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Status of Iraq War Hearing SWITCHED 1800 - 1900
Joint hearings of the House Armed Services and House Foreign Affairs committee with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. CLEAN HEARING TRANSCRIPT OF THE 18:00-19:00 HOUR WITHOUT TIME CODE GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, first, if I could just start out and note that there is no question that al Qaeda Iraq is part of the greater al Qaeda movement. We have intercepted numerous communications between al Qaeda senior leadership, AQSL as they're called, and the -- REP. ACKERMAN: Isn't it true, General, that al Qaeda in Iraq formed in 2005, two years after we first got there? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, I'm not saying when it started. I'm saying merely that al Qaeda Iraq clearly is part of the overall greater al Qaeda network. REP. ACKERMAN: But they didn't exist until we -- (inaudible). GEN. PETRAEUS: We have intercepted numerous communications, and there is no question also but that al Qaeda Iraq is a key element in igniting the ethnosectarian violence. They have been in effect an element that has poured gas on burning embers with the bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque, for example, and with efforts that they have tried recently, for example, bombing the poor Yazidi villages in northwestern Iraq and so forth. REP. ACKERMAN: Are they a threat to us? GEN. PETRAEUS: Al Qaeda Central is a threat to us. I don't know what the result would be if we left Iraq and left al Qaeda Iraq in place. That is very, very hard to say. REP. ACKERMAN: Then how could you -- GEN. PETRAEUS: I don't know where they would go from here. Again, I'm not trying to -- REP. ACKERMAN: Then how could you suggest that we leave after the sectarian violence stops? REP. SKELTON: (Sounds gavel.) Go ahead and answer the question. GEN. PETRAEUS: I'm not sure I understand that question, Congressman. REP. ACKERMAN: The question is, your testimony appears to indicate that our mission is to end the sectarian violence. If we end the sectarian violence, how can we leave without killing everybody who we've identified as part of a terrorist organization such as al Qaeda in Iraq? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, al Qaeda again, as I mentioned, Congressman, is part of the sectarian violence. They really are the fuel -- important, most important fuel on the Sunni Arab side of this ethnosectarian conflict -- REP. ACKERMAN: Question again is, how do we leave? GEN. PETRAEUS: The way to leave is to stabilize the situations in each area, and each area will require a slightly different solution. The solution in Anbar province, as an example, has been one that is quite different from what -- one that might be used in a mixed sectarian area. But stabilizing the area, trying to get the violence down, in some cases literally using cement T-walls to secure neighborhoods and then to establish a sustainable security arrangement that increasingly is one that Iraqis can take over by themselves. REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman. The gentleman from New York, Mr. McHugh. REP. JOHN MCHUGH (R-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, let me add my words of deep appreciation and respect for the amazing job you've done. Whether one agrees with our current circumstances in the Middle East or not, I would hope no one of any thinking, responsible mind would question your devotion to country and dedication to duty. I appreciate it. General, I enjoyed that back and forth with my fellow New Yorker, but let me put it a little bit more simply. Is Iraq an important part on the global war on terror in your mind? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, I think that defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq would be a huge step forward in the global war on terror, and I think that failing to do that would be a shot of adrenaline to the global Islamic extremist movement. REP. MCHUGH: Then I assume you agree with the conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate, that if we were to leave Iraq precipitously from a military perspective, that the likelihood would be of a return to effectiveness, if you will, of AQI, al Qaeda in Iraq. Is that something you agree with? GEN. PETRAEUS: I do. If we were to leave before we and Iraqi forces had a better handle on al Qaeda-Iraq, that likely would be the outcome. We've made substantial progress against al Qaeda, as I mentioned in my opening statement, but as I also mentioned, al Qaeda remains very dangerous and certainly still capable of horrific mass- casualty sensational attacks. REP. MCHUGH: A lot of good people believe that -- and you've heard a little bit, and I suspect you'll hear more today -- good people believe that we have an opportunity by abandoning the mission in, they would argue, a thoughtful way, in Iraq and redirecting our attention entirely against Afghanistan would be the best thing to do in the war on terror. From what you know on the circumstances for the moment, would taking that step, abandoning the current conditions in Iraq for a total commitment to Afghanistan -- (inaudible) -- plus or minus in the war on terror? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, as I mentioned, allowing al Qaeda-Iraq to really rejuvenate, to regain its sanctuaries would certainly lead to a resumption of the kinds of ethnosectarian-fueling attacks that they were conducting on a much more regular basis than they have been able to conduct since the surge of offensives that we have launched in particular. I'm not sure what, you know, a huge injection of assets would do in the Afghanistan portion -- the portion of Afghanistan that is directed against al Qaeda, and I think in fairness that's probably a better question for General McChrystal, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, or Admiral Fallon, the combatant commander. REP. MCHUGH: Thank you, sir. Ambassador Crocker, you've said it, I think everyone on this panel feels it, probably most if not all Americans feel a great deal of frustration toward the Iraqi government and the slowness in which they've taken steps that are commensurate with the military side of this equation, and I certainly share those. Folks talk about sending a message to the Iraqi government. There's few things we can see an effect, such as military reductions, that we perceive as perhaps being helpful in turning the screws, encouraging them to make those hard decisions. Advise us, sir. What can we do effectively to send a message to facilitate positive steps by Maliki and the government that's currently in power? AMB. CROCKER: It's a great question, and certainly it's one that General Petraeus and I wrestle with almost every day. First, on the issue of troop reductions as a lever. I think we have to be very careful about this. If the Iraqis develop the sense that we're prepared for a non-conditions-based withdrawal of substantial numbers of our troops, my view is that it would make them less inclined to compromise and not more. And the reason for that is that if they see us coming out, they're still going to be there. And they are then going to be looking over -- increasingly over the tops of our heads, over the horizon to figure out how they're going to survive and how they're going to get through the coming massive sectarian conflict. So it's -- it's the kind of thing we got to think very carefully about, and I'm extremely cautious in ever putting that out on the table. I find that what I kind of need to do on a day-to-day basis is first try to understand, and that's why I spent some time in my statement on how things got to be the way they are in Iraq. That doesn't mean saying, well, you're an abused child so it's okay to do whatever you want, but it does help to understand why these things are difficult; with that understanding, then figuring out where some pressure works, what kinds of pressure, where encouragement works, where some fresh thinking works. And we employ all of that on a fairly regular basis. And one example of a small success was our encouragement for the Anbar forum that took place just last Thursday that brought federal and provincial leaders together in Anbar. REP. SKELTON: Before I -- the gentleman's time has expired. I thank the gentleman. Before I call Mr. Manzullo, the gentleman from Illinois, let me add a footnote. That we speak about benchmarks, and we've had testimony in the Armed Services Committee that the benchmarks are really commitments made by the Maliki government. Mr. Manzullo. Five minutes. REP. DONALD MANZULLO (R-IL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Petraeus, media reports refer to U.S. plans to build a military base near the Iran-Iraq border to curtail the flow of weapons into Iraq. Could you please elaborate on these plans? And is Iran the greatest threat to Iraqi security or is al Qaeda the greatest threat? And is the U.S. presence, and thus our massive resources in Iraq, hindering our ability to eradicate al Qaeda worldwide? GEN. PETRAEUS: First of all, Congressman, there is already a base in the area that I think -- I haven't seen that article, but there is a base southeast of Baghdad in Kut, which is where, in fact, the new contribution from the country of Georgia, a brigade, is going to be based. And that is probably what that was referring to. There is an effort to work with the Iraqis to try to interdict the flow, as I mentioned earlier, of these arms, ammunition and other assistance -- lethal assistance coming from Iran that are being funneled to these breakaway rogue militias/special groups associated with the Jaish al-Mahdi, the Sadr militia. You've asked a great question about which is the biggest threat, if you will. We tend to see al Qaeda-Iraq the wolf closest to the sled, because it is the threat that carries out the most horrific attacks in Iraq that cause the very high casualties, that attempt to reignite ethno-sectarian violence, as they did in fact with the February 2006 bombing of the gold dome mosque. And you saw how the security incidents just climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed, and really all the way until just the last several months, before they started to come down. They are still dangerous. They're off-balance. They have lost the initiative in a number of areas. We have taken away sanctuaries in a number of important areas. But they still remain very, very lethal and very dangerous, and they will certainly try to reconstitute. So that is, in a sense, what we see as the immediate and most pressing threat, and we've put great emphasis on that, with our Iraqi counterparts, because they are very much in this. It was the Iraqi army that killed the emir of Mosul, as an example, and has actually had a number of other successes recently against al Qaeda elements. The long-term threat may well be the Iranian-supported militia extremists in Iraq. If these could become a surrogate in the form of a Hezbollah-like element, these are very worrisome. We have learned a great about Iran since we captured the head of the special groups and the deputy commander of Lebanese Hezbollah, Department 2800. They have shared with us. They have explained, as have a number of others that we have captured -- explained the level of assistance, training, equipping, funding and so forth. And we captured documents with them that documented the attacks that they had carried out and clearly were so detailed because they were in fact giving those to prove what they had done to justify the further expenditure of funds from Iran. Prime Minister Maliki, I think, sees that as perhaps THE biggest threat, and a number of the Iraqi leaders, just as we have learned a great deal more in recent months, have also learned a great deal more. And they have been very worried about what they have seen, despite the fact, as was mentioned earlier, that a number of them have quite a long history with Iran, and in some cases many years in exile in Iran. REP. MANZULLO: The last question was, is our presence in Iraq hindering our ability to fight al Qaeda worldwide? GEN. PETRAEUS: Again, I think that's probably a better question for the commander who is charged with the overall counterterrorist effort of the United States, Lieutenant General Stan McChrystal, who spends a great deal of time in Iran, has very sizable assets -- in Iraq -- has very sizable aspects -- assets in Iraq as well. And I think he would be the one who would best be able to answer whether the relative mix against Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere, because there are certainly al Qaeda affiliates. And we do track this with him every week. In fact, we get together and discuss not just al Qaeda in Iraq, but al Qaeda in the Levant and in other areas, the Horn of Africa and so forth as well. REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman from Illinois. Mr. Taylor, gentleman from Mississippi. REP. GENE TAYLOR (D-MS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, General and Mr. Ambassador, for being here. General, we hear a lot of talk about there being a partnership with the Iraqis and building up Iraqi capabilities. When I looked around your headquarters at the Water Palace at Easter, it sure looked like an all-American show to me. In fact, I don't recall the presence of a single Iraqi there. Given the talk of standing them up so that we can create a situation where at some point the Americans can come home, at what point does it become more of a partnership in reality as opposed to a partnership in words? GEN. PETRAEUS: Thanks, Congressman. In fact, right across from our headquarters is the Iraqi ground force headquarters, which is really the equivalent of the Multinational Corps Iraq and which has partnered very closely with Lieutenant General Odierno and his headquarters. We have a substantial number of transition team advisers in that headquarters and, in fact, we have Iraqi liaison in our headquarters as well. Our biggest effort really, certainly from my level, is with the Iraqi joint headquarters, which is in their Ministry of Defense building, which is contiguous, literally, with a door right between the wall, contiguous to the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq headquarters, General Dubik's headquarters, which is the organization that is charged with supporting the development of the ministry and the joint headquarters. And that is how we work with them. I also provide a substantial number of officers from staff sections in the Multinational Force headquarters, the intelligence operations and others, who are actually partnered with the Iraqis there and also at the Baghdad Operational Command headquarters. REP. TAYLOR: General, in your conversations with the Iraqis, do you ever point at a calendar, whether this year, next year, the following year, the year after that, and say, "We expect you to be an operational force by this date"? What I fail to see, and I'd like you to enlighten me, is a target date. We hear numbers of Iraqis trained; we hear dollars spent on equipment. What I don't hear or see is a target date where you expect them to be able to police their own country and defend their own country. And if I'm missing that, I would certainly like you to point that out. GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, in fact, that transition has been going on. And in fact, the dates are usually mutually agreed. There is a joint Multinational Force Iraq/government of Iraq committee that has representation from the different security ministries and in fact determines the dates, for example, for provincial Iraqi control. Even during the surge -- REP. TAYLOR: And those dates are, sir? