tv Newsmakers CSPAN November 22, 2009 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
. but i have no way of knowing what the position is. there have been rumors all along here. number one and number two. the focus of the media, seems to me has just been exclusively on the troop number, where as the issue is much broader than that. so that there are going to be many elements i'm sure in this decision. number one, it may include a troop number. but that number may include, if there is troop increase, would include trainers, i assume, people who are enablers. a key part of the troop increase question is what number of combat troops would be involved. and then on top of that you've
got the other aspects of the policy in afghanistan. of course, strategy coming first where wl you're going to have a counterinsurgency and counterterrorism strategy. but on top of that all the other leapts of strategy. not just with additional combat troops with the trainers, trainers with army and police, with the equipment issue. there's not been a major thrust for that equipment so far. we need to see that, i believe so that we can see a transition from our being there in large numbers to the afghans taking responsibility for their own security. and on top of all those factors, you've got the question of whether you're going to have an afghan
government there that's going to take on corruption and whether or not they're going to start delivering services in a much better way and whether they're going to have a plan to reintegrate, the taliban, particularly those lower level local taliban back in afghan society the way it was successfully done in iraq. and that is a package. and i would hope, whatever that package contains that it would be a nato afghan initiative. that it not just be a u.s. decision and certainly not limited to the question which the media has been focusing on, but be a comprehensive nato initiative. >> you said if there is a troop increase, is there any possibility that there would not be a troop increase? >> i just don't know what's going to come out of the white house. i have been crit seized holding any combat troop increase so that we can see a transition to
afghan control of their own fate. the afghan eample has got -- army has got to go a lot faster. there has got to be much better effort on equipment and so on and so forth. i just don't know, what if any what number of additional combat troops would be coming. and if so, what would be american and what would be other nato countries. it's something i just do not know. can't predict with any skfts. what i can only do is what i have been urging on this administration is to both afghanize and natoize this effort. >> senator, could you sort of indicate to us at what point do you think the afghani security forces can take over. and how much longer do you see the u.s. military actually staying in afghanistan in large numbers? >> well, they are capable of taking over now to the extent they have the forces now in afghanistan. they have more troops than we
do. and a majority of their units are able to both take the lead with us and indeed act independently without us so that they are able to the extent that they have the numbers in the afghan army to take control in certain number of areas right now. and as they grow in numbers, they'll be able to take control both independently and with our support in other areas. it's kind of hard for me to say, you know, what number, square miles or how many cities they'd be able rite now to take control over effectively. but there's a significant number that they can do now. they're partnering with us in many, many areas, but not enough. when i was at home in province a few months ago, the ratio of american marines to afghan soldiers was five marines for every afghan soldier. that's not acceptable. you want to have a training, mentoring partnering with the afghans. but it's got to be a much
larger number of afghan soldiers for each of our marines or soldiers that is in that partnership relationship. >> what would it describe, in short terms a success in afghanistan? at what point do you think the mission will be successful? >> when the afghans are able to secure most of their population and when they -- from the taliban and when they have a government which is a lot less corrupt and a lot cleaner than the curent one -- current one in terms of its activities and a government that's able to deliver services to the afghan people. >> senator, in your opening comments, you -- several times referenced the nato by nato force. i'm wondering considering the pressures that some of the nato allies are feeling at home, what your message to them would be about the level of
commitment they should put to this efforts. >> i thought the prime minister of england came without a very sound, solid speech on this subject, a couple of weeks ago that i call the british model because it's the one i think we ought to follow. and his moto was the transition to afghan control and he went through all of the ways in which we could show resolve during this transition period and support and partnership during a transition period. he talked about trainers, focusing on number of trabers, that the british were going to increase numbers. they're going to build a training facility. he talked about more flying time for them. newer and better helicopters and numbers coming from britain. he talked about having a plan for the reintegration of the taliban. he talked about a larger economic commitment from great britain. but that would be conditional upon a plan to reduce corruption in the afghan government. and he talked about this all
being contingent about nato and the international community, also supporting and coming through with additional kinds of support and commitments on the part of the international community. and then he said at the end of that, and we would also increase the number of troops as one of a large number of factors. we would increase the number of troops, conditional upon all those other things happening from 9,000 to 9,500. that's a very modest increase. i would hope that any increase, combat forces that the president decides upon would be that modest if it comes at all. >> senator levine. there have been a lot of holes out saying that the u.s. public is not very supportive of the afghan mission. how many more military death do you think the u.s. public can tolerate until the united
states would have to withdraw? if there's a surge, there's probably going to be more u.s. members killed. how much should the public tolerate this? >> i would never want to make that kind of a prediction based on deaths. each one of those deaths is significant. and i would never make a prediction like that. the president is making a critically important decision for the security of this country. he has taken the needed time to do it. he, i'm sure, is under great deal of pressure from the republicans who just every week it seems are attacking him for taking this time. and if he does something less than what they think general mcchrystal is asking for. they would be critical of him, i think again, unless it is
part of a larger nato decision where it seems to me that decision of the president would be seen in that larger context and would be more difficult to attack the way i think some republicans, at least are geared up to attack and have already set that unless the president goes with 40,000 combat forces that he somehow or other is not doing what mccrystal a asking for. number one, they do don't know what mcchrystal is asking for. that's a series of options. it's not been made public. it's not one number. and what mcchrystal is asking for is not just the numbers. matter, he has said don't focus on the number of troops. focus on strategy. focus on the whole host of things that you've got look at in order to succeed. so i think that the president's decision is one, which he's making with great care and proper care.
