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Senate Armed Services Committee Holds a Hearing on NATO Enlargement and Post-Conflict Iraq (3)

Senate Armed Services Committee Holds a Hearing on NATO Enlargement and Post-Conflict Iraq (3)

General Peter Pace: Sir, uniquely to this operation right now, the Joint Forces Command has already established a lesson learned team that it embedded with General Franks at every level of his command structure. So, literally, as they are executing the day-to-day missions, Joint Forces Commands team is calling out the lessons to be learned and feeding both to the commanders in the field, so they can take immediate action, and then back to us so we can rearrange our training...


Senator John Warner: All I'll say is you know full well the trains in motion. And I think this committee would be highly receptive if you and the secretary had some views that could be incorporated in this legislation.

As I'm told there will be no more supplementals this year. Do you believe that?


No, you don't have to answer that question.

General Jones, last night, again, we had the pleasure of being together when you were honored. But you spoke out very sincerely, and I also added a few comments, when I had the privilege of saying some words, about the importance of the industrial base.

We, daily, observe the magnificence of the performance of the uniformed personnel, but it's the equipment that the Department of Defense has conceived and researched and developed and produced together with the support of the Congress, that in large measure makes possible the gains that we've made so far. And, certainly, the example given by General Pace of that SOF rescue operation, the extraordinary equipment that was used there.

And I point out that, Mr. Secretary, the briefings that we receive each morning here in the Senate by the senior members of your department, which have been excellent, by the way. We had, one day, the modern-day soldier who is on the battlefield in Iraq in full equipment come up and demonstrate what he and she are wearing.

And it's in the multiple thousands of dollars, indeed the weapon itself is over $20,000 in value and the night vision equipment and the armored protective vests. It's extraordinary. But again, that's the innovation of America's industrial base that has brought to bear a high degree of protection against harm for these brave troops operating.

So I want to thank you, General Jones, and I want this hearing record to reflect your thoughts on that, as well as my own.

Turning to another issue, on lessons learned, Mr. Secretary, you'll come forward.

I got a call from the secretary yesterday on a matter that's near and dear to his heart. And by the way, tell him I'm going to go to work with it. I'm going to meet with the House and see what I can do on that posting of a particular individual in a particular country. You know of what I speak.

Paul Wolfowitz: I know what you mean.

Senator John Warner: But on the Middle East, the president of the United States in meeting with the prime minister of Great Britain -- and what a magnificent partnership those two men have formed and the leadership they've provided -- made direct relationship to the need for our country to proceed to the work of the quartet on the strategy for a resolution of the Middle East situation.

Senator John Warner: Could you have a few comments on where that stands now?

Because I think there's a direct relationship between our nation joining Great Britain and others in trying as best we can to work with the respective governments of Israel and what I perceive is a potential government now with the prime minister of the Palestinian country towards some resolution.

And I think that ties into the post-Iraq conflict, because to the extent we can succeed in the post-Iraq resolution of problems it could be influenced by, hopefully, a lessening of the tensions emanating from that tragic crisis between the peoples of those two nations in the Middle East.

Paul Wolfowitz: We need someone from the State Department here to comment on the details of the negotiations, but let me two strategic observations.

Senator John Warner: Don't be modest. You've spent your life in foreign affairs, Mr. Secretary.

Paul Wolfowitz: Well, I know, but...

Senator John Warner: I know you try and stay on your side of the river.

Paul Wolfowitz: Exactly. So therefore let me comment on it from a strategic perspective.

I think, number one, you're absolutely right that it is going to help us enormously in our overall posture in the Arab world, indeed in the Muslim world and the whole war on terrorism, if we can follow up what I think is enormous success in Iraq, although still a lot of work to do, with progress on the Arab-Israeli issue.

And it will particularly be important, I think, in how Arabs view us. There are negatives in what's just happened. Although I think ultimately, hopefully, people will understand that this was the liberation of an Arab people.

I hope they will understand, by the way -- Americans need to understand -- this was not just an American or coalition fight, that thousands of Iraqis have died fighting this dictator, that they didn't rise up immediately this time is partly because tens of thousands of them were slaughtered the last time. That we had a secure base to operate out of in the north was because the Iraqis of the north, primarily Kurds, but other Muslims as well, had successfully liberated that part of the country.

But it will be important in our image in the Arab world that we be doing more than just military action in an Arab country, and I think particularly that we can make some progress on the Arab-Israeli issue.