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, those are always -- they're agreed by province. As an example, a couple of months ago, we did it for Maysan province. The three Iraqi Kurdish provinces were just recently done. Several provinces were done before the surge as well. And Karbala, for example, is coming up right after Ramadan, about a month or so from now. Now, we have dates on a schedule that we work out with this committee, and it lays out the projected time frames for when this process of provincial Iraqi control will go forward, and we have that for each of the different provinces out there. Sometimes the dates have slipped. There's no question about that. In the case of, for example, Diyala province, which experienced real difficulties as Baqubah was on the verge of becoming the new capital of a caliphate of al Qaeda, that slipped. On the other hand, Anbar province, all the sudden, which was not one that we were looking forward to at all, actually now has a date, and I think it's something like January of 2008. So that process has been ongoing. There are numbers of provinces in which there are few if any coalition forces. Several have no coalition forces. Others have a single special forces team or what have you. REP. TAYLOR: General, for the record, could you supply us that timeline by province to this committee? GEN. PETRAEUS: I'd be happy to give you the provincial Iraqi control schedule that we have right now, yes, sir. REP. TAYLOR: Okay, thank you. Thank you again for your service. REP. SKELTON: Let me ask a question. Would that be classified or unclassified? GEN. PETRAEUS: Sir, I think it is classified. Again, whatever it is, we'll get it to you. REP. SKELTON: We would appreciate that. I thank the gentleman from Mississippi. REP. TAYLOR: Thank you again, General Petraeus. GEN. PETRAEUS: Thank you, sir. REP. SKELTON: Thank you. The gentleman from American Samoa, Mr. Faleomavaega, please. DEL. ENI FALEOMAVAEGA (D-AS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank both of you gentlemen for your service to our country. I keep hearing that our active duty and Marine forces are overstretched. And I also express the very serious concerns about the capacity of our current (ready ?) Reservists and National Guard organization, and which was confirmed by General Keane, who expressed some real serious concerns about the way we are using our (ready ?) Reservists and National Guardsmen. And gentlemen, with the tremendous strain and shortages in military equipment, preparedness and training of our (ready ?) Reservists and National Guardsmen and women, who are obligated now to serve in Iraq, does our military currently have the capacity to fight two fronts, in Iraq and Afghanistan? And do we have enough added strategic reserves to fight another potential war front like Iran, the Taiwan Straits, or even to have the situation that's now brewing between the Kurds and our ally, Turkey? With the crisis now brewing there in that northern part of the country in Iraq, I wanted to know if we have the capacity -- it seems like we have all the military personnel available to do what everyone wanted to do to perform the military mission. And I'd like to hear your professional judgment on that, General Petraeus. GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, thank you. First of all, I very much share the concern over the strain on our military forces, and in particular on our ground forces and other so-called high-demand, low-density assets. As I mentioned, that was one of the factors that informed my recommendations to draw down the five Army brigade combat teams, the Marine expeditionary unit and the two Marine battalions, between now and next summer. I also am on the record as offering the opinion that our ground forces are too small. And I did that before the approval of the expansion of those. And I am gratified to see, frankly, the support that this body has given to the effort to expand our ground forces because of the strain that has put on them and, by the way, of course, on their families. With respect to your question, sir, again, with respect, I'm just not the one to answer that. I am pretty focused on the mission in Iraq and not really equipped to answer whether or not -- what else is out there for other contingencies, although I know in a general sense, obviously, that there is very little else out there. DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, General. I have the highest respect for our men and women in military uniform. And I could not agree more with my good friend from California when he mentioned statements by General MacArthur about duty, honor and country. And General Petraeus, one of your colleagues, the former chief of staff for the Army, General Eric Shinseki, was vilified and humiliated by civilian authority because he just wanted to offer a professional judgment on the situation there in Iraq. He recommended that we should have at least 250,000 soldiers if we really wanted to do a good job from the very beginning. Now they put him out to dry. General Taguba also was another good soldier vilified and humiliated by civilian authority of what he felt was doing his job and his duty to our country. It's been estimated that because there are 6 million people living in Baghdad that it would require at least 100,000 soldiers to bring security, real security, to the people living in that city. Could I ask for your opinion, General Petraeus, if you think that 160,000 soldiers that you now command is more than sufficient in capacity to do what you need to do right now in Iraq? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, there's never been a commander in history, I don't think, who would not like to have more forces, more money, more allies and perhaps a variety of other assets. I have what we have in the military, what the military could provide for the surge. Beyond that, we certainly an increasing number of Iraqis, by the way. I might that add that in fact one of Prime Minister Maliki's initiatives has been to expand the number of forces in general and also the manning of each division so that it is at 120 percent of authorized strength so that with their leave policy, which is a must -- and remember, these guys don't ever go home except on leave with their pay. They are in the fight until it is over, and if they don't take their pay home at the end of the four weeks or so or whatever that period is that was worked out for them, they will not get that pay. But I have also again recommended today reductions in our force levels that I believe will be prudent, based on what we have achieved and what I believe we will have achieved together with our Iraqi counterparts. REP./DEL. : Thank you, General. REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman. The gentleman from American Samoa raises the issue of readiness. We have had in the Armed Services Committee extensive testimony and documentation, particularly in the Readiness Subcommittee under my friend from Texas, Mr. Ortiz, on the strains, particularly on the ground forces of the Army and Marines. And I tell my friend from American Samoa, it's very, very serious. Thank you for raising that issue. Mr. Bartlett. REP. ROSCOE G. BARTLETT (R-MD): Thank you folks very much for your service and your testimony. Remembering all those years I sat in the bottom row and never had a chance to ask my question, I'm going to yield most of my time to the most junior member on our side of the aisle, but first I must ask a very brief question and then make a brief comment. The brief question is, General, in an attempt to discredit your testimony today, The New York Times is quoted as saying that "The Pentagon no longer counts deaths from car bombings." And The Washington Post is reported as saying that we -- that you will only count assassinations if the bullet entered the back of the heard and not the front. Unless you interrupt me to say that I'm wrong, I'm going to assume that both of these allegations are false. GEN. PETRAEUS: They are false, that's correct. REP. BARTLETT: Thank you for confirming my suspicions. GEN. PETRAEUS: We have a formula for ethnosectarian violence. There's a very clear definition about it. It's acts taken by individuals of one ethnic or sectarian grouping against another ethnosectarian grouping in general for an ethnosectarian reason. It is not that complicated, candidly. If al Qaeda bombs a neighborhood that is Shi'a, that is an ethnosectarian incident, and it is adjudged as such. And where this idea of the bullet entering comes into it is not something I'm aware of. REP. BARTLETT: Thank you, sir. I just didn't want those allegations out there without the opportunity to refute them. Mr. Ambassador, on page four of your testimony, you note the tension between deciding whether or not the power ought to be in the center or the periphery. Some see the devolution of power to regions and provinces as being the best insurance against the rise of a future tyrannical figure in Baghdad. Others see Iraq with its complex demographics as in need of a strong authority. I would submit, Mr. Ambassador, this is the essential question, and unless we know which of those roads we ought to be traveling, I think that the probability of success is enormously diminished. If we haven't already, I hope we can decide which of those roads we ought to be traveling on because they are very different processes, sir. Let me yield the balance of my time now, I believe, (to) our most junior member, Mr. Geoff Davis from Kentucky. (Short pause.) (Cross talk off mike.) REP. GEOFF DAVIS (R-KY): With the chairman's indulgence, I'll ask that the time for the power failure not be counted against -- REP. SKELTON: Please proceed. REP. DAVIS: Thank you very much. Yes, it is somewhat ironic with our challenges today that we provide the criticism to our Arabic partners. I find it ironic that the Iraqi national assembly has been more legislatively effective this year than the United States Congress in passing laws, so our criticism should also measure ourselves. First, General Petraeus, I want to commend you on your application of classic counterinsurgency principles, working with the localized social and cultural networks to build from the bottom-up -- or as Speaker Tip O'Neill used to say, all politics is local. I've heard feedback from across the theater from friends of more than 30 years ranging down to young soldiers and their perspectives, and I think the people on both ends of the political spectrum are trying to oversimplify, to define as black-and-white issues that are best measured in shades of gray. You both have inherited a situation in which our instruments of power were initially employed with flawed assumptions and now in which any course of action has potentially significant second-and third- order effects, and there's areas that I would appreciate if you could comment on. First, one closer to home. I have often heard from troops at all levels, ranging from Central Command staff all the way down to platoon members, in Sadr City that the military is at war, but the nation is not. You mentioned the need to fight in cyberspace, and I assume meaning an information campaign explaining both to the world our ideas and also to the people. And I guess the question there would be: What would you tell the American people, not Congress, is the reason that we should support the recommendations of both of you? And then, following on that, given the effects that these decisions will have on the future, do you have some suggestions on key reforms to our national security or interagency process that you'd recommend to better integrate and facilitate our instruments of national power? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, first of all, if I could, I do believe that our leaders get it in Iraq more than we ever have before. Part of that is just sheer experience. Just about every battalion or brigade commander, most company commanders have served in Iraq at least one tour before, some more than one. We've made mistakes along the way; we've learned a lot of lessons the hard way. But we've made significant changes in our institutional Army, Marine Corps, in particular, and the other services, in terms of our doctrine, the education of our commissioned, non-commissioned officers, the preparation at the combat training centers, the entire road-to-deployment process. And I think that that has made a change in adopting some of the counterinsurgency practices that we are using. With respect to who is at war and who isn't, I would merely associate myself with the remarks of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace, who has said on a number of occasions, I believe, before the House Armed Services Committee among them, that he believes that the military obviously is at war, but that he's not so sure about all of the other agencies. Although I would certainly say that State and AID are very much in the same camp. REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman. But it's not just the military that's at war. It's their families, General. GEN. PETRAEUS: That is exactly -- REP. SKELTON: And we appreciate their sacrifices. GEN. PETRAEUS: Right. REP. SKELTON: Next on my list I have the gentleman from California, Mr. Royce. REP. EDWARD ROYCE (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Petraeus, I would just like to ask you your thoughts on al Qaeda in Iraq. You mentioned the reduction of the popular level of support. And I think General Jones's commission bears that out, his finding that that support level in Anbar had decreased dramatically. And it sort of begs the question: Where does al Qaeda in Iraq draw it's support today? And how do those fighters get into the country? And what could we be doing? In theory, what could we be doing? Now, let's say in Saudi Arabia, you have a young man buying a one-way plane ticket into Damascus. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out what might be going on. What could we be doing in these countries, and I ask the ambassador the same question, in order to deter then influx? I'd also like just some stats. I mean, is it 40 percent Saudi, 30 percent North African? If you've taken out 2,500 of their fighters and 100 of their officer corps recently, then clearly focusing on how they get into the country would be a question that I'd be interested in. And lastly when you look at your plan to draw down the force of five brigades here over the ensuing months, and then as you step down to a few brigades left in Iraq for the purpose of overwatch, all of that is based upon how well the Iraqi military performs. The numbers you've given us would indicate now that there soon will be a half-million soldiers or security people in Iraq under the Iraqi military. But what type of progress -- give us your unvarnished opinion of the progress that's being made or not being made by these Iraqi military units, because the success of your plan to reach a position where you draw down to a few brigades left for overwatch is dependent upon their success. Thank you, General. Thank you, Ambassador Crocker. GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, by the way, the reduction for -- of support for al Qaeda extends well beyond Anbar as well. It now is manifested, as we mentioned, both in Abu Ghraib, other areas that used to be sanctuaries for Iraq, three important neighborhoods in particular: Amiriyah, Ghazalia and Adhamiya. In each one of those at varying stages, the first two in particular, local individuals have stood up, literally generated local forces that have now been tied into our forces. Prime Minister Maliki has directed his army to work with them and coordinate with them, and the next step would be to work to get them into a legitimate Iraqi security force institution. Al Qaeda continues to get its support from a variety of means. Certainly it gets direction, money and expertise from the outside. It does send in from the outside foreigners to try to help rejuvenate areas. In fact, we killed the three -- we call them the al-Turki brothers. These were individuals who had spent time in Afghanistan in the past, who had come into Iraq. We missed them. They came in again. And that time we were able to -- literally to kill them. And so they were not able to do what they were supposed to do, which was to help in northern Iraq, which was under big pressure. So there is outside support, and there's also this flow of these foreign fighters, a number of whom do end up being suicide bombers. We still estimate that -- and it's very hard to tell, but somewhere -- 80 percent or so of the suicide bombers are from outside Iraq. And that was what we were talking about earlier, the importance of the diplomatic offensive, to work with source countries, to work with the countries through whom these fighters can transit to make it more difficult, as you say. And there's a variety of mechanisms. We believe, for example, that Saudi Arabia has taken steps in fact to make it tougher. The last Saudi foreign fighter we captured had actually had to take a bus to Damascus and then got into the network that eventually brought him into the country. We believe that Saudi Arabia is still probably the largest country in terms of