and it's going to be based on american security. and so it can't be answered in the kind of way in which you've asked. >> well, let's flip the question around and have you suggest what the president needs to do to sell this. >> lay out what the mission is, the purpose is, the relationship to american security is, and to be part of a larger nato announced initiative. so that it's not just america. it's america is part of a larger nato coalition, which is going to be supportive of success in afghanistan but because it's important that we do succeed in afghanistan. we can't succeed, i believe, without appear significant number of additional combat forces through the other initiatives that i've talked about. and that's what the president
need to do is explain why it is that success is important and how we are part of a larger effort in that regard. >> senator, among the anxious people waiting for a decision aren't just republicans, it's the military families and the soldiers themselves who think there may be a surge and they may be de ploying as early as january. so morale wise there is a negative effect of the long process in making a decision here. and it can't come to any surprise from the obama administration that they were going to face an afghanistan decision at some point. is there a time when a decision has to be made on behalf of the morale of the troops? >> i think the troops are incredible. and the troops want the best strategy possibly for success. and they don't be grudge this president the time to come up with that strategy and a way to succeed at it any more than
they be grudge president bush to take three months before they decided on a surge against his advice of his commander on the field. general casey. what our troops deserve is the best thinking in all of the equipment and training that we can give them and a reasonable period to rest after they have been de ployed. there have been a huge number of deployments here. our troops and their families are extraordinarily brave. they never complain. they're entitled to not just again the means and the tools to succeed and to have them support their families, but they're also entitled to the best possibly strategy. and the president has taken, i think, correctly the time to sort through the complexities of afghanistan so that we are on a course with our nato allies to promote success there. >> at this point the number of weeks into the pakistani campaign, what would your message be to the government there? >> government in pakistan?
>> yes, sir. >> i think they finally have turned their attention to the border regions. there's other regions in pakistan, further south which are controlled by the taliban that i hope they will also turn their attention to. but i want to give them credit. but i think up in the fata area, so-called, and the border area, that they have taken some heavily casualties and have had some real successes in going after the taliban. but it could help really turn things around in pakistan. but again, there are other parts further south to that need that kind of determination and grit. >> sir, switching gears to the fort hood shootings. i was wondering at what point would it be appropriate for the committees to have hearings on this? >> we're in the middle of
briefings now. and we will -- as soon as we will have a few more briefings, will make our decision as to when our first one is. we will be having hearings. and we will take an investigation focusing on the military piece of this. others will be focusing probably on the f.b.i. part of it, the joint terrorism task force, pieces of it. and -- but i just can't tell you exactly when the hearings will begin other than there will be hearings and that they'll begin after we've had some additional briefings which will then put us in a position to have public hearings so that we hold them in a way that's useful for the public. but also we've got to do all of that being careful not to in any way undermine the criminal investigation and prosecution
which is so essential here. >> and senator, senator lieberman yesterday had his first public hearing and he qualified the shootings as a terrorist attack. i would be -- i'm wondering if you would be comfortable to call them a terrorist attack. >> it probably coulled be labeled as a terrorist attack. i'm not uncomfortable with thinking that that's the likely outcome here or the likely accurate description. >> using that that you just had, doesn't it sure like something went wrong with the military personnel system that they didn't identify this man as a potential risk? >> i think there are some real questions that have to be asked. but you have to start before you get into that system. and look at what we did have which was at the joint terrorism task force in two
cities, which were presented apparently with e-mails where -- which would seem toe raise some real flags and require some further inquiry. and after that -- the decision was made by the f.b.i., jttf, not to pursue that. at that point there was no easy way to connect back to that whatever happened inside of the military. now he gave a lecture with slides, which apparently did not raise any questions. when you look at the slides in hinesithes you wonder should questions have been raised about some of the things he told his colleagues. but he was describing there what the risks were in terms of muslim soldiers who were urched the kind of pressures that some people were being put under in terms of the doctrine that said
you don't kill or wound other muslims. he laid that out and wanted to know, well, he wanted to raise the question does it raise such risks that there ought to been some conscientious objector status which is offered to soldiers. it could raise a question about him whether he was talking psychologically about himself. we should not be more careful to have in our military people have a conscientious religious objection against gone going to war against nip particular group that was a legitimate question. but before you get on the military, you have to wonder of both the f.b.i. joint terrorism task force, not purr seeing the lead they had.
