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tv   Afghanistan Reconstruction  CSPAN  November 1, 2017 8:00pm-9:25pm EDT

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>> i yield back. thank you.
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subcommittee on national security will come to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare recess at any time. appreciate the members committing to the 10:30 start.
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was suppose stood follow a tax reform unveil but i would note mysterious tax reform bill is still not unveiled to us. we're waiting breathlessly for that. i note this is presence of mr. isa from california. i ask that he be able to fully participate in today's hearing. without objection, it is so ordered. on september 11th, 2001, radical islamic terrorists killed thousands of men, women and children. aided and abedded by the taliban spent years in afghanistan plotting, waiting for the moment to strike us at home. throughout the '90s the united states suffered terrorist attacks at the cobart towers at our embassies in east africa and our uss call. the failure to act, emboldened al qaeda and threatand far more devastating attack.
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the useful staging ground for al qae qaeda's malevolent designs. they responded with a roud of both al qaeda and taliban forces. yet today, after more than 16 year ins afghanistan, it's not clear things are much better than they were after the taliban first fell. is the taliban on the brink of becoming a terrorist dream all over again? we should just be done with this entire god forsaken place or should we be concerned that isis has a dangerous affiliate in afghanistan that aspires to reach out and strike the u.s. homeland? how do we get this right or can we? we're here to explore whether the united states has adapt thootd hard lessons we have learned in this long war. we're also holding this hearing to follow up on a #of projects this committee has investigated ever the years. it's important to make sure our tax dollars are spent
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efficiently. i want to insure afghanistan does not descend into chaos. we're fortunate that beor the subcommittee we have the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction to testify on the recent work his team completed regarding systemic corruption and waste in afghanistan. he's done outstanding work to insure taxpayer dollars are well spent. he will also speak on the recent report on awall soldiers in the united states. 39 of the 152 who went awol were gran granted legal status. these numbers are deeply troubling and i'm interested to hear how this happened. i can tell you that he's a dedicated publicing servient who has fought corruption and waste for decades. we value your time and appreciate all you have done to
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help us in this endeavor. i'd like to thank him for coming and look forward to hearing his testimony and with that i will yield to the ranking member, mr. lynch for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and thank you to the witnesses for helping the committee with its work. this is an extremely timely hearing on our ongoing military involvement in afghanistan. i also want to thank senator for helping the committee carry out its oversight mandate. the title of the hearing rightly notes the u.s. has been at war in afghanistan over 16 years. this has panned a generation at the kaush of 714 -- between $714 billion and $2 trillion in taxpayer dollars and over 2400 u.s. casualties. while our mission has narrowed
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to train, advise and assist of the afghan national defense and security forces and -- excuse me. sorry. i only got three pages here. there's some pages missing from my remark. okay. and our force levels have sharply dropped to over 100,000 to the current estimate of 9800. it's just as critical we have a clear strategy. this is why i requested this past june and again with my colleague, mr. welch that the oversight committee hold a hearing for afghanistan and iraq. regrettably the president recently announced plan for afghanistan fell far short in providing the details necessary. he said nothing about how many more forces needed or how success would be measured.
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they need clear guidance from their leaders. mr. chairman, without a clear strategy and plan to carry it out, it becomes difficult to measure success in our current mission to train the afghans has been extremely difficult to gauge. for numbers i've been seeking numbers of how many have been trained and for years they've had had difficulty in getting those figures. this is because it was set up without much metrics and they are still not in place today. a lack of information keeps us from conducting oversight from knowing what we're doing right and need improve. i would urge the president to bring to congress a clear strategy on how he intends to get this done. the recent decision to retroactively classify certain security force related force
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levels -- excuse me. in afghanistan. members of congress need to hear from the americans and see from their own eyes what is happening. as a ranking member on the national subcommittee i have a duty as does every member of this house of representatives to carry oversight. the travel restrictions are inappropriate and highly concerning. in addition the classification measures have become much more tightly prescribed in terms of what mr. saf co and his team can report to congress in an open forum. i will have questions about that to determine what information is being kept from the american public with respect to our success in afghanistan or lack thereof. >> it the chair recognized the
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gentleman from kentucky and the gentleman from north carolina. i ask unanimous content they both be allowed to fully participate in today's hearings although i'll be lenient in accepting objections to mr. massy's attendance but without objection it is so ordered. the special inspector general and accompanied by senior analyst for the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction. all witnesses will be sworn in before they testify. so if you could please rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing wbut the truth so help me god? all witnesses answered in the affirmative. please limit your testimony to five minutes. your whole written statement will be made part of the record and as a reminder the clock
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shows your remainding time. it will turn yellow when you have 30 seconds left, red when your time is up. and with that the chair recognizes mr. sofko for five minutes. >> thank you . >> it's a plesher to be here today. cig cigar's new reported of security sector assistance to rebuild it afghanistan security forshs. with the afghan conflict in a sale mate and with a new strategy for u.s. sector assistance getting underway, the time is ripe for seeking every opportunity for improvement. in that spirit i appreciate this hearing which i think is an opportune time to look for
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recommendations for improvement and that is something i would like to offer to you today in my oral presentation. the first recommendation we have is how to utalize -- better u utalize and align our capabilities with the needs of the afghans. the first thing i would recommend is that dog should establish and lead an interagency fact finding mission to examine the afghan security forces current and future needs and realign our advisory mission to if had sure that right advisor and units are partnered correctly with the afghan soldiers and police. the second thing is we need have someone in charge. so dod and nato should create designated leads for the afghan army and police responsible for coordinating the training advisory missions.