The other comment I would make is, I am -- what's the right word -- I guess cautiously optimistic that the removal of Saddam Hussein as a major disturber of the peace and as a man who financed terrorism and rewarded suicide bombers will improve the atmosphere for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Senator John Warner: My concluding question before turning to Senator Levin. Much has been said about this very interesting individual, yet controversial, Chalabi.

And could you clarify what you understand his role to be?

Because your department fostered his trip into Iraq, presumably, and together with several hundred persons, either former Iraqis or Iraqi descent, that want to participate in the concluding phases of this operation.

What is his role specifically and those that accompanied him?

Paul Wolfowitz: Let me put it in a broader context. I mean, our department and another agency of the government have been supporting all kinds of resistance groups with material assistance, information assistance, in some cases with weapons, some of it overtly, some of it through other channels.

This is not a unique case. I find some of the press commentary on the subject sort of verges on paranoia.

Chalabi is one of a number of Iraqis who have played a significant role during the darker period of the 1990s in calling attention to the plight of the Iraqi people and trying to unify them and mobilize them.

I recall the experience in 1991, when he took the initiative and was able to bring together six Iraqi leaders, the two chief Kurdish leaders, two Shia and two Sunni, to meet with Secretary Baker and National Security Adviser Scowcroft.

He's not an insignificant figure, but we're also not trying to anoint him or anyone else as the future leader of Iraq. You can't talk about democracy and then go around and say that we're going to pick the leaders of a democracy.

What we hope to have is a process that will be unique, or certainly unique in Iraq's modern experience, but not unique in American experience, where people get up and speak and they get up and debate and their neighbors say, "Oh, I think that makes sense;" or, they say, "Well, that may make sense, but that SOB was actually working for Saddam and killed my brother." I mean, you need a process of exposure. I would note, it's an interesting picture, Chalabi spoke in Nasiriyah to a crowd of some 10,000 people.

We didn't assemble them. It's interesting that he can summon a crowd of 10,000. It is useful, as reported by our people on the ground, that he had a calming effect in Nasiriyah, which is useful.

But we're not singling him out. I'm a little puzzled at how much press commentary that suggests that we're singling him out. he's one of many Iraqis that we hope will debate and discuss and give the Iraqi people, who are increasingly free to voice their views, a chance to decide who they like and by what process they want to pick their leaders.

Senator John Warner: Well, I think that clarifies exactly the question that I raised, and I thank you, because I've studied him. I have not met him. I think I would be interested in meeting him some day.

But he seems to be an individual of great courage and has a love for the history of Iraq, and hopefully some day the restoration of that nation to its prominent and important role in the world scene that it once had.

Paul Wolfowitz: He is all of that, Senator, but his status as a political leader is going to have to be decided by Iraqis, not by Americans.

Senator John Warner: You know, I'd venture a view that I think we will live to see the day when Iraq becomes a very influential country in a positive way throughout that region.

I hope that's the end result of the tremendous sacrifices that have gone about to make it possible. Thank you.

Paul Wolfowitz: I hope so very strongly. I remember years ago, not so many years ago -- 20 years ago when people were saying that Marcos was the best leader you could find in the Philippines, saying the Koreans were incapable of democracy -- all kinds of pessimism about what other people can do.

We hear a lot of that pessimism now about Arabs. I think it's misplaced and wrong, and I hope the Iraqi people now have a chance to show the whole world that it's wrong.

Senator John Warner: You know, we're fortunate to have your service in public office today, because you draw on an enormous background of experience and observation over many years.

Thank you.

Paul Wolfowitz: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator Carl Levin: Secretary Wolfowitz, the news this morning indicates that the Iraqi Kurds have apparently taken over the city of Kirkuk, and that's a strategic place for many reasons, including their oil fields. I know that we have some Special Forces in there and that there's more forces apparently, I gather, on the way. Do you see any possibility here that the Kurds are going to attempt to maintain control over Kirkuk?

They now have, I gather, a large number of tanks that were abandoned by the Iraqi army. Do you see any possibility of that?

Paul Wolfowitz: We already have -- the numbers are growing as I speak, so let me not try to put a number on it -- large elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade have moved into Kirkuk to establish coalition control over the city and to reassure everyone including, notably, the Turks, that this concern of theirs that somehow the city would be taken over by Kurds and the Turkish population of the city, which is substantial, would be mistreated or even driven out.

