Joni Ernst

Defense Experts on Kosovo, ISIS - January 24, 2017

Joni Ernst
January 24, 2017— Washington DC
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ERSNT: See, Mr. Chair, I'd like to start with a fairly small program, but I believe has significant impact overall to you Dr. Mankan. I know that while you were serving as a navy reservist you deployed to Kosovo, and I want to thank you for that service very much. Kosovo is important to me personally, but also to the state of Iowa as well. Iowa's National Guard and Kosovo worked together through the state partnership program, a program that was started to strengthen our security in that region after the fall of the Soviet Union. I believe it is a great, great program with a lot of impact in that area, and last year I was pleased that my efforts ensured the program was permanently authorized and going forward I want to make sure that it is properly funded. To you then, Dr. Mahnken, would you agree that we need to ensure our budget properly funds programs like the National Guard state Partnership Program, and then if you could, in regards to Kosovo specifically, can you talk about how important it is to have those relationships in that area for their own security?

MAHNKEN: Thank You, senator, and good, good, good cash on my bio. That seems like a lifetime ago, but I do appreciate you bringing- bringing that back. Look, I do think that the programs like that are very important, and I think they're- they really leverage expertise in the Reserve Component, and they also build enduring- enduring relationships. I think one of the problems that we've encountered, one of the challenges that’s come with our operational deployment pattern over the last 15 years is a lot of habitual relationships have been disrupted. I mean traditionally it wasn't just National Guard, but special forces we relied upon to develop habitual relationships with partner militaries across the world, and in an era when for good reason though so many of those relationships have been disrupted and things like that, the National Guard partnerships really have- have filled a key role. And I think going forward, establishing and maintaining those relationships with- with, not just our allies but our partners, is going to be all the more important so I'm fully behind programs like that.

ERNST: Thank you very much, and I know, Dr. Korb, you had stated that we do need to involve more partners, and I think this is a way of developing some of those partnerships with nations that really share a lot of our same values as well. Do you have any input on that?

KORB: Well I do, and I think Dr. Mahnken pointed out this is very critical. We're not in this alone. The threats that we face are global, and we work with, you know, various countries at different times. When at the beginning of the Obama administration, the United States work with Russia to allow our supplies to go through Russia to go to Afghanistan, so there are areas that, you know, we can work on. We had arms control agreements going back to the- back to the Nixon to the- to the Nixon administration. The other thing I think is important to keep in mind is that the National Guard and the- and the reserves are not just strategic their operational, and I have fought that for years to get it funded, in fact, before this committee General Kane and I almost came to blows one time when he objected to my, you know, to my- to my- to my saying that. And I think that's so critical because it is a total force, and as we found out during the war- during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even today, those spokes can add to the capacity that we that we have.

ERNST: Yeah, thank you very much. And- and Dr. Mahnken just very briefly, I've got about a minute left, you're the author of a book entitled strategy in Asia, and one of my greatest concerns is the Islamic State and its spread into Southeast Asia. If- if you could talk a little bit about our- our forces and how you would say we should budget and prepare those forces to deal with issues like ISIS in Southeast Asia.

MAHNKEN: Well I think that's I think that's just one area where we have some very strong partners and including non-allies but but countries like Singapore Malaysia and others. I think of by and large been doing a very good job by, you know, bolstering the, you know, the identity of their citizens and hardening their citizens against influences by groups like ISIL ,so I think working with partners is absolutely key. I think we can play a role. I think largely that role is- is behind the scenes supportive and I think that's- that's as it should be, but as I look at the kind of global campaign against ISIL, Southeast Asia still remains I think largely- largely success story and I want it to remain that way.

ERNST: Fantastic. Thank you gentlemen, very much. Thank you Mr. Chair.