cause the international economy to be disrupted and cause us and other nations, to include the regional nations, difficulties economically.

    They have the ability to attack. They don't have the ability, in my mind, to interdict. We have a robust naval and air presence. We have a good cooperation with the Arabian Gulf states.

    It is very clear that it is in everybody's interest to keep the flow of strategic resources moving through there.

    And, while there can be attacks such as happened with the French oil tanker, against the USS Cole, against the Abqaiq refinery, and there have been plots that security forces have uncovered or defeated, it is also clear to me that we do have the strength and the capacity to keep the straits open.

    And, certainly, a conflict with Iran—Iran has a conventional capability. And for short periods of time they could interdict the flow. But even there, as we put our great power to bear, we will keep the Straits of Hormuz open.

    Ambassador EDELMAN. Congressman Schwarz, if I took your question correctly, you were raising an issue about—in the Arabian Gulf, whether the recent controversy over the Dubai Ports World deal had affected things.
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    I would just reiterate what I testified to before this committee a little less than two weeks ago, which is that the United Arab Emerites (UAE) remains a very, very valuable ally in the Global War on Terrorism; that they provide a tremendous number of opportunities for us, both in using their ports and airfields, as a place for folks to take rest and relaxation (R&R), et cetera.

    And they remain, I think, committed, and have told us they remain committed. But I don't think there is any doubt that the controversy has created a little bit of a cloud that we will have to work to dispel.

    General ABIZAID. Congressman, I noticed another part of your question that we really didn't get to was on the Bab el-Mandeb and the situation with Yemen.

    Certainly, everybody is concerned over the prisoners that escaped from Yemeni jails. They were clearly al Qaeda types. The Yemeni government has recovered a number of them. They are working very hard to get the rest of them back into their prison system.

    The Yemeni government works very hard to keep the flow of strategic resources moving through there. We have a program that works with their coast guard and certainly our own Navy and our Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa work very hard down there to build regional capacity.

    Mr. SCHWARZ. Just very briefly, do you feel we have a reasonable dialogue with the government in Sanaa? And do we have a defense attache's office in Sanaa?
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    Ambassador EDELMAN. Yes, sir, we do.

    Mr. SCHWARZ. So there is dialogue?

    Ambassador EDELMAN. There is dialogue. And about every 3 or 4 months or so, I go there and I meet with the leadership.

    Mr. SCHWARZ. Thank you, sir.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, gentleman.

    The gentlelady from California, Ms. Tauscher.

    Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    General Abizaid, Ambassador, thank you for being back in front of us.

    General Abizaid, I join my colleagues in asking that you commend to your fabulous troops our heartfelt thanks for the many sacrifices and for their families, and also to you for your leadership.

    Do we have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreement with the government of Iraq?
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    General ABIZAID. No, ma'am, we don't.

    Mrs. TAUSCHER. And is that because the government that we have declared to be sovereign actually can't give us an agreement until we have a new government in?

    General ABIZAID. I think that there is a lot of things in our relationship that have to be developed with a new four-year government. And that is one of the things that is so essential so we can make sure we jointly understand where we are heading, how we are heading.

    Certainly, General Casey has a very close working relationship with the folks there. He talks to them about security issues daily.

    But being able to define our longer-term relationship really requires a government.

    Mrs. TAUSCHER. You know, I don't want to get into a semantical debate that I will lose with you about whether we are in a civil war or not, but I think many of us have been over a long time increasingly concerned about the development of sectarian violence. And I don't know what metric you use, whether it is five out of 10 or seven out of 10 of the incidents we have on a day-to-day basis are really Iraqi-Iraqi fights, with us in the middle.

    And I think that for many of us that would like to bring our troops home sooner and safer—and I think we all share that point of view—we know we can't do that until we have an Iraqi security force, police force, border force that can be exchanged for us one for one. And I know how hard everybody has been working to get to that end.
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    And in the absence of a political solution that has so far been unachievable, I think our military has, frankly, done more than it could possibly have done or we could have asked them to do, but we still are in this situation. And my current concern is not so much about how do we get out of there, it is how do we get out of the way.

    And I think that from my point of view I would be happier if our troops were really dedicated toward the al Qaeda fight that we know exists in Iraq versus this, kind of, being in the way, getting caught in the middle, if this sectarian violence continues to increase, explode, go the wrong way, and find us really where we are in a picking-sides situation.

    Can you talk a little bit about how we deal with that in the short term?

    If we don't have a government formed, say, in 45 days, I think things only get worse when it comes to the sectarian violence. What is our short-term planning to get out of the way? How do we deal with situations we may find ourselves in where we are literally having to pick sides?

    General ABIZAID. The conversation that I have almost daily with General Casey pretty much looks at where we see the sectarian problems, where we see the insurgency activity, and where we see a lot of the other criminal activity and other lawless activity that goes on, and how do we think we are doing.

    When you look at the Samarra aftermath, it is clear that the nature of the violence shifted away from the insurgency toward sectarian tensions. It doesn't mean the insurgency has gone away. It doesn't mean that al Qaeda's gone away. We continue to maintain very robust pressure against al Qaeda in Iraq, and we will continue to do that. And we have been quite successful in that. I understand we haven't got Zarqawi yet, but we will continue to keep the pressure against that organization.
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    But it is clear to me that if you move toward a civil war and you look at the Algerian model, the Lebanese model or other models that have taken place, especially in that part of the world, that it really is a long way away, because the institutions of the government continue to function, the institutions of the armed forces continue to function, and people have a lot of hope that they can work their way through this.

