Washington D.C. —Today the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held its first open hearing in its investigation into the development of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The subcommittee heard from a distinguished panel of non-governmental experts including: Dr. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dr. Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, Robert Perito of the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Olga Oliker of the RAND Corporation.
Subcommittee Chairman Marty Meehan and Ranking Member Todd Akin made the following statement:
“We had a candid exchange of ideas about the Iraqi Security Forces regarding where we are, where we need to be, and how best to get there. Many of the challenges discussed today mirrored those that we have delved into over the last several weeks. Despite the courageous efforts of both Coalition members and Iraqis, these challenges continue to be significant in almost every aspect.
“Today’s session was particularly valuable in that it offered an outside perspective on these issues. It is important for our subcommittee to collect views outside of the information the Department of Defense presents to us in official testimony. Hearing rigorous, independent thinking from the nation’s leading scholars regarding approaches to the problems that lie before us is consistent with our subcommittee’s intent not merely to identify obstacles to progress, but also to explore potential solutions.
“Outside perspectives and the Department’s own reports are indeed important to our work. In addition to researchers like the ones we heard from today, we hear from generals, admirals and senior civilian officials regularly. But we need something more. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to hearing firsthand from people who have worked directly with the Iraqi Security Forces. We intend to speak with everyone from sergeants to field grade officers, from active duty personnel to reservists and guardsmen, from veterans to civilians, and from coalition partners to contractors.
“We’ve asked the Department of Defense to help identify the relevant personnel for us, and our staff is also identifying contacts. We even hope that people will try to contact our members and staff independently—whatever it takes to hear a wide range of experiences and views.
“The need for capable Iraqi Security Forces and a competent Iraqi government to oversee them grows clearer with each passing day. Therefore, we will continue with our project to ensure that the United States is doing everything it can to improve the ISF and achieve a prompt and effective transition of security responsibility to the Iraqis.”
The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has held three previous briefings with representatives from the Department of Defense, the Government Accountability Office, and the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction to examine the ISF’s logistics system, issues related to the size, composition, training, and end strength of the ISF, and financial aspects of the transition of funding responsibility to the Iraqi government.