« PreviousContinue »
porting you out there, they are cheering for you. They are very proud of what you all have accomplished thus far, and are anticipating a resounding victory before too long. So they see through sometimes the smokescreens and the talking heads on TV, and the people realize that a handful of kooks in the big cities on each coast that are stopping traffic for whatever reasons are not indicative of what the overwhelming majority of Americans are feeling out there. So I hope you all know that and hear that on a regular basis, because it is true and it is happening.
My only question, Mr. Secretary, relates to what the responsibility is of some of our "allies" in what they are doing to help pay for some of the these military costs. Everything from sharing the cost of the current war to supplementing the Defense Emergency Response Fund involving the Global War on Terrorism. I mean, obviously, we are the greatest Nation on Earth, and the richest, and we have got to help pay these bills for fighting terrorism all over the world. But my goodness, do you see any light at the end of the tunnel for some of these countries to belly up to the bar and help pay some of these bills to not just protect us but to protect themselves?
Secretary Rumsfeld. We do. We have a large and growing coalition of countries. They are supplying ships, they are supplying aircraft, they are supplying medical units. They are doing things, and we are deeply appreciative to all of those countries. It is a sizable group, and I know that Dr. Zakheim can provide some specific details if it would be helpful.
I must say I agree with you completely. The American people have a very good center of gravity and an inner gyroscope that balances them. And despite the overwhelming volume of information about what is going on in Iraq and these slices of drama, they get it in my view. They understand it. And they can understand what we are doing is important and that it is important that those weapons of mass destruction be dealt with and that that regime be replaced, and they have got the patience and the understanding to support what is going on. And I thank you for that.
Mr. Bonilla. Yes, sir. Again, just to reiterate the concerns that I think some of us have for some of our allies pulling their weight out there in terms of paying some of these bills. I know, as you said, a lot of them are doing a lot, but in the view of many of us they are they are not doing enough because we are putting our people out there. Now we are putting our money out there. We are glad to do it, but it is amazing how some of the folks around the world do not see the light.
Secretary RUMSFELD. There are 52,000 coalition forces in Iraq, and that is a lot. And there are Special Operations forces. There are ships that are at sea that are supporting maritime interdiction and doing mineclearing. There is a British ship, the Sir Galahad, that is bringing food and humanitarian supplies into that port in the south part. There is a lot happening.
Mr. Bonilla. Thank you very much. Keep up the good work, all of you.
Secretary Rumsfeld. Thank you very much.
Mr. Lewis. Thank you very much, Mr. Bonilla. We have a number of members that have been here for quite a while. I would call next on Mr. Nethercutt.
RECONSTRUCTION EFFORTS IN IRAQ
Mr. Nethercutt. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here. I echo the same sentiments of the other members who are complimentary of you and the efforts of your team.
I want to ask you specifically about the issue of the post-Saddam period as it relates to the Department of Defense and the reconstruction efforts that may be undertaken. I know there is some reference in your testimony, Secretary, about reconstruction efforts, and in Dr. Zakheim's testimony yesterday in our Committee about reconstruction efforts.
I know there is a growing sentiment in the Congress, I would argue, in favor of the coalition partners and against those who have not become willing participants in the allied effort. And I am wondering to what extent, assuming that there could be language drafted that would be appropriate, recognizing the Afghanistan conflict and others that by which there is a history of participation by other countries, would you be willing to support the concept of giving preferential treatment for contracting for reconstruction efforts that might be undertaken, that will be undertaken for those coalition supporters, allied supporters, rather than those who express sentiments against this effort in Iraq.
Secretary Rumsfeld. Well, clearly one's natural human feeling would be to prefer to deal with people who are helpful and constructive as opposed to people who are not. On the other hand, the goal is not for the United States to make those kinds of decisions. The goal is for the Iraqi people to make those kinds of decisions, and for the United States to stay there as long and be helpful for as long as we have to, but not a day longer, and to see that there is an Interim Iraqi Authority that grows up, and that they get their sea legs and develop a government that is representative and respectful of the rights of all the people in the country. And it is for them to make those kinds of decisions, one would think.