    And there is no doubt that al Qaeda, in particular, and some of the Shia splinter groups, in particular, are doing everything they can to make this wound deeper.

    So we think that a combination of Iraqi army forces, in particular, but also police forces, backed up by our multinational forces, will provide the shield behind which the government will develop.

    Now, the longer the government takes to develop, the less confidence there will be within the security forces. And we are keeping an eye on it. We have certainly passed the word to our friends in Iraq that it is important to form a government for the good of the country.

    Like I say, we deal with the Iraqis day after day after day. I have a lot of respect for them. I appreciate what they are trying to do. I understand how difficult it is. But at the end of the day, they do need to put their sectarian prejudices behind them and move toward a government of national unity.

    The country has a great future ahead of it if they can just get over this current hurdle. And I believe they can, and they will do it with our help.
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    Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you, General.

    Thank you, Ambassador.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentlelady.

    The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Conaway.

    Mr. CONAWAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    General, thank you for being back, since last week.

    And, Ambassador, thank you for being here.

    This morning, it was reported the Iraqis foiled a plan to infiltrate the Green Zone, take hostages and overall attack. Can we look to that as a success of the Iraqi system that is in place, or would that be an overstatement?

    General ABIZAID. I think you can look at it as, it is a good thing that we found out about it before it moved forward.

    I think we also need to look at it with a certain amount of concern that people are trying to infiltrate important levels of the national security forces and various other branches of the government; that this has been a problem that we have dealt with ever since we have been in Iraq.
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    The vast majority of the security forces are loyal. The vast majority of people that are working toward a new government are working hard just to do that, to develop a new government.

    But these terrorist groups that operate underground and operate at the, essentially, criminal levels of society have an infiltration desire to get inside of organizations to be able to do damage. They have done damage to us. They have done damage to Iraqi security forces. They have assassinated people.

    Can we work our way through this? Are things going to get better? I think the Iraqis have, over time, developed a better and better mechanism for vetting people that are working at high levels, but I also think as sectarian tensions increase, it becomes harder to hold things together.

    So, yes, I am confident, Congressman, that we can move in a positive direction there and that the security forces, in particular, will stay loyal.

    Mr. CONAWAY. Back to what Ms. Tauscher was talking about—the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence—is there any sense that just the everyday Iraqi citizen is—that this violence isn't working?

    In other words, are they getting fed up with it, or is it just such blind loyalty to the sectarian pieces that they represent or they may be caught up in, and they just blindly follow along and that this sectarian violence does, in fact, have a chance to do what none of us want to have happened?
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    General ABIZAID. I always notice this when I am back here. When I am over in the region, it is clear to me that in the majority of the country you are not actually having any more violence than any normal society would have. There are areas where it is difficult: Al Anbar province, certainly in Baghdad, lately down in Basra. But the average Iraqi actually is getting on with their life.

    I was talking to George Casey about this the other day. He was driving around Baghdad, and people are buying things, life is going on.

    There are areas where it is very concerning, especially in the northeastern part of Baghdad and northeast of Baghdad. These are areas that we are paying particular attention to.

    But the vast majority of the people in the country are living their lives: appliance-buying, car-buying. There is an awful lot of economic activity.

    You view it through the filter here in the United States; I understand how things work with the way we cover stories, but it appears much worse than it really is. This is not to underestimate what is going on there. But I would tell you that the average person does get on with their life.

    And is it true that the average Iraqi is fed up with what is going on? I think the average Iraqi is definitely fed up with al Qaeda, in particular, coming in and killing innocent people and going and blowing up a national monument and doing the sorts of criminal things that they do all the time.
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    They are very fed up with that. And we are getting more tips, more help, more activity from Iraqi security forces, but also from just Iraqis in general, to bring their country forward.

    But the people who don't want this to work, they have no rules and they have no values. And they certainly go about it the hard way.

    Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

    The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.

    The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Ortiz.

    Mr. ORTIZ. Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing me to ask this question.

    We had a markup in another committee. And I don't know whether this question has been asked, but I was just wondering if any of you could provide an assessment of the United States reconstruction efforts and what has been your biggest successes in your effort to reconstruct portions of Iraq, and what has been your biggest failures. And how have the insurgents affected your efforts in reconstruction?

    And I was just wondering if the program is still marching on, is still on the timetable or what is happening with the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
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    Ambassador EDELMAN. Well, Congressman Ortiz, as General Abizaid just said, if you look at the levels of economic activity around the country, when I traveled there last fall, when you fly around by helicopter, there are an enormous number of—as you fly around, you see economic activity, you see people in the streets buying things, you see satellite dishes on tops of buildings. The number of cell phone subscribers has gone up 40 percent—5 million, now, cell phone subscribers. So there is an enormous amount of economic activity that is going on.

    In terms of the reconstruction effort, it has been clear and some of the earlier questions, I think, illuminated the fact that in an atmosphere where you don't have complete security, it is difficult to do some of these things.

