Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), ranking Republican on the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, today released the following statement for the subcommittee’s hearing regarding independent expert views on the development of the Iraq Security Forces (ISF):
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you calling this very important hearing. Thank you to our witnesses for being here today—I look forward to hearing your statements.
“Today’s hearing is this subcommittee’s first open meeting, and culminates a month of oversight activities aimed at investigating the Iraqi Security Forces. Over the last few weeks we have focused on the costs of funding and sustaining the ISF, analyzed the plan for transitioning the handling of ISF finances over to the Government of Iraq, reviewed how we train and equip the ISF, and discussed the logistical capability the ISF requires to become a self-sustaining force.
“After traveling to Iraq and participating in our subcommittee meetings, I am convinced that the Iraqi Security Forces are the linchpin of our strategy to create a safe and secure Iraq. Anything our investigation can do to advance the effectiveness and success of the ISF is critical.
“Mr. Chairman, before we roll into the testimony I want to make two points about what I’d like focus on during today’s hearing.
“First, I’d like our witnesses to discuss how we are using the ISF to accomplish our strategic objectives in Iraq. Spending billions on building a self-sustained force is only worthwhile if the ISF is advancing our goals in Iraq. A key metric that we need to get a handle on is whether we are using the ISF in a strategically sound way, and if the ISF is performing effectively at the tactical level. I suspect that the Baghdad Security Plan—or “Operation Enforcing the Law”—is a model that we should replicate throughout Iraq for how to use the ISF to fight all elements of the insurgency.
“The second issue, Mr. Chairman, which I would like to pursue today, is the importance of the U.S. commitment to the ISF. I believe that the U.S. Congress has a responsibility to fund the ISF. As this subcommittee moves forward with our investigation of the ISF, the Fiscal Year 2007 Emergency Supplemental, passed by the House last week, includes language that will withhold 50 percent of the $3.8 billion dedicated to funding the ISF until political conditions are met—these conditions, I believe, are unreasonable. Everything we have learned in our work on the ISF to date leads to the conclusion that the ISF is the key to creating a stable Iraq, so that political progress can take place. Expecting political progress without giving the ISF money to generate secure conditions for creating political reform seems to me wrongheaded.
“Again, thank you to all the witnesses for being here today.”