tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg February 17, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EST
charlie: ash carter has spent more than three decades steeped in the world of defense and technology. he is now the public face of the campaign against isis in iraq and syria. u.s. policy has come under scrutiny and carter has had to defend it. i sat down with him earlier today for a wide-ranging conversation. we talked about u.s. strategy, the role of technology, his goals for leaving office, and more.
mr. secretary, you said in a speech recently that the u.s. faces a dramatically different thanity environment anytime in the last 12 years. to confront an array of threats like the islamic state and russia and you are no longer able to focus on one threat at a time. i would like to walk through those threats if we may. what is the biggest threat today? >> all five of them are large. all five of them have to be countered. so we do not have the luxury of deciding one has a higher priority over the other. the counter isil fight calls upon counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities right now. as we look ahead to longer term competitive situations, with other countries where we do not expect to have a war, don't want
to have a war, but have to deter them by showing that any work they do get into with the united states they will regret. and in ahina, russia, somewhat lesser way, iran. in those cases we have to plan for an enemy that is more high-tech than isil, for a longer area of time -- longer period of time than we expect from isil. we expect to be in a relationship with china and russia for the long-term. we have to do it all which is why a budget of almost $600 billion -- what the president requested on behalf of the department of defense is a lot of money. needs tot the country defend itself and make a better world for the children. charlie: we will talk about the budget later and about russia and china. isil, tell me what is happening
on the ground in syria. right now inil syria, we are working with forces in the northern and eastern part and the southern part of syria who have the objective of fighting isil. objective is to take the city of -- remember charlie, that is the city that isil calls the so-called capital of its so-called caliphate. it is important that we recapture that that we collapse isil's control of that city and with it the myth that there can be a state based upon a ideology.-- barbaric on the other side of that story in the very near term, we need to destroy isil. a key objective will be the city
of mosul. if you are thinking in terms of -- the old world war ii newsreels with arrows on a map, if you are thinking of iraq and syria, which is where you have to start, that is what i call the cancer, the parent tumor in iraq and syria. we need to destroy it everywhere around the world that we need to defeat it in iraq and syria, which means the two biggest cities occupied by isil, we will separate them from each other and capture both of them. charlie: you believe that you can do that within the term remaining for the obama administration? sec. carter: we will do it as soon as possible. we are aiming to accelerate it in every possible way. charlie: do you think you can? sec. carter: i am very reluctant to predict the course of a war.
but as is our objective. i would like to get it done and i also know that president obama wants to have this behind us by the time he leaves office. we're working on that objective in iraq and syria. we have now a plan, an operational, military campaign to do that. charlie: what has happened in the last three weeks in aleppo. there are a lot of people looking at syria saying, the russians have done everything that they said they wanted to do, they provided air support for bashar al-assad. he is now on the verge of retaking aleppo. what does that say about the russians, assad, and the future of the conflict if assad is stronger than he was before the russians. sec. carter: what it says about
the russians is that they did ria to fighto sy isil as they said. that is not what they have been doing. assadave been supporting and fueling the civil war. they gave birth to extremism, on., al nusra, and so the russians are headed in the wrong direction from the point of view of fighting isil and protecting their own interests. from a humanitarian point of view, they are being very clumsy because their actions have the effect of displacing a lot of people. that is one of the reasons why secretary kerry has been so intent on getting humanitarian aide restored to that area. the russians who should be working with us to defeat isil, and we would welcome
that as i have brought in many countries from around the world to join in the campaign. most recently, saudi arabia who rejoined the air campaign. that is not what they are doing. they are doing exactly the opposite of what they said they would do. charlie: won't it make it much more difficult to find a kerrytion, a john negotiated transition feel sont, if assad much stronger that the russians allowed him to make so many military advances? >> their support for bashar al-assad rather than make a political settlement to end the civil war is prolonging the civil war. that is a serious mistake on the side of the russians. the outcome that the syrian
people need but we also need is this -- one in which bashar al-assad himself steps aside. the structures of the syrian state remain because we do not want complete chaos there and those parts of the regime that are not associated with assad as a person, and the moderate opposition come together and create a government that can give people a decent future. russia could be part of creating that political future. sec. carter: -- charlie: has the united states failed to create a strong, vigorous, anti-assad force? they fail to find it that kind of military on the ground? >> we have supported moderate opposition forces.
