tv Central Command Operations CSPAN February 28, 2018 4:03am-6:22am EST
the house armed services committee hearing. two hours and 15 minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> the committee will come to order. we welcome back to the committee commander of u.s. central command general joseph votel. we are interested in hearing general votel's be some it changes the new national defense strategy brings to his area of responsibility. the strategy's emphasis on should t.j. competition has implications for a region where russian influence and presence is much greater now than it was
before the syrian conflict began. a region that is one of the targets of the chinese hole with nation effort to increase its way in the region where the iranians are aggressively expanding its wide arc of control to the detriment of its neighbors. these developments in the continuing threat of terrorism in and emanating from the centcom region suggests that the united states cannot afford to remove our presence from this vital area. fortunately of the number of strong allies and partners that are able and willing to actively defend our joint interest as we have painfully learned in recent years there's simply no substitute for the united states. when we withdraw prematurely the world including the threats to our homeland can rapidly grow more dangerous. the challenge however is centcom has received the lion's share military resources for some time
and while it's important to remain we have to be more active than other vital areas of the world at the same time. a recent budget agreement helps but it will take time to rebuild and rebuild the capability to any circumstances circumstances general votel has his hands full in making sure that u.s. national security is protected. i will. >> thank you mr. chairman. i asked the ranking member statement be entered into the record. i would also like to offer general votel welcome to the hearing today for the central command area of responsibility remains critical to our national security and we have to maintain appropriate security in the region. in the course of progress on a i'm encouraged the military as we all know will not guarantee long-term success. we must work with the
international community and play a whole of government approach to foster political economic and social conditions to ensure long-term stability. we cannot allow the region to follow to violent extremism again. to truly defeat isis we must be determined to secure a durable peace as we have been to achieve military victory. we have long thought a stable and stayed in afghanistan. for more than 16 years in nine states has concentrated on eliminating terrorist threats while working closely with our allies and our partners to train, advise-and-assist afghan forces to secure the country. despite progress afghan forces are still in need of assistance so where are we headed? although our command tent to extremism in iraq and afghanistan are consuming we must remain alert to other security challenges. despite an agreement including a
program iran remains a designated state sponsor of terrorism and the stabilizing influence in iraq syria lebanon and yemen. we have to dissuade confit from engaging in malign activities and we must deter russia increasingly involved in the region as well. certainly a complex set of issues general and i look forward to your testimony. think you very much for joining us and thank you mr. chairman. >> without objection your full written statement will be made part of the record. welcome back. the floor is yours. >> chairman thornburg congressman davis distinguished members of the committee good morning and thank you for the opportunity to appear to discuss the current posture and state of readiness of united states central command. i come before you today on behalf of the over 80,000 members of the command. it is a dedicated team of
military servicemembers and civilians along with dark coalition partners representing 70 nations and for international organizations many of whom are forward-deployed across some of the most dangerous areas in the world. his sacrifice and risk on a daily basis. many cases for the benefit of not only american strategic interests but also the world. our people are very -- what they do and they especially their families deserve our admiration and gratitude. it's my sincere honor to be a member of such a fine team of dedicated professionals that i'm approaching the two-year mark of my time in command for this period has been both incredibly challenging and immensely rewarding during what is has arguably been one of the most volatile times in this complex region's history. it has been 11 months since i last appear before this committee and since then we have made considerable military progress in iraq and syria afghanistan lebanon and the
maritime environment however we remain clear-eyed regarding the permanent so that progress and the challenges that they face in the future. in the past year we have achieved incredible success against isis in iraq and syria. the iraqi security forces and syrian government radack forces are operating at their most effective levels since operation in harris all began and now over 90% of the territory previously held by isis in iraq and syria is no longer under their control control. ..
>> to set us up in afghanistan. we have capability to continue our efforts against isis despite increasingly complex situations across syria and especially in the northwest province of africa to be fully engaged with the department of state to carefully balance our objectives. our partners on the ground have advanced a long way toward our objectives and we will stick with him to the completion of the fight. the iraqi security forces to
prepare the elections later this spring. the second goal is to prioritize the implementation of the strategy in afghanistan to reaffirm the commitments with those complementary military missions. with u.s. counterterrorism mission. with our support and then to seize the initiative to span population control and secure credible elections. part and parcel is the approach to engage all countries with the state in the afghanistan stability especially pakistan and our goal is to develop a productive relationship that benefits both military and supports our objectives in the region.
the third goal is to ensure we have a line on military efforts -- efforts to neutralize counterbalance with the destabilizing impact a rant across the region. make no mistake while we continue to confront the scourge of terrorism, those activities across the region pose a long-term threat to stability in this part of the world. we support the many other more effective resources and capabilities of the u.s. government and partners in this endeavor. the national defense strategy rightly identifies the principal security challenge and we see the effect of that throughout the region. in support of the slot machin machine -- has added complexit complexity -- has
added complexity plays arsonists and firefighter fueling all tensions to the regime iran turkey through the united states and other coalition partners and then to resolve disputes to undermine and weaken the bargaining position. despite that key role for the partners on the ground and the coalition have played russia puts progress at risk with their activities not focused but to preserve their own influence and control over the outcome of the situation. it is clear russia's interest in syria are russia's interest and not those of the international community. to pursue a long-term study economic growth in the region to the one belt one road policy but also improving the
military posture by connecting ports in pakistan with the first overseas military debate -- base while beijing points to both locations to support peacekeeping operations the new base import forces protection into the region both china and russia has the perceived gaps in interest by the sales of their equipment to regional partners they are both cultivating multi dimensional ties with the lifting of un sanctions under a plan of action opens a path for iran to resume membership application to the shanghai cooperation organization. in addition russia continues to bolster a friendly regime in syria. with the attempt to limit our military presence in iraq and afghanistan it creates
practical -- friction on nato partners. through this interaction are the issues of the region social economic and political challenges, high-end employment and falling oil prices in large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons and border conflicts. we at centcom stand ready to defend u.s. interest against these and other threats our strategic approach of preparing environment to pursue opportunities and working to prevail is working we have postured with purpose and pursuing opportunities to resolve. i would like to close by sharing three dynamics we say our prevailing in this region. first as a previously testified through iraq and syria and afghanistan with operations like yemen and lebanon and egypt we have adopted an approach to place a
heavy reliance on indigenous forces. our partners do not always want us to solve their problems so we enabled them to stand on their own and while this approach does have its on challenges to provide local solutions to local problems this approach is not without risk as we have seen today but in general to be very effective to pay significant dividends going forward and successful pursuit of u.s. objectives only comes from the integrated approach from the interorganizational partners defense of the nation is a team sport not just within the command with the fellow combat and companion guest command and the joint task force with the 18 country teams and other departments and agencies of
the u.s. government who have provided unwavering support for almost two decades of persistent conflict our allies are equally as critical to support our mission and directly support the centcom headquarters from 49 nations all of whom are part of the success of centcom that we are grateful for and depend on their partnership. as a national defense strategy captures strengthening those existing relationships is key to our future success. we are doing this every day at centcom. finally we cannot do what we do on a daily basis without the support of congress and by extension the american people. we sincerely appreciate this committee has maintained strong support for operations and resources and especially to the services and special operations command and other