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from the ministerial, to the operational level. now, the afghan special forces and air force have proponent leads right now as part of a comprehensive team in place. that is one of the reasons why both those forces are more successful than their peers and we highlight the best practish in our report. the third thing is we need learn from success. so with the introduction of more than 150 uh 60 blackhawk helicopters, we recommend that you recommend the army immediately reach out to the u.s. air force to capitalize on their best practices from their training of afghan fixed wing pilots. the fourth recommendation, sir, deals with the fact that our trainers in afghanistan need help and they need help back here in the united states. so we recommend that to insure
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persistent and comprehensive training while preserving institutional knowledge, we recommend they create an element in the united states staffed with representatives from all the military and civilian age y agencies who are specifically trained for afghanistan's advisors to provide additional surport to the training mission in afghanistan. it is also critically important that those who are assigned view this as career enhancing. right now such an assignment would be career ending for many of our military and civilians. the fifth point i would focus on is we need use nato better. to optimize nato's participation in afghanistan, we recommend nalto and dod should thoroughly analyze the current advisory
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needs and each nato company's capabilities as well as their limitations. we also need to better understand the decision making process and better synchronize with the force generation schedules. the sixth point i would like to make is we cannot forget the important role that state, u.s.a. id, the department of justice and other government agencies play in our fight in afghanistan. to insure an effective whole of government approach in afghanistan we must support not only our u.s. military but also the civilian agencies such as state, aid and justice in their missions which are highly critical for accomplishing our national security objectives there. the administration and congress should insure civilian agencies have the resources they need to
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make important contributions to this mission. lastly those civilian agencies nide to get out of the embassy. in order to support the civilian agencies' ability to conduct their important work in afghanistan congress should encourage dod and state to immediately finalize an agreement that permits civilian agencies including cigar to travel under u.s. military protection without second guessing the well established capacity for providing adequate security. failure to increase freedom of mov movement for civilian personnel will hobble a whole approach to government oversight, thus putting the entire mission at an unnecessary disadvantage. in conclusion i would urge you
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that every minute the u.s. military has to fill in for a missing civilian agency is one minute the military is not allowed to do their job. thank you very much. >> chair now recognizes himself for five minutes. mr. sopko, how long have you been cigar? >> it's going on six years. >> so how is afghanistan improved and/or how has it worsened during your time of inspector gennel for afghanistan? >> it's mixed. the security situation has deted deteriorated dramatically. the afghan military, despite the loss of more casualties is actually doing a better job but they're up against a very
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serious opponents. so it's mixed. i think the problem now is with the new strategy we really don't know what state and aid are supposed to do as part of that strategy. so we're still observing and hoping we can get a better idea on the new strategy going forward. >> you recently returned from afghanistan and got to meet, i think as you aleeluded to, laut of the folks on the ground. if an american would walk up to you and say what's going on in afghanistan? >> it's a stalemate and the big question is it a stalemate going down or is it a stalemate going up? and i don't have a good answer for that, sir. >> cigar security assistance lessons learned report is very extensive. what would you say the bottom line of that report is?
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>> the bottom line is the u.s. government was ill prepared to conduct a security sector mission. they didn't understand the size and scope of what they were facing. helping let's say -- with a new personnel system. this was designing and building an entire military and police force. the other problem is we were totally misaligned in our capabilities with their needs. disorganized, did not fully understand and utalize nato for the things that they could provide and we have detailed a number of problems with getting two complicated systems having military officers in the u.s. try to teach police. having air force pilots teaching
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police, having people who know-nothing about personnel systems. that was the big problem that we found. >> so i think that you were able to brief this report to the administration during their afghan visit. the new strategy announced fwhier administration reflect any of your recommendations? >> yes, it does. i can't say we can take credit for that but at least they agree with many of our recommendations. i think one is for train, advise, assist to work you have to drive it down below the core level. so you have to get down tbelow and that's a number of provisions. i think mr. cunningham maybe can given you more details. he participated in all it
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briefings. >> yes, sir. so we participated with the attorney general and joint staff and one of the big things we talked about was the realignment of our capabilities. the current units going out were already in predeployment training prior to the release of our failure analysis and what we were told is the new units will have the proper training going forward. cautiously optimistic but we do know our recommendations did go forward to boeththe secretary of defense and the white house. >> great. mr. sopko, how will we know if dod and state have acted on your recommendations and what outcomes can we expect to see on the ground? we have things being identified -- do i have to hold another hearing? are we going to get a sense in the congress in relatively short
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ord eer that some of these chans being made, particularly in the state department because i think there's been frustration with how they've handled some of this stuff. >> i think there are some low hanging fruit tat you can pluck right now and i think and i hope the administration will pluck those to draw that analogy, press them into good policies and i've touched on fooivt or six of them. there's a number of things that can be done right away. short-term turn around. simplest is have the army pick up the phone and call the air force on the lessons learned. the best practices from training a-29 pilots. it was fantastic. but as far as we know the army hasn't picked up the phone yet. this stove piping is going to be our death and that's one of the
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things and i'm happy to provide and discuss and i know mr. cunningham, we can give you more of those examples of these are fast turn arounds you should be seeing administration do. >> i'll recognize the ranking member. >> i want to give you great credit for holding this hearing and drilling dune on this issue. i appreciate it. and again thank you, mr. sopko, mr. cunningham for your good work. mr. sopko, going on six years now. there's nan institutional memor i think you offer us that's helpful. i want to talk about the limitations on your travel. i've bichb to afghanistan a dozen times. i know rothers here have been frequent flyers to afghanistan
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and pakistan on the other side of the border. in the past we've had no problems getting into kandahar city, put us in strikers. we're able to drive right down to the pakistan border. we've had wide access, in our past oversight investigations in afghanistan. but of course at that time we had had 100,000 troops or thereabouts and so the assets were plentiful and we had great cooperation from general doneferred and other generals going back to general petraeus. what's the situation there in terms of your own travel? >> ranking member lynch, our travel has been restricted. some of this is because of the point you made. we no longer have 100/100 -- 120
