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Senate Proceeding on Jan 28th, 2010 :: 7:48:35 to 8:03:25
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Carl Levin

7:48:31 to 7:48:52( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: administration so we can get the job done here in the united states senate. with that, madam president, i thank you for i would yield the floor. mr. levin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: madam president, i recently returned from a trip to pakistan and afghanistan with senator al franken. we heard a great deal of

Carl Levin

7:48:35 to 8:03:25( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Carl Levin

Carl Levin

7:48:53 to 7:49:15( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: troubling news out of afghanistan over the past few months. casualties have increased, politica situation has been unsettled. based on what we saw and hea during our trip, i am somewhat more optimistic that we will succeed in afghanistan. i'm a lot more optimistic now than i was after my last visit to afghanistan in september.

Carl Levin

7:49:16 to 7:49:36( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: now, success to me is defined as preventing the taliban from returning to power at the same time that we strengthen the afghan security forces to take responsibility for afghan security in order stability over the course of three days, we met with key civilian and military leaders in both

Carl Levin

7:49:37 to 7:49:57( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: pakistan and afghanistan, and, madam president, i would unanimous consent that the next two paragraphs of my statement listing our meetings with various leaders be inserted in the record at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: madam president, our men and women in uniform are performing magnificently. we visited with our troops in the field in kandahar, and they are living and operating in a

Carl Levin

7:49:58 to 7:50:18( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: difficult environment with only basic accommodations, yet their morale is high and they are eager to carry out their mission, and they have some of the best leadership that our military has to offer in isaf commander general stanley mcchrystal, general rodriguez,

Carl Levin

7:50:19 to 7:50:39( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: general caldwell. on the other side, they are putting together the diplomatic and technical expertise in kabul and in the field to match our military effort. now, one reason that i'm more optimistic now than when i visited afghanistan in september is that our counterinsurgency strategy is taking hold. our troops are comfortable with

Carl Levin

7:50:40 to 7:51:00( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: the new focus on securing the afghan people. this requires that our troops remain with the afghan people and not just clear towns and villages of taliban and then leave the afghans to fend for themselves when the taliban return. our troops understand and embrace this people-centered approach.

Carl Levin

7:51:01 to 7:51:23( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: as british major general carter, commander of the coalition forces of the south, said -- "if we show confidence and mutual trust, the population will look after us." the afghan people are more optimistic than they have been in the recent past. a recent abc news survey found

Carl Levin

7:51:24 to 7:51:46( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: that 70% of the afghans polled said that afghanistan is head in the right direction. a significant jump from a year ago. over 60% of afghans expect that their children will have a better life. the taliban remain extremely unpopular, and 68% of afghans continue to support the presence of our troops

Carl Levin

7:51:47 to 7:52:07( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: i have long been convinced that our principal mission in afghanistan should be traing the afghan security forces, and that drove m belief that we should not focus on adding more u.s. combat forces except where we needed to train, equip, and support afghan security forces. as i put it when the president

Carl Levin

7:52:08 to 7:52:28( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: was consideng additional combat forces, i supported a show of commitment but said that commitment could be showny additional trainers and personnel, along with a flow of equipment to afghan forces. i expressed then that our major mission should be a surge of afghan forces to take on the taliban.

Carl Levin

7:52:29 to 7:52:52( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: afghan security forces will ultimately win or lose the long battle with the taliban. our support will help, but our growing presence has a down side -- a growing footprint which is the physical and rhetorical propaganda target for the taliban. we heard in our conversations that president obama's west point speech in december has had

Carl Levin

7:52:53 to 7:53:13( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: a t ways that i believe are the most significant in afghanistan. according to lieutenant general bill caldwell, the head of our nato traing command, the number of new recruits signing up for the afghan army has skyrocketed

Carl Levin

7:53:14 to 7:53:35( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: november to over 11,000 recruits in traing today. the traing command has had to turn recruits didn't have enough trainers on hand, and lieutenant general caldwell told us forcefully and clearly that what energized the afghan leadership to

Carl Levin

7:53:36 to 7:53:57( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: and to reach out to new recruits was the july, 2011, date that president obama set for the beginning of troops in afghanistan. even more than the pay increase, which was announced for afghan troops, general caldwell said

Carl Levin

7:53:58 to 7:54:18( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: that setting that date by president obama made clear to the afghan government and to the afghan people that president obama means business when he says that our presence in afghanistan is commitment. afghan leaders became focused on manning for the

Carl Levin

7:54:19 to 7:54:40( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: principal responsibility from coalition forces to their forces. it is highlighted by that 2012 urgent steps to increase recruitment for the afghan army. while it i determine if the surge in u.s. combat forces will have the effect that president obama and

Carl Levin

7:54:41 to 7:55:01( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: general mcchrystal intend, it is not too early, in other words, to see a positive effect towards accomplishing the mission of strengthening and training the afghan army. a key to the success of that mission will be partnering with the afghan security forces in regional commands south, in the kandahar area which we visited,

Carl Levin

7:55:02 to 7:55:22( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: coalition and afghan partnering on a one-to-one basis at all levels, from planning at the headquarters down to operations at the platoon level, and afghans are taking the lead in operations. when i visited the hellman prove in the south in septeer, there were about five u.s.

Carl Levin

7:55:23 to 7:55:44( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: marines for every one afghan soldier. in the coming months, additional afghan forces will be in helman, so that by april, coalition and afghan units will be partnered on a basis as they conduct the key mission of providing security in the helman riveralley.

