Hunter Opening Statement for Hearing on President Bush’s New Strategy for Victory in Iraq

Jan 16, 2007
Press Release

Contact: Josh Holly 202.226.3988 

Washington D.C. –Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following opening statement from the House Armed Services Committee’s hearing regarding President Bush’s new strategy for victory in Iraq:

“Last week, President Bush and his advisors met with congressional leaders to discuss a new strategy for Iraq.  The President then outlined his plan to the American people, both in an address to the nation and in several media interviews.  Secretary of Defense Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace, provided more detail before this committee, including information about the strategy’s three key pillars.  In fact, General Pace referred to the strategy as a ‘three-legged stool’ so that if any one of these elements – political, military, or reconstruction – is missing, the strategy cannot stand.  I agree that to have a chance of success, any strategy or proposed alternative must rest on these elements, and we have received a lot of information about each.  I look forward to hearing your assessments of the Administration’s new plan in these areas.

“This committee is, of course, interested in all three aspects.  We understand that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other senior Iraqi officials must make, and follow through on, the commitments necessary to secure their nation and improve the lives of their people.  Most importantly, they must treat perpetrators of sectarian violence – whether Sunni or Shi’a – equally, and they must create and field sufficient numbers of capable Iraqi security forces.  The Prime Minister has reportedly made these assurances to President Bush. 

“In response, the President has put forth an innovative strategy that includes a bolder use of Iraqi military forces and a new way of using American forces to stabilize and secure Baghdad.  As I mentioned during our hearing with Secretary Gates and General Pace, I support this plan.  In fact, I have recommended going further and working with the Iraqi Government to ensure that all Iraqi battalions experience combat tours in “hot-spot” areas like Baghdad to grow and validate capabilities.   

“I also support the broadened use of the Baghdad ‘3-to-1 Plan,’ which uses a combination of three Iraqi battalions and one U.S. battalion in a back-up and mentoring role.  I have recommended to President Bush that this plan serve as a blueprint for handing off security responsibilities throughout Iraq.  By working alongside Iraqi security forces, American forces can help develop—and gain confidence in—Iraqi capabilities so that we can hand-off security responsibilities.  And the Iraqis will be prepared and willing to accept such responsibilities.

“Today, we have a panel of preeminent national security experts, whose written testimony offers a variety of views.  I encourage you to look to the future and address how implementing an alternative to the President’s strategy would impact both U.S. national security and the international security environment.  Any alternative – whether calling for an even larger number of U.S. forces, immediate withdrawal, or phased redeployment – must reflect an honest assessment of the near-, mid-, and long-term security implications of implementing that strategy.  What would Iraq and the greater region look like after implementing your alternative?”