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coalition forces. something general dunford spoke about recently. this is a serious program. and i know president has tried to do something about that. my concern and i will say this. you're a high visibility target when you travel, when the chairman travels, even someone as lowly as i am a high visibility target. so you can't use restrictions on your travel the same for the average diplomat or sigar employee. but even with then there has been a growing reluctance by the state department to let hpeople go outside of the embassy, even to the green zone and i think the classic -- i'll site you two examples and i don't want to
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take too much of your time. but one was the u.s. military wanted me to see an afghan base and to see how they were protecting the taxpayers' dollars by setting up a system to protect fuel. i was to walk 100 feet with a u.s. military assigned protection detail that goes over multiple time as day and the ambassador refused to let us go, even though general kaiser and nicholson wanted us to see that. that is the problem. >> okay. i get the sense of that. tell you what, i'm sure this committee will be having on afghanistan pretty soon. if you could make a lirs of sites you need to get out to -- i've had great cooperation from general dunford and secretary
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mattis in terms of travel. maybe we can combine our resources and plan ahead and make sure you get to where you need go. >> and mr. lynch, the important thing is the mou in place -- >> you're eating all my time. i'm sorry. we're going to have to deal with that off line. the other question is so we have classification issues that were in place for the last 14 or 13 years and now we've got some new classification issues. what am i being denied, what is the american public being denied access to under the new classification regime? >> i would be asked to be made part of the record, we have a seven-page document laying out -- atrition figures as well as performance assessments. and that means using the new
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test, it looks like the afghans can classify anything that's embarrassing. so i have a list of reports that i think all of you have probably read dealing with the afghan navy that didn't exist, the camouflage that didn't exist and an airplane that cost nearly $500 million that couldn't fly. using the new test i would not be able to tell you or the american people how their money is being spent. so this is a slippery slope, sir, that we are now on. >> chairman, i would make a motion that we accept the reports offer bide inspector general sopko on the effectiveness of the new classification regime. >> i give you the whole list of the reports as well as the copies and i'm happy to give you this memo as to what specifically is classified. >> without objection. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i yield back. >> chairman now recognizes mr. russell for five minutes. >> thank you and thank you for holding this hearing. i guess i've got one basic question to begin with and then we'll take the discussion from there. first ooff thanks to what you do. and i mean that with all sin tearty. but what are the consequences of quitting? >> that's hard for me to describe. the consequences for quitting in afghanistan? >> sure. >> the administration's statement is that if we do, the country will turn if had nto a terrorist haven. >> and i think that ought to frame everything, mr. chairman, this hearing focuses on because it will be easy to talk about
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time, money and many other things and we'll hear from many members of that. but i'm the only member in this hearing that actually served in afghanistan and what i would take exception to is that the design of the military was not thought through. i'd be happy to talk to you about how it was designed, how the soviet forces made disaster of it, they weren't able to train them technically. and you've pointed out that we've had great success with that with special forces and a number of other things. there is a multitude of problems in the country. corruption being first and foremost and everyone would agree we need try to curtail that. but i, sir, remember when large porshzs of the country were not even occupied by any central government. how many war lords occupy afghanistan today? >> quite a few, sir.
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>> where they're in total control of regions? maybe 40% of kabul as they're turning it into rubble? >> and sir, let me clarify we're not talking about ultimate success. the report that we released had to do with the training mission and -- >> let's visit that because one of your critiques was that the police are not properly trained and the military has no business training the police. are you aware, sir, that nato took on many voluntarily of the training of the police, which was welcome. in fact, i was a delegate to the united nations afghan security conference in 2002 that discussed these issues in geneva, switzerland after pulling my jeans and shirt after sitting cross legged in a carpet in afghanistan and one of the
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problems, sir, was infultration. they made disaster of it when you had had police forces come in and they said please, come on in and let's do this. we'll train you to be police. if you go back and examine the blue on green incidents, most of them come from law enforcement, not the military. the nato, i agree, could be used better in that regard but we have to look at the things for infultration and with regard to the army not talking, i find that striking because most are fully integrated. to point to this fact you stated the special forces have been quite successful and quite reliable. i would point out the army trained those. so they obviously know something about training to technical ability and giving all of that. and i guess my point is this. while i applaud efforts on
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corruption. what is hard for me as a warrior for most of my adult life is it's always people sitting here talking to people sitting there pointing boney fingers with red faces saying why is this a failure? why did this go wrong? we should quit. we should pull out. for the record i cannot be one of those today. and there will be testimony we'll hear from our colleagues and i respect that. but quitting is going to have disastrous effects and the more we feed this narrative that our nation does not have it will and the resolve to get things done is part of the problem. being a veteran of several wars i can tell you this when we have this confusing message oh, we're going to have commitment, no, we're not. we're going to have a timeline, we're not go having to a timeline. we're go toing to be here this long, we're not going to be
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here. does that have an impact on how afghans see resolve in the united states? >> i don't know, sir. >> well, i do. it has a big impact. >> let me just tell you we support the mission in afghanistan. the reason we issued the report is to try to draw lessons learned and best practices. so we state the facts as we found them. i think you probably would agree in reading the report with 90% of what we found and what works. the whole reason we issue reports are not to say gotcha to the military and as general dunford and others have been very happy, they confirm and help them in designing and implementing better programs for the future. so this report is not an attack on our military, not an attack on our mission. it is trying to help the mission. >> and i'm glad that you
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established that because that's the foundation we need be on and i'm grateful for that. mr. chairman, i'm out of time. >> thank you, so much, mr. chairman. and i echo the ranking members comments about this particular hearing. i am definitely glad to see it. as a new member of congress my first codel was to afghanistan for the purpose of really developing a better understanding of the mission there and also the overall strategy. i also want to take a moment to kmepd my colleague, mr. russell as he leaves for his service. i do think as a law enforcement officer, career law inhenforcem officer, our overall strategy and an exit strategy is also very important. so thank you to both of our witnesses for being here with us
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today. mr. sopko, you said in the quarterly report to congress from sigar notes that military's retroactive classification bute the afghan defense on national defense and security forces will quote hinder your work. i know my colleague, mr. lynch, spoke somewhat about the classification system. the retroactive classification system. do you believe -- and i think you answered in the affirmative of this. but do you believe the american public should continue to have access to at least basic data on the afghan security forces. >> yes, i do. since they're paying for it. >> earlier this week the it new york times reported that navy captain defended the decision to classify the information saying it was done at the afghan