    But, as General Abizaid said, in the case of the security environment, I think something like 80 percent of the attacks are concentrated in four specific provinces. So the effort is not one that has gone across the board equally. If you are in northern Iraq, it has been fairly robust economic activity and ongoing reconstruction. In those areas where we are fighting a tough insurgency, there has been less of an opportunity to do that.

    I think one of the reasons why we have tried to, now, move in the direction of this Provisional Reconstruction Team (PRT) effort is to try and create greater capacity in provincial governments to help create the framework for reconstruction activity to go forward.

    And that is why our colleagues in the State Department have asked for some money in the supplemental to do the work on rule of law, on job creation and economic activity of that sort.
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    There is another piece of it, which has got to do with the energy infrastructure, which is going to require significant national and I would say foreign investment in Iraq.

    And I know that has been a focus of a lot of interest because there have been a number of attacks on the infrastructure. But I would say in the last few weeks my sense, from what I see from my colleagues out at the embassy in Baghdad, is that we have made some strides in providing greater protection for the infrastructure. And that is going to, in turn, generate revenue and activity that will help drive the reconstruction process.

    Mr. ORTIZ. Some of the areas that have been reconstructed, have they become targets, and have some of them been destroyed?

    General ABIZAID. There is certainly a campaign on the northern oil fields that has a certain amount of insurgency activity associated with it.

    But you have to understand about Iraq that it was a command economy, extremely centralized, not unlike a Soviet-style economy. And so you see a factory in a particular region, and our commanders will go up to the local Iraqis and say, ''Who owns this factory?'' And somehow or other the state does, but nobody can quite figure out how to get it going because of all the structural issues associated with economic ownership.

    And so these structural issues have got to be addressed by the state in order for reconstruction to move forward.
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    I would also like to say that our commanders in the field have a program that I know all of you are familiar with. It is the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) program. It allows commanders to use relatively small amounts of money for local reconstruction. And in the areas where the insurgency has been the toughest, we have used that money to great effect. And I think you probably remember General Petraeus at one time saying, ''Ammunition is money, money is ammunition.'' And it was very interesting the way that you can gain help from the community by assisting in these smaller reconstruction programs.

    In the areas of the south, there has been some economic activity that I would characterize as reconstruction that is private. And certainly in the north, in the Kurdish areas, I would say there is a mini-boom going on in the Kurdish areas that shouldn't be underestimated.

    Mr. ORTIZ. I had some other questions, but I will submit for the record, Mr. Chairman, to allow other Members to ask questions.

    The CHAIRMAN. I appreciate the gentleman.

    The gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Bartlett.

    Mr. BARTLETT. Want to thank you very much, sir, for your service.

    And as I frequently do, I would like to yield my time to the lowest ranking member of our committee, who hasn't had a chance to ask questions yet, because for far too many years I sat down there and they never got to me until time ran out.
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    The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hefley accepts your offer. [Laughter.]

    Mr. Bradley probably meets that criteria. I think everybody has asked a question.

    Mr. BRADLEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Bartlett.

    And thank you both for your service to our country.

    The President has talked about, over the last few days, more and more control being assumed by Iraqi troops.

    When I was in Iraq in January, we had the opportunity to meet a couple of battalion commanders in the Mosul area who were doing a fantastic job of operating independently.

    How realistic, General, do you believe we are going to be able to cede significant areas of the country over to the Iraqi security forces by the end of this year?

    General ABIZAID. Sir, I believe that we will be able to cede an awful lot of what I would call battlespace—that is the term that General Casey and I use to describe Iraqi units being in control of a particular piece of ground.

    Clearly, we have gone from a period where the multinational force was essentially in charge of counterinsurgency operations. We are starting to transition now in an awful lot of areas to divisions where 13 brigades and 39 battalions of the Iraqi security forces control their own battlespace. That is double from what it was last year. And three years ago, or two years ago, it was zero.
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    So we are making substantial progress. And, in many respects, I think that metric of how they control battlespace is probably the single most important metric that is out there.

    Now, can we continue to move on this course? And the answer is yes, we can, provided that a government of national unity that people are confident in emerges, and ministers of defense and interior are appointed that are competent and are not driven by some agenda other than the agenda of a national unity government.

    And I think I just can't overstate how important this is. I think, if the national unity government forms, we can move in the direction that we are moving and have a much larger number of Iraqi units in charge of their own areas.

    But, as you can imagine, you are going from multinational forces being in the lead in counterinsurgency. We are transitioning to Iraqi army. But, ultimately, you need to transition to the Iraqi police.

    The Iraqi police will be the force of choice that needs to defeat the insurgency in the longer term. And the Iraqi police need a lot of work.

    That having been said, General Casey has designated 2006 as the year where he is really going to focus on the police. They are recruited more locally and therefore they tend to have some local issues that have to deal with militias and have to deal with loyalties that aren't necessarily ones that serve the national government.
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    So I am confident we can continue moving forward with the Iraqi armed forces provided we get over this hurtle of a government of national unity.

    Mr. BRADLEY. Thank you, General.

    As I hold town hall meetings and talk to people in my home state of New Hampshire, one of the things that I talk about—and this is indicative of the great job that your troops are doing in training the Iraqi security forces—is that, when I was in Iraq in—the first time—in November of 2003, we met one of the first handfuls—and literally a handful—of police officers in Kirkuk.