defense agencies that we rely upon for military wherewithal. your support will remain important as we contend with the generational struggles to defend our homeland from the threats outlined in the national defense strategy. u.s. government commitment to the centcom area of responsibility is more important now than ever. for our part we will support the third pillar of the national defense strategy of business reform to be good stewards of the resources that congress provides. once again thanks to those outstanding men and women from central command easily the finest and most precious resource that make great sacrifices and contributions to ensure the command meets the strategic objective to protect our interest to make sure they have everything they need to do their job as effectively and efficiently as possible also keenly aware and grateful for the sacrifices made by our families as vital
members of the team we could not accomplish our mission without them. they to make important contributions and sacrifices every day to support us i think i'm on behalf of the command of a grateful nation i look forward to answering your questions. >> let me remind members immediately upon conclusion of this open hearing we will gather in a classified session so be in touch to know exactly when this open hearing ends. we have had a chance to visit recently so i will yield five minutes initially to the woman -- gentlelady from wyomin wyoming. >> thank you for your service and for being here today. i want to ask you to elaborate in particular with the threats of iran and one of the many
great parts of the jcp away is with the ballistic missile threat that we now see across the region that iran is transferring ballistic missiles and equipment to its allies. can you talk about what you see in this regard and what dod can do to defend us? >> you have highlighted one of the principal concerns the increasing quality of the ballistic missiles and the export and movement of those capabilities to other groups and locations around the region. certainly as we have seen with ambassador haley with her demonstration some of those items recovered from saudi arabia of these weapons posed
a threat to wyden the conflict out of yemen and frankly put our forces like our embassy and the united arab emirates at risk as well as our partners. so first and foremost is the quality and quantity they have been pursuing the last several years. their direct interruption of asymmetric capabilities concern me where we see the introduction of cruise missiles some have been modified we know that they are not the capabilities that they have been provided by someone and that is iran. the increased presence of mines or explosive votes it is all very similar to what iran has posed through the straits of hormuz and we hold them
accountable for that that is the second aspect and then the third portion is to change that projection model through the partners they are chanting to create those are significant concerns but with respect to your question we are working with saudi arabia and partners to ensure they are using their capabilities that they have many are u.s. provided to ensure they can defend themselves and i would report to you in this session we are seeing some progress in that regard. >> with respect to syria can you talk about reports we have seen recently like facilities are being built of open source iranian missile facilities? obviously the threat is significant and can you talk
more as we see the challenge to be effective against isis but obviously we still are threatened given the situation. >> as you know it is not one of the coalition missions but that said one of the most effective things we can do is build strong relations. >> it isn't formally part of the mission but it seems to me we need to be focusing this on every place we can. >> absolutely. one of the key ways is through a strong relationship we are building with a government of iraq with military forces to include not only the interior but along the border the strong relationship with the syrian democratic forces in
the east and northern part of the country put us in a position where we can impede iran's objectives to establish lines of communication through these critical areas to connect tehran to beirut so first and foremost these indirect things are very important to that but beyond that to continue to highlight and illuminate their activities is extraordinarily important so they can be addressed not just with military means but the other means available across the country. >> i will yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you general tee10 for joining us. as you just mentioned the national defense strategy is
now the primary focus of the nationals. he so can you elaborate and talk about the shift of national strategy how does that impact centcom and what if any changes will materialize as a result? and how does central command capacity to perform its mission be affected? >> those shifts out lied long -- outlined in defense strategy will take place over time so one of the principal ways we are trying to manage that is through the development with continued relationship building we have in place with partners to strengthen those relationships. one thing we have learned through this approach is that
we can do a lot to our partners by providing advice and expertise in areas where we have experience and we can do that with a smaller footprint and corresponding smaller investments so one of the principal ways to build on the relationships and empower our partners in the region. >> can you speak to the key challenges? >> certainly one will be to make sure not to have the impression that we are abandoning centcom's of course this is a key talking point for all leaders that we recognize the interest we have in this region for preventing attacks on the homeland or proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction to ensure freedom of navigation or other countries cannot destabilize is an interest that we will always have so this always require us to be engaged over some aspects but of course the secretary will make decisions of shifting resources in accordance with the national defense strategy. >> talking about solutions i wonder if you could talk about the critical strategy with counterterrorism and national security and economic social development. some of those programs have been successful but there is more to be done how can we increase the effectiveness? >> the best is to share our experiences and we learned with our inability to include
women into our operations from the fight we have been involved in missing 50% of the population in doing that when we began to introduce them into positions to have influence we learned a lot so one of the key things we could do is continue to lead by example to demonstrate how this is valued by us we do see partners in the region like the afghans are the iraqis and with the syrian democratic forces from syria and i would highlight one of the principal commanders they have very successful commanders is a female so it is very much recognized that contributions come from the entire force we mac thank you i appreciate that. i hope we can continue to do
more of that. >> mr. chairman thank you, general votel there was a report outlining the ongoing efforts building chemical weapons. says they have been shipping supplies to the syrian government including acid resistant the monitors and the technicians have been observed working that chemical weapons and missile facilities so can you comment on the report and if not can you describe the role it currently plays in syria and if you see that role expanding in the coming years? also what about this cooperation between the syrian government and north korea? >> i have not seen that report i cannot comment specifically but obviously we are concerned
about the proliferation of these weapons in syria so this will be an area we will continue to pay close attention. >> i was pleasantly surprised the new york times covered it today. my experience with that newspaper is they frequently overlook threats to the stability of the world but i urge your consideration. also a primary concern for the long-term stability of the middle east to the defeated islamic state fighters were returning home from fighting in iraq and syria so the global strategy network have looked at 5600 fighters returning home specifically turkey is 90000 saudi arabian -- or abs 760 what is the threat of the defeated fighters represent to the
long-term stability in the region? what about the proposal of those ongoing efforts to deal with this flow? >> certainly these fighters can take with them experiences and tactics that could potentially be applied other places they are radical lies so they the ability to bring others on board that is a principal concern. at the forefront of our efforts from the very beginning as you heard the secretary talk about our strategy in the conduct of our operations we always attempt to isolate these areas so that they are either killed or captured and not escape so we have been pretty successful there are some that have gotten away but with support of some of the authorities provided by congress we do
have effective programs to fight in the area and now working with the department of justice to ensure that the hundreds in the control of our partners of iraq and syria are moving into a judicial process holding them accountable and returning them to the countries from which they came. >> and not just fighters but their families and this has got to be addressed i appreciate you breaking that issue up. turkey has been an ally for nearly a century in the united states member of nato fighting saved by side with americans for freedom what is being done continue that alliance? >> turkey has been vital throughout the entire campaign and we do have serious
concerns with terrorism of course this is where some of those partners on the ground and this is to be as transparent and is clear and candid with turkey with what we are doing the day-to-day basis and just this morning i had a conversation this morning to share information back and forth keeping communication open as we discuss this very difficult challenge we are working through. >> with a multitude of issues with yemen what is the latest on efforts to provide security working with saudi arabia? >> i would say our effort in this setting is to help them defend themselves and we have made some good progress i look forward in post session to share examples.