our approach has been a political one. that approach is one that secretary kerry is supporting. we have not joined the civil war there, we are operating on the ground in syria and in the air in order to protect our interest. ally, to defeat isaiah. -- isil. our approach to the civil war is that it should be ended politically. that is what secretary kerry has been working on. the russians could contribute to that success but instead they are doing the opposite. charlie: how risky is a conflict between russia and turkey? sec. carter: turkey is an old and valued ally of ours, they are a member of nato, they participate in the coalition to defeat isil. they and the russians have a number of disputes.
nato ingly stand with the defense of its own territory. we would prefer that the russians were working with the turks or with us against isil rather than starting fights with them but it is just another way that the russians are off track. for the turks, they are good friends of ours and are doing a lot against isil. we would like them to do more and participate more, but again, the russian conduct is not helpful in that regard that we stand clearly with the turks. >> staying with the russians, anti-assadly hitting rebel forces rather than isis forces? sec. carter: every once in a while they strike isis forces but it has been very rare.
the great majority of russian strikes has not been against isil but that is why they said they would come in. that was the big lie at work saying they would do one thing and doing something completely different. they also are not using precision bombs. charlie: so there is collateral damage. sec. carter: very few of them and that is not the way that we do business at all. charlie: the pentagon and you and the chairman of the joint chiefs really want to see stepped up activity against isis in syria. what is the strategy that you have to a cop was the goals that you have outlined? >> you are absolutely right. andral dumb furred and i more importantly president obama would like to get this done and accelerate the campaign. i want to point out that every dunford and i have
come to the president with a request to do more to accelerate the defeat of isil he has said yes. charlie: the president has not been reluctant to increase our effort against isis at all? he has been fully supportive evidence -- of everything that you and general dunford have recommended? sec. carter: i would go for them that. using is encouraging us to look for opportunities to do more. i say opportunities because our strategy is let me take iraq first, is to enable the iraqi security forces. that is a process that involves training them, equipping them and when they go to battle helping to make them successful as we did in ramadi. why is that the strategic approach? capableit takes
motivated -- motivated local forces that we know from experience in iraq and afghanistan to take territory, hold territory, and govern territory and prevent the reemergence. charlie: only locals can provide the maintaining and keeping? sec. carter: we cannot substitute for them but we can enable them and help them. we are constantly looking for ways to do that. so just in the last few months to give you an indication, we have introduced some additional strike forces in the region. charlie: what does that mean? sec. carter: some special forces capable of doing raids and strikes and assisting the iraqi innterterrorism forces striking isil targets. these are special
forces being used on offense admissions to strike isis. >> we announce that about a month and half ago. charlie: that is an a couple of boots on the ground? sec. carter: it is. there are 3700 boots on the ground. so what are they doing? they are training iraqi forces, they are assisting iraqi forces and helping train the sunni -- they are helping train the police because after a city is have to the police secure the city and keep the order. they are helping the iraqis with all kinds of things that are interesting -- that may not sound interesting but are critically important. bridges and helping with their air force. charlie: they are also engaged in search and destroy? sec. carter: they are. charlie: is there a limit in terms of how many forces -- if
we have 3700 now, is 4500 a ceiling? sec. carter: we do not think that way. we are looking for ways to do more. every time we see a way that we can accelerate movement of the iraqi forces with our help, northward from ramadi to mosul -- every time we find an opportunity to do that, we will ask the president. if it makes sense i'm sure the president will say yes. we are looking for those opportunities. we are doing more and more on cyber in iraq and syria. charlie: is it your understanding that isil would like indo more overseas paris? sec. carter: i'm sure that they would. i take them at their word and that is the reason we cannot delay.
to find every opportunity to hasten the lasting defeat of isil. i am confident that we will do that but we are looking for ways to accelerate. charlie: are you saying to me that what happened in paris accelerated the notion that we have to do everything we can to stop isil now? but when you recognize their blueprint was to extend their own force beyond the middle east. charlie: for us the urgency of defeating isil has been evident. i know from my conversations with president obama, what paris did do is galvanize european opinion. that is important as they have a big role to play. first, they can help us in iraq and syria. the italians do a lot of the training of iraqi police.