    Now, in this year of the police, there are battalions of Iraqi police that are operating independently, to say nothing of the fact that we have gone from a handful of Iraqi security forces to now over 225,000. And that is certainly a testimony to the hard work that our troops are doing.

    One of the things that came out when we were in Iraq in January with the Simmons Congressional Delegation (CODEL) was better situational awareness, recognition of some of the circumstances that lead to Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and suicide bombers.

    And, obviously, we will vote on the supplemental today or tomorrow.

    We have increased the body armor, armored vehicles, jammers. And we need to continue to do that, it would seem to me, to get as much technology as we can there.
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    But Colonel Fondacaro, who heads the Joint IED Task Force, told our CODEL that he needs more people with a special forces background that are versed in situational awareness to be able to train our troops, and presumably the Iraqi security forces, in this awareness to be able to better recognize what some of the signs of an IED attack might be.

    Would you care to comment on that? Is this an important component?

    He said that as few as between 25 and 40 individuals would help him be better able to train our troops to save lives and prevent some of these bombing attacks.

    General ABIZAID. I will look forward to finding Colonel Fondacaro out there and ask him if he can tell me, first, that he needs more troops before you. [Laughter.]

    Mr. BRADLEY. Well, I guess I got him in trouble. I apologize.

    General ABIZAID. No, no, no. Absolutely not. He is a great guy. And what he says makes a lot of sense.

    Look, IEDs, unfortunately, are the enemy's weapon of choice. They have had success with it.

    We have to have a component for training, we have to have a component for technology, and we have got to have a component for an architecture that brings everything together. The training has to occur, not only in the theater, but it has to occur back home. And it has to include everybody that is in the battlespace, not just American troops, but our coalition allies and our Iraqi allies, as well.
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    This IED issue is, unfortunately, probably with us for the next 50 years or so. Enemies that will attack the United States of America have gone to school and seen how effective they can be. And we now see this type of tactic in Afghanistan. The Israelis saw it before in Lebanon. The Pakistanis see it in Pakistan. The Saudis see it in Saudi Arabia. And it will be the way that American forces are going to be challenged for a long time.

    So the investment that the Congress is making now can't just be a temporary one. It has to be a long-term investment in platforms, in technology, in tactics, techniques, in training; all of which cost money.

    And I think appointing a person with a stature of General Meigs to bring the whole national effort together is extremely important to all of us.

    Mr. BRADLEY. Thank you very much.

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank the gentleman.

    The gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Taylor.

    Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    And timing is everything.

    General, I appreciate everything you just said. And I wish I could have heard it three years ago, two years ago, one year ago.
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    Because of the recent storm, the President of the United States has been to my home town several times. When he comes, for the area around where he visits, no one's cell phones work, and I have to explain to them, ''Well, there is a jammer traveling with the President so that someone doesn't put a roadside bomb and blow him up.'' And people understand that.

    But think about it. The possibility of someone putting a roadside bomb in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is pretty remote. But it is happening every day in Iraq. And I am going to hound whoever holds your job, hound whoever holds General Casey's job, until someone sets the requirement that every vehicle that leaves an installation has a jammer.

    We talked before here. Mississippi Rifles are home, but over a dozen of them didn't come home. Every one of those funerals, I took the time to ask, ''Did the vehicle that trooper was traveling in have a jammer?'' The answer every time was no.

    We can spend $10 billion a year, as you just said—you didn't mention it—but $10 billion a year on national missile defense; we can find the resources to protect it.

    And, yes, it is not going to stop every time, you are right, but we put seat belts in cars and they don't work every time, but doggone it, we put them in cars.

    And again, so if you are here a year from now, I am going to ask the question, ''Are we at 100 percent?'' If you are here three years from now.

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    But I have said my piece, and I am not going to be happy until—just like we finally came to that conclusion on body armor, we finally came to that conclusion on up-armored Humvees, the goal has got to be 100 percent. And I would like your comments on that.

    Second thing is, I guess in our line of work we have to be—or we wouldn't be here—more attuned to what the public thinks than maybe your line of work.

    A couple weeks ago, the USA Today ran a story because some Members of Congress spend a lot of time on corporate jets. And the public doesn't like that.

    A week ago, the paper ran the story that some Members of Congress are leasing expensive vehicles at public expense. And the reason that story sold was because the public doesn't like that.

    Now, that is in this country, where we are not shooting each other every day, where there is not abject poverty, et cetera.

    I have got to tell you, as someone in my line of work, I have got to believe that the continued use of Saddam's palaces by our troops is a bad move. If I was living in Sadr City, in abject poverty, with no running water, no flush toilet, and I looked out and saw that water palace and saw the Americans living there, I would resent it.

    Now, I can understand in the beginning, it made sense to move there because that is where the flush toilets were, it is where the running water was, and we do want the best for our troops.
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    We are now in there for three years, we have a lot of resources as a nation, and I will continue to tell whoever holds your job and whoever holds General Casey's job, that is a bad public relations move being in those palaces that are a symbol of evil and a symbol of selfishness, in a country where still a lot of people are hurting.

    And so, again, I welcome your remarks on both of those.