>> mr. chairman, there was a column in the wall street journal about four days ago alleging a russian attack on special operation forces on the evening of february 7 and 8i specifically wanted to ask you what you know about that and how does this prioritize the u.s. counterterrorism objectives while trying to avoid escalation with russia? >> thank you congressman we have characterize that as pro- regime forces. we are certainly aware of the media that is talking about this but in this particular instance a very clear case of self-defense on our part so i am quite proud they quickly identified and immediately got
on the russian channel to talk with him about this before during and after two effectively brought together those right capabilities to address this self-defense threat and we have continued to do that. i would tell you we retain sufficient capability to protect ourselves and at the same time we are pursuing counterterrorism objectives in syria. >> will russia try to have more influence in the region once we push isis out of there? or do you see that relationship playing out long-term? >> what i would say is russia has failed to follow through to deliver the regime in a number of different areas. look at the un sanctions in
the cease-fire put into place the one that they helped to draft and agreed to implement to cause the regime to comply, they have failed to do that. russia has to admit it isn't capable of doesn't want to play a role in the syrian conflict. i think their role is incredibly destabilizing at this point. >> like to switch and talk about afghanistan there have been some concerns about our deteriorating relationship with the pakistanis so how important do you think it is to continue to have relationships with pakistan to adequately supply troops and part of the middle east and what are your thoughts or how that lines up with afghanistan?
>> our success in afghanistan and south asia requires a strong relationship and cooperation with pakistan since the announcement of the south asia strategy one of my principal focuses is to help pakistan and us together for what we have asked them to do in support of our strategy and they do have frequent and routine professional communications with my counterpart we talk almost weekly and meet frequently face to face and now my goal is to develop this productive and trustful relationship in moving forward together i cannot characterize the relationship as trustful at this point there is a lot of history but also we are now
beginning to see positive indicators reporting actions from the ground that they are moving in the right direction does not equal that decisive action we would like to see them take with a strategic shift but they are positive indicators and he gives me hope the approaches the right one with confidence and gives me hope we can restore this important relationship. >> i yield back. >> mr. chairman and general thank you for your service. you barely mentioned lebanon and we hardly ever talk about lebanon but there are so many problems there any other part of the world it is front and center but centcom takes a backseat.
>> lebanon is a frequent stopping place for me and my commanders. we have an outstanding investor there is engaged in the activities. were very proud what the lebanese armed forces are doing. last fall they had a pretty effective operation against isis. i do think it is an investment worth continuing. >> this is the relationship between the cozying up to hezbollah within lebanon to the conventional force give you pause? >> and frequently interact with the chief of defense in a cmb in a very professional officer. this trips over into the political environment but what i
observe in lebanon is a military that is answerable to the leadership, is doing a good job at staying a political is focused on the security of the country. >> we doing enough to help saudi arabisaudi arabia and the uniteb emirates defend themselves from iranian supplied missiles. >> i would say yes, we are focused on this particular threat and i look forward to sharing more comments about this in the closed session. >> in yemen the u.s. military has conducted a higher strike than in 2016. what positive impact if any have the strakes had money qap and on the islamic state in yemen?
>> it's have a significant impact on a qap it's impacted their ability to conduct external operations and it's got it's where they have had sanctuary and has presented them with multiple dilemmas. they're also contending with partner operations that we work with our arab partners on the ground. this is become very effective. we are extending that phthisis in yemen as well. it's not as developed but it is a system we understand where they are going and we are concerned. >> lastly, the fourth infantry division they're sending a brigade combat team in afghanistan this spring.
even though we have had budget shortfalls for the military in recent years we've made huge steps with a budget agreement to beef up military spending which ipod, so i think readiness will be less of an issue in the future. do you feel good about the current state of readiness. >> i haven't had an opportunity to visit that brigade but i'm extraordinarily appreciative of the efforts put forth by the army and the marine corps the air force and all of the services that we depend upon in afghanistan. >> thank you for your service. and for being here i like to talk more about what you began
with your opening statement about u.s. military objectives in syria and you're working to bring the campaign to responsible close, later you mention that countering iran is not a coalition mission. last month we heard from secretary tillerson about how that will remain for an indefinite time. he went on to list expansive list of strategic objectives of the military to include the diminishing influence of iran advancing the revolution et cetera. so what is the object of our u.s. forces in syria and under what legal basis?