Paul Wolfowitz: And we have invited the Turks to have some, I guess you'd call them observers or liaison officers in there with us so they can have transparency into that. And I alluded earlier to Secretary Powell's conversation today with Foreign Minister Gul, in which he assured the Turks that we were on top of this situation and trying to manage it successfully. And I am reasonably optimistic that that will be the outcome.

We have said repeatedly to the Kurds that this is one of those things that can't be allowed to happen; that Kirkuk is a potential --a potentially explosive situation if they were to try to assert themselves unilaterally.

I think we do need to have a process going forward and it's going to take some time to resolve some really tragic issues, because the Iraqis made it a practice of driving Kurds, and I think to some extent Turks, out of their homes and replacing them with Arabs. Their goal was to make it a city that they could control. And that's a process that has be reexamined, but in a legal and peaceful manner.

Senator Carl Levin: What's the percentage of Turkoman versus Kurds in Kirkuk? Do you know off hand, roughly?

Paul Wolfowitz: I don't think you can know it, because a lot of the Turks, in fact a lot of people in general were pressed to arabize their names. There is no realistic census. There are large numbers of both.

Senator Carl Levin: Do you know whether we have more forces in there now than the numbers of Kurdish fighters at this moment?

Paul Wolfowitz: No, I don't know the numbers. I know we have more capable forces.

Senator Carl Levin: General Pace, the last few days it's obvious that with the destruction of Saddam's control that there is a lack of law and order. And that local police have apparently also disappeared in Baghdad and in other cities.

Does that mean then that our military personnel, who are not particularly trained in law enforcement are going to have to, for at least some time, be there restoring law and order?

General Peter Pace: Senator, I think it's true that we are going to need to provide stability throughout the country as we liberate the various sections. One of the things that we are trying to do is exactly what the Brits are doing as part of their coalition right now, which is to seek out the former police officials, determine -- as definite -- as best they can, determine their acceptability to the local population to continue to provide law and order and to enable them to do that.

But either the coalition forces themselves or the police force reconstituted will need to provide stability in that nation.

Senator Carl Levin: Are we seeking help from other countries to provide police forces, gendarmerie?

General Peter Pace: We have given to our State Department a list of capabilities that we believe would be useful to include police type functions in the post-Saddam rebuilding of the country. And our State Department is going out to other nations asking them to contribute along those lines, yes, sir.

Senator Carl Levin: Have we had any success yet?

General Peter Pace: Sir, I do not know.

Senator Carl Levin: OK. And then finally, Mr. Secretary, back to you, relative to the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, what role, if any, will that office play in the establishment of the Iraqi interim authority?

Paul Wolfowitz: By the way, we probably ought to -- should have named it the Office of Construction and Humanitarian Assistance, because a lot of it that's got to just be done from scratch. But anyway, sorry for the side comment.

I think the establishment of the Iraqi interim authority is going to be something that's going to have to be worked out really at a higher political level. We're talking about how to have a process that legitimizes what is merely nonetheless a kind of traditional arrangement. And clearly, the -- that office will be our key bridge to the interim authority, our key point of contact with the interim authority. But it's not the main organization to set up the interim authority.

Senator Carl Levin: Actually, there was one other question. Senator Warner is also on his way back.

But on April 8, Dr. Rice, Condi Rice, said that Afghanistan might not be a perfect guide, but there is some experience with interim authorities.

Is there any possibility that there might be something like the meeting that was held in Germany, which selected Dr. Karzai as the Afghan interim leader and that that might be used as a model for the Iraqi interim administration?

Paul Wolfowitz: Well, one thing that certainly would not be a model would be to hold it outside of Iraq. I mean, we were in unique circumstances in Afghanistan. We had to do it in a foreign country.

What we are hoping to start with this meeting that is scheduled to take place next week is to have a kind of rolling dialogue where Iraqis that we can identify as notables or potential leaders or with distinguished credentials of one sort or another, can come together and begin to debate the issues and need to begin to define what the issues are.

And not to do it in a single meeting, but to do it -- I don't know if this is a fair way to describe it, but we would envision a kind of series of town hall kinds of assemblies in different parts of the country, where the issues can get elevated by Iraqis, not by foreigners, where I think the whole world, and most importantly Iraqis, can get some idea of who are the people that can articulate positions well, who seem to speak for more than just themselves.