Mr. Nethercutt. I understand that and I appreciate that, but my sense is also that the Department of Defense will have a role to play in letting contracts, who are making judgments about reconstruction work under the jurisdiction of the Department. That is perhaps more what I am speaking of. And I am wondering to what extent you would be comfortable with the concept of making sure, not that we necessarily Buy America, but we buy allies, so to speak.
Secretary Rumsfeld. I guess I do not know that I am in a position to answer the question. The Department of State does an awful lot of the contracting for things like that, AID and the others, and I am not sufficiently knowledgeable that I could answer.
Mr. Nethercutt. And I appreciate that. I suspect there may be an effort undertaken along these lines that may be even more acute or restrictive than that which I am speaking of, so perhaps we can talk with your office and at least get your advice.
Secretary Rumsfeld. Thank you, Mr. Congressman.
Mr. LEWIS. Thank you Mr. Nethercutt.
GUARD AND RESERVE BENEFITS
Mr. Moran. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Zakheim, nice to see you. Thank you for your leadership.
I have a number of questions. The first one I wanted to ask you about is something that a number of us are experiencing among our constituencies. I think it is a concern that is going to grow. There are over 200,000 National Guard and Army Reserve members now on active duty. It is almost up to 220,000. Those folks get paid, on average, substantially less than they were getting in the jobs that they were regularly employed at, particularly when you are looking for the kind of skilled people that the Secretary referenced. Those are the kinds of folks that we particularly need, and they continually get called up. In their private sector jobs they oftentimes make more money.
But not only do they get a pay cut, they lose their health insurance. Employers do not maintain their health insurance. And most of them have families. In fact, 40 percent of the young members of the Guard and Reserve have no health insurance coverage for their families when they go to war.
Mr. MORAN. There are a number of bills that have been offered here, but I think it would be better for the administration to take the initiative. Have you given some thought to this situation, particularly at that the war has prolonged and these folks lined up in situations that really jeopardized the health and safety of their families?
Secretary RUMSFELD. Yes. First let me correct something. If I indicated that the 52,000 coalition forces were in Iraq, I misspoke. They are in theatre. They are in—they may be in Kuwait or aboard right nearby, and I don't want to leave a misunderstanding.
The members of the Guard and Reserve are volunteers. They are people who made a conscious decision that that is something they want to do, and what we have to do is manage their pay, their health care, the frequency with which they are called up, in a way that we are able to continue to attract and retain the number of people we need. And I worry a little bit about isolating out a single aspect of compensation or circumstance for the Guard and Reserve, just as I do for active service. It is the totality of their circumstance that determines the extent to which we are or are not successful in retracting and retaining them. And that mix is something that needs to be looked at together as opposed to pulling one piece out and worrying about it.
IRAQ OIL FIELDS
Mr. Moran. I am not going to argue with you, Mr. Secretary, except that you know better than I that the media is going to start focusing on some of these families. Invariably one of them is going to have a serious health problem and have no health insurance coverage since they lost it when they went into the Guard or Reserve. You know, we have got a transformation going on here increasing reliance on the Guard and Reserve, and I think it jeopardizes that transformation if we don't attend to that.
So I am just raising it. Think about it. I know you have.
Some of this money is going to be used to repair some of the oil— the drilling rigs, et cetera, in Iraq, I understand. Is that not correct?
Secretary Rumsfeld. There is some funds in here for that.
Mr. Moran. If we do that, the United Nations takes those over, why wouldn't the United Nations be repairing it if they are—let me put it this way: Why would the American taxpayer pay what is probably going to be first-class investment in bringing these oil wells up to a better condition than they have ever been, only to turn them over to the United Nations?