>> the principal reason we are in serious to defeat isis. that remains our single task. part of defeating isis is removing the control of the physical train is easier. and ensuring that they cannot research. after we have removed them from the controls we have to consolidate their gains and ensure the right security and stability is in place so they cannot research. that's part of being. are part of being there was largely driven by the self-defense of iraq. when i first went there isis be
in an organization that did not here to sovereign boundaries and why we cannot address isis in iraq we had to address isis in syria. point out the syrian regime is unwilling and unable to address this particular threat. they did you operations down in the middle of euphrates valley the have largely departed that area. they've taken the pressure off of isis and created more problems. >> see u.s. forces are still operating under the 2001 a u.s.? >> yes. >> and how does countering iran
i've seen some contradiction of what the secretary of state is saying and what you stated to day it is not part of the coalition mission so as follow-up if it is then how does that fall in the 2000 that deals with countering al qaeda and its affiliate. >> my understanding is not u.s. objective. there are other ways in which we can address iran's activities through military means. the fact is even though iran is not our principal focus this campaign, our relationships with partners in iraq and syria puts us in a position where we can indirectly have an impact on the
objectives that iran is pursuing in this part of the world. i characterize it more in that regard than us actively doing something militarily against iran. >> i believe secretary tillerson was specific and speaking about this in the justification of maintaining a military presence there. under what authorization are we providing arms and direct military support to saudi arabia of what is a proxy war between saudi arabia and iran. >> any arms sales go through a process managed by the department of state. they have the principal oversight for that. the provision of fuel to saudi aircraft is provided under the acquisition crossover agreement we have in place with saudi
arabia. that gives us the authority for that support for them. >> thank you for joining us. i want to begin by getting your perspective. you talk about the navy presence in the gulf of the red sea and about it being lance centric. but we talk about the first oversee navy space, we see a single birth reserve for the chinese navy of president gigi and paying looking to expand and sustain operations run the world. from your perspective specifically what you see her u.s. navy doing to counter what you need as far as u.s. navy presence to make sure we have
what's necessary in relation to what we see is chinese aggressive expansion. >> while we do think about the lands and territory is very much a maritime theater. there's three critical points in this area and i recognize that. the resources being provided to me by the navy and marine corps are adequate to the task we have. the principal way we developed resilience is through our presence and constant presence. in both the red sea and the gulf of aden and into the arabian gulf. enter a very close partnership
with our partners. we have three combined maritime taskforces that are led out of the naval headquarters and bothering that include different nations. when i look at nations on our team and others i think ours are very strong and it's a key way to maintain our influence and pursue our interests. >> last year, the u.s. naval office of intelligence pointed out some challenges with placing a mindset that would put at risk commercial vessels, give me your perspective that only on what that threat is, we see shooting at u.s. ships what's your perspective on what were doing
looking to counter that potential threat. we know that strategically important. >> we maintain mine sweeping capabilities in the gulf and have for a number of years. some of our partners like the emirates and saudi arabia have good capability in this regard. one thing we do is work to optimize their capabilities. get them to use their capabilities and using some of our experience to help them be more effective. this is been effective in preventing a major mind catastrophe. while we are very concerned about. sixty to 70000 ships a day go
there this is a very real threat we have to pay attention to. >> to have intelligence gathering operations to look what's happening about the activities going on and what we can do to counter so keeping in is better than having to sweep them. >> i look forward to sharing the details with you in a different setting. >> thank you for being here today. america has been in each in afghanistan for 16 years. it's difficult to determine what progress we have made. the new strategy increases troop levels to 14000 troops but unable to learn from history were investing more lives and resources without a clearly defined benchmark.
i'm concerned about the fact that significant information is being withheld from the office of inspector general. according to the inspector general, it's hard to make a determination of how good a job are doing because of the afghan military is not fighting that well and there's not many of them there's ways and abuse in afghanistan. they can't get basic facts from the department how are you measuring progress in afghanistan. please describe what success looks like to you what is the amount of territory under the afghan government control and help me understand how withholding information has made a difference in our operations in afghanistan. >> we are aware of the issue.
measures are being taken to address that now. some of that information is not u.s. government information but of the afghan government so they control the release of that information. >> it's great to parlay that to the afghan government over the ones with resources in the lives of our military there. we have to get information to appease those of us have to make decisions on what investments we need in the area. >> i'm committing to making sure you have those details. he also asked about how were looking at that situation. the big idea is the reconciliation.
were trying to do that through not just military pressure but social pressure with things afghan government is doing like credible elections though are pursuing our doing it through diplomatic and regional pressure. the ideas that trade pressure on those three axis are going to create pressure on the taliban they'll come to the table. what's different is were taken a conditioned space approach focused on reconciliation as its in-state. a regional focus and were engaging not just that but the central asian states. we have change the way that we are working with the afghan forces.
we previously we are now with the additional enablers and advisers the department has approved are taken the and extending the conventional forces. were doubling the size of the air force and the special operations capability. this will give us the ability to measure the progress. ask about how much of the population is controlled by the government. today the figure 64%. 12% is in areas controlled by the taliban. our focus of the military operations is on increasing and expanding population control. what will do the season is break
the stalemate, begin to expand population and then ensure that we create an environment that allows for credible elections to take place. one of the most important things the afghan people need to see. >> what about the sharing of information but the inspector general. >> we will do our best to ensure you have the information to make the decision that are necessary. >> i want to talk about isr and i know you have a lot of partners in the area for what percentage does the i united states provide?
>> i'm not sure of the percentage overall. the majority is provided by the united states. >> what about the capacity to meet the demand for isr to have enough isr? >> i don't think you'll find any commander who says the have enough. we have the largest -- of mq nice. that's adequate for what he needs but i'm sure he would want more. we would want more and all of these areas. >> i understand the army agnostic as to the different platforms isr may come from. i assume when it comes to providing additional isr they
may not be agnostic to the timeline to get isr to the field. >> the faster we can continue the better. >> so one of my concerns and i have a tremendous amount of respect for the secretary defense and air force as they have change the strategy to a china russia strategy and are canceling the procurement of items that are not capable of fine against the russians of the chinese one of these platforms is the recapitalization of -- which we have spent hundreds of millions to develop and are ready to purchase and they have tried to cancel the because they
said though use a system that has not been developed yet which changes the timeline on when we can deliver that system to you. do the systems you use in central command have to be survivable in a conflict as high-end as that between the russians and the chinese? >> they don't if the environment is different in parts there might be another parts of the world. the environment we operate in is different than others to with. >> i appreciate any advocacy. i agree with you and i am not
opposed to developing a system you want for the fight against the russians and chinese. but in developing a system we don't want to use a system unless we have to because we don't want them together the intel will gather it every time we fly it. concerned about as we shift in strategy to china and russia abandoning platforms that work another parts the world which are very serious rates that we are in and your commanding right now. i've been on the border of syria and israel, the military objections in syria, can you outline for us what they are what they are briefly
principally it's to ensure the defeat of isis is are the principal objective is of our military campaign in syria. certainly were concerned about the weapons of mass distraction and chemical capabilities. were concerned about providing the humanitarian aid and stability that goes along with getting people in their homes. were concerned about protecting allies, that all feel the impacts of that. and we are keen to ensure that there is a political resolution to all of this. >> my time has expire. i'm glad we have a leader like you over there. thank you for your service.
