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said there will be no draft, and I think people are tremendously heartened to hear that.
You talked about what would happen with the military action against Iraq, and we know that Israel was hit the last time. We have developed Arrow antimissile systems with the government of Israel. I really have to commend you for taking the leadership to provide early warning data to Israel which she did not have to make their defense more effective. What else can we do to make sure that Israel has done everything possible to handle the threat of Iraqi missiles?
Secretary RUMSFELD. There are other things that we are contemplating in the event that they become necessary, not just for Israel but for some other neighboring countries, as well as forced concentrations in the region.
Mr. KIRK. I hope we can do everything possible. I know that in providing the early warning data that it takes some technical effort, and I would hope that we would accelerate that.
Aren't we already at war with Iraq? The American people think that we are at peace with Iraq, but the Iraqi military sees U.S. and British armed forces bombing them about every week. Is that not right?
Secretary RUMSFELD. I don't know that I would characterize it quite that way, but you are quite right. We are currently in a conflict with Iraq, and we have been in a diplomatic battle, we have been in an economic battle and we have been in a military battle. We have Operation Northern Watch and Southern Watch going on for any number of years.
Coming over in the car, Dick Myers, I forget how many times you say our planes have been fired at in the last month or two.
We are not over there bombing willy-nilly. What we are doing is enforcing U.N. resolutions, and our men and women are flying aircraft over the northern and the southern zones for specific purposes, to keep the Iraqi government from punishing the Shi'a in the south or the Kurds in the north, to be aware of what is taking place in terms of the no-fly zones. And when we do it, which they agreed it is not like this is—it is all part of the whole—the resolutions, they shoot at our aircraft. It is the one place on the face of the earth where American men and women in uniform are getting fired at with impunity, day after day after day.
General Myers, how many times have we been fired at
Mr. KIRK. Mr. Secretary, we have been offered unconditional entry of U.N. inspectors in Iraq
Secretary RUMSFELD. No, we haven't.
Mr. KIRK. But at least it was on paper from the Iraqi government.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Come on.
Mr. KIRK. But let me ask you this question. Since that letter arrived two days ago, have Americans been fired at by Iraq in Northern Watch?
Secretary RUMSFELD. I just would have to go back and check to the exact time the letter was handed over in the United Nations or wherever it went and
Mr. KIRK. It would be very interesting
Secretary RUMSFELD. That is an interesting point.
Mr. KIRK. I see your staff saying no, and I know that sometimes we have quiet days. I would hope that you would let us know the moment U.S. armed forces, who are enforcing a U.N. resolution are fired on by Iraq, even after the delivery of this letter. It is an important point.
Secretary RUMSFELD. That is a good one.
Mr. KIRK. My last question is—let me just say something, because my old squadron is in Incirlik right now, and obviously their mothers and fathers worry about them and they look at the news. When you get back home from a mission, you are pretty much glued to CNN. What would you say to the men and women in the armed forces right now about any potential operation?
Secretary RUMSFELD. Well, there is no question but that these folks, as you point out, voluntarily put their lives at risk, and they do it day after day as a way of our country's contribution to peace and stability in the world, and it is a dangerous world. It is an untidy world, and the role they are playing is just enormously important, and they do it selflessly.
I have been around, as Dick Myers has, visiting bases in this country and bases around the world, and in that part of the world, and I can say that these folks are ready to do that which this country decides is appropriate to do and necessary to do to defend the American people.
General MYERS. I might just add that being in Incirlik, it is a long way from home, and sometimes it is difficult for the folks there to feel the appreciation of the American people. It is easier here in Washington. Last week going through the anniversary events of September 11th and then traveling throughout the country, as we both do universally, the American people very much appreciate what our Armed Forces do for them. And I think being a long way from home sometime that is hard to see, but if we could say one thing to them I would say that.