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government's request. do you think it's an appropriate justification to classify pre previo previously unclassified information from the afghan government. why or why not? >> i do not. because i believe in transparency. and i think the loss of transparency is bad not only for us but it's fwrbad for the afgh people. the bible says the truth will set you free but it will be uncomfortable in the beginning. and that's what i told the president your people want to know the truth and the stuff that was classified -- you know the taliban know this. they know who was killed. they know all about that. the afghans know about it. the u.s. military knows about it. the only people who won't know are the people paying for it. that's your constituent. that's everyone of you who pays taxes and i think the american
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taxpayer has a right to know how their money is being spent and whether it is succeeding or not. if you classify this, the only people who won't know what's going on in afghanistan are the people who are paying for it. >> has dod provided you with any other a identification for classifying previously unclassified? >> was that the afghans didn't want it released. the second justification was a reinterpretation of some policy on classification but they never gave us a copy of the policy. i think the other telling thing is they will not identify who classified the material. >> just last week secretary tillerson visited afghanistan with a heavy military detail and met at the brigham air force base. how can sigar and congressional
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committees address effective oversight in afghanistan if personnel are confined to the most secure embearments? >> it is extremely difficult but as i said before we are high targets, or high visible targets. the average u.s.a. id, dod, sigar official is not that visible. but only if we have an mou with the military providing us that protection or with the state department providing protection can be do our jobs and we had had an mou for six years with dod but now we've been told in 90 days it disappears. >> what sort of support is sigar provided in the u.s. military as it carries out its oversight
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responsibilities? >> we've had great support from the u.s. military and we still have great support from security department officials. it's just the decision was made by the ambassador there and it may have been by main state. we don't know. to aberigate our mou and not let us follow that through and that's the confusing thing and we don't think that's really helpful to the mission. >> thank you so much. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> recognizes mr. duncan from tennessee for five minutes. >> thank you. a very respective fopolicy commest -- they will see they have a government that provides services at home or one that seeks empire across the globe end quote. we have seen many articles and
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hearing which have described afghanistan as the grave yard of empires and backing that up, it was interesting to me on september 4th of this year a couple of months ago the new york times international addition carried the it story that said foreign powers have tried to control afghanistan since the 19th century but the story had a veryert interesting first paragraph "when the author went to afghanistan for "caravans" it was 1955 and there were barely any roads in the country yet there were already americans and russians there jockeying for influence." quote later the afghan protagnist would tell an american diplomat that one day both america and russia would invade afghanistan and both would come to regret it.
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he wrote that 62 years ago but how true it is still today. and then finally i will refer to something william f buckley wrote several years ago. he typewrowrote it about iraq b applies to afghanistan even more so. he started out as a strong supporter of the war in iraq but before he died became a strong opponent "i respect for the power of the united states is n engendered by the engagements we take part. a point is reached when tenacity is not steadfastness of -- a point is reached when tenacity conveys not steadfastness of purpose but misapplication of pride." and buckley continued. "it can't reasonably we disputed
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that in the year ahead if it copts as bad as it has done in the past year, we will have suffered more than another 500 soldiers killed. and he said where there have been skepticism about our venture, there will then be contempt. i can tell you i don't really understand how any true fiscal conservative can be in favor of dragging this war on forever. we've been there 16 years. and i don't -- i think it's a huge understatement to say that i don't agree with the new york times many times or very often. but the new york times editorial board on october twel22nd publi kwaelt america's forever wars." the u.s. has been at war continually since the attack of 9/11 and has trooped in at least
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1 h 172 countries. so far they have seemed to accept all this militaryism. but it's a question about whether to continue to endorse these and many lives over 16 years they will embrace new entanglements and the congress has spent little time debating why all these deployments are needed. so i do appreciate the it chairman being willing to have this hearing. but this -- it's very sad that we have allowed all these trillions of dollars to have been spent and all of these lives that have been lost needlessly. i think it's very, very sad and it's something that i think we're long past the time when we should have gotten out of afghanistan and we shouldn't
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keep continuing to drag this out. i would like to say in conclusion that, mr. sopko, i appreciate the work you've done pointing out billions and billions of dollars in waste. yer a i would liking to ask that a story from the washington post entitled here are six costly failures from america's longest war. number one cashmere goats. and this story ran in the washington post. i would like to ask unanimous consent this post be included in the record. >> without objection. >> and i thank you for yielding me the time. >> and i'm sorry mr. russell is not here because i too would like to pay respect to his service. but i want to say to sigar, that your office has been just the
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facts, ma'am, approach to what's happening to taxpayer dollars and i believe that it has allowed those who believe the policy in afghanistan is the right direction but it's not necessarily being implemented right and those who question it wisdom of the policy basic information about how so much of our spending essentially has evaporated or been transferred to swiss bank accounts by corrupt officials in afghanis n afghanistan. so i want to thank you for this hearing. because this office is absolutely essential whether you take the point of view of mr. russell or mr. duncan about what's the right policy. second, the questions about what our policy should be are not the responsibility of your office. >> that's correct, sir. >> you're looking at where it
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dollars we've appropriated are going. are they going to the mission or vanishing in thin air. and i have major questions about our policy and i thought mr. duncan had an exlpt quote. this is not about our military. i've been to afghanistan four times and it's extraordinary to me to see what our soldiers are accomplishing under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. but it's our job to give them a pall ace that gives them a shot at success. that's our job. when mr. rustleal rr sell is th soldier, he has to carry out the mission but we're the ones that have to give it to him. so looking back at all the reports, our dollars are being wasted in pretty gross ways, starting with shrink wrapped
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pallets of cash being flown out of the air base, starting with contracts to deliver water to our soldiers in operating bases that have to go through pakistan and where their fire fights basically i couldn't sused as n ploys by war lords who want to extract much more money to allow safe passage for that water to get through,ing to the recent episode of buying uniforms that had had camouflage designs are suited for tahiti but not afg n afghanist afghanistan. so i really appreciate your recommendations and they all make immense sense to me and i would endorse those and perhaps our committee could as well. but the fundamental question is the policy that's going to be advocated by the united states and whether this is working at all.