>> thank you for your leadership and for appearing before the services committee to discuss the readiness and posture the activities within centcom. i want to bring your attention back to iran and its activities, perhaps covering some grounds clarifying one point that's been made iran is playing a large role in syria providing senior advisers to the assad regime delivering ribbons, cash, recruiting and encouraging foreign fighters last month iran lost much a drone of the series of events you mentioned in response to the question that we can impede to ran, can you
identify what the strategic or operational impediments are entrance way it can evaluate the effectiveness of the. >> as i mentioned one of the things we can do is build strong and resilient partnerships with our partners, weathers the iraqis or the searing democratic force, that's our partner of ground in many regards these partners share the same concerns we do. they don't want their countries or areas exploited by others for purposes of instability in this area. the relationships we develop with them, the iraqi forces help aid the movement of these
movement of activities and equipment back and forth across the borders and certainly in syria although i acknowledge our partners on the ground are very indigenous they do control important areas along the border between iraq and syria. so they can as well through their own operations make it difficult for iran to pursue their activities through these particular areas. >> that seems a little aspiration can evaluate the effectiveness of what you just described. >> were working on how we do the their very savvy in terms of how
they're doing things, it's something we are looking at of how we measure the effectiveness of it. we're only largely talking about ground routes. iran has the ability to use their routes as well to go over around all of that. they have the ability to go through africa to get to these areas as well. and we have to look at this holistically. >> let me ask one other question. i understand israel is in the the conflict in that region doesn't necessarily respect the area of operation of our different command. can you talk about in the event regardless of the likelihood of a conflict between iran and ivory zero can you talk about
what our rich readiness in the city to come to the individual. >> it's probably a question best suited for the general. >> given that it's in his area and he has a principal responsibility for that. i would say that this area not just on the israeli border the border of egypt with libya is a tough neighborhood. it's imperative for the combatant commanders to be well nested and i think under the leadership of our chairman of the national defense that we have put in place we are improving significantly in our
ability to operate cooperation with each other a very seamlessly. it's not unusual for the general and i to talk across our common areas of concern. so this is an area where we have got to continue to pay attention. i think we're doing a much better job of it. >> thank you the first question is about this attack on u.s. forces in syria. media reports alleging it's by russian missionaries. we have confirmation that they were russian missionaries and how many to think were killed
and do we have any idea if that was ordered by putin and what was their objective? >> i don't know that i can reported a thing different than what you have seen in terms of numbers of who this is. i can tell you throughout the event wearing communications with the russians, before during and after. he said this was not their brochure force. that speaks for itself and of course you see in the media that is come out after it highlights the unwillingness to take seriously the isis threat particularly if there's contractor forces in the area attempting to do this. >> do you believe there are not
russian mercenaries and driven information to cooperate the. >> do you personally believe there were not russian mercenaries at this point. >> we would characterize them as provisioning forces. the second topic is -- is in afghanistan kick in but. can you touch on the missions are doing as part of the shifted strategy were going after more sources of revenue perhaps overall and attacking the industry and the drug making facilities and how is the ten doing over there?
>> the string great i've had an opportunity to visit the squadron commander. they're doing what we would expect them to do. part of why were pushing advisor teams to a lower level is to bring capabilities to bear. in support of the afghan defense forces. you are correct. one thing that has been successful from our defeat isis campaign is going after the revenue generation. the trafficking that is fuels so this is a key focus for us at this point. >> the last administration got their way all the a-10s would be in the born nearby now. as such a critical war fighting capability and i appreciate you working to keep doing missions like this. i'm really concerned about the buildup israel's northern border of iranian backed militia
forces, any increase aggression were seen from their as the assad regime is assuring up controlling that area and the potential for escalation of a crisis. so can you speak to what you're seeing i think we share the same concerns they highlighted there. so very effectively what's in the southwestern corner of syria we been able to diplomatically adjust that. so working at the special president were continuing to keep focus on that. russia is a part of this they have responsibility to ensure that the partners better in this area are under control so they
have to be held accountable. those are akin to the violent extremists. we have to continue to address that. >> can you share any of the trends you're seeing with escalation of the last few weeks and any concerns you have. >> in these places these are becoming collection zones for a lot of unsavory organizations and eventually they will have to be dealt with. so i'm concerned that left on adjust their become bigger problems. entrance of trends i can't tell you the southwest obviously there are some concerns
producing where some of these groups to potentially pose long-term challenges will be out syria. >> think you. >> journals good to see you again. it's a pleasure to have you before the committee. i went to continue on the iran topic as well. into a deeper dive. iran supports numerous , the 50s in yemen and militias in iraq. it's using its insurgents to upset the existing order is show chaos. in addition to using cyber,
operations and warfare expanded its influence in the region. can you see how they have used these techniques to create a land bridge and if you think they been in -- >> some of this discussion is best set for a close session. iran attempts to do by creating proxy organizations is operate in areas where they have interest they're attempting to do that. we see some instances about when we look at the undisciplined shia militia organizations that are beholden to the government of iraq. it's concerning.
syndications that their acting out on behalf of the government they say they're representing but on behalf of another party. >> i want to follow up on that on a close session. the word serious loved hundreds of thousands and millions either seeking asylum as refugees are as the fight gained stability it seems some of the groups that have form partnerships may now turn their attention toward fighting each other instead. how do you see these elements aligning themselves in syria? and you worry about a shifting regional balance of power? do you feel the kurds might feel slighted with events to ward off
threats? >> with the partners we operate we have not necessarily seen the infighting among themselves. it's a large organization have kurt have pharaoh with others thrown in their that are involved in this group and frankly, in my estimation they have continued to be coherent in terms of how they're doing this. as we are competing in completing the defeat of isis overseeing is the reemergence of the underlying issues that have been in place. as we have converging forces were seeing diverging interests. i think we see this in the middle of the euphrates valley and our coalition on the ground i want the pro- regime element is focused on.
the less concerned about putting out isis than about addressing some of the opposition elements to the regime. where we have to be mindful is as the caliphate goes away and the threat of isis is removed we will see more return to the underlying challenges that gave birth to many of these problems and others in the country. those will ultimately need to be addressed through some type of geneva process to establish a process and arrangement that allows syria to be the country should be. >> seems like were at the tipping point where the state department has to play a stronger role and tried to bring about a political solution.
i hope will be pursuing that. my time is about to run off. thank you for your service and i yield back thank you for your test will. couple things have not heard discussed can you give us your thoughts on turkish operations in the partnering with al qaeda affiliates and attacks on u.s. back forces and how that will impact to strategy. >> some of that needs to be reserved for close session. we have acknowledged that turkey has concerns along the border along with pkk interests. our concern is this activity is
detracting from our efforts against isis. >> on a broader scope what actions are needed to prevent this mixture to secure the hard-fought gains against isis? >> i view russia's being at the heart of many of these issues. i'm being serious when i say they're both arsonists and firemen. fueling the trying to resolve conflicts in their favor. in trying to achieve their objectives. not necessarily the broader objectives of the international community. there has to be more accountability and pressure put on russia to do it they said they're going to do.