it is really important because the police are the ones who will keep those cities orderly after isil is expelled from them. we need the europeans. , andca is willing to lead we will lead, but it is important. i have said this very bluntly to our overseas partners, there cannot be any free writers here. everybody needs to get in the game. charlie: are they prepared to yourn the game after conversations with some of them in brussels and all of the phone calls that you made to the secretary of defense and defense ministers in the other countries? as acarter: last week, result of my -- maybe pestering them, but as a result of their own set experience in places like paris and their long experience of american leadership, 90% of the members
of the coalition who have been militarily active have agreed to do more. there are a number who have not done anything at all -- charlie: that means training and troops on the ground? sec. carter: all of the above. charlie: the emirates have promised to put troops on the ground in syria? sec. carter: the emirates, in particular, all three of the things you named. they will work with us in our special forces in iraq and syria. they will contribute airpower. and -- you mentioned money, money is not insignificant. somebody will have to rebuild the city of ramadi. charlie: the saudi's and the emirates are prepared to do that? sec. carter: what i did when i sat down with them is to say this is everything in the campaign plan. there is plenty to do here and you need to find -- i will help you find the things that your
capacity to make them, and the capacity to use them. can you tell me more? sec. carter: i cannot tell you a lot more, -- i don't want to get into intelligence matters, but isil occupies a considerable part of iraqi territory. therefore, there are people there and industrial facilities there that could contribute to -- it depends what you mean by but there isons, the chemistry that could be used for harmful purposes there. we have seen evidence of that from time to time, we have struck wherever we have seen that kind of -- charlie: the use of some kind of chemical weapon? sec. carter: no, not use, any kind of indication of interest. charlie: we have not seen the music yet? sec. carter: no not yet.
charlie: but they have the capability? sec. carter: no not even -- i will at the director leave that but it is something that we watch very closely and take action against. but remember, isil has to lots of nasty, brutal things. this is a group that we have to defeat and defeat quickly. charlie: what do you expect you might find in mosul? if you are able to retake the soon? what it is like to live under isil. who carter: the people escape or get information out say that it is very brutal and dysfunctional. a form of government. they do not keep the place running well. the way that they keep control is with extreme brutality. i think we will find a sul eagern in mo
to be governed in a different way. to as we envelop of city, to have some form resistance there. that is a city that is four times the size of ramadi. charlie: a crucial element in that war against isil are sunni tribes. are they coming over to the battle against isis? or are they still staying on the sidelines? sec. carter: more and more they are coming over to the fight. we are doing significant training, both of sunni army members, and sunni policeman.
it is important that it happened raq has the bane of i been sectarianism. charlie: the civil war between the sunni and shia. sec. carter: and the kurds, for that matter. there are three components to iraq. we vastly prefer a multi-sectarian iraqi state to any form of disintegration because we know where that leads. sectarianism leads to the kind of thing that isil represents. but for that to work in iraq, the sunni's must be represented and part of the fight to take back their own territory. charlie: does the iraqi government recognize that? are they agreeing? do they understand that the previous prime minister drove them away? sec. carter: we certainly understand -- you are speaking sectarianism,d
and thereby directly contributed to the birth of isil. the current prime minister, a hdi, does govern and a multi-sectarian way. hasells us that and he challenges governing a dead because there are these three factions. we work with them to work with all three of these factions. is alternative which sectarian division -- we know when that leads. charlie: let's talk about the iranians, what is their goal in iraq and syria, and how much of precipitation are shia militia and the iranian militia participating in the war in iraq and hezzbollah participating in syria? seeks toer: iran
expand its regional influence in all kinds of ways. you have seen them in yemen, lebanon. that is a serious concern to us. it is one of the major commitments that we have in the middle east, in addition to the defeat of isil, is to check iranian maligned influence their. you ask about militia in iraq, this is why it is so important that it be the iraqi army, not militia. charlie: but the militia has played a role. sec. carter: yes, but that is why it is so important that not they, but the iraqi army retook ramadi. charlie: have you noticed any change in iranian behavior since the nuclear deal with iran was accomplished? sec. carter: we certainly --iced their behavior
carrying out the terms of the nuclear deal. charlie: though the behavior was not part of it, there are those and secretary kerry was one of them, who hoped that because of the relationship, there would be some change in their behavior. sec. carter: it was an arrangement that was good for the united states because it took care of one very serious namely theiriran, nuclear weapons program. forgot -- provided they abide by it. we will see whether they are. so far they are. do we have any influence with respect to their behavior? to combat their support of terrorism? sec. carter: there is a lot that we do to check their behavior. their activities in the persian gulf. we support our friends and allies, especially israel, to
deter iranian aggression. we have tens of thousands of u.s. forces in the region, there not just for the defeat of isil, but for deterrents and to check iranian maligned influence. the iran nuclear agreement places no limits on the united states. certainly not on us, in the department of defense. we are full speed ahead with everything we are doing in the gulf to deter iranian either agression or maligned activity. sec. carter: the iranians are in isil. any collaboration? charlie: -- sec. carter: the iranians are a little bit like the russians were in principle if they would actually take on isil and not fuel sectarianism, or civil war