Paul Wolfowitz: And that out of that process we would hopefully be able to reach some kind of consensus on how to set up this interim authority. It is a much more developed society than Afghanistan.

It doesn't have the tribal structure that Afghanistan had, so the idea of an interim authority, I think, applies. But the constitution of it is very different.

Senator Carl Levin: Will the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance be organizing those meetings around Iraq, starting with one next week?

Paul Wolfowitz: The main focus of that office is to get the food and water and electricity going.

Senator Carl Levin: Who will be organizing the meetings, then?

Paul Wolfowitz: General Franks is going to be the host of the meetings. We're organizing them in partnership with the three coalition countries that have troops on the ground, the U.K., the Australians and the Poles.

We're inviting the U.N. and other coalition partners to come as observers. It's, we're basing it on the various ways in which we have had of identifying people as potential leaders.

That includes people we've dealt with over many years as part of the external opposition. It includes people in the north who've established themselves as clear leaders in the north.

But, increasingly, and this is the phenomenon we're dealing with, increasingly it is people who are coming forward out of liberated areas in the south and identifying themselves as representing something substantial.

Our only criterion is that to come to this you need to have a commitment to a free and democratic Iraq, and not be a Baathist killer.

Senator Carl Levin: You would supply to the committee the procedures, the description of who's invited to these meetings? I think it would be helpful to us for the record.

Paul Wolfowitz: OK. I would emphasize that, you know, it's a process more than a blueprint.

Senator Carl Levin: To the extent that you have any ...

Paul Wolfowitz: And we'll keep you posted as it rolls.

Senator Carl Levin: Thank you.

Senator John Warner: Senator Levin, I think that's a very important line of questions, and really I somehow wish that this very valuable segment of your testimony had been shared by more colleagues.

I think you've laid it out quite well here in this concluding colloquy with my good friend and colleague.

Paul Wolfowitz: I appreciate the questions, and I hope the answers have made it clear that, and I imagine the two of you understand it better than I, because you've been in the midst of the rough-and-tumble of American politics.

Democracy is a messy thing.

Senator Carl Levin: It doesn't show, though, does it?

Paul Wolfowitz: And as Churchill said, though, it's so much better than the alternatives. And people who said that this horrible dictator provided stability should ask themselves what kind of stability was he providing?

But we should understand that there is a lot of uncertainty and unpredictability about a democratic method.

Senator John Warner: I think Churchill he knew of no better.

Paul Wolfowitz: OK, thanks, I stand corrected.

Senator John Warner: I'm fascinated with that chapter in history. When we ask questions about General Garner, don't misconstrue. This committee wants to be supportive.

We think this is -- I think I can speak for the committee -- is a constructive step to give this distinguished officer, now retired, these challenges.

Is there a document which sort of gives him a mission statement, to here the parameters in which you are to operate? And perhaps you can provide that to the committee so we understand it.

Paul Wolfowitz: I'd be happy to be.

Senator John Warner: My consultation with the secretary, Senator Kevin and I visited the secretary the other day. He said he hopes to have him physically, together with his organization, in-country -- may well be there now for all I know -- showing that he's to step up even before the final phases of this operation militarily and begin to undertake his task.

He will be reporting directly to CENTCOM, is that it? Correct? That's his chain of reporting? Paul Wolfowitz: That's correct. Events have really out-paced any plans we drew, so...

Senator John Warner: I don't doubt that.

Paul Wolfowitz: ...the thought is to move him up here sooner, up north sooner than we had thought.

Senator John Warner: I just want you to depart here with the feeling that the committee wants to be supportive. And to the extent we're informed, I think, better enables us to be supportive because, hopefully, in near future there will be some chain of events which will signal to the world, and certainly the leaders of the coalition forces, that their goals have been achieved.

Now, whether that'll be a dramatic event, whereby suddenly Saddam Hussein comes out and is either captured, admits defeat -- I don't know, he's so enigmatic that we can't speculate as to what he might do if he's still alive.

But, nevertheless, it could well be there'll be a chain of events where you have to reach a conclusion that this operation has achieved its initial goals, albeit that the country will have small pockets of instability and threat both to the citizens and to the military forces.

But then, we move towards, I think, this very interesting chapter that you bring up, allowing the Iraqis to begin a dialogue amongst themselves -- town forums, whatever the case may be.

If you had an opportunity to sit down and do a time line, how soon do you think an interim government might be constituted?

