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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 14, 2009 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT

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basra and some of the oil platforms in the south of the country. >> what are the top two major differences in the iraq and afghanistan theaters and how do they impact strategy and tactics? >> there are semple. but i think probably the top two are one, the the rain, the environment. it is dramatically different from what we experienced in iraq. i'm talking now beyond just the marine corps' area of operations. ours for the most part in the south is high dedsert. there are some mountain ranges that start to appear in the northern portions of our sector in the south of afghanistan. the terrain up in r.c. east is incredible. there's nothing in our country you can compare it to. we flew over the rocky mountains from a recent trip to california. it may start to get close, but it does not equate to sheer granite mountains that rise up
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at 90 degrees to the surface of the earth. and go to 12,000 or 13,000 feet. so it's incredibly rough the rain up there. that's causing us to adapt our tactics and recovery, our medevac capability, those types to have things, as you might anticipate. i think that's probably the first thing. the second thing, i think, is probably just the cultural itself. different language, different tribal affiliations, if you will. the tribes in iraq, i believe, had more centralized kinds of structure, decision making resting in the hands of a few sheikhs than what we're experiencing in afghanistan. it's much more decentralized, almost village to village and in that regard, it's a little tougher, i think. that said, we have done the analysis, we're still doing the analysis. in terms of what are the carry other capacities from our
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experiences in iraq that will apply to afghanistan, we think it's maybe 75% to 80%, but our focus is on the delta, what are the differences? that's where we're working to better understand the culture, learn the language, appreciate how decisions are made, what does it mean in terms of the history of the land. you know, that's our value in having them work with us. they've had a lot of invading countries and armies roll flu there. in the wise words of a colonel in kabul, without the afghan national troop, we are another invading army or stand the potential to be seen that way, unless it's seen as a national effort based through the dex direction of their government that we're in support of, if we're simply trying to do it ourselves we're pessimistic it's going to be nearly as effective. >> what type of cultural training are you doing to deal with these differences and how important would you say the continued cultural training is,
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like that being conducted by the center for operational culture and learning to success in afghanistan? >> it bleeds over to the question and the answer to that last question and we think it's extremely important. one of our lessons, i won't say learned, but a lesson reconfirmed in iraq, is that when you have the support and confidence of the local population, very positive things follow. you will gain intelligence. you will gain support. they will point out to you the i.e.d.'s. they will make it tough, as best they can, for the bad guys to come in and start to take root in that society. even to the point in some cases of arming themselves and moving actively against these folks. so you've got to -- i think you've got to understand that culture, it helps if you can speak with them, although you're never going to learn the
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language as well as they know it, it is a difficult language, but just that you're trying gets you points. the more you understand that culture, the more effective warrior you'll be in a counterinsurgency environment. we're stressing it, talking to the commanders saying, we know you're busy, but you've got to set aside time to learn the language. we can't get you to the school in california, ok. but what we can do is get instructors to your bases and stations. we're doing that. we can get you rosetta stone, that's not an advertisement, but it's a good product. we will do what we can to assist you in learning the language before you go. it should only get better thanks to your interpreter and the people you'll be dealing with. >> what would you say is the number one threat to marines in afghanistan and what are you doing to deal with it? >> to date, and i don't think it's going to change. it could because we think the
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taliban are coming off the poppy harvest and will be massing in larger numbers, that could cause more direct contact with the enemy forces, but 80% of our casualties to date have been cause by i.e.d.'s. for the most part, it's pressure plate i.e.d.'s, we have not seen the explosively formed penetrater that worked its way into iraq we think in large measure from an adjacent country there. we have not seen the level of sophistication in some of the i.e.d.'s, but we have still had casualties as a result of these buried i.e.d.'s work some fairly homemade but nevertheless effective pressure plate devices that tend to be pretty dramatic, especially when you step on them. we've done a lot of dismounted operations in afghanistan. i.e.d.'s is the answer. what we're doing about them, we have organizations that are well resourced that continue to
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work the problem. we're looking at every link in the chain to see if there's some way to move left of blast and do something about that. money, equipment, the materials that make it up, the bombmaker, the brits always felt if you go after the bombmakers, you'll at least he to diminish the effects. we're attempting that. sometimes, oftentimes it's a different person that lays the device, maybe, than that arms it system of we're looking certainly at patterns on the battlefield, where they're prone to occur, where we think they're emanating from and we put snipers and teams to try to prevent the lay and we're trying to protect our marines, we're doing that through mrams, trying to get them speedily to theater. we're having to weigh a terrible balance. in iraq we absolutely overburdened ourselveses with personal protective equipment. think average marine on patrol was probably carrying 80