the foreign fighters, although that again may be diminishing somewhat. And there are certainly others that come from North Africa, Jordan, Syria and so forth into Iraq. The Iraqi security forces range in quality from exceptionally good, at the very high end, with the Iraqi counterterrorist force, which is a true special mission unit in its capability, equipment, training, and is probably more active, undoubtedly more active than any other such unit in the region; the Iraqi commando battalion, which is expanding substantially and now has forces positioned outside Baghdad as well; and other elements of the Iraqi special operations force brigade; the national police emergency response unit, also very, very active; and the special tactics unit. It then ranges all the way down through units that are variously good and aggressive, including special units typically in most of the provinces with whom we partner special forces teams, who do an absolutely superb job, and Prime Minister Maliki, in fact, personally has come to place greater importance on those because it was these high-end units and special units that he literally took with him. Actually we moved some of them down by air, others by ground, and then he took a column of about 40 vehicles personally to go to Karbala and to restore peace and stability to that situation after the confrontation between the militia of Sadr and the shrine security guards. But this runs all the way down -- it runs the gamut to -- and I have to be up front and say there are still some units, particularly in the national police, but also a handful in the Iraqi army, that were formed literally out of sectarian militias or were hijacked, in the case of some of the national police units, during the height of the sectarian violence. And those still have issues that have to be addressed. And again, especially in the wake of this militia -- the militia problems, where Sadr's militia is very clearly linked to the assassination of one, and likely two, governors in southern provinces, they have become a huge concern to him and to the government of Iraq. REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman. The gentleman from Hawaii, Mr. Abercrombie. REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE (D-HI): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, thank you for being here. Aloha to both of you. Mr. Chairman, in the course of the questioning so far, I think I have some answers that I was seeking. I would like to just make two observations based on that and yield what time I have left to Representative Castor as the junior-most member. REP. SKELTON: Certainly. REP. ABERCROMBIE: Very quickly, two points. I'll submit for the record statements from General Petraeus starting in 2004 through General Casey in 2005, General Abizaid in 2006, and looping back to General Petraeus today. Not with the idea of trying to say this is what you said then, this is what you say now. On the contrary. I think that what it shows is is that the general remarks concern from the military point of view is that we were making steady progress but the Iraqis are not ready to take over, and this was true in '04, '05, '06 and '07. Our problem is, is what do we do under those circumstances? The problem is, Mr. Chairman, that four years later, the number of U.S. troops being killed continues to climb, thousands more Iraqis are dead and the cost of the war continues to escalate and the refugees continue to stream out of Iraq. My concern is is that lost in all the statistics is the question of a very simple yet heartbreaking fact: The rate and overall number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq has gone up, not down, from 2006 to 2007. From January to August 2006, 462 U.S. troops; from January to August 2007, 740. The problem, I think, Mr. Chairman, is that we are in a situation in which in effect we are saying is is that there's only one plan for Iraq, militarily speaking -- indefinite occupation by U.S. troops. That's not a comment on the military; it's a comment on the politics, which leaves me, Ambassador, to my second statement, quickly. In your very statement today, events have caught up with your and are riding you. Your statements about oil, your statements about the oil revenues, of central government and the regional government -- today we find out the Hunt Corporation of Texas has signed an oil exploration agreement with Kurdistan. The central government is cut out. At the same time, we read that the Commerce Department is seeking an international legal adviser to draft laws and regulations that will govern Iran's oil -- Iraq's oil and gas sector. We are going to be doing the drafting of the oil protocols. Iraq is not a sovereign country. This adviser that's being sought by the Commerce Department has a contract that'll run through 2008 with an option extension to 2010. We're occupying that country politically and militarily and are going to suffer the results. I will yield the rest of my time to Representative Castor. (Light Applause.) REP. SKELTON: (Sounds gavel.) REP. KATHY CASTOR (D-FL): And I thank my colleague. Thank you, Mr. Abercrombie, and thank you, gentlemen, for your service. Gentlemen, Admiral Michael Mullen, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last month that unless Iraq has achieved political unity, no amount of troops and no amount of time will make much of a difference. He also warned that the United States risks breaking the Army if the Pentagon decided to maintain its present troop level in Iraq beyond next spring. Add onto that last week's report by a commission of retired senior U.S. military officers, where they said that Iraq's army, despite some progress, will be unable to take over internal security from the U.S. forces in the next 12 to 18 months. The report also said that the 25,000-member Iraqi national police force is dysfunctional and so riddled with sectarianism and corruption that it should be disbanded. And the latest NIE -- the consensus view of all U.S. intelligence agencies said that the modest military gains achieved by the troop surge will mean little or nothing unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments. Gentlemen, while the American people have great confidence in the troops and our brave men and women in uniform, they have totally lost confidence at the top of our national government. There's a complete lack of credibility coming from the White House. The latest -- you know, it first justified the war by claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, none were found. Then the war was about establishing a model democracy in the Arab world, some model. After that, it was necessary to fight on to defeat al Qaeda, which sprouted a local branch in Iraq. The troop surge was supposed to give Iraqi leaders the security and time to bring about national reconciliation, it didn't happen. Now the president's latest spin is a withdrawal could result in another Vietnam. I think the American people want to know, as we're in the fifth year of this war, how much longer, how many billions of dollars more, while we are growing a global strategic risk? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congresswoman, if I could, one reason that I did recommend the reduction of forces is because of the recognition of the strain on our ground forces. Again, that was an important operational -- strategic consideration that did inform the recommendations that I made. I might point out, by the way, that we could have literally run this surge all the way until April. That's the first time that a surge brigade hits 15 months. But because of a variety of considerations and also, frankly, the battlefield geometry of figuring out how to most efficiently and with minimal release in place and so forth get to where we need to be by mid-July, we recommended the reduction of the brigade combat teams in addition to the Marine Expeditionary Unit that will come out later this month without replacement, but that the reduction of the brigade combat teams begin in mid-December. I could -- if I could also point out again that Iraqis are taking over considerable responsibility. The recent celebration of the death of the Seventh Imam, which results in the convergence of about typically approaching a million pilgrims to a(n) important shrine in North-Central Baghdad, the Kadhimiya Shrine, this year was planned and executed by Iraqi forces in a true interagency effort, overseen by the Baghdad Operational Center and its commander, but also involving not just army and police but also emergency services, other transportation assets, medical assets and so forth. Two years ago, there were nearly a thousand pilgrims who were stampeded to death when rumors of enemy action or perhaps actual activities resulted in that particular event. Every other year, there have been dozens of individuals killed by terrorist activities. This year, we are not aware of any deaths due to extremist activity. And the only deaths at all were from accidents, just normal accidents that took place on that day. So again there is progress. There are locations where Iraqis are exclusively maintaining security in their areas. Although you rightly note, and I share it frankly, the frustration particularly during -- what happened during the period of ethnosectarian violence, the sectarian violence of 2006, when some units literally took steps backward, and the effort took steps backward. And that was a tragedy and it is something that we are helping the Iraqis deal with now. REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentlelady. To follow through on a thought that the gentlelady raised, your recommendations for cutting back the numbers, General, do they go below the number of troops that we had prior to the so-called surge? GEN. PETRAEUS: They do not right now, Mr. Chairman, and that is something that we are working on, and let me explain why that is. There have been other forces that have come into Iraq for a variety of other tasks. One is connected with an improvised explosive device effort. Others provide additional intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets. These are assets that we would have wanted regardless of whether we were surging or not. And then the largest is probably the additional military police for the growing detainee population, so that we do not run a catch- and-release program and just turn around and have a revolving door where we're taking in terrorists and then letting them back into society without having gone through a rehabilitation or pledge process. Which, by the way, we are now doing and is one thing that I mentioned that I thanked the Congress for the resources for. Because this is a very, very important effort, that we not just have the clock run out on these individuals, and the they go back to their neighborhoods and resume what they were doing before, but that they have gone through some process that prepares them to re-enter society. And by the way, we have about 800 juveniles as well and we recently created a school that will help them as well. And then we have a pledge-and-guarantor process that tries to tie tribes and sheikhs and other civic leaders into this, so that there is a sense of responsibility at the local level for individuals who have been returned who are their family or tribal members. REP. SKELTON: The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Payne. REP. DONALD PAYNE (D-NJ): Thank you very much. And let me thank both of you for this very important report. I simply have a couple of quick questions. I wonder, General Petraeus, if the support of the tribal leaders against al Qaeda -- is that irreversible, or is it that that may change possibly in the future? The second thing that does disturbance me about the GAO report and the vast difference in the calculation of the sectarian violence. And I just wonder -- I know you answered a question by one of my colleagues that The Times was just wrong, but is there any way that reconciling can be, since the two of you seem to be so far apart on that? And further, I just wonder why it has taken the Iraqi army so long to try to become proficient? Now I understand the war with Iraq and Iran -- they say that a(n) estimated million Iranians were killed. Now was it -- I know we were assisting Iraq. Was it our military's superiority or our weaponry that was sort of the dark force that made the appearance of Iraqi competence? Because it seems to be confusing that after year after year after year, the police -- they'd say that the entire police department in one area needs to be reconstructed, but that's the national police, not the local police. The soldiers have performed poorly. And so what -- why is there such a disconnect between their Iraq-Iran conflict and the fact that they can't seem to put a sustainable offensive together to weed out Qaeda and these bandits that have come in, who were not there, of course, before we went in. Therefore, I guess Iraq is worse off than it was before al Qaeda came in. So I just get confused at -- why is it taking so long? Do they -- have they just gone on strike or let somebody else do the fighting because it's easier to let someone else do it and keep your powder dry and your head down? And you know, what's missing in this picture? GEN. PETRAEUS: Thank you, Congressman. Sir, the -- first of all, on the tribal leaders, they want to be part of the new Iraq. The Sunni Arabs in Anbar province, as an example, went through various stages of post-liberation, feeling disrespected, unemployed, disgusted and even boycotting the elections and then realizing that they had made a huge mistake and were left out, in many respects, of the new Iraq. A number of them were resistance fighters during that time, as they like to use the term, and tacitly or actively supported al Qaeda, until they came to really come to grips with the Taliban-like ideology of al Qaeda. The ambassador talked about some of the practices that al Qaeda inflicted on the people. And they recognized the indiscriminate violence that was a part of what al Qaeda was doing, and they said, "No more." And then they realized that, okay, we're not going to run Iraq again, but it wouldn't be a bad thing if the Euphrates River Valley were a decent place in which we could live, work, and raise a family. And that seems to be their objective, in addition to certainly having their place at the table in Baghdad and getting their share of the resources. And although there is not a revenue-sharing law agreed, interestingly, there is revenue sharing; oil revenue sharing is taking place. And the ambassador mentioned now they've even learned the term "supplemental," because Anbar province got a supplemental for its provincial budget. With respect to the GAO report, their data cutoff, the answer is the data cutoff. At the very least, their data cutoff was five weeks ago and in some cases, I think -- we might check this, but in some cases I think it was nine weeks ago. But at the very least, these last five weeks, as we showed you on the slides, have actually been very significant. Remembering that we launched the surge of offensives in mid-June, it took a couple weeks to start seeing the results, and that's why I mentioned that eight of the last 12 weeks, in fact, the level of security incidents has come down. And that's -- we don't -- I don't know how far you have to go back to see that kind of trend; it is certainly a couple of years. And as I mentioned, the level of attacks, sort of a sub-set of incidents, is actually the lowest -- lowest last week that it's been since April. With respect to the Iraqi army that defeated Iran, or held their own against Iran, there are some remnants of that army still around, and there actually are some very highly professional Iraqi army and air force and naval officers who have been taken from the old army, the old air force, and so forth. But that's 15 years ago, and during that time, of course, they were defeated by the United States and coalition forces in Desert Storm, suffered years of sanctions, of course, then were disestablished and, of course, literally had to start from the bottom. In fact, there was no ministry of defense, literally. No building, in fact, when I took over as the Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq commander in the summer of 2004. It was being rebuilt, but it was not even reoccupied for a number of months later. There were no battalions at that -- or maybe one battalion operational, despite