-- in some hypothetical sense, you would think that an enemy like isil, who is certainly against them, that they would be against. they do not seem to be behaving that way. their principal occupation seems to be fueling sectarianism in iraq which will fail, but to the extent that they promote it, it makes it harder and slower to defeat isil. we will be on the winning side here. we will defeat isil. the united states will lead the winning side so everybody in that region looking around and wondering when it is all over -- they are all asking themselves this question, charlie. what is the chessboard going to look like when the isil piece is gone? they all need to understand that we will remember -- we will be
on the winning side and we will remember who contributed and who did not. we are not out to do people favors. we are not asking for anyone to do us favors either but people need to act in their own long-term interests. : you are saying tor whom, what? sec. carter: anybody on the sidelines, you need to get in the game. the russians, who are not contribute in and are causing more problems, that will come back to get them. the russians have a very nasty experience in afghanistan and chechnya. charlie: everybody looks to russia as though they had -- this has been a win-win for them. they are a player, they have supported assad, he is in a much better position.
which retake aleppo, could block some of the transmission from within syria to outside. people look at what putin has done and said, he has been a master strategist in the way he has played the weekend -- weak hand. sec. carter: where does that strategy lead? it is leading to the prolongation of the civil war in syria, which is not in russia's interest. charlie: it is if you makes assad stronger so that they can negotiate something from a better position and create -- sec. carter: what the russians should have done from the beginning is use whatever influence they have with bashar al-assad to get him to step aside. maybe they will do that in the future. that is not the way they have -- the russians have been way off track since the very beginning.
they are not doing what is in their interest to do in terms of fighting isil. sec. carter: there -- someie: there must be communication to avoid a catastrophe. sec. carter: secretary kerry has been in touch with the russians every day. charlie: i'm not talking about secretary diplomacy i'm talking about ash carter and the russian defense minister in charge of russian military. sec. carter: we have communication between our two apartments. it is very professional. it makes sure that our military actions don't conflict and that we don't come into military conflict with one another as the russians do what they are doing which is unfortunately not connected with our campaign against isil. charlie: is some of this action
taking the pressure off of russia and the ukraine? sec. carter: it certainly has not from the american point of view. the europeans -- i was just in europe last week, they are all as concerned as they were last year about russian conduct and this is important because you asked me about the budget earlier. charlie, i came up in this business during the cold war. i remember -- i have been dealing with the russians for a very long time. after the soviet union ended, there was a long period of time where, in the department of defense, thinking about russia as a competitor was not something that we had to do. happened inhat ukraine a year and a half ago, it is quite clear that as long
as vladimir putin is running the country, and has the intentions that he says he has, we are going to have a competitor in russia. that has meant for us in defens e, and for the europeans and nato, having to create a new pla ybook, that we have not had for a quarter century. one of territorial defense, aggressionagainst from russia into europe. not just by traditional means but hybrid warfare, the little green men kind of phenomena. charlie: how do we meet the challenge of little green men? sec. carter: two ways. you help the societies to harden themselves, the ones that are particularly affected by it. that means their border controls, intelligence sharing, cyber protection, protection of critical infrastructure so that
they are not as easily subverted as the ukraine two years ago, and secondly, it is by stiffening the nato response. this budget, which we are submitting now, quadruples are spending on european presence and posture. heavy putting in equipment into eastern europe. now, notting forces in on a permanent basis, but a persistent rotational basis. there will be a lot more american troops in coming years than there were in past years. we are doing a lot and sadly the russian conduct in europe and elsewhere makes that necessary. charlie: they are a bigger and stronger competitor? sec. carter: they are somewhat
bigger and somewhat stronger but in recent years they have turned more truculent, more backward looking. that is easy for me to say and i do not call the shots but i don't think that is in the long-term interest of the russian people. but he seems to be headed in a direction of self isolation where he does not care about the economic penalties associated , that is isolation what he is doing. our approach is a strong one. we need to be strong. charlie: keep the sanctions? sec. carter: yeah. charlie: let me talk about china . what is their intent and what do we intend to do if their intent crosses a line? said thatr: they have
they have claim to the territorial seas and the south china seas. they are not the only ones. the philippines, vietnam, and malaysia who have long-standing claims to this part of the south china sea. of them have done but china most aggressively is first of all take land features that were not islands and put a dredging machine and try to create an island, creating a de for themselves. the chinese are not the only ones doing that. position is that we do not take a legal position , we don't think people ought to militarize features. and what are the effects of the chinese? two major effects.