The other thing related to that is that you have got a stash request in here for additional fuel costs, $430 million. It seems to me that some of Iraq's neighbors who are drowning in oil might be able—that might be one thing they could contribute in kind. Have there been offers of in-kind contributions? You have set up a fund I know, the Defense Cooperation Fund, to get much and in-kind contributions from donor nations. Have any of those oil-rich countries in the Middle East that we are allegedly helping out with this investment of personnel and money, many of them suggested, well, let us at least pick up your fuel cost?
Secretary Rumsfeld. First, let me say that I haven't heard anyone talk about turning oil wells over to the United Nations.
Mr. Moran. So you intend to hold on to them?
Secretary Rumsfeld. Could I just respond? The work that the United States is contracted to do is to put out the fires, and that is a military activity. And that is what is happening. The extent to which the Iraqi oil fields, which are rich, are improved so that they can get increased liftings, one would think would be paid for by Iraqi money. That is the oil wells that belong to the Iraqi people and the revenues from those wells belong to the Iraqi people.
Second, with respect to fuel costs, the answer is yes. A number of nations in the neighborhood and elsewhere have been providing fuel for a variety of different purposes, ours and coalition forces. And a number of countries have been providing force protection so that we didn't have to activate additional reserves and provide force protection. There are a lot of nations there are helping. I don't know what the number is today, but I think it went up by 2 yesterday, and it is something like 65 countries are supporting this activity.
Mr. Moran. Well, I hope that is the case, but you are asking us to provide $430 million for fuel costs. That is what raised the question. And you are asking for many millions of dollars for these oil wells, and I just want to make sure if we make a substantial investment, we don't turn them over to the United Nations.
Secretary Rumsfeld. I have not heard anyone suggest that.
Mr. Moran. All right. Last question. You have got a request in for $3.2 billion for anticipated future ammunition requirements. What period of time did you take into account in determining the ammunition requirements for future operations? How did you figure that, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Rumsfeld. There were multiple variables that went into the calculations. Because it is not knowable as to how long the kinetics will last and what particular munitions would be used, it is a function of the war plan and what happens and what the weather is. For example, we used very little in the last couple of days because of the weather, and we are undoubtedly going to be using a lot more over the next 3 or 4 days, because the weather is going to be good. But what they do is they go through and make a series of ranges on things and then come to some conclusions. And it is an estimate. It is not precise. Let there be no doubt. This is not the cost of the war. This is the best estimate people can come up with as to what has been spent, what has been committed, and what we think might be reasonable just for the rest of the fiscal year, which is only about 6 more months.
Mr. LEWIS. Thank you, Mr. Moran.
Mr. MORAN. All right, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LEWIS. Mr. Cunningham.
Mr. Cunningham. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Chairman Hunter has discussed the affordable weapon with you, and it tracks with Mr. Moran's discussion on ammunition. Do you know what the requirements are? We have many systems in progress, even production. But the affordable weapon can be brought online very, very quickly, perhaps quicker than some others we are buying. I am thankful that the Department is taking a look at that.
I think Chairman Hunter, even though he is an Army guy and can't shoot very well, he is a pretty good chairman. And he and I agree on the value of affordable weapon.
SHIP DEPOT MAINTENANCE
Secondly, I would like to discuss ship repair—Dr. Zakheim is going to free up some money for that in this supplemental. But the Navy O&M accounts, as you are well aware, the Marine Corps, and others as well, are the "pay-for" accounts. There are many bills paid in the O&M accounts. So, the dollars that we get for ship repair—we would like to see somewhat protected. Three ships are returning now, and some of them are not in the best shape.
The other issue is that some of our allies haven't been supportive of our Iraq effort.
And what we are saying—and it goes along with my colleague here—many of us feel that we know we need the United Nations and we need these countries, but there should be some kind of penalty for their refusal to support this effort. We should not be rewarding these people with contracts for Iraq's reconstruction.
If you help us fight al Qaeda, but you don't support us in Iraq, or if you don't let us use a base—which caused us to come all the way around the other side and delayed our troops and got some of our people killed—there needs to be some kind of accountability for