    Those are my observations. And I hope that they are observations in an effort to help our nation do a better job in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    General ABIZAID. Congressman, I think we do need to be held accountable to make sure that the troops have the right equipment in the field to be protected so they can fight the enemy.

    Certainly the requirement right now is not every vehicle. And I could answer for the record why we have come up with the allocation the way that we have; that there are issues that are very technical that I would just soon talk about in the classified session that make it difficult to have every vehicle. But we do ensure that our patrols that are out there have the right equipment.

    And I agree with you: We didn't have it to start with. We are in a lot better shape than we were when we started.

    But it can't just be the vehicles in the theater. I needs to be the vehicles of the entire United States Army and Marine Corps——
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    [The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. TAYLOR. Tell us the price tag, sir.

    General ABIZAID [continuing]. So that they can train with them.

    Mr. TAYLOR. If you tell us the price tag, I will offer the amendment.

    General ABIZAID. Okay.

    As far as the palaces are concerned, we have come out of a lot of the palaces. And as I look at the basing plan, we will continue to come out of palaces over time.

    I agree that being in the palaces is something that needs to be done for military necessity only, and when we got a better place to go, we ought to go there.

    Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    And, General, again, I hope you will accept this as what I think to be corrective suggestions. And we do value your service and the service of everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan and throughout the military.

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank you the gentleman.
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    The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Hefley.

    Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much.

    And we do very much appreciate what you are doing. You know, we keep saying that but we mean it.

    Of course, all we get back here on our news media is things that blow up. If we broadcast to the world every time there was a murder in an American city it would look like we were a battle zone too, I am sure.

    You have indicated that it is not nearly as bad as the picture we are getting, but the other day—in the last few days they discovered, I think, 80 bodies that had been assassinated. And maybe you have talked about this, General, when I was out of the room and, if so, I do not want you to have to repeat. But I wonder what that is all about, why those 80 and so forth.

    And who follows up on that? Is this police force up to the level now that they investigate like you would investigate a normal crime and try to find who the murderers are? Or do we do that?

    What is the situation there?

    General ABIZAID. In most cases, the Iraqis are investigating those crimes. And in many cases they have pulled people in that are implicated in those crimes.
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    Certainly, part of it has to do with al Qaeda coming in and picking a particular group in an effort to continue to stick this wedge between the Sunni and the Shia, and have these killings drive people toward more and more sectarian difficulties, which they hope will eventually emerge in civil war, which they believe will serve their interests.

    The Iraqi security forces are better at investigating than they were a couple of years ago. I believe that people are very serious in getting to the bottom of who is doing it.

    There have been accusations on the side of the Sunni Arab community that some of the people that are doing it are from the security forces. We take it very serious. The numbers, since Samarra, of these types of crimes are on the increase, and it is a source of concern.

    I think it is very important that when they do happen that Iraqis do the investigation, bring people to justice very, very quickly, and we assist them when we can.

    Mr. HEFLEY. Well, thank you.

    We talk a lot about forming the government and how important it is to get it formed, but I haven't gotten much feel about where we are on that. Do you see day by day progress being made toward that goal, or are they just deadlocked and it doesn't look like there is any light on the horizon? What can you tell us about that?

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    General ABIZAID. I think Mr. Edelman probably has a better view on government formation than I do.

    But I recently talked to President Talibani and the prime minister, and General Casey talks to them every day. We certainly convey our concern that they move forward in this process for the good of their country.

    Ambassador EDELMAN. Congressman Hefley, I think, certainly, Ambassador Khalilzad has been trying to impart a sense of urgency—greater urgency—into the process. It has been three months.

    I do think we are seeing the political process working itself out in Iraq.

    If you step back for a second and think about the broader context, we went from eight million or so people voting in the January 2005 election to nine million-plus in the October 15 referendum and some 12 million-plus in the December 15 election.

    So clearly the Iraqi people, as I think the President has said, have shown a greater and greater will to participate in the political process and to look at the political process as the one through which they should resolve their issues.

    Throughout all of this, there have been a number of deadlines, going back to the deadline for the promulgation of the Transitional Administrative Law, that the Iraqis have not quite hit on the mark. And Mr. Skelton, earlier, talked about the council of representatives under the new constitution being a week or so late.
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    They haven't hit it quite on the mark, but, overall, as the process has moved forward, they have been in the zone and the process has moved forward.

    Part of the result of that, I think, has been that, in response to some of the earlier question, General Abizaid responded, as I would have, that, if you look at, on the basis of polling data, whether Iraqis are fed up with the violence, the answer is clearly yes.

    And three quarters of the Iraqis polled in the last period have said that the people who are perpetrating the attacks on civilians are considered criminals, are terrorists.

    We don't have a feel yet for what has happened recently. You mentioned the 80 bodies. We have a seen a change, as General Abizaid testified earlier, in exactly how the violence is manifesting itself, although the total numbers, I believe, of violent incidence is about the same, but it has now manifested itself more in the kind of sectarian violence.

    That is one of the reasons why it is so urgent that the political leadership form a government of national unity.

    They have done some very good things. They have made some public statements across the board, regardless of sect or ethnic group, about the importance of calm, about the importance of not resorting to sectarian violence. There have been positive statements by a number of Imams calling for people to forbear this kind of violence.