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pounds. in afghanistan this the rain we talked about and -- this terrain we talked about and the conditions of stomacher will not allow us to do that. we've made jat justments to how we seed business in afghanistan. previously the commanders cited the personal equipment worn by forces. we delegated that authority down to the battalion commander and it would not upset me if they delegate it to the company commander. we're commanding of r&d people at quantico, don't give us shotgun patterns against the wall, give us a family of equipment that starts with little more than a utility and soft cover. if the commander believes that's what his ambush team needs that night, all the way over to the heavy kit you might want someone to wear on a roadway that's seen a lot of i.e.d.'s. in between we need a vest that will maybe just give shrapnel, maybe just wear the front plate, maybe both plates a
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cummerbund that will be added, we have good news on a new helmet we think will be effective against enemy fires, we're rapidly producing it and getting it to the field as soon as we can. this whole issue of what our marines wear in the environment, i think is necessarily going to be different from what we saw in iraq. we think it's the right thing to do. >> just to follow up on the i.i.d.'s, what should the joint i.e.d. defeat organization be doing more of? >> that's a tough one. i don't have a good answer for that question, frankly. i visited, they've got some wonderfully intelligent people over there that wear uniforms and that don't wear uniform they realize the importance of what they're doing. they're looking at every aspect of it that you can imagine and i would offer more. you know, i still hold out hope that someday, some guy with curly red hair and glasses and a pocket holder will come out of his garage saying, i got it,
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i got it. we'll have a device that will detect and destroy distance, but we're not there yet. that magic device has not occurred, so we continue to work as we can to try to get at the elements that wind up with that explosion. so i can't fault them for anything they're doing. they're making progress, they're putting things in the field as rapidly as they can for experimentation. and so i think they're doing a very good job. we just hope someday that they find that answer and the weapon becomes obsolete. >> what steps are being take ton cut the flow of small arms and ammunition to the taliban? >> well, most would suggest that has to come in from a cross-border type operation. that's different from iraq. in iraq, you had huge compounds, bugger systems that had ammunition going all the
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way back we beeve, to the iraq-iran war and aa -- a lot of those weapons systems were taken from bunkers and used against us and there are still as many caches as we've found probably still a supply of those in iraq. that's not so much the case in afghanistan. i think there are still some left over from the russian experience but we believe the weapons systems are mostly coming in across the border and from the most part from pakistan, from what has previously been called safe haven in pakistan. i'm encouraged that that safe haven could be going away that the lines of men and equipment coming in from pakistan can be disrupted to say the least and perhaps eventually closed. i think the introduction of additional u.s. troops into afghanistan are going to give us the opportunity to get out and work closer with the afghan border patrol units and help to strengthen their ability to
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control their borders, but that, i think, is the final answer. there has to be a more stringent border control to try to stop things before they get into the country. >> what is your opinion of the taliban movement in pakistan? does this group have close ties to afghanistan? if that they do, how do you differentiate in that border control policy? >> i think that for the most part, they are closely connected. i think the border is meaningless to them for all intents and purposes, comment they know if we're on the pakistani side there's an element of safe haven that again, in the past at least, has existed there. that's been part of the problem. we do think there's a direct connection between the al qaeda and the taliban. we think, in fact, the major purpose for us being in afghanistan is to eliminate any concept of safe haven in that country so our nation is not once again threatened by
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disastrous attack. we think that again that it has to be taken across the border and the pakistanis have to be able to do similar types of things, make parallel progress, if you will, if we're to totally eliminate the threat. that's what makes us so happy about what we've seen over the last several weeks. >> how long do you think u.s. marines will be in afghanistan? >> that's a tough question. we say we do windows, that's what made us a second land army in iraq. the army has a very difficult rotation right now, i suspect if my good friend george casey were talking to you today, he would not be quite as optimistic about the condition of his soldiers and resiliency factor, so we need to help them we need to pull our share, if you will, of that load, to try to make sure that all americaner is smiss -- service
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men and women will be there. we do think if we stay at a number that's somewhere not beyond 15,000, arguably 18,000, that we can achieve this one to two. so in some ways the number is as important as how long we stay. we beeve, based on the turnover we have, our corps is bhi and large lance corporals. i mean, our average age is around 21, 67% of our marine corps is e-3 or below. we have a steady turnover of great young people that come in, become marines, and they go out to become quality citizens. so that turnover, though it requires a consistent training and preparing people for what they face, is also an advantage in terms of your sustainability over something of this duration. so we think that we'll be there for a while, we're going to be there as long as anybody else. if the fighting is to be done, when it becomes a nation