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in your investigations, can you make general comments about the reliability of accountability systems within the afghany partners that we have? >> yes, i can, sir. basically we have serious questions about most of the internal accountability capabilities. and i actually had a conversation with the president on that on my last trip and he acknowledged problems in certain agencies or ministries and we actually came to an agreement and he promised the issue of presidential decree, giving us access to the internal books and records and individuals of all the ministries so we can do an in-depth analysis of their internal controls. >> the lasts trip i took to afghanistan, we had some of our justice department folks there and they were teaching afghan government officials about how
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to detect corruption and they had had to stop that program because they were teaching people about how to detect krupg corruption who became the people who implemented corruption. has that changed? >> that is still a serious threat. and that's why there was an attempt to set up a vetted anticorruption unit. of the afghan police. their prosecutors and judges. and we are looking into that. the problem is that quite a few of those people were supposed to be polygraphed. they were and a good number failed the polygraphs but we've never followed through with removing those people. so those are some of the questions that we're looking at. if you're setting opvetted unit, by definition you have to follow through with the vetting. you don't polygraph people and
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let them stay on a polygraph for corruption. >> i want to thank you for your service. i yield back. >> chair now recognizes the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> good to see you again. i have.
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the last administration. so one of the new rules should
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be the convoys turn around, they report to us and we deal with either pakistan or afghanistan and tell them that one of the conditions of our forces doing what we do for them is in fact that we don't pay bribes, we don't do it on the foreign corruption act, we shouldn't have our vepders do it which sh new rule, if you will. >> i think the u.s. military is trying to enforce that rule right now. in the last current regime and there as well as the prior one, i think they've been trying to do that as much as they can. using conditionality. >> now you transcend two presidential administrations, the end of the last one and now this one. >> that's correct. >> and it's fair to say this one is less corrupt, at least at the top than the last one. right? >> absolutely correct. >> so second new rule. we should not support a president whether elected or not
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that is putting hundreds of millions or billions of dollars into his and his family's pockets and tolerate the way we did under the last administration. fair? >> that's music to my ears, sir. >> okay. i'm going through my lessons learned. because the argument of today is only really germane if it's the argument of the last 16 years, and we don't seem to have learned the last one, which i think is one for this committee. we are nation building in dozens of nations, including many of them in africa, every day. to be candid, the peace corps all the way back with john f. kennedy was part of, if you will, shedding to a people what we know that is part of building a nation from the bottom up. so if whether each president i can think of going back a long way says they're not going to nation build, if we're going
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nation build, let me ask you the most poignant question. you mentioned the problems of active duty uniformed military personnel trying to teach things which they are not particularly suit order trained for. correct? >> that is correct. >> so shouldn't the new rule be that we develop capability either at the state department and/or at the department of department of defense, presumably in the reserve component, and/or somewhere else that in fact finds the people around the united states or even outside around the world that in fact can be a productive part of nation building. >> that is absolutely correct. and that's what we're talking about in the latest report, sir. >> so if we're going to take away something after 16 years of -- i call it the groundhog day in afghanistan and iraq, of being back at the same point that we were at previous times before we let things go awry, and now we're back fighting to a
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point at which we're hoping not to make the same mistake again, one of the most important things is we as a committee and we as a nation must find a way to build those institutions, whether those countries want to fully cooperate or not, find a way to build those institutions, and that means we cannot continue to use the same people who as well meaning and hardworking as they have been, are not prepared or qualified to exit the country with the kind of skills. and that includes the united states military, if you will, the war fighter trying to be a trainer of mayors or bureaucrats. >> that is correct, sir. and, again, it's trying to align our capabilities. we're not saying we don't have the capabilities. the problem is they're not the ones we've been sending because of the way the system was set up. and that's the low-hanging fruit that we can start doing. that's what we talk about do this assessment.