Mr. KIRK. Mr. Secretary, the United States Navy is born in my district, the only boot camp, and I would say that I have never seen the Secretary held in such admiration by the men and women in uniform, and I thank you for your service.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank the gentleman.
Mr. ANDREWS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, General, for your very clear, very persuasive efforts this morning. I reflect something Mr. Hostettler said, that there is nothing we do around here more grave than the decision we are asked to engage in this morning, the decision you are engaging in, but I don't think gravity should obscure clarity, and there are two arguments that I hear around the country and frankly here this morning that I think need to be disclaimed, as you have very effectively this morning.
The first is that any effort to effect a regime change in Iraq is distinctive from the war against terrorism. I think they are part of the same thing.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Exactly right.
Mr. ANDREWS. You have said that so persuasively, but if I could offer some advice, I think that is something that has to be said to
the American people repeatedly and with the clarity that you both have done this morning.
The second is this effort in the face of the record to carve out this position that somehow says that this regime in Iraq can cooperate with a robust weapons inspection and destruction program by an outside force. I find the proposition to be completely contradictory in terms when you look at a regime that by my count on 12 occasions since 1993 has made the same public promise that it made 36 hours ago and violated the promise each time. As we have heard just a few minutes ago, a regime that 2,300 times in recent years has attacked U.S. planes, that are there because they are enforcing a set of U.N. resolutions that are designed to obstruct this regime from murdering people living in its own country, I think that is indisputable record, and this idea somehow that it is logically possible to see this regime behave in a way that is consistent with the destruction of the weapons of mass destruction or facilities I find to be a non sequitur.
Having said that, I am concerned that the Iraqis, who seem to be, if nothing else, skilled at manipulating American public opinion, may be in a position to make the case that they are doing so, and go through some elaborate ritual that will show that inspections are increasing and stepping up. And let us suspend disbelief for a moment and assume that in fact there is some real progress in identifying the sites of weapons of mass destruction, destroying the weapons of mass destruction, finding the production capabilities. How long do you think it would take to complete such a program to the satisfaction of those of you entrusted with the responsibility?
And let me tell you the reason I ask the question and then I will ask it. How much time do you think it would take the Iraqi regime to make a covert connection with the terrorist organization, convey to that terrorist organization a weapon of mass destruction, let that weapon be used against the people of the United States and disclaim responsibility for it? That would be pretty logical strategy for Saddam, wouldn't it? He would get the benefit of distracting U.S. public opinion. He would get the collateral benefit of murdering tens of thousands of United States citizens, and he would claim no responsibility for it in world affairs. Is that a scenario that you
Secretary RUMSFELD. I find everything you have said plausible. First, you are exactly right that the United States has not nominated Saddam Hussein's regime for this attention. It nominated itself, and the Iraqi people are really in many respects hostages to that regime. I think to suggest that all the Iraqi people are complicit is just certainly not the case, and I think we have to keep that in mind, because they have a terrible circumstance. They have been dealt a bad hand with that regime.
The third point you made concerning misinspection and disinformation, you are exactly right. The Iraqi regime is enormously skillful. They make the United States and our friends and allies around the world look like rank amateurs in terms of manipulating the press. We are already seeing movements of military capabilities into close proximity of hospitals, schools, mosques to be prepared in the event that the United States were to do something
so that they could then, either on the one hand hope that those targets not be hit, and if they are hit, use disinformation about the damage that has taken place. They have used human shields on any number of occasions where they take prisoners and use them in the front as shields.
And your last point is the problem. It is that nexus between terrorist networks, sleeper cells which exist around the world today, the openness of our country and other free people and therefore our vulnerability at the hands of those kinds of weapons.
