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International Relations Budget for Fiscal Year 2008

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Opening Remarks Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington, DC
February 7, 2007

(10:05 a.m. EST)

Secretary Rice testifies on the International Relations Budget for Fiscal Year 2008 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. [ AP Images]SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, members of the committee, for this opportunity to address the committee about the challenges and the opportunities that we face today and the resources that the President will be requesting to be able to meet those challenges. And Mr. Chairman, I have a longer statement, but I would propose to make short opening remarks and then to have the full statement placed into the record, if that is acceptable.

CHAIRMAN LANTOS: Without objection.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. I will also, Mr. Chairman, address your question at the end of my remarks concerning civilians in Iraq.

President Bush's Fiscal Year 2008 International Affairs Budget for the Department of State, USAID and other foreign affairs agencies totals $36.2 billion. The President's budget also requests $6 billion in supplemental funding for the year 2007 to support urgent requirements that are not funded in the annual budget cycle. This supplemental request includes $1.18 billion for additional operating costs of the Department of State and other agencies, largely related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also includes $4.81 billion to meet urgent new foreign assistance needs in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon as well as peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance in Sudan, Somalia and other countries in need. In addition, the Administration is requesting $3.3 billion in war supplemental funding for fiscal year 2008 of $1.37 billion for foreign assistance and $1.93 billion for State Department operations. This is responsive, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, to a request that has been made several times that we try and project what the war costs will be in the coming year, and these are costs that we would not expect to want to put into base budget because they are, in a sense, emergency spending and related to specific circumstances.

These resources are absolutely fundamental to our national security. I think the members of the committee recognize that over the last five years since September 11th we've been very engaged in the global war on terrorism. And it's a war and it is definitely a war in the sense that we are losing human treasure to that war. But it's completely different kind of war than we have fought before. To be successful, force of arms is necessary, but not sufficient. And we are mobilizing our democratic principles, our development assistance, our compassion, our multilateral diplomacy and the power of ideas to win what is going to be a generational struggle.

I am pleased that in this struggle President Bush has made clear our commitment to a broad approach to the war on terror and that is why this year for the first time he has designated the Department of State as a national security agency alongside the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. And that is why the State Department has the lead in most of the tasks associated with the national counterterrorism strategy.

What I would submit to you today is that this requires of the Department of State, of USAID, fundamentally different thinking about our role, fundamentally different ways to train our people, to recruit our people and to deploy them. It gives us a better understanding of what we are called to do. We're calling this mission transformational diplomacy and indeed we are making changes in where we deploy our personnel, how we deploy them, what we ask of them, the training that we give them.

In some cases, Mr. Chairman, we're trying to catch up. For instance in terms of language skills, I want to just note for this committee that one of my own personal concerns is to improve the capability to draw on people who have critical languages. When I was a young student going to college and then graduate school it was the patriotic thing to do to learn to speak Russian. Along the way I learned to speak Czech, too, because for this country the investment through the National Defense Languages Act that people needed to learn those at the time critical languages was understood.

We are frankly underinvested as a country in the acquisition of critical languages like Arabic, Farsi, Chinese and indeed Secretary Spellings and Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, then DNI John Negroponte and I have proposed through the President's critical language initiative that we try and address some of those -- that deficit in language skills. That is just one of the examples of what we are trying to do to prepare ourselves better for the long term war on terror.

But we're doing other things. We are revolutionizing our approach to development assistance. We are trying better to realign our foreign assistance with our foreign policy goals to make sure that our foreign assistance is contributing to the development of well-governed democratic states. Because after all, well-governed democratic states form the foundation of a more stable world. We recognize that democratizing states also have to be able to meet the needs of their people for education and for health, that America is a compassionate country that wishes to be involved in the great health struggles of malaria and HIV/AIDS. We are revolutionizing that through the way that we deliver foreign assistance and what we expect of those who receive our foreign assistance.

But we are also revolutionizing the way that we perform by simply being right on the front lines in the war on terror. We have people serving in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in other places, who like their military counterparts leave family behind, they serve unaccompanied in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they serve literally on the front lines. Our people in Iraq are not sitting in the Green Zone in Baghdad. They are in places like Anbar Province, one of the most difficult provinces. The Provincial Reconstruction Teams -- a concept, one that was developed by the Department of State to get our diplomats and our political personnel and our economic counselors closer to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan so that they can help to deliver services -- frankly, Mr. Chairman, it puts our people at great risk.

