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Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on "The Fight Against ISIS: Building the Coalition and Ensuring Military Effectiveness"

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Hearing: The Fight Against ISIS: Building the Coalition and Ensuring Military Effectiveness

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman
Opening Statement

The president has sent forward a request for the authorization for the use of military force [against ISIS]. Because of the nature and the way that this is happening, that the conflict has been ongoing for about six months now, I think one of the things that most people here are concerned about is that there is a level of confidence in what we are doing and that it is going to achieve the stated goals that the president has laid out.

And I don't know of anybody more equipped to come before us today than General Allen, who served our country with great distinction.

I think many people feel decently well about what is happening in Iraq. I think there are a lot of questions relative to Syria. My sense is today you will have a number of questions regarding that. And we hope that what you will do, General Allen, is give us an honest assessment as to the end state that we would like to see happen in Iraq and Syria when we complete the activities that we're involved in, and to understand the political and military strategy that we have under way and to give us a little sense of time frame relative to the various activities that are necessary. 

I was just in Iraq last week, in both Baghdad and Erbil with our Kurdish friends and Ankara with our Turkish friends. The Shia militias are everywhere in Iraq as people know. General Suleimani, who is head of the Quds force for Iran, has now become a celebrity in Iraq. And I have to say it feels very strange to be there knowing that much of the activity we have under way, while it is necessary, is really to Iran's benefit. And I know there is are lot of concerns that after this activity is completed, if we are successful with ISIS, which I know we will be, and, in essence, the next issue is going to be dealing with the security of our forces there with the Shia militias.

I was happy to see that Turkey has gone ahead and signed a train and equip agreement.  I’m sure that's something you have made happen and thank you for that.

At the same time, I know there are a lot of concerns now about how we deal with Assad's barrel bombs as we train and equip these individuals.  How do we protect them from the barrel bombs, which cause them to diminish in greater number than they can be trained? And I'm sure you will talk about that.

There is a lot discussion, as you know, on the ground there, about an air exclusion zone. I know you will have some questions about that --- no fly discussions that may be taking place to draw Turkey more in to what is happening in Syria itself, which I think most of us believe is very important.

So as I close, I just want to say we owe it to our nation as we consider this to know that the full range of America's elements of national power, diplomatic, economic, and military means are aligned in such a way to get to the administration's stated goals.

Because of the nature of this decision [by the president to seek an AUMF], one, again that is being made after the fact, all of us need to have confidence that the administration is truly committed to achieving the stated goals that they laid out, and I think your testimony here is going to be very valuable to us.


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