react,e causing us to and we are making big investments in that. the military capabilities that allow us to be the pivotal military power. charlie: we are doing everything necessary to be the pivotal military power in china's numeral -- neighborhood? sec. carter: yes, but it is not china's neighborhood, it is everybody's neighborhood. this is our half of the region lives. we are a pacific power, as is japan, as is south korea. all of these are our friends and allies. so the chinese behavior is having an effect on the united , and we will continue to
be the pivotal military power there. the effect ofng turning everyone who might be ,illing to work with china insecurity terms, and turning them against china. in addition to having the predominant military power, we have all the friends and allies. and many more wanting to do more with us. charlie: can they be confident that we will come to their side of china threatens them? sec. carter: if they are treating allies, may have that written in to our treaties. we have treaties with the number of allies over there. look at our military capabilities in the investments they will see our determination to keep that role.
in keeping that role, china like russia, is a country i have worked with a lot over the years. i've many friends in the chinese military and i am not one of these people that believes that conflict with china is inevitable or likely. desirable.inly not but there is a tendency in part we need to not only be an important part of the region, we need to dominate the region. impulse that the united states naturally will provide a counterweight to. charlie: you are saying to the chinese, we will not let you dominate in the region. sec. carter: that is not the
american approach, not to dominate either. the system that we have promoted for security and commerce in asia for 70 years is one in andh everyone gets to rise prosper. think about the history in which japan recovered from world war ii and became a great economic powerhouse, and south korea, then taiwan, then southeast asia. today china and india. what was the security anchor under that? it has been the little role of the united states. role that we intend to continue to play. if the chinese think about it, they know that is the environment that china has fromn to find its own way
just to finish the thought, that somebodyns who starts a conflict with you will regret that they did so. our military power is part of the way that we underwrite that threat and with respect to those four, deterrents is something we have to invest in everyday. -- we have an, expression in defense, and the slogan of u.s. forces in korea is "fight tonight." it doesn't mean we want to, it means we have to be ready every night. you asked about syria, iraq, russia, china -- all of these are in the headlines. north korea occasionally gets in the headlines but for us here, , we stand watch on the dmz, and stand alert
against north korean aggression. charlie: what is their potential ? that canave missiles carry a nuclear warhead to the west coast of america? sec. carter: they clearly have nuclear warheads and have tested them, but there are working on ballistic missiles. you saw them launch a small satellite into orbit. they are working to operationalize missiles of various ranges that have nuclear capability. it's precisely because you ask if you areon that able to operationalize an icbm with a nuclear payload, capable of reaching the united states,
we will have defensive interceptors capable enough and numerous enough to intercept them. charlie: let me ask you a couple questions about technology. encryption. is that a real problem for you that technology companies in theirn valley so encrypt devices that even if you wanted to have access, you cannot. sec. carter: that is a problem for law enforcement, but you began by saying is it a problem? defenseas secretary of and for the country as a whole, encryption is a good thing. network security is a good thing. my top priority -- we have lots of stuff we are doing in cyber. that is one of the areas we are greatly increasing our investment this year, the job one in cyber is to defend our own networks, in part by
encryption. good encryption is good for defense. charlie: that's good for your own networks. one but the fact that there are devices being used by people who wish us no good and in fact wish , are able to encrypt their own devices and law enforcement people do not have access. can you do things about that? sec. carter: there are things we can do and i will name two. are working to nevertheless have access to that kind of information. says, it isapple encrypted and we cannot help you. what do you say? sec. carter: i'm not talking about apple now. within our own intelligence system we have other ways of getting that same intelligence. thereespect to companies, is a situation and you and i have talked about this before where i am trying to build
