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International Affairs Budget for FY 2008

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Opening Remarks Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
February 8, 2007

(9:33 a.m. EST)

Secretary Rice testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the international affairs fiscal year 2008 buSECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Lugar. Thank you members of the committee and very much thank you for that vote. It is going to be very good should he be confirmed by the full Senate to have John Negroponte return to his home at the State Department after many years of service to our government, so thank you for that.

I appreciate the opportunity to address the committee about the challenges and opportunities that we face today and the budgetary resources that are necessary to meet those challenges. I want to assure you that I look forward to continuing to work with you across party lines to make certain that our men and women who are serving so admirably abroad are able to carry out the task of U.S. foreign policy in this critical time.

Mr. Chairman, I have a longer statement, but I would suggest that if you -- if the committee will allow, I will just make a few comments and then enter the full statement into the record.

CHAIRMAN BIDEN: Entire statement will be entered into the record as if read.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. 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 FY 2007 to support urgent requirements that are not funded in the annual budget. The supplemental request includes $1.18 billion for additional operating costs of the Department of State and other agencies and $4.8 billion to meet urgent new foreign assistance needs in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon as well as peacekeeping and humanitarian needs 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, 1.37 for foreign assistance and 1.93 for State Department operations to support emergency requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this is to try and be responsive to Congress' wish to know how we project costs for those two wars into fiscal year 2008. I just want to underscore that this is money -- these are resources that are fundamental to our national security.

Over the five years since the attacks of September 11th, we remain engaged in a global war on terror. We are engaged in wars that are different kinds of wars. And to be successful, the force of arms is necessary but not sufficient. We must mobilize our democratic principles, our development assistance, our compassion and our multilateral diplomacy as well as the power of our ideas. This means, members of the committee, that the Department of State is playing in many ways a different role, a transforming role during this period of national crisis that is in some ways unaccustomed, but a role that we believe is critical to success in our policies. President Bush has recognized this and has designated the State Department this year as a national security agency alongside the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. We have most -- the lead on most of the tasks as well under the National Counterterrorism Strategy.

What I would submit to you today is that this has caused us to relook at and rethink a lot of the ways that the Department does its work. We are very actively redeploying our diplomats out of posts, for instance, in Europe to posts in places like India and places in Latin America, places that frankly have been understaffed by American diplomatic personnel. At one point, we had as many people in Germany as we had in India. We're trying to right some of those balances. We are restructuring -- we have restructured our foreign assistance efforts so that our foreign assistance dollars are going to high priority tasks and are matched up with the objectives that we are trying to achieve.

We have put a great effort into restructuring public diplomacy. And of course as Senator Lugar mentioned, we are putting a great effort into language development for our diplomats. I might just note that this is something that takes awhile to remedy. The truth of the matter is that this country has been underinvested in the study of critical languages like Arabic, Farsi, even Chinese for a very long time.

When I was a young student growing up, graduate student, it was the patriotic thing to do to learn to speak Russian and I picked up a little Czech along the way because those were considered critical languages. The National Defense Languages Act funded people to take on those critical languages, but we're trying to catch up. And two things that would help very much that are in this budget is, one, that we do need a training float -- it was mentioned by Senator Lugar -- so that we can keep people in language training to get true proficiency. And secondly, we have quadrupled the number of people that are taking, for instance, Arabic, but we are looking for more language specialists and indeed we'll look at some of our Foreign Service hiring practices to see if we can hire at mid-career people who may have those language skills.

We also are asking our diplomats to go to more and more unaccompanied posts. I think it's sometimes not recognized that when we ask diplomats to serve in Baghdad or Kabul or Riyadh or Islamabad or Beirut, they, like the military, go without their families. They go for unaccompanied posts and it is difficult on families.

It is also the case that they are going to ever more dangerous places. And here, Mr. Chairman, I really want to say a word about the people who are serving in some of these most dangerous places. I know that the President really appreciates the fact that we do have diplomats serving in places like Anbar province. We do have people serving in the neighborhoods of Baghdad in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. These reconstruction teams were the idea of the State Department to get our diplomats out of the center of the city and into contact with local officials, with provincial officials. And they, too, are serving in places where they take mortar attack. They are, too, serving in places where convoys are attacked as they go from place to place. We are doing everything that we can to secure them. But I want it to be understood civilians are taking tremendous risk in these places and their service needs to be honored and it needs to be recognized by everyone just as the service of our men and women in uniform is recognized.