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building role, as it has, we believe in iraq, then that's not a core competency of the marine corps and at that point, we'd start saying, is there a better use for us elsewhere and our national command authorities would make that determination. >> as the u.s. military role in iraq winds down, what do you see as the key strategic role in the u.s.-kuwait relationship going forward? >> i think it's going to be important, what's going to have to be answered is how long the iraqis will want to have a u.s. presence on iraqi soil. i think that you'll get both perspectives, they take polls on such things. but i think the iraqis who are running the country believe that an additional u.s. presence through these advise and assistbury gadse is
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helpful. more almost for an external threat, defense against an external threat than internal. i think they believe they can hand they will internal threats themselves. i don't know how long those advise and assist brigades will be there i don't think it's like a situation we had in germany or ja ban after the war. these are proud people. in some ways we're still infidels to them and in some ways it's a national embarrassment they continue to have international forces inside their country. i think it will be as soon as the iraqis feel their military is strong enough to protect them against both external and internal threats and we'll be politely asked to leave. whether or not we need to maintain a force in kuwait beyond that, whether or not the kuwaitis want to have us there, we would hope with what's happened in iraq the perceived threat to kuwait is diminished, but that's something nations will have to negotiate. i think we'll continue to have
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interest and a presence in the middle east. we have the opportunity to do that from a sea base and whether or not that'll be sufficient, again, will be a conversation, i think, for well on down range. but a lot of uncertainties out there, i think, as far as how long that will go and what the reactions of those nations will be. >> would you please clarify the marine corps' position on moving to qualm? -- on moving to guam? >> let me say that the marine corps emphatically supports the move of roughly 8,000 marines to guam. we -- my title 10 responsibility as the commandant is to examine it in its full measure and to hopefully resolve any issues that we may have. we think we're getting great cooperation from the department of defense in looking at those issues, most of them are internal. the move to guam is going to happen, and we are going to be there on that island for some
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time to come. we're in the process of trying to make sure that it's a great duty station, that our families have a quality of life, that we have the opportunity and in fact the ability, the responsibility to continue to train marines out there and be able to respond in the event of a national crisis. so it's been reported otherwise, unfortunately, because the full text of what we say as a corps is that we say it, but we want to work out the issues. we're emphatically behind the move to guam. >> you mentioned to the senate that it was going to be more expensive than originally predicted and that there were some delays, some thshes -- issues that might cause delays. could you tell us a little bit about those issues? >> well, the existing infrastructure on guam is going to need some work. the training opportunities on guam as we have assessed them
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to date suits probably a company-sized operation and that is simply not enough for some 8,000 marines. again, in conjunction with the folks in the o.s.d. policy, we are looking at expanding opportunities, perhaps with the agreement of other nations in the pacific basin to be able to put marines aboard ship and go to those place, train with host nations and do the theater engagement things the pacific commander deems to be important. we think it will be more expensive than the $4 billion estimated, but i think folks are on board with that. this issue of training is depevent upon environmental studies that have to be accomplished and those environmental studies are soon to be under way, but don't necessarily extend to all the places where we might have the opportunity to train so we're encouraging the department to gin with us in examining what might be available on some other islands in the immediate vicinity that.
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we want to make sure we've got mobility for our marines to get there. we've got pretty good ability to get off-island in ock gnaw what. there are no amphib ships assigned to guam at this time. there are things like that we have to look at so we when we deposit 8,000 marines out there that they're essentially unable to do the things we require them to do based on our presence. >> the marines will end the fiscal year 2,000 marines above, why are you still recruiting so many marines? >> the fact is, we're not. if any of you want to go on recruiting duty, now is the time. we have had to curtail our recruiters and those shipping numbers that they would traditionally be shipping at this point because, again, of our tremendous retention and the fact that they've made such
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good numbers previously. we have what we call recruiting pools, which are young men and women who have indicated that they want to go to paris island or san diego but can't ship immediately, so our staff sergeants and gunnery sergeants work with them, get them in shape, get them ready for life in the corps. one of our biggest challenges right now is motivating the pool. because they want to go in june. we told them, you're not going to go until october, then that becomes in some ways a leadership challenge our recruiters haven't had to face. it's a good problem to have, but nevertheless it's uniquely different from what we've had before. we are going to skid slightly beyond 202, i think we were at 202,124. we can without any additional authority go up to 204,000. i told our people, don't do that, let's show some management skill here, a little past 202 is ok but not much.