bridges between us and tech companies. i don't expect them to do things to compromise their business position or international but i dove position, want enough of a bridge to the worksector that we can toward common solutions to common problems. that will not always be possible and i don't expect the days of the distant past when i first started out in this area but i healthy the relationship between us and the high-tech sector is necessary. most people in the technology that problemsand of the kind we have been talking about all the way around the world -- the things that they care about, prosperity and
freedom, cannot live without security. second, they are people who are distance makers. they want to do things of tonsequence and they know tha protecting our people and creating something of a better world is something of consequence. what you cannot ask them to do is to compromise their own business. that is why it is the a give and take. i do not give lectures. i tried to engage people, work with them so we can find wherever possible common solutions to common problems. sec. carter: with respect -- charlie: with respect to people in the military and people in the department of defense, you are trying to reform this place. you have extended maternity leave, to 12 weeks now? sec. carter: yeah. charlie: what else are you doing
to say to americans, this is a good place to come and work? sec. carter: reform sounds like we are doing something wrong. let me say that in the case of people we are doing something right. we have the finest fighting force the world has ever known because we have the best people. force, soll volunteer i have to compete with the economy for the best americans and i have to think ahead, how do i compete and make us an attractive place to be? i need to constantly look for the future. so why does that take the to maternity leave? it takes me there because we know that female service members are leaving our service at the 10 year point where the most proficient have shown how good they are, and one of the reasons they are leaving is to start a family. if i can retain some of those good people by making changes
that are reasonable, that we can afford to make, that don't get in the way of readiness and so forth, so that i can compete with those people, i want to compete for those people. elsewhere, the reform where it does apply -- there are some areas, acquisition is one, where i have battled for a long time to make our acquisition system more efficient. we have areas where we are too bloated. there is some reform to be done but in the people area it is a matter of keeping a wonderful strength, the all volunteer force, in a competitive labor market. charlie: when republicans say that our military has been weakened because we have not budgeted well, which is a congressional responsibility,
you say, what? do you say that yes we have real problems in terms of what our budget has been? do you say our military is as strong as it has ever been? sec. carter: i say two things. youy this again and again, begin your question -- i will get to the budget i posing it in terms of the presidential campaign. ash carter as secretary of defense, this institution, it is partimportant that we be a from the political process. that is our tradition. so i will not anticipate in any way, and nobody in this department will participate in any political debate. i want to make that clear. charlie: that said, as a journalistic question. sec. carter: your journalistic -- then about the budget
budget agreement was a product of a high partisan budget agreement. it was something i was calling for for a long time, instead of closing gun the government every year, having partisan gridlock, can we have a budget agreement in which republicans, democrats, house, senate, administration, congress come together. all the parts of the budget. it is not just defense, there are parts of the discretionary budget. the discretionary is just a piece. there are the taxes, the mandatory spending part. this year we got a budget deal of that sort. that is the basis on which i submitted the defense budget. we submitted the budget that we were given in that deal. bipartisan deals in washington -- everybody does not get everything they wanted. we did not get everything we
wanted. charlie: did you get everything you needed? sec. carter: we have managed to adjust to where we didn't get everything we needed to change. we need to continue to do what we need to do. the main thing that we are doing, the main determination that i have, has less to do with the overall size than the shape of our military. the shape is aimed toward the future, toward the threats we will face tomorrow and to make sure we stay the best, while also dealing with the things we have to deal with immediately like defeating isil. charlie: thank you for your time, secretary carter. sec. carter: thanks. ♪
john: i'm john heilemann. mark: and i'm mark halperin. "with all due respect" to chris christie -- he's baa-aack. ♪ john: hey chris christie, if you are still listening, we love you man. i am in columbia, south carolina, where my friend mark is in charleston. as expected, the race in south carolina has become the political equivalent of a ufc match, without the rule of hitting below the belt. our poll of republican voters , hot off the digital presses, may explain why.