heroic efforts by Major Paul Eaton, whose effort had been largely inadequately resourced up to that time as well. This has been building, you know, the world's largest aircraft while in flight and while being shot at. And it takes us a year just to reconstitute a brigade that has actually already been in the fight, keep some 40 (percent) to 50 percent of its members. But just to get it ready to go back, the road to deployment is we want to get at least to a year and, ideally, more. And they are starting, as I said, very much from scratch and just don't have a sufficient number of commissioned and noncommissioned officers who are out there from that old army, again, given the number of years. And even just since the army was disestablished in the summer of 2003, that in itself is a number of years, and these individuals are not necessarily fighting fit, shall we say, if they have been on the sidelines for most of the time since then. Thank you, sir. REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman. We will take a five-minute break and return, call upon Mr. McKeon and Mr. Chabot. (Raps gavel.) (Recess.) REP. SKELTON: We will come to order. We were told previously that the witnesses had a hard stop at 6:30. I have just spoken with General Petraeus and I hope that the ambassador will agree with his decision to extend the time for an additional 20 minutes -- wherever the ambassador is. (Pause.) Will somebody find the ambassador, please? Mr. McKeon will be next. (Pause.) Mr. McKeon and Mr. Chabot, in that order. Now the gentleman from California, Mr. McKeon. REP. HOWARD P. "BUCK" MCKEON (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, I'd like to join with my colleagues in thanking you for your exemplary service. At the outset, I'd like to associate myself with the remarks of Mr. Hunter and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen in their opening comments. Specifically, I've been deeply saddened by the attacks that have been made on General Petraeus for the last week or two -- citing what he was going to say, and how he was going to say it, and what his recommendations were going to be. I have here General Petraeus' statement that he gave us after the meeting started. If I might quote, "Although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by, or shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House, or Congress." It just, I think, indicates how some would like to politicize this war on terror and our war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I'm sorry that you've become a target for things. I read in a report that you have a 63 percent rating with the American people, and I guess this is an attempt to tear you down to our level. And I'm sure that will not work. Anybody that's had a chance to see you here today will know of your integrity and your devotion to duty, and that you're giving us your best assessment of the situation. General, I've heard the comment that the Army is broken. You talked about how the enlistment is going among the troops. Would you care to talk a little bit about the Army, and is it broken? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, sir, the part of the Army that I can talk about knowledgably at this point is, of course, that which is in Iraq. And that is an Army that has sacrificed great deal, and whose family members have sacrificed a great deal. A number of those great soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen -- and so in addition to our soldiers, certainly, are on a second or perhaps third tour -- some of them shorter tours and are on even more over time. We have asked an enormous amount of these individuals and, candidly, what impresses me so enormously in return is that they do continue to raise their right hand and to serve additional tours, to volunteer for additional tours in uniform. That is not just because of the tax-free bonuses, I can assure you. There's no compensation that can make up for some of the sacrifices that some of our soldiers and their families have endured. On July 4th, in fact, we had a large reenlistment ceremony -- 588 members of different services raised their right hand, and it was a pretty inspiring sight. As I mentioned, it far exceeded the goals for the units that are under the Multi-National core, Iraq already with several weeks to go. And as you know when reenlistment times often the last few weeks of the fiscal year are a pretty frantic affair as soldiers have sorted out all the options and then finally make their choice. Our soldiers are not starry-eyed idealists. In fact, at this point, I prefer not to be a pessimist or an optimist, but to be a realist. And I think a lot of our soldiers are that way. Morale is solid. But candidly morale is an individual thing, so is the view on what's going on in Iraq sometimes. You know, there's 165,000 different American views of Iraq right now and a lot of it depends on where you are and how things are going where you are. And the perspective of someone again in Anbar province where there has been success that we did not expect or someone who's in one of the very tough ethno-sectarian fault line areas -- say, in West Rasheed of Baghdad or East Rasheed -- has a very different perspective. And morale, frankly, is an individual thing. And it often comes down to the kind of day that you're having. I am not immune from those same swings. On days when we have had tough casualties, those are not good days. Morale is not high on those days. And I think the same is true of all of our forces. But with all of that -- with the heat, with this really challenging, barbaric, difficult enemy who is allusive and hard to find and employs sniper tactics, improvised explosive devices, suicide bombs against us, our Iraqi colleagues and innocent civilians -- against all of that, our soldiers continue to ruck up and go out each day from their patrol basis, combat outpost, joint security stations and they do it ready for a hand grenade or a handshake. And if they get the handshake, they'll take it. If they get the hand grenade, they know what to do in that case as well. Thank you, sir. REP. SKELTON: Thank you very much. The gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Chabot. REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General, first of all, thank you very much for your service to our country. We first met in Iraq a few years back. One of the more memorable incidents for me was when we were in a Blackhawk over Mosul and you pointed out the house where Saddam's murderous sons had met their end, Uday and Qusay. And Qusay, let's not forget was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Shi'a, and hundreds of them at this own hand. And Uday's -- one of his favorite pastimes was abducting young women off the streets of Baghdad, many of whom were never seen alive again. And these were to be Iraq's future leaders. They learned well from their father. General, my question is this -- in July of 2007, you told the New York Post that troop morale had remained high because soldiers understood they're, quote, "engaged in a critical endeavor," unquote. Many of those supporting a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have regarded low troop morale as a reason for leaving. Could you comment on the current morale of our troops in Iraq? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, again, as I mentioned, Congressman, I believe that morale is solid. But it is an individual thing and it depends on the kind of day that that individual has had. Our soldiers are determined. They know how important this task is, and that is a crucial factor in what they're doing. When they raise their right hand again, as so many have, they do it knowing that they may be called upon to serve again in Iraq or Afghanistan, for them and their family to make further sacrifices in addition to those that they have already made. I'm going to be up front. You know, none of us want to stay in Iraq forever. We all want to come home. We all have days of frustration and all the rest of that. But what we want to do is come home the right way, having added, I guess, to the heritage of our services, accomplished the mission that our country has laid out for us. And again, I think that that's a very important factor in what our soldiers are doing, in addition to the fact that, frankly, they also just respect the individuals with whom they are carrying out this important mission, the men and women on their right and left who share very important values, among them selfless service and devotion to duty. And that, indeed, is a huge factor in why many of us continue to serve and to stay in uniform, because the privilege of serving with such individuals is truly enormous. MR. CHABOT: Thank you, General. And finally, could you comment on the significance of Shi'ite militia leader Maqtada al-Sadr's decision from his hideaway in Iran to suspend the operations of the Mahdi Army for six months? Does this indicate that he clearly feels threatened, is on the run? And what should U.S.-Iraqi military and political response be? And given its involvement in brutal crimes against civilians and its pronounced support for violence against the U.S., should the Mahdi Army be declared a foreign terrorist organization? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, we think that the action by Maqtada al-Sadr, his declaration from Iran, is because of a sense of embarrassment over what happened in the Shi'a holy city of Karballa, where in the -- one of the most holy celebrations of the year, individuals associated with his militia confronted shrine guards and the result was a shootout and, eventually, loss of life. That, again, was an enormous embarrassment for all of Iraq, but in particular for his militia and for the Shi'a Arabs in Iraq. And it was one reason that Prime Minister Maliki personally went to Karballa the next morning, after having deployed Iraqi special operations forces in the middle of the night by helicopter and others by ground. In response to that, frankly, we have applauded that. Again, we are not going to kill our way out of all these problems in Iraq. You're not going to kill or capture all of the Sadr militia anymore than we are going to kill or capture all the insurgents in Iraq. And in fact, what we have tried very hard to do is to identify who the irreconcilables are, if you will, on either end of the spectrum, Sunni and Shi'a, and then to figure out where do the reconcilables begin and try to reach out to the reconcilables. Some of this is a little bit distasteful. It's not easy sitting across the table, let's say, or drinking tea with someone whose tribal members may have shot at our forces or in fact drawn the blood -- killed our forces. We learned a bit, in fact, about this from my former deputy commander, Lieutenant General Graham Lamb (sp), former head of 22 SAS and the director of Special Forces in the United Kingdom, and he reminded us that you reconcile with your enemies, not with your friends. That's why it's called reconciliation. And he talked about how he sat across the table from individuals who were former IRA members who had been swinging pipes at his lads, as he put it, just a few years earlier. That was quite instructive for us. He in fact headed some of the early efforts that we had in the early part of this year and into the spring, and then it was one of -- part of his initiative that the ambassador and I established this engagement -- strategic engagement cell of a senior diplomat -- senior United Kingdom two-star again and others supporting them who have reached out to individuals that could be reconciled and then helped connect them with the Iraqi government. Some of that will have to be done with members of the Jaish al-Mahdi, with the -- Sadr's militia. The question is: Who are the irreconcilables? And so on the one hand, we have applauded; we have said we look forward to the opportunity to confirm the excellence of your militia in observing your pledge of honor, and that has enormous meaning in the Iraqi culture. And indeed a number of them have in fact obeyed what he said. However, there are a number of others who have not, and those are now regarded as criminal. We're not taking on Jaish al- Mahdi; we are with the Iraqi counterparts going after criminals who have violated Sadr's order and have carried out attacks on our forces, innocent civilians or Iraqi forces. Thank you, sir. REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman. We are trying to get as many members as possible under the five- minute rule. The ambassador and the general have agreed for additional 20 minutes. I might point out that I'm told there will be a vote called shortly after 6:30. I have also requested the -- will be held open a few moments longer for us, and also remind the members of the two committees that there is a ceremony that's supposed to begin at 7:00. Mr. Reyes? REP. SILVESTRE REYES (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and General and Ambassador, thank you both for your service to our country. I was curious in your statement, General Petraeus, you made mention that the Iraqis have taken the lead in many areas, that many operate with minimal coalition support, so -- which is contrary to what General Jones' observations were last week, when he said that they're probably 12 to 18 months away from being able to operate independently. Can you give us your opinion or your assessment of that -- GEN. PETRAEUS: I can indeed. REP. REYES: -- particularly in relation to General Jones' statement? GEN. PETRAEUS: I sure can. And in fact, he and I had a lot of conversations during his time in Iraq, and he, by the way, did a superb assessment and spent the time in Iraq, I might add, that is needed to do that type of assessment with his commissioners. What he is talking about is something different from what I was talking about in the statement. What he's talking about is the institutions of the Iraqi security forces being able to truly support their forces throughout the country -- REP. REYES: So it's to be able to spend alone on their own? GEN. PETRAEUS: But we're talking about the institutions doing that as opposed to what I was talking about, is the fact that there are many Iraqi force units who are operating on their own. In Samawa, for example, in Muthanna province in the south, there are no coalition forces whatsoever. They're on their own. Now, occasionally they will call our Special Forces team that is actually in an adjacent province and ask for some assistance. The same is largely true in Nasiriyah. There's a superb Australian unit there, largely focused on civil military operations. And again, when the Iraqi units in that area have been challenged with something they couldn't handle, they just call our Special Forces team, and we bring some enablers to bear, if you will -- close air support, attack helicopters or what have you. The same is true in Najaf. There's only a single U.S. Special Forces team in Najaf. Karbala has no forces. A very small contingent -- and so forth -- REP. REYES: So -- because -- GEN. PETRAEUS: So there are a number of places where Iraqi forces are operating on their own -- and by the way, they may not -- those battalions in those areas may not be operational readiness assessment number one. In other words, they may not be rated as meeting the readiness requirements for operating on their own, but de facto -- the fact is they are operating on their own, but they might be short equipment, leaders, maintenance standards or what have you. REP. REYES: So just the -- of the total force -- GEN. PETRAEUS: What General Jones was getting at was the institutional support. What he's talking about is the ability to support these forces with a logistical system, with depots, with maintenance, with administrative and all the rest of that. That is the challenge. Again, we have found that it's challenging to build battalions, but it's really hard to rebuild an entire army and all of its institutions that go into supporting that battalion or -- you know, way over a hundred battalions, the brigades, the divisions and all the rest of that with command and control communications, intelligence systems, combat enablers, medevac and all the rest of that makes up a force as we know it, as opposed to forces that are unable to do that. REP. REYES: Well, thank you, General. Ambassador, you made mention about the Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the fact that we went from 10 to 25. As I think