We indeed are looking for ways to improve our ability to deploy civilians. But it is interesting, when we look at posts like Baghdad or posts like Kabul, I was concerned at one point that in order to get the right mix of people, to get Foreign Service officers to go to these difficult posts, that we might have to direct service. We have not had to do that. In fact, we've had volunteers for those posts. We are at 98 percent filled right now and we are at 87 percent subscribed for assignments that do not come into being until this summer. And so the State Department, in Baghdad, in Kabul and Islamabad and Riyadh, we are getting our people to those posts.

I would like to note, too, that we are doing so with people who are appropriate to the task in terms of training and experience. It is true, as I said, that language is a problem, but that's a national problem that we're trying to deal with.

And if I may, I will just speak to a couple of questions that the Chairman and Senator Lugar asked in their opening statements. On the question of the Civilian Response Corps, Senator Lugar, I could not agree more. This is something that we very much favor. We have filled, for instance -- for the President's surge of civilian personnel -- we have filled the State Department positions. We know who's going to go; they will be ready to go.

The problem is the State Department doesn't have agronomists and engineers and city planners. No foreign service in the world has those people. And so we have to find that talent elsewhere. We don't have much of that talent, frankly, in the U.S. Government as a whole, although the President has asked other departments, including domestic agencies, to make people available.

What we need is the ability to mobilize civilians from the population as a whole who could take those tasks. Three things would be very helpful in being able to do that, and they are submitted in various parts of the budget. One is that we need the ability to reimburse domestic agencies if they send people out to places like Baghdad and Kabul for extended periods of time. We have asked for a fund to be held at the State Department to be able to reimburse those agencies because that kind of money simply does not appear in their budgets.

Secondly, it would be helpful to have full funding this time for the personnel for the SCRS, the stabilization group that reports to me and that works now in places like Lebanon and Sudan and Afghanistan and Haiti. We need full funding of that.

We have also requested money in the peacekeeping account for emergency deployment, emergency response, because when something happens, as happened in Lebanon, what we have to do is to search around, try to reprogram funding and then try to come to you in a supplemental to make up the money that we've taken someplace else. So those elements would help a great deal in helping us to be able to responsive to these rebuilding tasks and we want to work with you on the Civilian Response Corps. That would be very, very good work to do.

If I may I would like to respond also to a question that Senator Biden asked in his opening remarks and it's about how we are managing the myriad tasks that we have these days, indeed, it is an international system that is remaking itself and has a lot going on.

But I'll tell you, Senator, while Iraq obviously is a major focus for me it is not by any means my only focus. Just a couple of weeks ago I was at NATO in a meeting that we called to talk to our allies about contributions to Afghanistan and also to engage through the transatlantic dialogue that we have there the Europeans on the matter of Kosovo because I'm watching very closely the developments in Kosovo. I've had the opportunity to talk to Senator Voinovich about this but this is an issue that we are trying to work from start to finish. I also this morning spoke with the Ambassador to Lebanon. I have a weekly SVTS, a weekly teleconference with my team in Lebanon to follow very closely events there because progress in Lebanon is very important to us.

We have been using the talent of the country to help us on some of these matters. I want to thank ambassadors-at-large, so to speak, Ambassador -- General Ralston who is working for us on the PKK-Iraq-Turkey issue, Frank Wisner who is our envoy for Kosovo and, of course, Andrew Natsios who is working on Sudan. I met with him a couple of days ago and with the group that is working on Sudan. So, yes, we're keeping very busy. Oh, and I forgot to mention of course I'm leaving on Friday, a week from today, to go back to the Middle East to try and launch the trilateral with Prime Minister Olmert and with President Abbas.

So, yes, it's a busy schedule but I have to say I think we see these all as extremely important and I feel quite capable of spending a lot of time on a lot of these issues. So thank you very much for the question, but thank you also for the vote on John Negroponte which will certainly give us a lot more horsepower on these issues.

Thank you.


Released on February 8, 2007

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