Paul Wolfowitz: You mean as opposed to an interim authority?

Senator John Warner: Yes.

Well, the interim authority, I think that's CENTCOM and Garner, and that's a part of the interim authority, is it not?

Paul Wolfowitz: No, it's...

Senator John Warner: Let's get these definitions then straight.

Paul Wolfowitz: ... it's important. I think we're using a term --well, let me not guess at the term. There is a notion that you have initial administration, which is the Garner operation or the Garner operation assisting the existing Iraqi administration to make sure...

Senator John Warner: Well, I look upon it as CENTCOM as the initial...

Paul Wolfowitz: Fine. Then that's...

Senator John Warner: And Garner...

Paul Wolfowitz: ... that's coalition actually because it is...

Senator John Warner: Correct.

Paul Wolfowitz: OK. And...

Senator John Warner: And Garner is an important adjunct of CENTCOM to get a variety of tasks achieved which are not the direct responsibility of a trained professional military.

Paul Wolfowitz: Right. Then at some point, and one would like it sooner rather than later, you have an interim authority.

The reason you don't want to try to go and propose the composition of that interim authority right now or even its size or its structure is that there are an awful lot of Iraqis, who might be good candidates to be in that who aren't free to even speak right now or some who may be free to speak but their families aren't.

And while we are going to have a big say in how the interim authority is set up, we'd like our judgments to be based on what we can discern to be a kind of consensus of Iraqi views.

Once that interim authority is established, then it has two tasks. One is to facilitate the transition of the administration from the coalition under Franks' control to the interim authority. But even more important is to facilitate the process by which a permanent government is established to do the things like the organization of a constitutional convention and the processes by which a constitution would be ratified and maybe some process starting with local elections leading to national elections.

But to begin to develop by Iraqis institutions that legitimately represent Iraqis.

It's foolish to try to put a timeframe on it . I mentioned the other day and probably got myself in trouble that in northern Iraq, where it was a much simpler task, and they didn't establish a permanent government to sort of it -- but they've done amazingly well, we were gone in six months.

I don't -- it's a much more complicated country. I don't think that's realistic. But what the northern Iraq experience brings out and you have somebody who lived through all of it sitting on my left, is that to some extent the faster you push people, the better they do.

It's like the problem if you leave the training wheels on the bicycle too long, the kid never learns to ride. So we want to keep it moving. We want to push it. But we want to make sure that when the training wheels are off the bicycle doesn't fall over.

Senator John Warner: Let me just push a little bit on the definition of interim authority.

Would that be, say, let's call it a council of say 12 individuals with the majority vote as the decision of the interim authority?

Or will there be -- they will get and elect their own leader, say the chairman of the council?

Can you give us some idea of the fabric of what the interim...

Paul Wolfowitz: I could sketch a notion, but the problem is that that would be my notion. I think one of the things we'd like to have in these meetings of which the first one will be net week, is for Iraqis to lay out their own notions of what they'd like to see.

And I mean, we're going to have to try to discern in that a consensus on something that to us makes sense because we do have a say in the interim authority. We don't have a say in the final government of the country.

But that's one of the -- so the shape of -- but I guess to try to answer your question, I think it should have both representative capacity, which tends you towards large numbers and some executive capacity which tends you towards small ones.

So I think, if I were an Iraqi, I would say let's have a council of size 3X and a management committee of size X. And the management committee will do the administration piece. But they may have a different view. Senator John Warner: Well, I think somebody has got to start, and it seems to me a group of persons, call it a council for lack of a better term, and they themselves elect that individual or decide on a decision process.

We've seen enough indecision in groups so far, let's structure it or hopefully structure it so it can reach a decision for better or for worse and move forward with that decision.

I think when it's structured, it has to be a group that's capable of reaching decisions. I think that's clearly -- otherwise it's not going to function.

Senator John Warner: And we certainly agree on that.

Senator Levin, I think we've had an excellent hearing. We thank you, Mr. Secretary. We thank you General Pace. We welcome and thank you, our good friend, General Jones.

General James Jones: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator John Warner: Nice to have you back. And, from all reports, you're just doing marvelously in your new assignment.

And enjoying it...

General James Jones: I've very much enjoying it.

Senator John Warner: ...with your very wonderful wife.

General James Jones: Thank you.

Senator John Warner: Good day.

© 2003 Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC (trading as Factiva). All rights reserved.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).