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find out what their needs are, and then come back and find out what our capabilities are, and make certain the right people go to the right units in afghanistan. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> gentleman's time has expired recognizing the gentleman from kentucky, mr. comer for five minutes. >> there, mr. chairman. and mr. sopko, thank you so much for being here. thank you for the work that you do that is so important to us in explaining the complexities of what's currently going on with this conflict and helping us determine a more successful future for this mission. i also want to make note that i'm proud to represent the men and women of ft. campbell military base in kentucky. they have been deployed to afghanistan countless times over the past 16 years. so this issue is very important to me and my district. my first question, in your testimony you highlighted the challenge that politically constrained timelines pose to reconstruction efforts, particularly a and d,
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self-readiness. i think it's clear we need to move away from the previous administration's strategy of imposing arbitrary time lines and force levels that do not reflect the situation on the ground that being said, i have serious concerns with the prospect of an open-ended conflict in afghanistan that could drag on for another 16 years. so my question is, can you comment on how to balance the need to respond to conditions on the ground while still maintaining key benchmarks and goals for the transition to more complete afghan security control? >> i think that can be done. and part of it is being done with oversight like this by congress. don't give open-ended funding. don't give open-ended acquiescence to a mission, calling people to task, whether it's state aid or dod or the ig community and tell them what it is. that is our biggest complaint,
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sir is we look at metrics, inputs, outputs, and outcomes. and we find agencies that don't even know how much they're spending. but then they can maybe tell us how much they've spent it on, how many shoes they bought, how many guns they bought or whatever. but they don't know what the ultimate outcome is. and your job i think in congress, if i can be so bold as to suggest is to hold the u.s. government agencies accountable, just like we are trying to hold them accountable in afghanistan. but i agree with you on that point, sir. >> next question. in your testimony, you also noted that u.s. security assistant channels in afghanistan have been meandering and clogged until recently. do you believe the trump administration's new strategy is helping to remedy some of these issues and what recommendations from your report are most important to help improve our -- to help improve our train,
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advice and assist mission? >> congressman, can i defer to my colleague mr. cunningham who has done most of the briefings and actually helped write most of this report. >> absolutely. >> so we have seen the new administration under general dunford and general mattis and secretary of defense mattis actually embrace a lot of the lessons learned in key findings from our report. as i said during the failure analysis, we were able to implement a lot of the recommendations in our report into that discussion. the problem is some of those recommendations are not being implemented today, but the next units going out is where we may see some change. one of the biggest problems we have is we don't have a deployable police capability that can operate in a nonpermissive environment to develop an afghan national police force. the department of defense does not have an institutionalized capability, and the civilian cannot operate in high threat environments. the other issue we've noticed is at the ministerial level, a lot of the advisers are uniform military personnel who do not receive the predeployment
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training that the civilian advisers receive. the program run by the department of defense excludes uniformed military personnel, even though they are conducting the mission at the top. i do think there can be small steps done to realign the mission. and i know they're under discussion. we just have not seen whether or not they're being implemented today. >> okay. my last question. your recent report found that 152 afghans went awol after traveling to the u.s. for training between 2005 and 2017. first, well, my question. can you explain why these soldiers are traveling to the united states in the first place? don't we have training programs in afghanistan? >> sir, the decision was made that they should be trained here. there was some training that you can only do here in the united states. i mean, that's just the way it is. i can't really tell you
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specifically why certain were done here. maybe some can be done back nor in afghanistan. but i think our capabilities were here. >> has the government done anything to reduce these risks in the future? >> well, yes and no. the department of homeland security was very receptive. the state department refused to even consider one of our simple considerations and that is maybe they should personally interview everyone who gets a visa in this program. and they just brushed that aside. that's actually something you could help us with. i think it's just ridiculous. they interview everybody else who gets a visa who comes to the united states. now, we've identified there is a problem with military -- afghan military coming here. over half of the awols, people going awol in the united states are afghans. so obviously you got a problem here. the state department just brushed it aside and said we see no reason to interview them.
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well, if it's good enough for other visa, why not interview them for this? >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> gentleman's time has expired. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. heist for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think this is an extremely important issue here that we're talking about with the numbers, the high numbers going awol. why are there so many afghans that go awol? what is the deal here? >> you know, we don't -- we weren't able to interview all of them because some of them have disappeared. but we try to interview as many afghans as we could, and also talk to people back in afghanistan and talk to other people. the reasons are mixed. some of it is they're afraid to go back. it's a war-torn country. so stay here in the united states. others are they were upset when they found out that to go back to their units, they would have to pay bribes to get their jobs back. and they refused to do it. others i think it's just the fact that they're here and it's
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a good chance to stay if they could. and they claimed asylum. circumstances there any national security threat? because you didn't mention that. >> i'm certain there is a national security threat, particularly we got some people who have totally disappeared and we don't know where they are. >> yeah. >> and the state department hasn't been very helpful to the department of homeland security in tracking them down. >> why have they not been responsive to help track these individuals down? >> i think you have to ask the state department that. that's the question to be asked. >> are there specific individuals we need to ask on th this? have you seen obstruction? have there been individuals at state getting in the way of answers? >> no, i can't say that. i mean, it's the bureaucracy. >> well, someone is running the bureaucracy. and i think the potential -- as you mentioned, we don't know who these people are. we don't know where they are there is a certain number that are gone. we need to get a handle on this.
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where at state department is the bottleneck? >> we'd be happy to brief you and give you information on where the bottleneck is, sir. >> okay. i would like that. how much money has been spent, do you know, on training these afghans here in the u.s.? >> i don't know offhand. let me ask my staff. we don't have that number, sir. but we'll be happy to get it back. >> do co. you get that number for me? >> absolutely. >> all right. i would appreciate that you alluded to a few moments ago that it's just kind of the way it is. but is there a better way to train these individuals than to bring them back here to the united states? wouldn't it potentially save a lot of taxpayer money if we were able to train them there in their homeland? >> well, congressman, it probably would save money. but sometimes they have to do it here. and i would actually cite one of the places where they do the training, and they've had few people skip town or go awol is right in your hometown.