    Now they need to do the next thing, which is to view this, as Ambassador Khalilzad said, as a turning point that will make them form a government of national unity.
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    The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.

    The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Marshall.

    Mr. MARSHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    General Abizaid, I think the reference to General Casey driving around Baghdad was at least interesting, from my perspective.

    I found myself wondering, ''How does he go about doing that and is it with a larger entourage because of security concerns or is it just in the back of an Iraqi taxicab? And which would be more secure?''

    And with regard to your effort here to deal with the IED thing, part of the thinking, obviously, is in the direction of let's not identify ourselves as we are moving around. The IEDs become a lot less effective if they don't know that the vehicle that is going by is us.

    You know, one of the things that we do, as we ask questions here, is we talk to one another. And that, sometimes, I suspect, is frustrating for those who are answering the questions.

    I am going to ask a question at the end of this and preface it by saying that I am interested by my good friend and, really, a great Member of Congress, Ellen Tauscher's question, how do we get out of the way?
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    And, frankly, at the moment, that is the last thing that we need to be thinking about. We need to be thinking about getting to the point where it makes sense for us to get out of the way.

    History is just full of examples of societies that were just devastated by criminal gangs, little tribal sheikdoms, sectarian violence, ethnic groups, little militias.

    India is a good example of that. And the British and the British East Indian Company came in and what they did was they created an army that was a professional army. And they were very careful in the way that they did that. They didn't have a company over here of Mahdis and a company over there of—they blended everybody.

    And it takes a long time to create an army like that.

    The Iraqi army for the last few decades has performed very poorly. Its officer corps largely was made up of individuals who were loyal to the central government. And bullies—their principal function was to intimidate and terrorize the population. And when it came to actually performing against another country, it was all about them, not about us, and they performed rather poorly.

    I know we are headed in the direction of trying to create an Iraqi military. Once the military is together and a professional, non-ethnic, nonsectarian, unified Iraqi, gradually you will take care of these police problems, local problems, things like that. All of that takes time.
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    And I think part of the process here is how you go about forming the Iraqi units. And I am wondering if we—I am sure we do have a policy with regard to the ethnic, sectarian mix that we prefer in Iraqi units. I assume we have statistics for the different Iraqi units about those kinds of questions, and that we are trying to effectively manage that in that we are talking with the Iraqi government fairly regularly about that, ''You should want to manage it this way and not have what, effectively, could turn into a little militia of Sunnis over here and a little militia of Shia over there, and Kurds, and et cetera.''

    So do we have those statistics? Are they generally available? Can you make them available? Are we headed in that direction?

    General ABIZAID. For the army units, I think we have a fair idea. I don't know that I would say that we have the statistics, but we have a good idea that most units—and, of course, it depends upon how the original unit was recruited.

    If it was a national guard unit to start out with, it tends to be less ethnic mix and more local mixed, or more local in composition. And so it reflects less of a national make-up than the units that were recruited specifically early on for the Iraqi national army.

    Now, over time, it is clear that you need to have a broad outlook, a broad make-up in all of the army units. And we can provide you with our best estimate of where we are in Iraqi units.

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    No doubt in my mind that units must be a make-up of the national mixture in order to be successful in this difficult environment that exists there.

    In the police, it is more difficult because you recruit locally for the policy, and the police do tend to reflect the neighborhood.

    Now, for national police units, what we need to look at is whether or not they have become too ethnically unmixed, to use a term. And I would also tell you that in the longer term we have got a lot of work to do on institution building.

    I believe that you can hand over the counterinsurgency work to the Iraqi national army. You can ultimately hand over even the counterterrorist work to them, because their intelligence services will become more capable of handling terrorist targets. And you ultimately can hand over the work that the police need to do on actions against criminals and dealing with local-level sorts of insurgent actions.

    I think all of that is workable.

    But the building of the institution will require some involvement of the international community, the international military community for some time. Because it is like you said: The previous Iraqi army did not serve the people, it served a dictator. And the mindset that they have, the levels of corruption that existed in the previous institution, et cetera, are ways of thinking that have to be schooled out of them over time, and that will take a long time.

    Mr. MARSHALL. My time is up.
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    A caution—I have expressed it to you and to many others before—we can't let the military get too far ahead of the development of the rest of the society without having some real brakes on it.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank the gentleman.

    The gentleman from New York, Mr. McHugh.

    Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    General Abizaid, as I look at the jurisdictional lines of CENTCOM, I can't help but believe you were out of the room that day. That is one tough chunk of territory. And thank you for the great work you are doing in such a challenge.

    And, Ambassador, to you as well. We appreciate it.

    I appreciated the ambassador's can-do attitude toward working through the dust-up of the Dubai Port situation. But, General, I wonder, without violating the intelligence dictates, can you talk to us a little about what would happen if tomorrow they were to close down entirely all their facilities, ports, the training ranges, et cetera? What would we do? Do we have a backup plan? Do we have a workaround plan?

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    General ABIZAID. Sir, if you mean what would happen if the United Arab Emirates would walk away from our military-to-military relationships, would it have an effect on us, it would have a very serious effect on our ability to operate the way we would like to operate in the region.

