Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), senior Republican on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, today released the following opening statement for the subcommittee’s hearing on the development and operational capability of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF):
“Today is our last scheduled public hearing in our investigation of the Iraqi Security Forces. I understand that the subcommittee will issue a report on this investigation in the coming weeks, and the report’s release will close out this investigation.
“As this may be the last public meeting of the subcommittee with Mr. Meehan as Chairman, I’d like to take this opportunity to commend the Chairman for his exceptional leadership, and thank him for steering this subcommittee in a bipartisan and professional manner. I wish you the best of luck in your new position, and I think my colleagues will agree that the Congress will miss your energy and leadership.
“Welcome to our witnesses. General Dempsey, welcome back from Iraq. Thank you for your extraordinary and dedicated service to our country. I understand this is one of your first stops since returning from Iraq—thank you for appearing before the subcommittee today.
“As we close out the public record of this investigation, I’d like to focus my comments on, what I view, are key issues this investigation still needs to clarify.
“Foremost, how does the ISF mission fit into our Iraq strategy? Over the past few years, we’ve spent $19 billion training and equipping more than 348,000 ISF personnel all for the purpose of transitioning security responsibility over to the Iraqis. My sense is that this remains our strategy. The only variable that has changed is how and when we ‘transition’ security responsibilities to the Iraqis. One thing this investigation has demonstrated is that transitioning security responsibilities simply for the sake of transitioning will not stabilize Iraq—it may actually slow down progress. I do, however, want to make sure that contrary to recent press reports, our strategy continues to view the ISF as the linchpin to our plan to eventually transition U.S. forces out of Iraq. General Dempsey, I hope you can comment on this during your testimony.
“Another issue I’d like our witnesses to clarify is how we’re progressing in developing a truly national, Iraqi Security Force. Again, there are an increasing number of press reports that elements of the ISF—particularly the Iraqi Police Service—suffer from sectarian infiltration. Additionally, it seems problems of sectarian influence continue to affect the ministries—particularly the Ministry of Interior. I’d like to hear your assessment of the situation, and understand what steps we are taking to resolve this problem.
“I’d also like to know how sectarianism is affecting the combat effectiveness of the ISF. A rogue Iraqi unit that carries out sectarian reprisals is only one kind of sectarian problem; sectarianism can manifest in other ways.
“This leads me to a general concern about our knowledge of the ISF. While this subcommittee has learned a lot about how we train transition teams and equip the ISF, we have learned little about the operational competency of the ISF. I’m concerned that the Transition Readiness Assessments (TRAs) do not tell us enough about Iraqi units. Given the $19 billion the American people have spent on the ISF, we have a responsibility to monitor and track how the forces we’ve trained and equipped are operating.”