apparently drew e-mails besides other radical clerks. >> it raised questions about whether the military's properly evaluating people. so that there's no sensor going on? >> there are questions that need to be addressed both inside the military and that investigation is going on right now and by us in terms of our oversight responsibilities. the answer to your question is yeah. >> are you satisfied that they're looking at everything that need to be looked ate at. well, from what i seen, i heard what secretary gates said. it sounds like it's a thorough propped investigation. the president wants a report on intelligence by the end of november. and that's prop and proper. but that does not eliminate the
need for congressional oversight here, not just to make sure that the f.b.i. has a proper investigation and that the intelligent service -- our intelligent services is here include clueding homeland security. i -- but congress has the responsibility to oversee the military action and lack of actions. >> one of the secondary themes that came out of the' hood story, concern about the level of stress on the military and their families. i'm wondering if as we go into this new increase in four afghanistan, what your questions are to the military or what congressional policy-making might be with regard to refreshment of the troops and their r & r. >> well, we have that ongoing responsibility as you know.
it's an important one. i i have you one. and i think we're asking the right questions because the american people are determined to give our troops the support that they need whime they're in harm's way -- while they're in harm's way. they come out of harm's way. he would have to fail fail the print. the american people want us to really support our vets and troops. the recent ones were iraq and afghanistan. regardless of what they do, the american people want that kind of support. the military and the pentagon know that we will pro side everything. and we constantly do to prod us. what can we do with the lack
of, the deal with time, the time periods between de ployments. how can we reduce the stress in our family. that is a constant question. and we do everything we can to support our military and our veterans. >> i don't see how that's possible. i think that's one of the many mrks questions which the president is struggling with. >> the don't ask don't tell policy, president obama has said that he would like to repeople the ban. and i was wondering that 2 the 2011 defensive association will be enough. >> i was opposed to the don't
ask don't tell. if it's a repeople, it can only happen after a very careful, had a very clear review of the policy by the people affected by the policy, obviously, but in the midtary we've got -- i believe show the military that we are going to take their views and their suggestions as to how we can change policy. and have that -- this work in a way that doesn't produce conflict between or within the military or morale probably in the ranks. other countries have long ago gotten rid of don't ask don't
teletype policies and have gays serve in the military because they have proven that they can serve effectively in the military. so it is important that we do this. in order to establishlessly the policy, which i believe it's the right way to go. north to succeed at that, we've got to follow a course that involves listen to the military, trying to address their concerns without giving up, the goal which is to drop a policy, which it seems to me it's just not appropriate number. you said you would have hearings. so what are your hearings. >> we were going to have them in december. but i'm not going to be able to use them probably because of all the things going on. there is so much on her plate,
we may not have that. the military wants to be asked. i just put a huge kind of a responsibility to to cuss on the fort president event. and that may need i would not go to the don't ask don't tell program. >> you said it can't happen after there's a careful review. so that you can, next year address it. we're not talking about a prolonged process. it is. i talked to senator gates and mull lins in here. they're not getting that review when we heard that date is january such and such. they are looking at them. this time is not being lost in
terms of the pentagon going through that entire process. talking to people all all levels. officers, listed personnel. the young men and women, retirees. they're going with an important issue. >> thank you very much for be with us. >> thank you. >> let me turn it to afghanistan. rick, you've been covering this town and relations between the pentagon and congress for a long time now. it seems as those senator level is waiting for news about which direction the president is going. they have been listening to them very closely when he talked about channers, but it's also being a requirement. but it's also true that
president o bama is slow and deliberate. when obama goes to military bases, he gets the most applause when he says, not going going to put you in this risk. this is a big decision for them. i don't think that there is a clear answer. i think that whatever it is it's going do take a long time and we have to settle for ourselfs that we're not going to street our children. we're talking five years, 6 six years, 7 years. >> are you getting andy. indications that this is what we're going to have in this country. not they want nato to contribute. but nato at the same time is waiting ifer the president obama to make his decision as
well. and if you saw the u.s. prime minister already talking about trance foring to afghani security forces in 207810246789's -- this. >> they're promising their troops is 400 troops. >> that's nothing close. >> you did use it as a percentage. >> and the level, i think, and also the other done tris they never send more than 100 or 15,000 troops. we're talking about a much bigger percentage. and what are member of congress hearing from the public. both of you asked about public tolerance. i'm won dwhearg -- wondering.
>> it's going to take a long time. it's government going to cost a lot of money. this a country understand why we're paying money on an -- and time. >> there was reference made by senator levin. fill my audience about what the reaction is going be. well, i guess the most republicans have stressed the need to have a new rock type surgeon in afghanistan, which means a significant amounts of troops. important 4040,000. and senator level was referencing to the fact that if president