>> to think that pressure can come from other powers on our nato allies in turkey? >> they can come from many sources. >> can you speak also to the need to interdict the isis and al qaeda migration into this a q, boko haram another see the smell that as they have been pushed out of one area they may drift over to another. >> were very cognizant of what they're doing with their partners on the ground very concerned. one of the principal things we can do is share information back and forth. we are not seeing mass migration of the fighters.
probably is occurring but certainly this is a concern long-term. one thing or attempting to do particularly well with foreign fighters is try to get the international community engaged in taken responsibility. there's a lot that can be learned from these foreign fighters. we need to exploit that and learn what we can to prevent it. but they also need to be put back into the judicial process. >> the last question is, can you give your assessment of egyptian and saudi combined efforts on yemen and the status.
>> with respect to the status of yemen, yemen is very destabilized at this particular point. not only civil war but a proxy war playing between iran and saudi arabia we see enabled who sees trying to challenge navigation and -- and they have a counterterrorism problem that we are very focused on. from the counterterrorism standpoint were making good progress. i do not see significant changes in the civil conflict taken place has been orchestrated by the arab coalition. they need to put more effort into that. were paying attention to that
efforts to address this politically. there has been opportunities in the past i we need to continue on. yemen is an area we should all be concerned about. were seeing many problems in that area. and huge humanitarian issues and people are suffering greatly. >> thank you for being here today the ranking member and chairman for this hearing. want to speak about sanctions on iran and russia and what is your opinion on how implementing sanctions or what level of offending to think would influence activities in the middle east?
>> we don't really manage those within the department of defense. i know the secretary has recently provided information to senator corker and others with regards to other things regarding sanctions and those represent his interests. sanctions are an important part, most of these threats and as i tried to mention this is a team sport. we need the instruments of our national power whether diplomatic or informational to kick in on these things. when were able to bring those together to include things like sanctions we have the best effects. there are some very good areas where sanctions will make a difference. we need to look at the impact on
our partners. granting waiver authority to the secretary of state is a good approach gives us the flexibility we need. i look at it as a key part of the whole approach. >> you feel like you're getting enough support in this regard? >> i do. i know it's a continuing area of topic. >> also want to switch over and talk about syria. what is the communication stand after russia aligned attacked in early february. how are things going? >> there has been no change in communication channel via pat. it remains an effective way to
the conflict our forces and our airmen stay safe from the people on the ground safe. >> thank you. >> just a follow-up, what you say to our nato allies regarding our support for kurdish elements in syria? what message do we communicate. >> the message that i have conveyed is that our kurdish partners a multiethnic force and a greater effort has been the most effective force when we need them to finish this fight one of the first things we need to acknowledge so our attempts
to be transparent and clear. >> they don't draw that distinction. of course that is the tension. >> not part of the coalition to counter iran and syria. howard you characterize this in syria vis-à-vis iran. whatever trying to do too iran and syria? >> are broad u.s. government objective is to limit iran's influence in syria. as we have seen, they are attempting to our unmotivated
fighters that could pose threats to other vital partners here we of interest in trying to limit their influence and activities. >> i want to say that if there's any influencing gaining in syria we need to limit the perhaps some clarity how would you look at our strategy i characterize it as teacher, assure, and compete. we have to have capabilities in place to deter the ballistic capabilities against her partner and assure that they can erase their declare weapons capability. we have to assure our partners
when it line up our coalition ours is much more capable. so continue to develop those relationships is important. showing our partners will be there. not just militarily but with other instruments of power. this is pushing back and going back on their narrative and in the areas we must preventing them from moving their weapons and other things that pose threats to our partners. >> to that reach a limit in syria? is a reasonable be a less aggressive there. >> i think my point is that as we formed the coalition to defeat isis that has the
military and political component one objective that is not been assigned as country and iran. his focus on the isis mission. >> in iraq to think were actively competing with them on thinking of the biggest phenomenon. and others are terrorist. >> certainly addressing the pms is something they'll have to do one of the best things we can do on the ground is be in a good and value partner to the iraqi security forces. the assistance united states and coalition to demonstrates this and those that i talked to on a
regular basis deeply value that. and they look forward to maintaining this in the future i want to thank you for your service and the great work of everyone in your command. my particular concern is about afghanistan that i discussed with you reconstruction report says that were not making progress us population centers we lost a little bit of ground from the last report. i supported the effort to increase troops and i think you have a clear strategy as far as the five points of the special forces and replace their
platforms and help the police put more pressure on pakistan. the clear strategy that makes tremendous sense. you're doing a tremendous job. the problem is the backfilling. your testimony talked about how the uncertain continues to suffer from a professional governmental capacity deficit competing interest and corruption. my concern is that your colleagues on the civilian side don't have a clear plan for the military has. so who's the recluse partner on the civilian side in this effort and what you perceive their strategy to be?
i don't see them putting out a clear plan that lady not a clear plan. so can you comment on. >> i think the principal partner rebecca is the ambassador. i think we have an outstanding ambassador on the ground is engaged in and i think were beginning to address the things that you have talked about. as i mentioned the military missions are the easy part of addressing the situation. and then the political resolution that has to take place because when you have to address the deep underlying issues that gave way to the conflict we just resolved.
tomorrow in kabul the president there and will be hosting a conference that will look at counterterrorism and will be an opportunity with 25 nations to do that. there are efforts underway to help devise ways to move forward with reconciliation. it is complex. the taliban is not a singular group to deal with. it's broken and fractured. we have to look at reconciliation and reintegration as well. the task in front of the diplomats is a complex one as they move forward. i think it's a challenge and they are moving forward and is
to begin to address this effectively. we plan military, social, and diplomatic pressure to bring the taliban to the table. >> years say that they're trying to cooperate more historically. what you see happening with pakistan other than the sharing of information and what we hope to expect as far as progress in the governing of the on go for and areas? >> pakistan is a country that has suffered greatly from terrorism. perhaps as much as anybody in the region around the world. they have taken measures to address terrorism within their borders. that has contributed over the
years to slowly increase security of the area. we have to recognize that up front. our approach is to continue to be engaged with them. want to have a candid discussion and build trust in this relationship. the history is a long history here and we share many interests and they share many things in common with us culturally, militarily and politically. we have to work with them to move them interactions the constant to make strategic changes in their approach. i don't know that we can put a time limit on it. racine positive indicators and need to assure that we don't overlook these as we move forward and build on these.