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we don't have the money to go much beyond that and there's no reason to do so. >> what's the marine corps doing to prevent suicides among active duty troops? >> let me give a word of background so everybody understands what's been happening here. i think it's fair to say up through last year, we were running a sign wave, the numbers one higher one year than the next and back down, they were all below the national average. one is too many, but we were -- we had efforts in the field but not the focus that we have today. the reason for that is that we had 42 suicides in the marine corps. that number puts us right at the national average. we think we're better than that. we think the things we inject into our young men and women make for better young citizens and a realization that there are other ways to tackle your problems, the resources we have available, immediately available, the leadership we think ought to be in place
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should make that all better. so we were distressed last year we had those kinds of numbers. of the 42 that we had, 35 were as a result of failed relationships, either a spouse or significant other. so we think we understand what's at work, primarily with the trend. after the oh -- of the others were because of job performance failure in some form or fashion. we think we know what's causing it. what we don't know is what's causing the cause. people have asked us, is it a result of the stress and strain from deployments? well, not strictly speaking because we have more people in this number committing suicide who have not deployed than we have who have deployed. so that tells us it's not necessarily related to deployment, but you know, there are second and third order effects from deployments. are these deploifments spoiling relationships, which in turn
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cause the suicides, i think that's something we're asking yourselves and we're trying to get after that we're also going back to say, are there other things we missed? we get a lot of marines from broken families. do we have marines who have been on some drug to settle themselves or increase their focus or whatever before they join the corps? are there other patterns we're missing? so we're going book with the recruiting service and manpower service to scrutinize not only those who killed themselves but those who attempted to, to say is there something we can seize on and try to get after. what we're doing in the mentime is focusing on our n.c.o.'s, our great young corporals and sergeants, the first line of leadership with the majority of our problem is with our youngsters, people on average between 19 and 23 years old. are our corporals and sergeants in a position where they can identify the indicators and immediately seek help or
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immediately provide counsel or leadership or whatever it takes to get this person through the depression they're experiencing? there are studies, universities that are helping us to try to do research and come to grips with this, come to answers we can turn to and work. but we really believe that with the strength of our young n.c.o.'s, we can help solve this problem and reverse the trend right now, so we're in the process of gopping the training. we're in the process of developing films and handouts, those types of things. it says in the corps, what the old man pays atension to, the troops will take care of. we hope that's one of the paradigms that works because we're paying a lot of attention. >> what's injure opinion of efforts to repeal the don't ask, don't tell policy of gays in the military? >> it's a matter of law. we're watching the law closely to see if it changes and of course we'll follow the law. we're pretty busy these days,
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there's a lot of things going on. i would hope there's some consideration given to all that is taking place before there's perhaps further efforts to make adjustments to what we think at this point is a pretty fine-tuned military. >> please address the question of miranda rights on the battlefield. >> i guess i need some amplify case on that one. >> it says, is it true there is a new administration policy requiring captured terrorists to be mirandaized or told of their rights? are marines on the way to afghanistan being taught miranda speak? >> not that i know of. you've raised a question in my mind, if someone knows something i don't know. but we have had no such indication there's changes to rules of engagement. it's been a while since i've been there, it's been about six
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days since i talked to my commander there, but that'll be a question i ask him today or tomorrow. >> we are almost out of time. before i ask the last question, we have a couple of important matters to take care of. first of all, let me remind members of future speakers. on june 25, scan casston, president 240e6 washington nationals will be here. on june 26, robert heard, chairman of the financial accounting standards board will address regulatory reform in the financial markets and on july 1, wayne klo, secretary of the smithsonian institution will address the luncheon. second, i'd like to give our guest the traditional n.p.c. mug. you should have a matched set. >> i do. [applause] >> and for our last question, what would you tell the parents of an 18-year-old who wants to be a marine?
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>> i would look the mother in the eye and say, don't worry, the safest place in the world is somewhere inside a battalion of marines. [applause] >> i'd like to thank you all for coming today. >> today on c-span's "newsmakers," senate minority whipe jon kiln -- jon kyl discusses pre35euring for the hearing of supreme court nominee sonia sotomayor. >> i was reading troubling things about her views to international laws, saying you could interpret the united states constitution by looking to see what public opinion is
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in europe. public opinion in europe has nothing whatsoever to do with what our constitution means. if that's really her point of view, that's very troubling. i mean, i would -- i could not vote for a judge who believed that. she said it on several occasions. i'm going to have to ask her, what do you mean by that? when people talk about a filibuster, understand republicans probably couldn't filibuster this nomination on our own, there aren't enough of us. even if we wanted to. and none of us are talk act filibuster, it's all in response to the media. we're not proposing this. as you point out, it would be difficult for us to pull off anyway unless democrats joined in. >> newsmakers," with senator jon kyl, today at 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> the government funding of colleges, direct aid to colleges and their students is a late 1950's, early 1960's
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thing that has grown rapidly since then. >> hillsdale college never accepted goth funding and today, not even government-backed student lobes are admitted. >> title 4 of the higher education act is 400, roughly, pages long. we have a lawyer here in town who tries to keep the government from trying to give us money and i asked him to send me title 4, he said there wasn't any kwluse, i wouldn't be able to read it. >> hillsdale college president larry arnn tonight at 8:00 on c spn's "q&a," or listen on c-span radio oar download the c-span podcast. >> this week on prime minister's question, gordon brown discusses reforms in the parliament in the wake of misuse of expense accounts, and he discusses mortgage loans and funding for new discussion. prime minister's


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