    Militarily, though, I would like to tell you that whenever something like that happens, wherever it might be, there are always ways to work around it, especially with a country that has as many assets and as many capabilities as we have. But when you limit your choices, especially with a partner like that, it would be a very, very serious handicap for us.

    Mr. MCHUGH. The key question, or the key part of the question, I guess—just yes, no, or work in progress—do we have workarounds available should that happen? Without detailing what they are.

    General ABIZAID. I don't think it will happen. We could work around it——

    Mr. MCHUGH. I hope not.

    General ABIZAID [continuing]. But it would be very painful.

    Mr. MCHUGH. All right, I will take it at that.

    General, I just returned from a little piece of that tough territory, out in the Horn and Djibouti. Most Americans probably don't understand what is going on there, and I can understand that. But we have great men and women there doing some things in that region.
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    But this was an Intelligence Committee trip, so I don't want to get into the classified portions of it, but your section in your testimony about intelligence I thought was interesting. You talked about the find, fix, finish, and some of the shortcomings we have there. And I thought you did a great job detailing some of the assets and components.

    But at the end of that section, I was a little uncertain if you felt the work we needed to do was simply one of resources or are we still technologically challenged or a combination of the two.

    General ABIZAID. I think it is a combination of the two. I think that the find part of the find, fix and finish equation is very weak. It is probably, if we started out the war on a one, we are probably up to a three, but we have the capability to get further.

    Part of it is technology. You find technologies—some of which are very, very simple, sensor technologies—and you proliferate the battlefield with them, you link them to an architecture.

    But a very important part of it is having the human capital investment take place in interrogators, intelligence people, Human Intelligence (HUMINT) people, translators, people that understand the people and the culture of the region, so this investment in human capital has to move forward. Because that is a long-term investment. You don't really start reaping the benefit of a human capital investment for 10 years or so in those kinds of skills.

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    But as I as a commander look around the region and I look for regional experts to employ to help General Casey, it is amazing how few people I have to choose from. Back in the days of the Cold War, when we were looking for a Russian expert, you could say, ''What kind?'' and you could get plenty. And that is not the case now.

    That investment, both in technology and in people, needs to be made in a very conscious and clear way.

    Mr. MCHUGH. Well, I appreciate your comments.

    And that is a critical point. We were in an era of believing that whiz-bang technology could take care of everything, and there is an absolutely perfect case of it. You have got to have good people to do the kind of things you are talking about and good people and organizations like the United States Army, boots on the ground, to win wars.

    So thank you for all you do.

    Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it. I yield back.

    The CHAIRMAN. Thank the gentleman.

    The gentleman from Washington, Mr. Larsen.

    Mr. LARSEN. Don't you mean the ranking member? [Laughter.]

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    The CHAIRMAN. We could move some legislation at this point, Mr. Larsen.

    Mr. LARSEN. Gentlemen, thanks for coming, helping us out today. Understand a few things.

    General, if I got your message right, I am just going to guess here, it is that Iraq needs to move forward on a national unity government. Did I get that right?

    General ABIZAID. You got it right, sir.

    Mr. LARSEN. Okay. I think I counted about 900 times you have said that today.

    General ABIZAID. Right.

    Mr. LARSEN. And I agree that they need to, and I don't think that message is necessarily for us. There are other folks listening, and they need to hear it too. And we will do our part to push that message.

    I want to understand a few things about your thinking, just things that come up at home from folks who talk to me.

    In your testimony, you talk about the enemy, but you break it down to three elements that we have talked about before: rejectionists; Saddamists, the folks who want to go back to the bad old days; and al Qaeda in Iraq.
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    There is certainly a quantitative difference in, sort of, numbers, but is there a qualitative difference in how we approach each of those elements for the military? And can you discuss that briefly?

    General ABIZAID. Yes, I can, without getting into too much of the details for obvious reasons.

    Qualitatively, we really need to pay attention to what al Qaeda in Iraq and their associated movements are doing there and elsewhere.

    We pay a lot of attention to what they are doing. They have an intention not only to kill us in Iraq, but to bring the war wherever they can, to do damage. They certainly have done damage in Jordan, they have done damage in Saudi Arabia. Any country in my region you talk about, they have done damage there.

    So qualitatively we have put a lot of assets and a lot of special capability against that target, as do most of the nations in the region, because it is so dangerous.

    And the reason is that the enemy has absolutely no qualms about what targets they attack. They are just trying to gain a perception victory, grab a headline, stay in the fight. They know they can't defeat us militarily, but whatever they can do to get their name in the headlines, they will do.

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    And it makes them very, very dangerous. They target key leaders, they target key facilities, and they target groups of people and symbols of national sovereignty, such as the golden dome in Samarra, in a way that is pretty despicable, yet pretty dangerous.

    Mr. LARSEN. I have a short time, and this vote has been called.

    In your oral testimony you spent about one second on the word ''militia,'' but you left me with the impression that the role of the militias have changed over time. They ebbed and flowed and they are on their way back up.

    Can you elaborate on your oral comments on the militias?

    General ABIZAID. Yes, sir. I believe that certain militia groups in Iraq that are operating outside of the government need to be brought under the control of the Iraqi government.

    This is particularly important with regard to Muqtada Sadr's militia. They have operated outside the law on numerous occasions. We saw them in the field here in the aftermath of the Samarra bombings. In some cases they were confronted in a positive way by the security forces; in other cases they took the lead.