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Secretary, you have said it as well as I have heard it said this morning, and I thank you for that service that you have done, but I think it needs to be said by a lot of us as often as possible. The notion that there needs to be Iraqi conduct-further Iraqi conduct to justify the conclusion that this is a risk with which we can no longer live is wrong. The capacity to enable such conduct by someone else is the risk that we face, and this idea somehow that the charade of governmental cooperation with weapons destruction is good enough I find to be a very dangerous misconception. I thank you for your time.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Thank you, sir.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I did want to underscore, Mr. Secretary, something my colleague Mr. Snyder said and the need for clarity when the time comes for that clarity. I understand the collage that you and the President and the administration face of laying out now what the threat is, what the challenge is, what the evidence is, building support for addressing that, building the coalition and putting it together and the support in the Congress, but at some point there will be a time for clarity, particularly because I believe that our political objectives should drive our military strategy and our military strategy will drive our forces and so forth. And I hear differing objectives, and maybe they are all part of this, but I think that there will come a time when there will need to be that clarity of objectives, whether it is stopping Iraq from acquiring weapons of mass destruction or enforcement of the U.N. sanctions or a regime change. All of those objectives will require very different military strategies. They will have different risks and different probabilities for success, and at the appropriate point I hope we will hear exactly what the President wants, what the objective is with respect to Iraq.
I did have some questions, probably principally for you, General, about our readiness to move forward.
We have heard reports that the Army's 10 divisions are at low levels of readiness. They have been rotating in and out of different missions over the last year. Our U.S. fighters, reconnaissance and refueling capability and command and control are also not necessarily at high rates of readiness. Could you comment on that and how long and how you are going about getting them up to speed for what may be a new operation?
General MİYERS. You bet. Over the last several years, as you well understand, because Congress has been such a big part of it, there have been many resources put into the readiness equation, and that continues again in 2002. Part of that was in the 2002 supple
mental. So, our forces, our Army divisions, our carrier battle groups, our wings, our Marine expeditionary forces, they are in a very high state of readiness, and they are ready for—again, for whatever they might be asked to do.
Obviously, there are some resources that we just don't have enough of, and again, some of those have been addressed by Congress. Some of our intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities. We know some issues we had with our tanker fleet. But taking all that into consideration—and we do, and we have to prioritize today. We had to prioritize it at peacetime. We had to prioritize, like I said, today in our war on terrorism. We are going to have to prioritize it in any future operation. Some of those issues have been addressed by Congress. We have added more airplanes, more P-3s for the Navy, EP-3s. We have added more RC-135s. We have added some training and simulation capability to help mitigate the impact on the operational assets, but we are still going to have to prioritize those and work those very hard.
Having said that, I will go back to my original statement. The units in our armed forces are prepared for whatever is asked of them, and their state of readiness right now is quite good.
Mrs. WILSON. General, I get kind of that same answer of we will do what we are told to do; by God, we will go do it. At the same time I also get conflicting information about, yeah, we have done 20,000 sorties over the United States and there is a lot of flying hours but not necessarily the combat hours and the bomb-dropping hours and the hours for the guys in back of AWACS doing intercepts to keep their skills up. And I wonder if you could comment a little on that.
General MYERS. Well, those are all valid comments, and I understand those in particular because I used to do that mission. Having said that, we have forces for the defense of this country. The air defense forces. We have other forces that are committed to deploy, and, again, without getting into a lot of detail here, I think we are ready—we are trying to mitigate that. That is what I talked about earlier. What we have to try to find is a rhythm that we can get into that mitigates those kind of impacts and ensures that our people are ready.
For instance, in the Balkans, most of the forces going into the Balkans in the future will be from the reserve component. So, the active duty forces will be ready for other tasks perhaps, and that is a conscious decision. As you know, we have tried to mitigate the impact on our air defense here in the United States, and again, without going into a great deal of war-level detail, we have tried to reduce the times when we ask the AWACS to be present. And we have supplemented land-based radars with other radars to try to make up for that capability. So we are trying to take steps across the spectrum to ensure that we don't run any particular aspect of our force into the ground.
Having said that, we have some forces that are working very, very hard, absolutely.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentlelady. The gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Larson.