>> thank you for service and for being here. there's no place in the world were iranian backed proxy forces are stabilizing future of the train, is there? >> i would not characterize it that way. >> in july 2015 we have the birth of the jcpoa. gc iran has made the same investment in their proxy forces or reduced investment or an enhanced investment? . .
great deal of work with centcom frequently they are sent home then deployed they find themselves fighting a very similar enemy with radical islam extremist through iran and the terror proxies. if there are training activities through the western hemisphere and essentially redeployed. >> i'm not sure i can answer that in this setting but i am sure there probably are. >> we may check that out later today but then the capabilities in the development of the arms terror proxies that they are investing in whether guerrilla capability or development of explosives?
>> i think all of the above. from what we have seen in the past we are concerned about the decreasing use of these missiles and this is very concerning with their use of you a s is concerned as a threat but one of the other things looking at what iran did it took 15 years for iran to do in lebanon what has the law will attempt over five years in yemen. this is very concerning to us. they are accelerating their pace and this is something we have to be very concerned about and this is something we have to be very concerned about what had to do list activities in the western hemisphere with that what we
have seen now in our own backyard both in volume and in quantity and as we look at the particular missile systems that you mentioned or areas they may be used to allies of israel, do we see the iranians hardening their position in southern syria? and what feedback have we gotten from our allies? >> i think what we have seen public media that they have some of these locations that they pose a threat. so in this setting i would leave it at that. >> there are some concerns there. >> thank you mr. chairman mack.
>> we heard from admiral harris and centcom has faced a lot of missions so please t mise and are you getting what you currently need? >> we are. i would be happy to go off the record to give more detail but with the support of the department was the supply rates and key munitions that we have been managing that for some time also looking at the success from iraq and syria and that has allowed us to address our issues in afghanistan and i will not comment on the broader department wide challenge but we are being supported well right now. >> are the other combatant
command get what they need? >> that is probably a better question for them. >> switching gears has qatar been a dependable partner? >> they have. they have the air operations center there and they have helped us in the past. >> so between the other partners between the saudi and qatar does that affect any of our operations? >> it hasn't had a significant effect on the military opportunity we made this clear from the beginning but it has been largely successful. >> i yield back. >> thank you for being here
today going back to afghanistan, can you comment more specifically how can you as a 39 member nation coalition, is that continuing to weaken or to have a more optimistic outlook? >> the coalition remains very strong one of the things that underpins the roadmap for the security forces was the commitment made by the partner nations to make sure that the support would be continued so we have them continue to sustain and increase their contribution contributions. >> so in some places which nations are increasing their commitment?
>> usa increase their recent contributions. >> a moment ago that pakistan has paid a significant price and has suffered greatly what is your quote it in your testimony you say the taliban and the leadership the fighters continue to find sanctuary in pakistan but then the next page you talk about the discontinuing of the support of pakistan. can you dig deeper into that? what is working to bring pakistan back into the table to provide sanctuary? >> i think some of that pressure the government put on pakistan as we draw of that strategy contributed to that
also the approach that we have tried to be clear in terms of what we needed and what i have endeavored to do in a private way is develop a relationship that allows us to provide both ways so this is a two-way street ministry make sure we have those feedback loops in place to try to support each other and moving forward in that regard i would be happy to talk about this in a closed session but that is about building the trust from this relationship that has been missing for a long time.
>> is there a plan to re- continue the support of pakista pakistan? >> i don't think we have addressed that. >> so we remain in a posture? >> the current posture and hopefully have the opportunity. >> again it has created some of the pressure with regards that are looking for the equipment or our understanding and respect in terms of what we have accomplished. so again it is about relation building and that is my focus. >> pakistan continues to provide a strategic logistical efforts has that continued to operate?
>> absolutely it is absolutely vital. >> i yield back. >> general, could you tell us how these service members are deployed at this moment? >> the generally don't talk numbers in public but i would be happy. >> there is a lot of reporting on this so you should be able to give the ballpark. >> we are at the level the department of defense has approved for us in this area and we will maintain that going forward. >> can you maintain that level? >> i think there are some numbers that have been put out i don't recall the most recent
but i would be happy to follow up. >> so how many are operating in syria? if i get a similar answer? >> right to the department of defense basically said around 1700 but i would offer the same response. >> and answering the question of what our purpose is you said the task is to defeat isis is that reason for military presence? >> it is. >> but we no longer have a military presence in syria otherwise? >> when we have completed our mission here in syria not only kicking isis out of the area but also the consolidation and
gains that allows us to move forward with a political resolution that is by the leadership so how we gauge our military support. >> the first answer is clear if there are no longer isis combatant than there is something we could do but could you do find that that is in terms my constituents can understand? >> we will continue to do is ensure that the areas consolidated are gained to stabilize the area to ensure those international organizations can come back and they can get into their homes about creating the security environment and
provides the time for diplomats to provide the solution that we are seeking to the united nations in syria. >> so even after isis is gone there is an "in-depth" military commitment from the united states of america from that description you just gave me. what is the legal justification to be there after isis is no longer there? >> but the fact is they are still there. >> but my question is after isis is defeated what is the legal justification for u.s. service members to be deployed in syria? >> the principal thing is to ensure that isis does not reemerge in this area. just because it doesn't control terrain doesn't mean
it isn't not present so we have to ensure they don't have the opportunity to research. so with your? the legal authority i would cite the principal legal authority is self-defense and the unwillingness and inability of the regime to address this particular threat that posed a threat not just to the country of syria and iraq but much broader group of countries around the world. >> my understanding the administration used 2001 authorization use of military force as justification as a premise for the attacks of 911 and but the question after
isis is defeated that in every country that there isn't and isis presses going forward. a recipe for disaster we will have accountability or prosecution if it cannot define its goals. i yield back. >> this is what happened when we left iraq completely 2009 after he supposedly defeated al qaeda in iraq. >> we saw the rise of isis with the ability of the security forces to effectively address it as it was growing. >> general, according to the worldwide threat assessment director codes from the intelligence community assesses from the popular
mobilization committee remain the primary threat to u.s. personnel. do you agree with that assessment? >> i do think they could pose a threat to our forces on the ground this is something we are very vigilant and are paying close attention. we have not seen that at this particular point but it is something we are cognizant of. >> how is centcom working with the iraqi government and other partners to address this? >> certainly the iraqi government to address the paramilitary force what we are doing as part of the broader security sector reform the support to the government of iraq encourage them to take
the steps with the right leadership and those that are beholden to the government of iraq we do this with the systems and the government to iraq. >> now to follow up overall, what happens trying to control the region? >> one of those principal roles is to build partnerships around the region and to be resilient against this particular threat to make sure they have the wherewithal to protect themselves and developing partnerships is a key piece of this to make sure
we have the right military capability in place to deter iran from taking action with their missile capabilities they are developing so we have deterrence and then we have to challenge them for some of the things they are doing we could do it militarily but also with national power that is available. >> that raises some questions that will be appropriate in the next session. i yield back. >> thank you for your leadershi leadership & as for time deployed to draw more into the influence with specific problems i think
maybe more so they have advisors, they have fighters petroleum, and it appears that what i am hearing from you is that we do have a grander strategy to focus on iran and we really don't have a strategy of iran's influence in syria. is that your characterization? >> i don't think i would characterize it that way. there are things that are appropriate for the military to do and that is the angle that i talk about there are other parts of the government and other capabilities that we have within the national resources that can address
orion long -- iran's malign activities. >> do you agreed is unacceptable for iran to have long-term presence in western syria? >> it would be if it is in threat to our partners or further destabilization of the region. >> is it acceptable or acceptable to build a land bridge? >> it is unacceptable the purpose is to move legal technology to put the capabilities in the hands of the fighters to use their member. >> what about iran launching into israel? >> i'm not sure that is probably a question for the iranians.