    And I think it is a dangerous group that does not have the interests of Iraq at heart. And any militia group or armed group that is not regulated by the Iraqi state is ultimately a danger to that state. In this part of the world, militias have a way of becoming private armies and championing the case of people that are very anti-democratic.
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    Mr. LARSEN. Do you mean to say any militia group in Iraq?

    General ABIZAID. No. I mean to say in particular that militia group.

    And there are, again, opportunities that we have made for the Badr militia, which is part of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) political party, to come into the security services.

    Certainly the Peshmerga actually happens to be a well-regulated militia that cooperates very well with the government. And their forces have moved into the national structure in many respects.

    So it is not a matter of not regulating the militias. It is really a matter of recognizing the danger when you see it and move against it in a way and with a program that will ultimately guarantee the success and the stability of the state.

    Mr. LARSEN. Quick: Can you assure us that you do have a program to do just that?

    General ABIZAID. I can tell you that there is a program that came out of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) days that was very unsuccessful, and that there is a need to confront the militia issue. And a government of national unity that emerges needs to do that as one of its most important first things to do.
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    The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman. We have got the countdown now on this vote that is on the floor.

    The gentleman from New Jersey is our last question here.

    Mr. SAXTON. And we are flat out of time, so just let me just say three things real quick.

    First of all, as I sit here with you and look at the table you are sitting at, I think of two people that I worked with over the years who I want to thank for what you are doing.

    We all know that you could be elsewhere doing things that are a whole lot more comfortable for both you and your families. And for your dedication to doing the job that you are doing, we just want to say thank you.

    That is number one.

    Number two, General Abizaid, we are aware that for several reasons—the C–130 has been a great reliable airplane, but for three reasons we are now finding that we need to use C–17s to supplement what the C–130 does.

    One, we have got some crewing problems because of the length and duration of what we have been doing with C–130 crews. Two, we have got maintenance problems because of the heavy use that we have used those airframes for in-theater. And, number three, we are using airlift more than ground transportation now for safety reasons.
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    And so we have converted into—the Air Force tells us we now have 20 C–17 airframes that are dedicated to intra-theater lift. And if you could just get back to us on your take on that and give us a little analysis of how you think that is working that would be great.

    Ambassador, every morning when I wake up, I wonder to myself, ''What can I do today to help this process?'' And a light went off the other day and I thought, ''You know, in order for the country, for Iraq, to be together, it has to have leaders, and those leaders have to be in the government.''

    And I am wondering if there is something that Congress can do even by inviting some of them to come here to travel together. When we go away together, we often go with people that we don't talk to on a daily basis or get along with real well, and by the time we get back from the CODEL we are getting along pretty good.

    And I wondering if there is an experience that government Members there could have by coming here and sharing some time with us that would helpful in the process.

    Ambassador EDELMAN. Congressman Saxton, I think, speaking as a former ambassador, that the experience of coming here is one of the best things you could do in any situation. And I used to regard the International Visitor Program, and the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, I would add, as probably the two most highly leveraged, valued-added things that any ambassador has in his kit bag to influence things.

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    I would say, in the short term, in the immediate term right now, the emphasis has to be on the Iraqi leadership forming a government of national unity, as General Abizaid has testified.

    I wouldn't want to divert their attention from that task right now, but I think over time, as the government forms up, I think having them come here and exposed to the Members, as well as the Members going there, is a very positive thing and provides them with some greater perspectives and some, I would add, greater incentives in some cases to do things.

    So I welcome that thought. Thank you.

    General ABIZAID. Congressman, with regard to the airlift, we can't live without the C–17 and we can't live without the C–130. And we can't get the job done without them.

    And the fact that I have C–17s as intra-theater is good, very good.

    Mr. SAXTON. Some of my compatriots here get tired of hearing me talk about this, but we originally planned to buy 222 plus, and we are now talking about stopping the buy at 180, in an atmosphere where we are using them more than we thought we would.

    In fact, we are flying them 160 percent of what we thought we would. And we have been doing that for five years. And we are going to wear them out.

    They don't build them in my district, but, operationally, I think we need them.
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    And your thoughts on that would be much appreciated.

    The CHAIRMAN. I appreciate the gentleman.

    And, believe me, we all appreciate that C–17, especially under the gentleman's great admonitions on a daily basis.

    General, these things never come wrapped in nice, neat packages.

    We have got a ton of votes on the floor. We would like to go to a second round. Members would like to come back. All our compadres are voting right now. We have got about a minute and a half left, so we are going to call it a day here.

    Thank you.

    And, Ambassador, thank you for being with us. I know you have got a lot of work to do. And we are going to stay with a close wrap with you as we walk through these next several weeks.

    Thank you very much, General.

    Any final things you would like to say before we take off here?

    General ABIZAID. No. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity.
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    We have got great troops out there doing a great job. They can get the job done.

    We need to have patience here with the Iraqis. They are trying to get the job done as well.

    And while I know we have been hard about talking about a government of national unity needing to form, I have great confidence in the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government to see this thing through and do it right.

    The CHAIRMAN. We will keep working. Thank you.

    And the hearing is adjourned.

    [Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., the committee was adjourned.]