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U.S. Senate,
Committee On Armed Services,

Washington, DC.


The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:39 a.m. in room SH216, Hart Senate Office Building, Senator Carl Levin (chairman) presiding.

Committee members present: Senators Levin, Reed, Akaka, Bill Nelson, E. Benjamin Nelson, Warner, Inhofe, Roberts, Allard, Sessions, and Collins.

Committee staff members present: David S. Lyles, staff director; and Christine E. Cowart, chief clerk.

Majority staff members present: Richard D. DeBobes, counsel; Evelyn N. Farkas, professional staff member; Richard W. Fieldhouse, professional staff member; Jeremy L. Hekhuis, professional staff member; Maren Leed, professional staff member; Gerald J. Leeling, counsel; and Michael J. McCord, professional staff member.

Minority staff members present: Judith A. Ansley, Republican staff director; Edward H. Edens IV, professional staff member; Gary M. Hall, professional staff member; George W. Lauffer, professional staff member; Patricia L. Lewis, professional staff member; Thomas L. MacKenzie, professional staff member; Ann M. Mittermeyer, minority counsel; Scott W. Stucky, minority counsel; and Richard F. Walsh, minority counsel.

Staff assistants present: Daniel K. Goldsmith, Thomas C. Moore, and Nicholas W. West.

Committee members' assistants present: Jason Matthews and Jeffrey S. Wiener, assistants to Senator Landrieu; Elizabeth King, assistant to Senator Reed; Davelyn Noelani Kalipi, assistant to Senator Akaka; William K. Sutey, assistant to Senator Bill Nelson; Eric Pierce, assistant to Senator Ben Nelson; Benjamin L. Cassidy, assistant to Senator Warner; Dan Twining, assistant to Senator McCain; John A. Bonsell, assistant to Senator Inhofe; George M. Bernier III, assistant to Senator Santorum; Robert Alan McCurry, assistant to Senator Roberts; Mike Bennett, assistant to Senator Allard; Arch Galloway II, assistant to Senator Sessions; Kristine Fauser, assistant to Senator Collins; and David Young and Derek Maurer, assistants to Senator Bunning.


Chairman Levin. Good morning, everybody. The committee meets today to receive testimony from three of our regional combatant commanders. All of our witnesses are well known to this committee. Admiral Dennis Blair is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. General Thomas Schwartz is the Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command-Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea. Major General Gary Speer is Acting Commander in Chief of the U.S. Southern Command.

Admiral Blair and General Schwartz are before the committee for the last time in their current assignments. I just want to thank them on behalf of the committee for their tremendous careers and commitment to the well-being of this Nation.

Our witnesses today command U.S. military forces stationed from the DMZ and the Korean peninsula to the farthest reaches of the Pacific Ocean, to the Caribbean and the South American continent. I would ask each of you to convey the appreciation of this committee to the men and women under your command for their professionalism, their dedication, and their service.

We have a number of important issues to discuss with our witnesses this morning. Among them are the following: Admiral Blair commands the Special Operations Forces recently sent to the Philippines in response to the request from Philippine President Arroyo. The mission of these forces is to help train the Philippine Army to more effectively fight terrorists and insurgents. The terms of reference signed by U.S. Pacific Command and the Philippine Army representatives state that the training exercise is targeted against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the southern Philippines. But there are other terrorist groups with bases located close to those of the Abu Sayyaf. At least one of them, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has indicated that they would take military action if U.S. troops encroached on their territory.

I am concerned that our operations in the Philippines could unintentionally expand beyond training the Philippine Army to fighting the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. I understand that U.S. forces are providing training at the battalion level only, but those headquarters are located out in the jungles. Could the mere presence of our troops on the island of Basilan make them the target of attack not just by the Abu Sayyaf, but by other groups?

How are we operationally and tactically limiting our involvement to training the Philippine Army rather than becoming caught up in the actual fighting between the Abu Sayyaf and the Philippine Army? How are we ensuring that our involvement will remain limited to the Abu Sayyaf threat? Is the 6-month duration for this training mission realistic?

General Schwartz commands our armed forces in South Korea. We all want to reduce North Korea's threatening military posture. I am concerned that the lack of negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea and between North and South Korea is turning back the clock on some of the diplomatic advances that have been made over the last several years.

I am concerned by recent suggestions that the Agreed Framework is in jeopardy and I am interested in hearing General Schwartz's assessment of whether the Agreed Framework contributes to our national security and whether it is still viable.

In the Southern Command area, we need to discuss, among other issues, the implications of President Pastrana's recent decision to end the safe zone of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on the stability of the Colombian government; whether the existing limitations on the U.S.-trained counterdrug brigade should be maintained; and whether future U.S. assistance to the Colombian military should be geared toward counter-insurgency capabilities.

General Speer has also recently taken on the mission of running the camp for detainees at the U.S. Naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

So there is a great deal of ground to cover this morning. Again, I am glad that we have these experts with us. Before we turn to them, let me recognize Senator Warner.