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it's at in the air force base moody. >> right. >> where the best place to train those pilots is in moody, and this is one of the success stories we highlight. and it's interesting. in that area, and i think it would be worthwhile to talk to the air force and moody about why they're so successful in training those pilots and mechanics, and they go back. so that's one of the success stories. and i think there they have to do the training there. >> right. and i would agree. and i've been there, and i've seen what you're talking about. and it is a success story. i guess my thoughts are going beyond moody and some specialized places where it is succeeding and the overall potential of national security threat when we're bringing individuals here that we don't know anything really about. they're getting military training. they go awol. it sounds as though there is a significant portion of this program that could wisely be done in some place other than
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the united states. would you agree with that? >> i think it's worth looking into. we do discuss that. but i think a first spot is just requiring in-person interviews for these military trainees by the state department. >> and you're saying that's not happening? >> that's not happening. and that's what the state department refused to acknowledge as being helpful. >> all right. and did i hear you correctly moments ago too that this does happen with others? that it's not happening with afghans, is that correct? >> yes. and that's what's so perplexing. for every other type of visa, they do do in-person introduce, but they don't do it for these people. >> so is there a specific policy where these individuals are waived from that particular of vetting? >> as far as i know, it's a policy of the state department, not the policy of the department -- >> just for this -- just for afghans? >> i can't speak beyond that, sir. >> who can give me an answer to
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that? >> i'll have the staff who worked on it get back to you, sir. >> please, please do so. listen, again, i want to join my other colleagues for thanking you for the great work that you do and for the forthright answeanswer answers here in this hearing. and i yield back. >> thank you very much. gentleman yields back. the chair now recognizes mr. massie from kentucky for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. sopko, thank you for your service in this capacity. i also appreciate your matter of fact answers. can you give us the total tab so far for afghan reconstruction since we've started in roughly 2012? if you want the round it off to the nearest billion. >> i should have that at my fingerprints. it's $120.78 billion for reconstruction. and that's through september 30
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of 2017. but that doesn't include the $7.42 billion that's in the pipeline. that means it's been authorized, appropriated but not yet spent. >> so the last time you were here, 18 months ago, it was $113 billion roughly. and now we're up to $120 billion. and you say there is $7.4 billion in the pipeline. the reason i ask that question is that stands in contrast to something we heard our president say that we're fighting terrorism, we're not nation building in afghanistan. it sounds like another $7.4 billion in the pipeline might go to nation building. and i noticed in our own budget, we're not cutting the money for, quote, nation building. something else that's a little incongruous that i'd like to get out on the table here is i used to see pictures on the internet of our soldiers standing in poppy fields. and i never reposted those because i thought they might be
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photo shopped because i knew we had a war on drugs going on in afghanistan that ostensibly we're eradicating poppy fields over there how much have we spent to date eradicating poppy in a count eercounternarcotics total in afghanistan? >> we can't break it down to eradication. but all together in fighting narcotics, it's $8.6 billion with a b. >> $8.6 billion. >> that's correct. >> i know i asked this question 18 months ago. but i'll ask it again. has production of narcotics in afghanistan gone up or down since 2002 when we started spending that money? >> you know, i don't have the exact going back to 2002. i can tell you from 2015 it's gone up 43%. >> 43% in two years. and we're still spending billions of dollars over there to eradicate poppy.
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i was at a town hall type meeting this weekend in a factory in my district, and one of the attendees was a gulf veteran. and he told me he has been standing in poppy fields and marijuana fields in afghanistan. so now i know the pictures are real that i see, that those crops are there. and he struggled and i struggled to try and explain to the rest of the constituents in the room how that could be possible. how is that possible that we're spending billions of dollars and we can see it everywhere yet it's not being destroyed? >> it's possible for a couple of reasons. first of all, it's very difficult because of just the security situation. but the second reason is we have no strategy. i have complained for the last three or four years where is the
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counter narcotics strategy, just like we have no strategy for fighting corruption. you need a strategy. you have the strategy, then you look at input, outputs and outcomes. you get the metrics. we have no metrics. we have no strategy. now what concerns me is that when general nicholson or general dunford testify that 60% of the funding going to the taliban terrorists comes from the narcotics trafficking, and we have no strategy. now, i think we all read in the press about how we focused on isis and their relationship to oil production. and we bombed the heck out of that oil production to cut off that funding source. poor general nicholson is trying to fight the taliban and no one's focusing on 60% of the funding going to the taliban. now that's a serious problem.
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and if that is the proverbial elephant in the room, we are never going to win in afghanistan if we don't focus on the whole narcotics problem. >> in my brief time left, i want to talk about what winning looks like, because i think there is also this public perception that stands in stark contrast to what i've heard from you. and also from our secretary of state recently who i think is more of a realist here. there is this public notion that we've routed the taliban. and if we leave, they'll come back to power. yet secretary tillerson says that basically, we are fighting to have a better negotiating position with the taliban. have we routed the taliban? and when we leave, will they be gone? >> i am under oath. we haven't routed the taliban. but i'm not the best person to
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answer the questions on how well we've done on the war fighting. i do reconstruction. but, you know, i just have to be honest with you. we have not routed the taliban. >> when it's reconstructed -- >> gentleman's time has expired. the chairman now recognizes ms. foxx for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thanks to the witnesses who are here today. mr. sopko, are you optimistic that the security situation will improve enough to allow your team out to survey and oversee the reconstruction efforts? >> i believe the security situation will improve. and i believe if mou with the department of defense and the state department on security is written and is carried out, we will be able to get out. not as much as we'd like.
