Thursday, April 23, 2009

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on the Future of the U.S.-Pakistan Military Partnership

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on the Future of the U.S.-Pakistan Military Partnership

Ike Skelton, Chairman
April 23, 2009

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on the Future of the U.S.-Pakistan Military Partnership:

“Good afternoon. Today we have with us an outstanding panel of experts to discuss the future of the U.S.-Pakistan military partnership. I’m very pleased to welcome Lieutenant General David Barno, Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies a the National Defense University; Dr. David Kilcullen, former advisor to General Petraeus and author of the recent book ‘The Accidental Guerrilla;’ and Mr. Shuja Nawaz, Director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. Gentlemen, welcome.

“This hearing could not be more timely or more important. This Congress and administration are committed to developing a mutually beneficial long-term and consistent relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan may well pose the most complex security challenge facing us today, with serious implications for U.S. national security, Afghanistan, and the region.

“Terrorist havens continue to thrive in Pakistan’s border area providing refuge to Al Qaeda and negatively impacting stability in Afghanistan. Terrorist and insurgent forces on Pakistan’s territory also contribute to Pakistan’s own internal instability, which is further compounded by the country’s economic crisis and a civilian government with limited power. At the same time, Pakistan continues to posses enough fissile material for about 55-90 nuclear weapons, and tensions with its nuclear-armed neighbor India have increased following last year’s Mumbai bombing.

“So how do we strengthen the U.S.-Pakistan military partnership to better address these challenges? In my opinion, the administration’s recent Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy is a step in the right direction. However, the strategy alone does not guarantee success; implementation of the strategy, benchmarks to measure progress and accountability are all critical, as well as close cooperation with our Pakistani partners in all these areas.

“Accountability is particularly important given the significant resources the administration is requesting from Congress and the American people for efforts in Pakistan. Following 9-11, Pakistan has received almost $12 billion from the U.S., including about $6.4 billion in Department of Defense Coalition Support Fund reimbursements and $2.3 billion in security-related assistance. The recent supplemental budget request for fiscal year 2009 also includes $400 million for a new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund.

“Does the current U.S. approach regarding reimbursements and security assistance for Pakistan make sense or does it need to change in any way to better achieve its objectives and ensure a measurable return on investment? And do we have the right balance between security assistance and assistance for economic development, governance, and humanitarian programs, which can also further security goals?

“Particularly important is U.S. assistance for building roads and bridges and repairing infrastructure- this could help integrate the tribal region into the country, stimulate economic activity and improve perceptions of the U.S. in Pakistan.

“As you may know, there is legislation pending in Congress that seeks to increase U.S.-Pakistan cooperation on security matters by explicitly conditioning U.S. assistance for Pakistan on such cooperation. What are the challenges with this approach and the lessons learned from similar approaches in the past? Do you recommend any alternatives that might be more effective in achieving the same goals?

“Gentlemen, I look forward to your thoughts and recommendations. I now turn to my good friend, the Ranking Member, John McHugh for any comments he may wish to make.”


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