Senator Warner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Your opening statement embraces many of the sentiments I have and therefore I will ask that my statement to be placed into the record.

Chairman Levin. Thank you. It will be made part of the record.

[The prepared statement of Senator Warner follows:]

Prepared Statement By Senator John Warner

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This hearing, one in a series of annual hearings this committee conducts to hear from our Unified and Regional Commanders on their military strategy and operational requirements, is, in my view, one of our most important hearings.

Admiral Blair, General Schwartz, General Speer, you are this nation's warfighters—on the front lines, protecting U.S. national security interests and presenting the face of American resolve to allies, friends and potential adversaries. The committee values your unique contributions and perspectives.

Your input and insight provide us with important information we need to make decisions regarding policies and programs that impact each of your areas of responsibility (AOR). This is of particular significance this year due to the ongoing global war on terrorism and this Nation's global responsibilities in which each of you play a critical role.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge both Admiral Dennis Blair and General Thomas Schwartz in what may well be their last appearance before our committee. Both Admiral Blair and General Schwartz are scheduled to retire this May.

Gentleman, you have served our Nation with the highest level of dedication and professionalism. I know what this duty has required of you—the long hours, the missed family events, the cancelled plans. I want to express my personal thanks to both of you for your selfless service to country. We have been fortunate as a Nation to have men such as you at the helm—well done.

Mr. Chairman, I would now like to take just a moment to highlight a number of specific concerns I have within each of our witnesses' AORs.

While China and the Korean Peninsula remain areas of primary concern, in the Asia-Pacific region the global war on terrorism has now moved to the Philippines with U.S. troops deployed to that nation to help the Philippine Government fight terrorist groups. I look forward to receiving an update on the status of that important mission.

Last year, our bilateral relations with China reached a low point following the unfortunate EP-3 incident. I am interested in Admiral Blair's perspective on the current U.S.-China relationship, particularly the current state of U.S.-China military to military contacts and China s reaction to the recent visit of President Bush. Additionally, I look forward to receiving an update on the situation in the Taiwan Strait.

The continuing stalemate between India and Pakistan remains an issue of utmost importance. I am interested in Admiral Blair's perspective on this important region, particularly in light of his regular interaction with Indian military officials.

Tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula. While food shortages remain at crisis level throughout North Korea, there appears to be no letup in North Korea's troop buildup along the DMZ. I look forward to hearing General Schwartz's insights on the situation on the Korean peninsula following President Bush's recent visit to Seoul and the DMZ. I am particularly interested in any change in North Korea's military posture since the war on terrorism began last fall, as well as your assessment of North Korea's ballistic missile and proliferation activities.

Colombia remains a focus of my concern in SOUTHCOM's AOR, especially in light of renewed fighting in that nation. I am interested in receiving an update from General Speer on Plan Colombia, including what role U.S. military advisors are currently playing in Colombia and what, if any, future role you envision our advisors playing. Finally, I am interested in the situation at Guantanamo Bay and your assessment of how the global war on terrorism is impacting operations in SOUTHCOM's AOR.

We welcome our witnesses this morning and look forward to their testimony.

Senator Warner. I will, however, join you in commending our two distinguished service persons, Admiral Blair and General Schwartz, for a career that each of you can look back on with great pride and share that pride with your family. We often think of the officers themselves, but their families, their spouses, make a direct contribution.

Behind you sit some very competent staff, each of whom would like to move up into those chairs. I always remember when I was in the Navy Department I had two four-stripers; each of them became Chief of Naval Operations. That was remarkable in view of their assignment with me, for them to overcome that and achieve that status.

Admiral Blair, you sit on a key part of the world, including China. I hope you will give us a good, succinct, professional, as well as personal, perspective. The tragic incident of" the EP-3 and the loss of one of their pilots, we certainly regret the loss of life. I hope steps have been taken to ensure that the level of reocurrence of that incident is much lower. I continue to believe that an incidentat-sea type of framework similar to what we had with the former Soviet Union, and now with Russia, could be adopted with China.

I know you have some concerns about the Homeland CINCNORTH and the various command and control of forces in the Pacific region, and I think it is quite proper that perhaps you express those concerns here. Several of our colleagues here in the Senate have consulted with you on that matter and I would hope you would make your views a part of today's record.

Taiwan continues to be a valued ally. I hope you will cover Taiwan and the continuing stalemate between India and Pakistan.

General Schwartz, we had a very good discussion yesterday when you visited my office and I hope you cover those personnel issues today. I think you have approached them with a degree of realism and pragmatism that needs to be expressed and made a part of today's record. Speaking for myself, I do believe the committee would join in trying to help that situation. It is not just a housing problem. There must be other factors when so many fine professionals, officer and enlisted, look upon assignment to your post as one where they are forced to make a choice between whether they want to stay in uniform and accept that assignment or go on to civilian pursuits. We may as well meet that issue head-on.

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