Carl Levin

7:55:45 to 7:56:06( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: and we were genocide that afghan forces wille leading that vital and dangerous mission. senator franken and i saw up close how partnering coalition and afghan forces are being put into operation. this is not just about joint operations, although that is part of it. it is about afghan and coalition troops living together and

Carl Levin

7:56:07 to 7:56:30( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: integrating their daily lives. this partnering is at the part of our troops' mission, which is to prepare afgha security forces to take responsibility for their nation's security. some fully integrated partnering in the field is already occurring. general rodriguez promised us that he will get data on how

Carl Levin

7:56:31 to 7:56:53( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: that arelanning and operating with coalition units are fully integrated and how often and how many afghan units are significant operations. while we don't need more combat troops for the partnering mission, the shortfall being in the number of afghan troops, the increase in afghan units

Carl Levin

7:56:54 to 7:57:16( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: partnering with us is a significant advance. our military leaders often describe our counterinsurgency doctrine as, quote -- "shape, clear, hold, and build." but this falls s goal -- to shape, c

Carl Levin

7:57:17 to 7:57:37( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: and build must be added "transition," meaning our goal must be to transition responsibility for afghan security to their security forces. the commanders in the field we talk to get this and they are fully integrated with partnering the key to this transition.

Carl Levin

7:57:38 to 7:57:59( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: i'm pleased with the speed with which the field, but i am disappointed with the shortfall in trainers need for the afghan army and police. currently only 37% of the required u.s. and nato trainers for building the

Carl Levin

7:58:00 to 7:58:21( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: afghanistan or new mexico ircally 1,574 out of a requirement for more trainers. lieutenant general caldwell's training command has been promised the fst 1,000 of the 30,000 u.s. soldiers flowing into theater with that surge,

Carl Levin

7:58:22 to 7:58:44( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: and 150 of that 1,000 have already arrived. at the same time, nato countries remain 90% short of meeting the isaf mission requirements for trainers, with less than 200 non-u.s. trainers that were -- 200 non-u.s.

Carl Levin

7:58:45 to 7:59:05( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: against a non-u.s. nato commitment of about 2,000. 2,000 committed by nato, other than our own u.s. trainers, only 200 have arrived on the scene. now, another 200 nato trainers were pledged by nato members in december, but without a time line for when those trainers

Carl Levin

7:59:06 to 7:59:28( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: would arrive in theater that is simply unacceptable. those nato countries that are either unwilling or unable to send additional combat troops into the fight in afghanistan should be able to help provide trainers for basic training who operate away from the front lines. lieutenant general caldwell told

Carl Levin

7:59:29 to 7:59:50( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: us that any well-trained u.s. or coalition soldier could instruct afghan soldiers in the eight-week course of basic training. a top priority for our nato allies at the london conference, which i believe is this week, needs to be closing the gap in trainers for afghan army and

Carl Levin

7:59:51 to 8:00:13( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: police. another area where there has been progress has been on equipping the afghan security forces, and that is critical to accelerating the growth of the afghan army and police. the that the equipment requirements for the army and police have been identified and listed, and actions are underway to meet

Carl Levin

8:00:14 to 8:00:34( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: those needs, including the equipment coming out of iraq as u.s. forces draw down there. this month equipment began to flow from the iraq theater to afghanistan. and lieutenant general caldwell's staff expects that

Carl Levin

8:00:35 to 8:00:56( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: over 250 of 1,300 humvees from iraq will begin to month to meet the needs of the afghan police. this was made possible by the language in the fiscal year 2010 national defense authorization act which authorizes the transfer of nonexcess as well as

Carl Levin

8:00:57 to 8:01:20( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: excess equipment from iraq to afghanistan as u.s. forces draw down in iraq. finally, madam president, relative to plans for the reintegration of lower-level taliban fighters, the karzai government has been working mcchrystal's staff under the leadersh of a british major general to construct a plan

Carl Levin

8:01:21 to 8:01:43( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: offering incentives to low- a mid-level taliban fighters who are willing to lay down their weapon and recognize the afghan government's authority. president karzai has said that he will be ready to issue this plan within a month or so, and u.s. officials expect to be fully supportive. it will take a few months after

Carl Levin

8:01:44 to 8:02:05( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: that to make the plan operational. while there is apparently no progress to negotiate with higher level taliban to end the violence and become politically active, it doesn't reduce the need to chip away at that lower-level taliban group. we read in the press today that progress is being made.

Carl Levin

8:02:06 to 8:02:26( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: as a matter of fact, with leaders, local leaders in afghanistan in that endeavor. in conclusion, we saw some signs of progress on our visit in a number of critical ways, in training and equipping afghan security forces, in partnering closely in the field with the afghan security forces and a

Carl Levin

8:02:27 to 8:02:47( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: percepon and reality of optimism among the military, civilian officials and the afghan people and in devising a plan for reintegrating taliban fighters who lay down their arms. we have the right strategy and mission for stabilizing the security information and positioning responsibility for afghanistan's future to the

Carl Levin

8:02:48 to 8:03:10( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: afghan army and people. while we're on the right track now, we have a long way to go before we can feel confident that the tide has turned. absence of a quorum. the presiding

Carl Levin

8:03:11 to 8:03:16( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: clerk will call the roll.

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