>> there seems to be a recent decline in the persian gulf of the iranian trips in my long -- if said why is that? >> that is true we have seen a decrease in the interactions i think principally because of the strong rhetoric rather the strong discussions over the lack of professionalism over the maritime forces and how they operate and that has gotten their attention and i do think they are concerned about our stronger position on some of iran's activities just beyond their weapons program so they are paying attention to that but i will tell you is f uavs so while it decreases activity in this area but the
increasing use that could pose a threat to maritime activities in the region. >> thank you so preventing shipments in lebanon from iran? >> that is beyond the discussion in this room. >> back to the previous question asked by the air force to determine if we should be capitalize or do we let that go away for new capabilities? although to have your perspective? >> from combatant commander i am and dependent upon those services of those capabilities and we are very satisfied with that so which platform or not
but we are more concerned with that capabilities certainly the joint stars provide the targeting indicator capability but it also provides command and control that comes with these capabilities. with our use i want to draw all of these capabilities into a scheme from this particular theater. >> i yield back. >> so the first question is we are working whether predators or whatever getting those two
allies to saudi arabia or the emirates and we even offered them to use u.s. contractors so they can prosecute their own targets so the question is can we tolerate the reality that is the self-imposed restraints with the uav technology but the chinese can so i think we missed a big vintage. >> i think that opportunity to improve the interoperability whether isr or other systems these are all opportunities for wherever we can.ideration.
>> second, in terms of iran and iraq with his arm around every single so when he puts them in training and you have spoken to this specifically do you think it is possible to extract iran or with what is happening in syria? they are dug in deeply. >> i think certainly through the strong relationships we
are developing and one of the things i have observed is whether jordan or sit side yeah or key nations in the area they are very much emerging trying to be much more involved but then that difficult neighborhood but the enemy of the enemy is our frien friend. >> if those power players with those weapons and our gear right now, the iraqis can reach out all they want but the power is uncertain is that
not where the power lies in your opinion? >> i certainly think there is an influence there no doubt but again, i do see through the iraqi leadership a very strong sense of dependence and i am -- desire to protect iraq's we have to continue to build on. >> you are confident we will not see the iranian control line to run through syria down to israel and those tanks? you do not see that happening? >> i wouldn't speculate like that but i will tell you but the opportunity to prevent that is to stay engaged and
continue to be the valuable partner that we have been for them and continue to professionalize their forces and their capabilities so they are beholden to themselves and not to others and they don't allow themselves to be exploite exploited. >> we are not always right to we end up helping i really hope right now with the iranians we have not messed up as we have in the past. >> just to follow up on two questions that you have been asked directly started the hearing talking about the considerable success to eliminate control from eliminating territory. is there a reduction of u.s.
capabilities from iraq especially due to that success? >> it is part of that process and that success gives us the ability to move those resources with that engineering capability to be acquired on the ground to reposition to be sure that general mickelson has what he needs to be successful and as the situation continues we will continue to make smart decisions to keep one more piece of equipment that is needed to support the mission and that is what we are pursuing. but trying to do it as smart as we can. >> we don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past. but at one point and
especially with iran and al qaeda and and yemen but is there a terrorist threat. >> i have not been addressing many of the concerns of al qaeda and the arabian peninsula to address their leadership and some of her exclusive capabilities inherent in this organization is important to understand the long-term organization we all have to be concerned then to
take the pressure. >> you talked about the humanitarian and everything that is going on but don't lose sight they continue to have a terrorist threat. >> i think we are good for now. thank you for being here and we will adjourn the open session and in about five minutes reconvene upstairs. [inaudible conversations]
but the specificity from some of those so i do think that we ought to be alert for that potential russia uses some sort of mercenary force to camouflage their activities. not only in syria but other places. >> what about the hearings in the future so i am just curious if we have an update on that? >> obviously to have overall
responsibility for afghanistan but general matus has been particularly sensitive to patrolling or -- from pulling combatant commanders out because of the importance of their job. >> and having conversations back and forth but over the meantime. >> card to what you see but they are the arsonists to enable the machines to expand
the conflict through those terrible disasters. sometimes we lose sight of the fact of how many people, innocent civilians have been affected by this conflict. so i would see -- say they are more arsonist and we do have communications with them so the planes don't run into each other. but they are clearly trying to exploit that situation for their benefit. >> you brought up concerns at the end of the hearing about withdrawing from iraq before the end of the mission. are you concerned right now? >> no. one of the reasons i asked that at the end there has been
significant success in iraq. he says we have withdrawn into people and capabilities have regrouped as a result so it is appropriate on the other hand i don't want to leave completely because resolve that was a disaster under the obama administration so to be engaged with partners to ensure we don't have isis 3.0 is important and all or nothing approach is not wise and we have seen that. >> what about syria there were questions. >> syria is such a difficult situation there are legitimate questions what the objectives are there. this is among military forces
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