And I want today to pay tribute to the many civilians who on a daily basis see mortar attacks against their positions, who travel in convoys that are dodging attacks. We know that they are in danger. We've done everything that we can to help secure them. It's one of the reasons that our security costs are going up in the way that they have. We have partnered with the Department of Defense and the military in these Provincial Reconstruction Teams to put our people, to literally embed our people, with brigade commanders so that they can deliver services as a part of the counterinsurgency effort.

But it's not easy for civilians. And I will tell you that when we first started down this course I was concerned, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, that I might have to direct members of the Foreign Service to go to these difficult posts. I've not had to do that. We have indeed changed incentives. We have indeed recruited people. We've recruited people personally to go to these jobs. But I'll tell you that as of now we have already recruited for the enhanced Provincial Reconstruction Team effort associated with the President's enhanced effort for Iraq. We've already recruited 87 percent of the people that we need, and that recruitment cycle will not be active until this summer. So people are stepping up in the Department of State to take on these jobs. We are fully staffed in our PRTs. We are fully staffed not just in places like Baghdad but also Kabul and Islamabad and Sudan and difficult posts of those kinds, and we already have people volunteering in large numbers for the follow-on service.

It's a very, to me, courageous thing for civilians to do because they are not war fighters; they are political officers and linguists and economic officers, and yet they have gone to this fight. And I know that President Bush had the opportunity to meet recently some of our Provincial Reconstruction Team leaders, people who are serving in Mosul and in Anbar Province, people who by the way are in no small part responsible for the tremendous progress that we've made in places like Mosul, the fact that sheikhs in Anbar are now fighting al-Qaida. This is in no small part because of the efforts that our people have made there.

And so, Mr. Chairman, if I can use that lead-in to speak to the question that you asked about the article this morning, when it comes to the need to get Foreign Service personnel out to the field, we're doing that. The President's plan requires, however, 350 people whose skill set is far different than the one that we actually have in the Department of State. These are engineers, these are legal experts, these are soil specialists, scientists who can help on the agricultural side. These are not people that the Department of State or USAID employ. And as of December, we agreed with the Department of Defense, something that we worked with them very closely, that we would identify these specialties, that the Department of State would seek supplemental funding to fund this surge of civilian personnel, and that request is in the supplemental, that we would identify people who could fill those posts, both from inside other agencies of the U.S. Government, but also, frankly, the agencies of the U.S. Government cannot fill that many posts of those kinds of specialties.

And so we are relying on the recruitment now of additional civilians from a databank that we hold to bring people from around the country who have those specific specialties. That, as you might imagine, Mr. Chairman, takes a little time. These people have to be recruited. They have to be vetted. They have to get -- receive appropriate security clearances.

And so our agreement with the Department of Defense was that for a period of time -- and we think that is six or so months, maybe a little longer, depends a little bit on when we get the funding so that we can let contracts for these civilians -- we would actually use reservists to fill those positions, because the military actually does have a reserve corps that has many of those specialties.

It speaks to me, Mr. Chairman, to the importance of the cooperation that we've had with the Defense Department in making sure that we have the right specialties and that they can fill in until these civilians are recruited. But the Department of State's positions for these -- for this surge have already -- the people have been identified and they're ready to go. What we have to do is to recruit other civilians.

It speaks to me too, Mr. Chairman, of the very importance of the Civilian Response Corps that the President proposed in the State of the Union, because we don't have a counterpart to the military, national guard, or reserve corps of civilians who can be ready and trained to go out and perform these functions: engineers, lawyers, agricultural specialists. And so we are charged with developing the concept for a Civilian Response Corps. We will be coming to the Congress for support for that concept and for funding for that concept so that we can have a ready reserve of civilians to take exactly this kind of task.

But currently, the Department of State is, in fact, ready to go. We will recruit other civilians from within the -- U.S. Government agencies and then we will recruit broader numbers of civilians. But Mr. Chairman, I'm glad you asked because I know the President -- because I just talked to him about it and I've talked to him many times about it, he appreciates what these civilians are doing out there in harm's way and I hope that everyone in America understands that we have a lot of civilians who are very courageous and are taking great personal risk because they believe in these missions.

Thank you very much.


Released on February 7, 2007

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