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but we'd at least be able to get out. >> and what is your view on the president's proposed troop increase impacting your ability to conduct oversight? >> i think it can only help, ma'am. although most of the advisers and the troop increase will be on advising and training, we hope that it will increase what we call guardian angels, not only for them, but also for others who need their protection. so we think it's a positive step. >> and you may have said this before i came in. but how has the dod performed in the last year in getting facilities built quickly and at a much fairer price to taxpayers? >> i cannot give an assessment
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on that yet. we're actually looking at that right now. and i can't really tell you what the conclusions are. they're trying. let's just say that. i think this military team here under general nicholson have done more than anyone on trying to hold the afghans accountable on corruption and other things. but i can't just give you an estimate on overall success. >> well, let me ask you a couple specific areas. what's the status of the ministry of defense building? last year experienced some significant lengthy construction delays. could you give us an update on the status of that building. >> well, we made six inspection visits to that building and identified a number of deficiencies.
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and they accepted our recommendations, dod did. and i think they have implemented in that case all of our recommendations. >> thank you very much. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> gentleman yields back. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from north carolina, mr. jones for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. and appreciate you holding this hearing. i wrote to president trump on july 18th of this year asking him if he was going to increase the number of troops, to please come to congress first and let us have a debate on the future of afghanistan. since we all know we've been there 16 years. in that letter i wrote to the president, i know that he had made 30 comments before he became a candidate. and while he was a candidate, about the waste in afghanistan. i'm just going to use one of four that i put in the letter.
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in 2013, you tweeted, let's get out of afghanistan. our troops are being killed by the afghanis we trained and we waste billions there. rebuild the united states of america. that's just one of 30 comments he made about the waste, fraud, and abuse in afghanistan. the next sentence th, mr. president, i agree with those remarks and so does the 31st commandant of the marine corps, my friend and unofficial director general chuck kulat. as he said in a recent e-mail to me, no one has ever conquered afghanistan, and many have tried. we will join the list of nations that have tried and failed. mr. sopko, i met with you many times officially and unofficial with other members of congress. when i listen to what you have
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shared today and what you shared many times before, and the waste, fraud and abuse continues to go on, it is a tribal nation. everyone that's ever been to afghanistan from the russians to alexander the great and the british have never changed one thing in the world. i know that people who don't appreciate you and your staff and what you do because many of them are in congress. not here in this committee today, that would like to cut your funding. that was a story in the newspaper a year ago. this mou issue should probably because they're dragging their feet. but that's neither here nor there. i don't know that as a fact. because when the american people see the stories that come out from your report that every member of congress gets that same report, these stories, i know they've been -- i've got a hand out front and back that i
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have a list of 50 stories about waste, fraud and abuse that i give to my constituents back in the district. and i guess what i want to try to get to is that at some point in time someone like yourself, general nicholson if he is overseeing afghanistan, has got to say to the american people we have spent billions and trillions of dollars to rebuild afghanistan, and we can't build your bridges and your roads right here in america. at some point in time, this congress needs to have a debate after 16 years, and let us have a new debate on the future of afghanistan. because i will tell you truthfully, there are at least 90 members of the house, both parties that were not here in 2001. i was here in 2001.
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and when i hear this waste, fraud and abuse consistently for 16 years, i'm on the armed services committee, it distresses me as a taxpayer. i have the marine base camp lejeune in my district. i've talked to marines, active duty and retirees who have been to afghanistan five, six, and seven times. and they say nothing will ever change. that has nothing to do with the work that you and your staff do. y'all are the truth tellers. the problem is that congress continues to pass bills to waste money over there, and we can't even get a debate. so my last point very quickly, if you are here ten years from now, and i won't be here ten years from now, would you be willing to tell the american -- the members of congress, the american people who are now financially broke as a nation, have done about all they can do in afghanistan? i yield.
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>> congressman, as you well know, and we've had this conversation, i don't do policy. i do process. but i do promise you, the first day i'm out of this job because it's not my job to talk policy. i'm happy to publicly tell you what i really think about our mission in afghanistan. but until then, it's not my job to do that. and i support this committee, the chairman, the ranking member for holding the hearings. i'm a history buff. and there is a famous quote by president lincoln. give the people the facts and the country will be free. and that is what our job is. we give you the facts, and you as the policymakers decide whatever you do. i think congressman welch was very accurate on that. whatever side you are on this issue, i just state the facts, you know. i'm like the umpire. we have a ball game that was last night. i'm calling strikes and outs and whatever. some people may not like me.
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but i'm still supporting the game. and that's what my job is. and your job is to then take those facts and handle them appropriately. >> thank you for the gentleman from north carolina. i want to thank the witnesses. i want to thank mr. sopko for your service. and i know you have taken trips over there. it's not an easy place to get to or get around. i think you have given us a lot of really good information, and we thank you for that. and obviously there is some low hanging fruit that we want to get to both on the congressional side, but also hopefully with the trump administration. so the hearing record will be open for two weeks for any member to submit in opening statement or questions for the record. if there is no further business, without objection, the subcommittee stands adjourned. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing. >> thank you.
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>> thank you. >> thank you. >> congressman jones for saying it like it is. >> thank you. >> thank you, congressman. >> i've been to your office. president trump begins a trip to asia this week with stops in japan, south korea, china, vietnam, and the philippines.
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in south korea, he'll visit with troops at camp humphries and address the country's national assembly. he'll attend the asia-pacific economic cooperation meeting in hanoi, vietnam, and later the association of southeast asian nations summit in the philippines. on his way to japan, he'll stop in hawaii for a visit to pearl harbor and the uss arizona memorial. c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, florida republican congressman matt gaetz will talk about republican tax reform legislation. then politico's victoria guido will discuss the nomination of jerome powell for federal reserve chair. ohio democratic congressman tim ryan will join us to discuss the trump administration's response to the opioid epidemic. and we're live in austin, texas, for the next stop on

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