all of us know, we're having a very tough time recruiting people from the different agencies that make up these teams. Can you briefly tell us -- going from 10 to 25 in a country the size of California, that's not as good news as it seems, is it? AMB. CROCKER: Well, it is a very substantial increase, and a lot of that has been in the areas of greatest population and greatest challenges, like Baghdad itself. So the surge of Provincial Reconstruction Teams into the Baghdad area -- and incidentally, all of those teams are embedded with brigade combat teams and -- REP. REYES: It's because of the security situation. AMB. CROCKER: Exactly -- although what we've discovered is that it makes for a tremendous unity of effort, and it's actually a force multiplier to have them together, so we're taking a look at the rest of the landscape and basically seeking to replicate kind of the embedded concepts for almost all of the PRTs, because that fusion really works. And it helps to coordinate objectives so that we don't have a military unit kind of working in the same area as a PRT without the kind of coordination you need. So that's been tremendously effective. Now, in terms of staffing these up, that's something I've given my particular personal focus to. The surge in PRT personnel that this operation is requiring is to be an additional 283 people in place by the end of the year. And to the annoyance of my staff, I check this three times a week, and also back with Washington, and I am firmly assured that we are on track to meet that requirement by December 31st. Now this includes a lot of military personnel, which will then be backfilled as we move into 2008. But as a report delivered by the special inspector general for Iraq just last week indicated, the PRT program is one of the most valuable programs the U.S. runs in Iraq. Now, that was the special inspector general's comment, so we're clearly on to a good thing here, and we will continue to expand the limits of this endeavor to deliver the most effective response we can to capacity-building needs, particularly on budget execution. I'd make one final comment because I do think that it's important: that as drawdowns and redeployments take place, a challenge we both have is being sure that PRTs continue to be able to do their mission where required, even as the military footprint changes. So we don't have all the answers to that. It's a work in progress, but something we're very much focused on. REP. SKELTON: Mr. Sherman. REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Thank you. Mr. Chairman, the ultimate question for our country is how much of the resources available to fight the global war on terror should be deployed in Iraq. That decision cannot be made in Baghdad, because our fine gentlemen from Baghdad don't receive reports on what's going on in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Tri-Borders area of Paraguay, or Sudan. It's a shame that those with global perspectives, the leaders here in Washington, so lack credibility that they're unwilling to really step forward in front of the cameras and say that Iraq is the central front in the war on the terror. So instead they imply that Iraq is the central front by telling us that the decision of how much of our resources to put into Iraq should be dependent upon a report drafted in Baghdad. In effect, we've substituted global perspective for battlefield valor. Now, General Petraeus, when I -- as a general, you're always planning for possible contingencies. The counterinsurgency manual is filled with hypothetical situations and possible responses. And General, you're sworn to defend our Constitution, and you've carried out that oath with honor. Your duty to defend the Constitution would become more complex if we had a constitutional crisis here in Washington. Assume that Congress passes a law stating that no government funds should be used after March of next year, except for certain limited purposes, such as force protection, or for training. The president of the United States instead orders you to conduct U.S.- led offensive military operations, a purpose for which Congress has said we have appropriated no funds. Under those circumstances, what do you do? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, and not trying to be flip, what I would do is consult my lawyer. And again, I'm not trying to make light of this at all, but I would literally have to talk to my lawyer, and obviously talk to my chain of command and get some advice and counsel on what in fact to do. And if I could mention, perhaps, Congressman, on -- REP. SHERMAN: So General, you're saying you might very well disobey an order from the president of the United States on the advice of your legal counsel? GEN. PETRAEUS: I did not say that, Congressman. What I said is I'd have to figure out what I was going to do. If I could just follow up on one item you did say, Congressman -- REP. SHERMAN: General, I did have one -- GEN. PETRAEUS: For what it's worth, al Qaeda believes that Iraq is the central front in the global war on terrorism. REP. SHERMAN: Well, al Qaeda is telling us that they think it's the central front. They might be lying. GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, and also -- REP. SHERMAN: They've been known to do so, General. And if we allow Ahmadinejad and bin Laden to tell us where to fight them, they may not give us their best advice. But I do have one more question and very limited time. GEN. PETRAEUS: Yes, sir. REP. SHERMAN: On about September 15th, this nation's going to get a long, detailed report, well over 100 pages, I would guess. And the press is going to call it the Petraeus report. Now you know and I know that the White House has exercised editorial control over the report that will be released later this week. The country wants the Petraeus report. They want a long, detailed report, written in Baghdad, without edits from the Pentagon or the White House. Are you willing to give to these committees your detailed report, the documents you gave to the White House for them to create the report that they plan to release later this week? And -- GEN. PETRAEUS: Can I answer that so I can -- First of all, on the benchmarks report, my understanding is that the law states that that report is submitted by the president with the input from the ambassador and myself. So at least it is the Petraeus- Crocker report. REP. SHERMAN: General, if you -- my question was carefully couched. I realize months ago, Congress may have asked for a report from the White House, and we'll be happy to get it and read it. But what I said was what the country really wants right now, not months ago but right now -- GEN. PETRAEUS: Right. REP. SHERMAN: -- is the Petraeus report. We want hundreds of pages written in Baghdad, edited by you, without edits from the Pentagon and the White House. Can you get it to us? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, what I've tried to do today, Congressman, with respect, is to give the Petraeus report. And then I would add to that that Ambassador Crocker and I did submit extensive input for the benchmarks report. The draft that I saw most recently -- because like any of these reports, it does go up and it is then provided back to us for comment, is that it is essentially unchanged. REP. SHERMAN: But in any case, you are warning us that if 100 pages or so is released by the White House later this week, they've done the final edit, and it may or may not be your report as written. GEN. PETRAEUS: I don't think that there is any substantive change in that report, according to the draft that I saw the other day. My guys had a copy, checked it against what we submitted, that the ambassador and I collaborated on. And there was nothing substantive whatsoever that was different in that report. You may want to mention, Ambassador. AMB. CROCKER: No, that's -- that is my understanding of it as well. The September 15th benchmark report will be an update of the July report. And the procedure for drafting it is exactly the same as it was in July. We provide input, but it is a White House report. So it is going to be again procedurally exactly the same as the July report. REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman. The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Thornberry, please. REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I appreciate both of your service and your professionalism, especially in the light of personal attacks against you. Ambassador Crocker, how do you make elected representatives of the people to compromise with each other and reach agreement? We seem to have some difficulty with that. How do you make that happen in Baghdad? AMB. CROCKER: I will very carefully restrict myself to commenting about the situation in Baghdad, because it is a serious issue. It is at the core ultimately of what kind of future Iraq is going to have, whether its representatives, elected and otherwise, are able to come together and reconcile. Process in this is as important, in some ways, as actual results. And the -- one of the elements out of this summer's activity that does give me some cautious encouragement is that representatives, mainly from the parliament, from the Council of Representatives, of the five major political blocs showed an ability to come together and night after night and work their way through a lot of the major issues. The issues they were able to get close to agreement on, they teed up to their leaders, and that's what was embodied in that August 26th declaration that, in addition to the points I've already mentioned, also included commitments on reforms regarding detainees, how they're held, what the conditions are, when they see a judge, when they're released, as well as how to deal with armed groups. The five got agreement on those points as well. But it's the way they did it. Each evening for weeks, representatives -- Sunni, Shi'a and Kurds -- came together and showed an ability to work quite productively together. And that is what I am hoping is going to carry forward in the months ahead as they deal with other issues. The real answer, of course, is, you can't compel it. People have to see their interests served by a process of accommodation. And that's what we're seeing, I think, at least the hopeful beginnings of. REP. THORNBERRY: Thank you. General Petraeus, what do we do about Iran? You -- in answer to previous questions, you said the last time Ambassador Crocker went and talked to them, then the flow of arms accelerated. So some people suggest we need to have a diplomatic surge and go talk to them intensely. I'm a little skeptical that that's going to make a difference. What do we do about the arms, the training, the money that comes from Iran and undermines our efforts? GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, inside Iraq, which is where my responsibility lies, we obviously are trying to interdict the flow of the arms, the training network, the money and so forth, and also to disrupt the networks that carry that out. It was very substantial, for example, to capture the head of the special groups in all of Iraq and that deputy commander of the Lebanese Hezbollah department that I talked about earlier that exists to support the Qods Force effort in supporting these special groups inside Iraq that are offshoots of the Sadr militia. Beyond that, it does obviously become a regional problem. It is something that I have discussed extensively with Admiral Fallon and with others in the chain of command. And there certainly is examination of various contingencies, depending on what does happen in terms of Iranian activity in Iraq. But our focus is on interdicting the flow and on disrupting, killing or capturing those individuals who are engaged in it. We also in fact killed the head of the network that carried out the attacks on our soldiers in Karbala, where five of our soldiers were killed back in January. That was yet another effort in that overall offensive against those individuals. REP. SKELTON: Mr. Pence from Indiana. REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker for your service to the nation. The old book tells us if you owe debts, pay debts; if honor, than honor; if respect, then respect. And having met with both of you on several occasions downrange in different assignments, I know this nation owes you a debt of honor and a debt of respect. And I want to appreciate the way my colleagues have addressed this hearing today. General Petraeus, just for clarification sake, it seems to me you opened your testimony today with a very emphatic declarative. I think your words were, "This is my testimony." I think you added that it had not been cleared by the White House or the Department of Defense. And I just -- again, we're getting the Petraeus report. GEN. PETRAEUS: That is correct. As I stated, I obviously have given recommendations, and I gave an assessment of the situation as part of those recommendations during a week of video teleconferences, consultations with Admiral Fallon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the secretary of Defense and then ultimately the president. But the testimony that I provided today, this statement, is one that I eventually took control of the electrons about two weeks ago and, as I mentioned, has not been shared with anybody outside of my inner circle. REP. PENCE: Well, thank you. Thanks for clarifying that. I think it's important. Two quick points. First on the subject of joint security stations. When I was there in April in Baghdad with you, General Petraeus, we visited a joint security station downtown. I think your testimony today suggests that now the joint security stations are, to use your phrase, are across Iraq. I wondered if you might comment for these committees about the extent to which embedding, if you will, American and Iraqi forces together -- living together, deploying together -- in neighborhood areas has expanded beyond the scope of Baghdad the impact that it's having. And for Ambassador Crocker, just for the sake of efficiency, when I was in Ramadi in that same trick, we met with Sheikh Sattar, some of the leaders of the Iraqi Awakening Movement. It was at that time, I think, 20 of the 22 sheikhs in Al Anbar province had organized that effort. The transformation of Al Anbar has been extraordinary. You made a provocative comment today, saying that that movement is, quote, "unfolding" in other parts of Iraq, and I think you mentioned Diyala and Nineveh provinces. I wonder if you might -- each of you severally -- touch on that. I saw those things in their nascent form this spring, and it seems like both of them have expanded well beyond expectations, to the good of U.S. interests and stability in Iraq. General? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, the concept, again, is that if you're going to secure the population, you have to live with the population. You can't commute to this fight. And the idea is that, wherever possible, to do it together with our Iraqi counterparts, in some cases police, some cases army, sometimes all of the above. The idea of the joint security stations is to be really command and control hubs typically for areas in which there are coalition forces, Iraqi army and Iraqi police, and sometimes now even these local volunteers, who -- again, by directive of Prime Minister Maliki -- are individuals with whom the Iraqi army is supposed to deal as well. There are a number of other outposts, patrol bases and other small bits of infrastructure, if you will, that have also been established to apply this idea that is so central to counterinsurgency operations of again positioning in and among the population. And you see it in Ramadi. For example, in Ramadi there are a couple of dozen, I think, is the last count of police stations, patrol bases, combat outposts, you name it, many of which have both coalition, either U.S. Army or U.S. Marines together, with Iraqi police or Iraqi soldiers, or in some cases still local volunteers who are in the process of being transitioned into one of the security ministries. We see the same in Fallujah. In Fallujah, though it is police stations and there are 10 precincts now established in Fallujah -- the last one was just completed -- in each of those there's typically a Marine squad or a force of about that size, and over time we've been able to move -- (Chairman Skelton sounds gavel) -- our main force elements out of Fallujah and also now to move two of the three battalions in the Iraqi army that were in that area, which frees them up to actually go up and replace the Marine Expeditionary Unit that's coming out and continue the pressure on al Qaeda-Iraq up in the Lake Tharthar area. REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman. Try and move along -- next, we have Dr. Snyder, Mr. Wexler, Mr. Jones, Mr. Flake -- REP. PENCE: Mr. Chairman? With your indulgence, I had posed a question to Ambassador Crocker. I don't think he had a chance to respond. REP. SKELTON: I'm sorry. I didn't catch that. Ambassador, please answer as quickly as possible. AMB. CROCKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We're seeing the phenomenon of Anbar repeated elsewhere of Iraqis deciding they've had enough of terrorists. Anbar itself, the whole way it unfolded there is unique to Anbar, and we've got to have the, again, the area smarts and the tactical flexibility to perceive what opportunities are with their regional differences. So Diyala, for example, is much more complicated than Anbar because instead of being just Sunni, that Sunni, Shi'a, Kurd intermixed and has required much more careful handling which, I must say, the military has done an absolutely brilliant job of in an incredibly complex political- military context. But you know, again, in Anbar and Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, in Baghdad, the three neighborhoods that General Petraeus mentioned in Diyala, which is a little bit to the northeast and also in Nineveh to the north and in Salahuddin, a process under way that is conceptually similar to what happened in Anbar but has in each case its particular differences that have to be taken into account by us and by the Iraqis. REP. SKELTON: Thank you very much. Dr. Snyder. REP. VIC SNYDER (D-AR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, I have a question for each of you if you will each answer briefly. I then want to brag on you. So if you -- the quicker you all answer my questions, the quicker I can get to bragging on the two of you. First, General Petraeus, on the chart that you passed out here earlier, the one that talks about the recommended force reduction mission shift, does it go out the timeline here at the end, General Petraeus? We have a straight line at the end. How far out does that line go? The specific question is: How many years do you anticipate U.S. troops will be in Iraq if you had Ambassador Crocker's crystal ball? GEN. PETRAEUS: And I'm afraid that I do not. In fact, that is an illustrative document with respect to both the mission mix and the stair step there. As I mentioned, there is every intention and recognition that forces will continue to be reduced after the mid-July time frame when we have reached the 15 Army Brigade Combat Team level and Marine RCT level. What we need to do is get a bit closer to that time to where, with some degree of confidence, we can make an assessment and make recommendations on that. REP. SNYDER: Thank you. Ambassador Crocker, you mentioned the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and I appreciate you bringing them up. I had a different recollection, though, of the testimony last week of the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. One of the staff people was Ginger Cruze. When she testified, she actually testified that by the end of this year, State Department will have identified 68 percent of the State Department personnel to be on board. So they will not necessarily be on board; they will have just identified two-thirds of their staff requirements. So while I appreciate your attentiveness to this, I think we still -- I think the State Department is letting you down, and that somehow we've got to grapple with this issue of how to get the other agencies to step forward and assist the work that General Petraeus and his people are doing, the work that you want to do. So you may need to have another meeting with them and talk about now what exactly are we going to be having at the end of December, because they said that there was only identified two-thirds of them by the end of this year. The reason I want to brag on the two of you, I think you-all have done a good job here today and have done a great job throughout your careers. I don't know if the two of you are going to be able to solve these problems, the challenges you have before you, but you are the all-star team. And if anybody can do it, you can do it. I think that's why some of us find some of the stuff that's been said the last week or so pretty offensive. But we talk about reconciliation. You know, both in the Congress and in the country, we've been going through kind of a soft partition into D's and R's, the soft partition, the red state and the blue state. I think you-all can be part of this reconciliation because our country will do better in foreign policy if we're more united. I put Secretary Gates in that category, too. And what I like about Secretary Gates is, reports that I get back from the Pentagon is that more junior generals actually feel like they can tell him when they think he's wrong or when they have other ideas. And I don't want you to respond to this, but I know that has not been the case for the first -- for the last six years. And so I think there is some process stuff going on that may help get some of this reconciliation. An example of this has been this report that General Jones' group put out last week, that's been referred to several times. Now, it's like everything else in life, we pick and choose. And several people that are critical of what's going on have brought out some of the criticisms of the police and the Iraqi army. But the very -- the last paragraphs, the concluding thoughts -- and I'm going to quote from the report -- quote: "While much remains to be done before success can be confidently declared, the strategic consequences of failure or even perceived failure for the United States and the coalition are enormous. We approach a truly strategic moment in this still-young century. Iraq's regional geostrategic position, the balance of power in the Middle East, the economic stability made possible by a flow of energy in many parts of the world, and the ability to defeat and contain terrorism where it is most manifest are issues that do not lend themselves to easy or quick solution. How we respond to them, however, could well define our nation in the eyes of the world for years to come." And that's the end of the quote. And so those of us who, on whatever side we come down to now or in the last several years on what you-all are about, we've got to start looking at this, I think, this bigger picture. And I would -- my one question for you, Ambassador Crocker. There's a lot of criticism that we do not have the right strategic diplomatic picture that helps you do the work that you're doing. In fact, maybe I won't even put that as a question but just leave that as a comment. I think we've got a lot of work to do in the Congress and the administration to give you that kind of strategic diplomacy for that whole region. Thank you for your service. REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman. Mr. Wexler. REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, I vehemently opposed the surge when the president announced it last winter, and instead I called for our troops to be withdrawn. In your testimony today, you claim that the surge is working and that you need more time. With all due respect, General, among unbiased, nonpartisan experts, the consensus is stark; the surge has failed based on most parameters. In truth, war-related deaths have doubled in Iraq in 2007 compared to last year. Tragically, it is my understanding that seven more American troops have died while we've been talking today. Cherry- picking statistics or selectively massaging information will not change the basic truth. Please understand, General Petraeus, I do not question your credibility. You are a true patriot. I admire your service to our nation. But I do question your facts. And it is my patriotic duty to represent my constituents and ask you, question you about your argument that the surge in troops be extended until next year, next summer, especially when your testimony stating that the dramatic reduction in sectarian deaths is opposite from the National Intelligence Estimate, the Government Accounting Office and several other non-biased, nonpartisan reports. I am skeptical, General. More importantly, the American people are skeptical because four years ago very credible people both in uniform and not in uniform came before this Congress and sold us a bill of goods that turned out to be false. And that's why we went to war based on false pretense to begin with. This testimony today is eerily similar to the testimony the American people heard on April 28th, 1967, from General William Westmoreland, when he told the American people America was making progress in Vietnam. General, you say we're making progress in Iraq, but the Iraqi parliament simply left Baghdad and shut down operations last month. You say we're making progress, but the nonpartisan GAO office concluded that the Iraqi government has failed to meet 15 of the 18 political, economic and security benchmarks that Congress mandated. You say we're making progress, but war-related deaths have doubled. And an ABC-BBC poll recently said that 70 percent of Iraqis say the surge has worsened their lives. Iraqis say the surge is not working. I will conclude my comments, General, and give you a chance to respond, but just one more thing, if I may. We've heard a lot today about America's credibility. President Bush recently stated we should not have withdrawn our troops from Vietnam, because of the great damage to America's credibility. General, there are 58,195 names etched into the Vietnam War Memorial. Twenty years from now, when we build the Iraq war memorial on the National Mall, how many more men and women will have been sacrificed to protect our so-called credibility? How many more names will be added to the wall before we admit it is time to leave? How many more names, General? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, first of all, I have not said that the surge should be extended. In fact, my recommendations are that the surge be curtailed earlier than it would have been. The forces of the surge could have run all the way till April before we began pulling them out, and that would be if we did not recommend its continuation beyond that. My recommendations, in fact, include the withdrawal of the Marine expeditionary unit this month without replacement and then a brigade starting in mid-December and then another one about every 45 days. And that's a considerable amount prior to, in fact, how far the surge could have run if we'd just pushed everybody for 15 months. REP. WEXLER: Respectfully, General -- GEN. PETRAEUS: In fact, I am -- and with respect to the facts that I have laid out today, I very much stand by those. As I mentioned, the GAO report actually did cut off data at least five weeks and in some cases longer than that in the assessment that it made. And in fact those subsequent five weeks have been important in establishing a trend that security incidents have gone down, as they have, and have reached, as I mentioned, the lowest level since June 2006, with respect to incidents, and with April 2006, in terms of attacks. I stand by the explanation of the reduction in ethno-sectarian deaths and so forth. And lastly, I would say, Congressman, that no one is more conscious of the loss of life than the commander of the forces. That is something I take and feel very deeply. And if I did not think that this was a hugely important endeavor and if I did not think that it was an endeavor in which we could succeed, I would not have testified as I did to you all here today. Thank you, sir. REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman. Before I call on Mr. Jones, the gentleman from California, Mr. Hunter, has a unanimous consent. REP. HUNTER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just -- I'm requesting unanimous consent that the questions of Mr. Graves of Missouri be submitted to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. REP. SKELTON: Thank you. Without objection. Mr. Jones. REP. WALTER JONES (R-NC): Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. And General Petraeus, thank you. And Ambassador Crocker, thank you as well. And let me just say that many of the comments you've heard today about our troops and thank you again for your leadership. But we had General Barry McCaffrey before the oversight committee chaired by Chairman Snyder about five or six weeks ago. And I have Camp Lejeune down in my district, and from time to time I have a chance to see some of the Marines who are, you know, out of uniform at certain locations and have conversations. What Barry McCaffrey said was that by April or May of 2008, that the Marine Corps, the Army, the Reserves and the National Guard will start to unravel; that they are absolutely stressed and worn out. And General, you have acknowledged that, so let me make that clear. My question primarily is going to be for Ambassador Crocker. I want to start by reading a quote by Army Lieutenant General Jay Garner, first U.S. official in charge of postwar Baghdad. This is his quote: "I don't know that the Iraqi government has ever demonstrated ability to lead the country, and we should not be surprised. You will never find in my lifetime one man that all Iraqis will coalesce around. Iraqis are too divided among sectarian, ethnic and tribal loyalties, and their loyalties are regional, not national." Mr. Ambassador, I know you have over 20-some years in foreign service with the State Department, and I respect that very much. You made mention of Lebanon, where we had Marines killed there at the barracks. You are dealing with a country that is not national; it is regional. It is a tribal system that has been part of that history of what is now Iraq. And I listened to you carefully and appreciated your comments. You made some statements like "we see some signs of," "we're encouraged," and, you know, those kind of statements which sound good in your written testimony. But my question is, for the American people, I mean, this is a huge investment. And I realize that it is a war on terrorism; I mean, many of us questioned whether we should have gone into Afghanistan, stayed in Afghanistan, gone after bin Laden and al Qaeda instead of diverting to Iraq, but that damage is done. As Colin Powell said, if you break it, you own it. Well, we own it -- sadly, mainly, with blood. My question is to you is, where -- how can you say or how can you hope to encourage a national government when, in this testimony today and in the days before, people have talked about the great successes in Anbar, and that's not because of the national government? How can you take a country that has never had nationalism and believe that we can bring these people together when, as someone said before -- I've spoke -- I mean, they broke and decided not to meet with some of their responsibilities for 30 days. And that sent a bad signal to many people, maybe to our troops, maybe not to our troops. But how do you see this coming together, and how long will it take it to come together? AMB. CROCKER: Congressman, you pose, I think, the critical question. And that's why in my written testimony I focused a lot of attention on that. What kind of state is ultimately going to emerge in Iraq? Because that is still very much an issue under discussion, a work in progress, with some elements of the population, mainly the Sunnis, still focused on a strong central authority; and others, mainly but not exclusively Kurds and Shi'as, saying it needs to be a decentralized federalism. So you have those differences. And even within those two camps, often not a lot of detailed thought as to what either strong central authority or decentralized federalism would actually look like. So, you know, that is part of the challenge. Iraqis will have to work through this. Among the encouraging things I noted that I'd seen is that now among Sunnis there is a discussion that maybe federalism is the way this country needs to go. That has in part been conditioned by the experience in Anbar, but not exclusively. That is why I say this is going to take time, and it's going to take further strategic patience on our part and further commitment. There simply are no easy, quick answers. There are no switches to flip that are going to cause the politics to come magically together. It's going to have to be worked through. I believe that it can. I believe that the things that we have seen over the last six months and that I've described, General Petraeus has described, do hold out cause for hope. But it's going to take their resolve and our backing to actually make that happen. Now, you mention Anbar. I think that that can be a very interesting illustration in this process, where something got started out in Anbar that the central government certainly didn't precipitate, but then the central government found ways to connect to it, both by hiring police and by providing additional resources to the provincial budget. So, you know, this is going to be something that Iraqis are going to have to work through. I'd like to be able to say that we can get this done in six months or nine months or by next July; I can't sit here and do that. REP. SKELTON: Thank you. Mr. Flake. AMB. CROCKER: I can say that I think it's possible. REP. SKELTON: Mr. Flake. REP. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ): I thank you both for your very enlightening testimony. Ambassador Crocker, you mentioned there's abundant evidence that the security gains have opened the door for meaningful politics. I think we all agree that the purpose of the surge was to create the space necessary for the politicians to do their work. Where -- how do you strike a balance between giving them space and providing a convenient excuse not to reach conclusion on some of these debates? They're talking about federalism, for example. I mean, we can have debates here on the topic, and we do have such debates. But where -- how do you respond to the criticism or the assumption that they would move faster if we had a more precipitous withdrawal or drawdown? AMB. CROCKER: I'd make two comments, sir. First, we are engaged in this process. I spend a lot of my time, as does my staff, working with political figures, sorting through issues, offering advice, twisting some arms from time to time, to help them get done what in many cases they've laid out as their own objectives, but find it a little hard to actually get it over the finish line. So we are involved in that and will continue to be. With respect to the point on using leverage -- using troops as leverage, to say we're going to start backing out of here regardless of whether you've got it done or not, as I said in a slightly different context earlier, I think we have to be very careful with that because if the notion takes hold among Iraqis that what we really do intend to do is just execute a non-conditions-based withdrawal -- say, the famous precipitous withdrawal -- I think it pushes them actually in the wrong direction. I think it creates a climate in which they are much less likely to compromise, because they'll be looking over our heads, concluding that the U.S. is about to pull, so they had better be getting ready for what comes next. And what comes next will be a giant street fight. It's not a climate, I think, that lends itself to compromise. REP. FLAKE: If I might, then, without us putting troops aside, then, what other leverage do we have? Is it aid that is contingent on them moving forward? Some of the -- you know, with regard to some of the benchmarks? What else is effective? Is there something that has been used in other scenarios, say, the peace process in Northern Ireland, or other -- anything that you've used in prior diplomatic efforts that would be more useful here? AMB. CROCKER: Again, like so much else in Iraq, the political dynamic there is probably not unique in world history, but it is pretty special. And while we're always looking for good lessons from outside, in the case of Northern Ireland, for example, where an international commission was formed to help the people work through issues, we've gotten the documentation on that, and we've made it available to Iraqi political figures as something that we and they might work with. They're -- they've got that under consideration. Clearly we do have leverage, and we do use it. I mean, the presence of 160,000 troops is a lot of leverage. And you know, we are using those troops for their security. That gives us, again, not only the opportunity but the obligation to tell them they've got to use the space they're getting to move forward. REP. FLAKE: In the remaining time I have, quickly, for the general, some argue that the presence of U.S. troops gives al Qaeda simply a target. Is there a difference between their attacks on U.S. troops as opposed to attacks on other coalition forces? I know there are different regions, but in Basra, for example, where the British have been, is there -- GEN. PETRAEUS: There are virtually no al Qaeda, really, in the southern part of Iraq because, of course, it's a Shi'a area and much less hospitable to them. REP. FLAKE: Right. GEN. PETRAEUS: They -- we think there have been attacks over time, occasionally, but nothing at all recently in the southern part of Iraq. REP. FLAKE: In other areas, is there any evidence that -- and I know we've performed different roles, the different coalition forces, but is there any evidence that they are more likely to attack Americans than other coalition forces? GEN. PETRAEUS: No. In fact, they're probably more likely to attack Iraqi forces right now. In fact, they're very concerned by the rise of particularly these local volunteers who have been assimilated into the Iraqi forces, because that represents a very, very significant challenge to them. It means that locals are invested in security, and of course they have an incentive that folks from the outside can never have. They are going to fight and die for their neighborhood, again, in a way that -- others who might come in from elsewhere would not be willing to do the same. So in fact we've seen a very substantial number of attacks on these forces as they have become more effective, trying to take out their checkpoints, attack their bases and so forth. REP. FLAKE: Thank you. REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman. Mr. Smith from Washington. REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, General, Ambassador, for your service and for your testimony today. I want to explore something we haven't talked that much about, and that is to some degree -- Iraq, to a very large degree, is dividing along sectarian lines and has been for some time. I mean, if we're not there yet, we're pretty -- we pretty soon will be to the point where there's no such thing as a mixed Shi'a-Sunni neighborhood. So even while we're surging forward, this -- (inaudible) -- ethnic cleansing, division, whatever you want to call it, is going on. And I think there's a number of implications of that. You know, one is, it sort of underscores the difficulty of reaching a solution. You know, I, I guess, will be a minority among some of my colleagues here. I don't really so much blame the Iraqis for the situation. It's an intractable situation. It's not like if they stuck around in August in parliament they would have solved this. They, you know, have a deep division between Shi'a and Sunni that I think everybody in this room understands, and it's not a problem that leverage or anything is really going to solve. It is what it is, and it's a reality on the ground. And I'm concerned that we don't seem to be reacting very much to that reality, or as much as we should be. We still have this fantasy of a, you know, unity government in Iraq that we are supposedly fighting to create the space to come about. And I think most people would have to acknowledge at this point it is not going to happen. More on that in a second. I just want to -- one quick question for General Petraeus. So when you figure out what ethno-sectarian violence is, you don't count Shi'a on Shi'a and Sunni on Sunni. And that's a little troubling, in the sense that since this ethnic cleansing is going on and the neighbors have divided, a lot of the violence then comes down to once they've divided it that way, then it's, okay, which Shi'a are going to be in charge and which Sunni are going to be in charge? I mean, to some degree that's part of what's going on in Anbar. Sunnis -- GEN. PETRAEUS: First of all, Congressman, we count in the -- civilian deaths include all deaths, as I mentioned. REP. A. SMITH: Okay. But in the sectarian -- GEN. PETRAEUS: They are in there. REP. A. SMITH: In the sectarian violence. GEN. PETRAEUS: We are focused on sectarian violence, ethno- sectarian violence -- REP. A. SMITH: Right. GEN. PETRAEUS: -- because in some cases it's Arabs and Kurds as well -- because that is what eats at the fabric of Iraqi society. That is what tore the fabric of Iraqi society in the -- REP. A. SMITH: That could be, General, but if I may for just one minute -- GEN. PETRAEUS: -- latter part of 2006. If I could finish, sir. And it does not stop. It never stops until it is stopped by something else. And what we wanted to -- want to have happen is to have it stopped because there is a sustainable security situation. In some cases we help it stop by cement walls. REP. A. SMITH: That could well be, but what I said is essentially accurate, that you don't count -- in the chart that we showed, you weren't showing us civilian deaths, you were showing -- GEN. PETRAEUS: Oh, I did show you civilian deaths. That is -- REP. A. SMITH: Ethno-sectarian -- GEN. PETRAEUS: -- in the chart. There are civilian deaths. REP. A. SMITH: Okay. GEN. PETRAEUS: I showed that slide. And that has come down substantially. REP. A. SMITH: But for the purpose -- GEN. PETRAEUS: Now, it has not come down as much outside Baghdad because of the mass casualty attacks carried out by al Qaeda. And we count all of those, all civilian deaths. That's why I showed that slide and then showed the subset of that slide, which is the ethno- sectarian deaths REP. A. SMITH: Okay. GEN PETRAEUS: We focus on that because of the damage that ethno- sectarian violence does to neighborhoods, particularly, again, in Baghdad. And the problem with the discussion is that Baghdad is a mixed province, still, as are Babil, Wasat, Diyala and other areas of Iraq. REP. A. SMITH: If I could have -- GEN. PETRAEUS: And beyond that, beyond that, the resources are provided by a central government. So with the mechanism that exists now under the Iraqi constitution, there has to be representation of and responsiveness to all Iraqis in that government to ensure that all do get. Now -- REP. A. SMITH: My time is very limited. I wanted to ask Ambassador Crocker a question, if I may. I appreciate that -- GEN. PETRAEUS: Thank you for letting me answer that anyway. REP. A. SMITH: The question, then, is, what is the political solution that we are moving toward? And that's what is most concerning to us. And the bottom line is, even under General Petraeus's description, in July of 2007 we will have roughly the same number of troops in Iraq that we had in January of 2007. Now, a lot of progress has happened, but that is obviously a problem for us. What is the political solution that we are working towards where the conditions are in place that we can begin to end our occupation, keeping in mind the fact that this ethnic division is happening? And maybe, Ambassador Crocker, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but Baghdad is separating along ethnic lines, is it not? And how does that -- what are the implications for where we're headed with all of this? If you could take a stab at that. AMB. CROCKER: Baghdad, like so many other parts of Iraq, in spite of the sectarian violence that occurred, remains a very mixed area. And that is why, again, abruptly changing course now could have some extremely nasty humanitarian consequences. Iraq is still, to a large degree, an intermixed society. Now, that puts special weight on the question you ask. So, what kind of political society is it going to be? According to the constitution, Iraq is a federal state. The debate is over what kind of federal state. Iraqis are going to need to work through this. The encouraging news I see is that now all communities increasingly are ready to talk about translating federalism down to a practical level. And that's a conversation that very much does need to take place. As I tried to lay out in my testimony, there is a tremendous amount of unfinished business here. There is that debate. There is within that debate the whole question of how the center and the periphery relate. For example, a hot debate that I had a chance to witness among Iraq's leaders was over can a provincial governor under certain circumstances -- emergency circumstances -- command federal forces. That's a pretty big issue, and it's an unresolved issue. So that's why -- and everything I said, I tried to lay out that I see reasons to believe that Iraq can stabilize as a secure democratic federal state at peace with its neighbors, under the rule of law, an ally in the war on terrorism. But it's going to take a lot of work, and it's going to take time. REP. SKELTON: The chair recognizes the gentleman from New York, Mr. Engel. REP. ENGEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to say at the outset, gentlemen, that I respect both of you and I thank you for your service to the nation. I am respectful of our troops who put their lives on the line for us every day. But I really must disagree with a lot of what I've heard here today. The American people are fed up -- I'm fed up -- and essentially what I'm hearing from both of you today is essentially "stay the course in Iraq." How long can we put up with staying the course? Young Americans are dying in someone else's civil war, as far as I'm concerned. Ambassador Crocker, you mentioned that Iraq will slip into civil war if we leave. I mean, we're in civil war now. It's become apparent to me that the Iraqis will not step up until we step out, and as long as we have what seems to be an open-ended commitment, the Iraqis will never step up. So we have an open-ended commitment with many, many troops. At some point you have to ask, is this the best way to keep the U.S. safe? General Petraeus, you said that the Iraqi politicians were understanding more and more about the threat from Iran. Mr. Maliki is supported by a pro-Iranian parliamentarians in the parliament. That keeps his coalition in power, so how much can he really go against Iran? He's a product of Iran. His people that back him are supporters of Iran. You know, for years we keep hearing rosy, upbeat pictures about Iraq -- "Victory is right around the corner; things are going well" -- and it never seems to materialize. General Petraeus, I have an article here called "Battling for Iraq." It's an op-ed piece that you wrote three years ago in The Washington Post -- today -- three years ago, and I want to just quote some of the things you said. You said, "Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up." You wrote that -- you said, "The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down, and Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of a new Iraq." You talk about Iraqi police and soldiers, and you say they're "performing a wide variety of security missions. Training is on track and increasing in capacity." And finally, you said in this article -- op-ed piece three years ago, "I meet with Iraqi security forces every day. I have seen the determination and their desire to assume the full burden of security tasks for Iraq. Iraqi security forces are developing steadily, and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months." So today you said -- and I'll just quote a few things -- "Coalition and Iraqi security forces have achieved progress in the security area. Iraqi security forces have also continued to grow and to shoulder more of the load." And finally you said, "The progress our forces have achieved with our Iraqi counterparts, as I noted at the outset, has been substantial." So I guess my question really is that, you know, why should we believe that your assessment today is any more accurate than it was three years ago in September 2004? Three years ago I was able to listen to the optimism, but frankly I find it hard to listen now, four years-plus into this war with no end in sight. Optimism is great, but reality is what we really need. GEN. PETRAEUS: Thank you, Congressman. I actually appreciate the opportunity to talk about that op-ed piece because I stand by it. I think what I said there was accurate. You -- there are also a number of items in there that talk about the challenges that Iraq faced, about hardships that lay ahead, and a number of other items that are included in that piece. And what I would note, by the way, is that Iraqis are dying in combat, are taking losses that are typically two to three -- closer to three -- times ours in an average month. They are stepping up to the plate. What did happen between that time and the progress that we started -- all I was doing was saying that we were getting our act together with the train and equip program and that we were beginning -- "Training is on track." That's what it was. It was on track and it was moving along. And over the course of the next six, eight, 12 months, in fact it generally continued to progress. And then along came sectarian violence and certainly the February bombing of the gold dome mosque in Samara, and you saw what that did to the country of Iraq. It literally tore the fabric of Baghdad society, Iraqi society at large between Sunni and Shi'a, and literally some of those forces that we were proud of in the beginning took enormous steps backward and were hijacked by sectarian forces and influences at that time. What I have tried to provide today is not a rosy picture. I have tried to provide an accurate picture. As I said, I have long since gone from being a pessimist or an optimist about Iraq. I'm a realist. We have learned lessons very much the hard way, and again the damage done by sectarian violence in particular has been a huge setback for the overall effort, and it resulted in the change that had to be carried out as a result of General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad assessing in December of 2006 that the effort was failing to achieve its objectives. That's where we were. And as I mentioned, we have then made changes to that that have enabled the military progress that I have talked about. And that is military progress indeed that has emerged certainly most in the last three months, since the mid-June surge of offensives, but is something that we certainly are going to do all that we can to build on and to continue in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you -- (inaudible). REP. ENGEL: But General, that was three years ago, and this is three years later. REP. SKELTON: Whoa, whoa -- (inaudible). REP. ENGEL: Will we be saying the same thing three years from now? REP. SKELTON: Mr. Engel -- Mr. Engel, you're over a minute over your time. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Akin. REP. AKIN: I wanted to say, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, thank you for your service. I thank you, and I know that my son who's had a little free time over in Fallujah would also thank you for your good service, as well. I also would like to compliment you on your testimony today. It is professional and credible, as we anticipated that it would be. But some of us sitting here were guessing, trying to figure out what you were going to say today, and one of the things that did surprise me a little bit was that you seem to be a little gentler on the Iraqi parliament and maybe not quite as aggressive on federalism, which seems to be working well and working with the local level. So I guess my question is this: instead of threatening, well, we're going to take our troops and go home, does it not make sense to a certain degree to say, look, if the national legislature can't figure out when to have elections in Anbar province, we'll help -- we'll take care of that for you; we'll go ahead and schedule those. And by the way, you need to understand that Anbar and the different provinces are going to be able to take care of their own garbage collection and police and all this, the type of things we think of as local government functions. And can we not be building at the local level at the same time as at the federal level, both in terms of political leverage to encourage and spur each one on, but also just because of the -- the local progress seems to be working pretty well? And my last question. It kind of goes -- if you comment on that, but the next piece would be, if we wanted to elect the equivalent of a mayor of a city or people to a city council that are not working at the -- you know, at the federal level, do we have the authority to do that, and can that process take place? And is that happening? AMB. CROCKER: That's a series of good questions. Let me start by saying that we are very much focused on how we can help in the provinces. In Anbar, for example, we've got three embedded PRTs as well as the main PRT out there, been working very closely with the Marines in just these kind of issues. Okay, you've got a municipality now. And by the way, of course, Iraq is now at the stage where Iraqis are forming their own municipal governments. REP. AKIN: Are they doing that right now? AMB. CROCKER: Yes, they -- REP. AKIN: Forming their own? AMB. CROCKER: Yes, sir. They -- REP. AKIN: Do they elect people to run those -- so that's going on right now? AMB. CROCKER: They do indeed, and that's been one of the other elements of the Anbar phenomenon that I think now every town of significance in Anbar has an elected mayor and municipal council. And the mission we've got is doing everything we can, military and civilians, to try to help these new councils learn to act like they're councils; to, you know, deliver services, to pick up the trash. That is a major priority, and it's important. At the same time, we do encourage, as I said, the linkages up and down the line so that the municipal councils are tied into the provincial council because that's where the provincial budget is executed, not just in Anbar but everywhere in the country, so that the municipalities are getting their share as well. And this is not as easy as it may sound in a country that at least since the '60s -- and you can argue all the way back to the creation of Iraq as a modern state -- has never had that kind of contract between its government and its people. So, again, it's part of the revolution and progress, if you will. But we have seen that as conditions -- as security conditions stabilize, a lot of things start happening like these municipal councils, like a focus on services, like linkages from top to bottom. And again, we've -- Iraqis talk about federalism, but what does that mean in a case where resources all flow from the center? You know, the budget for Anbar comes from Baghdad. They don't have the capacity to develop a revenue base independently. So all of those things are in play, and they have been in play, basically, just since security started to improve out there. A tremendous amount has happened in a fairly short time, which gives me, again, some encouragement that as security conditions stabilize in other parts of the country, you can see not the same process -- because, as I said earlier, each place has its own unique characteristics -- but, you know, roughly similar processes start to catch hold. REP. AKIN: Thank you very much. REP. JOHN BOOZMAN (R-AR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. REP. TAYLOR: The gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Boozman. REP. BOOZMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Petraeus, when I was over and visiting not too long ago with you, two or three weeks ago, one of the real concerns that I had after I left was that, in visiting with the guys that had been there for a while, what I would call the backbone of the military, many of those guys were on their third deployment. And I'm pleased to hear that, because we are making progress, that we are going to be able to withdraw. Occasionally we'll have votes here that maybe mandate that you have to go over -- you know, you've got to come back for the same amount of time that you've gone. Besides the argument of not wanting to micro-manage the war from Congress, which I believe very strongly that we shouldn't do, what does that do to your flexibility if we were to actually pass something like that? GEN. PETRAEUS: Congressman, that's not really a question that I can answer. That would have to be one that the chief of staff of the Army or the commandant of the Marine Corps would have to address. My job, as you know, is to request forces and then try to make the best possible use of them, and I'm not really sufficiently knowledgeable in what the status is at this point in time of reaching a point where we can start extending the time that forces are at home and so forth. REP. BOOZMAN: Let me ask very quickly, Mr. Crocker, one of the frustrations I've had in traveling the area has been that the -- our efforts to try -- our Voice of America-type efforts that was so successful against the Soviet Union, sometimes the people in the region have not spoken very well of that through the years. Is that better, or can you tell us a little bit about what we're trying to do to get the hearts and minds through the media? AMB. CROCKER: Yes, sir, that has, of course, been something that we've been engaged in since 2003, and as you suggest with some fairly mixed results in trying to get this right. We've got a couple of vehicles out there for it. One of them is Al Hurra, which has, quite frankly, as I understand it, been involved in a few controversies and has gone through some high-level personnel changes. As well as, of course, VOA, which has been a stalwart all along, as you point out. It is a complex media environment in Iraq and in the region, and it requires having people in place who know how messages resonate and know how to put them together. I was in Iraq in 2003 for several months as we put together the Governing Council and our first media efforts, and coming back a little over four years later I've been impressed by the progress we have made. But to be completely frank with you, I think we still have a way to go both in Iraq and in the region in articulating an effective message to Arab audiences. REP. BOOZMAN: General Petraeus, I've got tremendous respect for you, tremendous respect for General Jones. A lot -- you know, people have alluded to that report. Well, it would be helpful, I think, to me and others if at some point that perhaps you could maybe respond through writing or whatever some of the ideas that he's got that differ than the ideas that you -- I would just encourage you -- again, that would be very helpful to me if at some point you could delineate the differences that you have and then why. I yield back. REP. SKELTON: The chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Sanchez. REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, gentlemen, for being before us today. It's good to see you both again. As usual, I have tons of questions, General and Ambassador, but let me limit it to this one. The BBC released the results of a poll conducted in August that indicates that Iraqi opinion is at the gloomiest state ever since the BBC and ABC News polls began in February of 2004. According to the latest poll, between 67 and 70 percent of Iraqis say that the surge has made things worse in some key areas, including security and the conditions for political dialogue, reconstruction and economic development. Since the last BBC/ABC News poll in February, the number of Iraqis who think that the U.S.-led coalition forces should leave immediately has risen sharply, from 35 to 47 percent. And 85 percent of Iraqis say they have little or no confidence in the U.S. and U.K. forces. So I know a lot of politicians live by polls, and I realize that the U.S. policy in Iraq shouldn't simply follow the polls, because, you know, there can be a wide range of influence on some of this. Nevertheless, it's a fundamental principle of the U.S. Army counterinsurgency doctrine that the attitudes of the population are an important center of gravity in such a conflict. I think that was stated in our counterinsurgency manual. First -- I have three questions for you -- were you aware of the poll? Do you have your own polling? And why -- and what are your findings versus the attitude of the Iraqi public that we find in the BBC poll? Secondly, how do you explain the sharply negative perception of Iraqis regarding security conditions in Iraq since the surge began? If your data so indicates that dramatic and sharp declines in violence have happened in the last three months, then why isn't it reflected in the attitudes of the Iraqi citizens who are living this hell day by day? And third, one of the cornerstones of your counterinsurgency strategy is to deploy U.S. forces into the areas where they conduct operations, and the BBC poll indicates a dramatic increase in the percentage of Iraqis who want U.S.-led forces to leave Iraq. And that supports the finding of the independent commission by General Jones, that said massive troop presence and U.S. military facilities creates a negative perception among Iraqis that U.S. forces are a long-term occupying force. So, how concerned are you that this apparent decline in public confidence is happening due to that, and how do we address it? Is it a public relations problem or is there a substantive strategy issue that we need to face? And I'll start with the ambassador. AMB. CROCKER: Thank you very much, Congresswoman. No, I have not seen this particular poll. As you know, there are a lot of polls out there. And to say the least, I think polling in Iraq at this point is probably a fairly inexact science -- which is not to call into question, you know, this particular poll. I simply don't know. I know that I have seen -- REP. SANCHEZ: It's a BBC/ABC poll. They usually know how to conduct surveys quite well, I would say. AMB. CROCKER: Yeah. What -- REP. SANCHEZ: They certainly find that they count better than most of our generals count in Iraq. And General Petraeus will know what I mean by that. AMB. CROCKER: I have seen other national polling data that shows, for example, that the number of Iraqis who now feel secure in their own neighborhoods and indeed feel secure moving around the city has gone up significantly. I don't know whether that is accurate either. What I do know, since Iraq, with all of its problems and imperfections, is now an open political society where political figures do have a sense of where their constituencies are, that all of Iraq's principal leaders have registered the sense they have that there has been an improvement of security in the course of the surge. And they've also been very clear that they credit multi-national forces with much of that improvement, and that they don't want to see any marked precipitous reduction in how those forces are deployed until conditions sustain it. Another example I would give you is the communique of the leaders on the 26th of August, in which these five individuals, who have some pretty substantial differences among them, were all prepared to sign on to language that called for a long-term strategic relationship with the U.S. So, again -- REP. SANCHEZ: Well, sure. They want our money, and they want our -- you know, I mean, we're pumping lots of -- we're about the only thing going on in the economy. AMB. CROCKER: Well, actually, there's a lot starting to go on in the economy, and we've talked about what we're seeing in terms of provincial development; that's -- that's mainly coming from -- REP. SANCHEZ: Potential development. AMB. CROCKER: Provincial. REP. SANCHEZ: Provincial. AMB. CROCKER: Provincial development. That's coming out of the central treasury. And it is generating economic activity. We support that. We have a number of programs of our own that we work in coordination with Iraqi government. But there is economic activity. Again, it's anecdotal, but what I have noticed going around Baghdad is people, because they're feeling relatively better about their security conditions, are now asking, "Okay, so where are the services?" REP. SANCHEZ: Again, why is the poll so far off from your anecdotal? AMB. CROCKER: Ma'am, I -- you know, I haven't seen the poll. I don't know what the margin of error is or how it was conducted. REP. SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. REP. SKELTON: Thank you. We have an ongoing vote. We're told they will hold the vote open for an extra two or three minutes for us. I don't believe we have time to call on an additional member, which I regret, and I thank you for staying the additional 20 minutes, Mr. Ambassador and General. I appreciate -- we all appreciate your being with us -- REP. ORTIZ: I was ready. REP. SKELTON: -- your professionalism and your duty to our country. With that, we'll adjourn the hearing. (Sounds gavel.) END.