Hunter: “The Days of Our Military’s Lightning Strikes In Iraq Are Over”

Mar 21, 2007
Press Release

Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988  

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, today criticized House Democrats for attempting to destroy the American military’s quick strike capability in Iraq.  The Democrat leadership’s controversial War Supplemental spending bill forces a fifteen-day “notify and hold” restriction on any American military unit deploying into Iraq, including IED detection and removal specialists, bomb squads, special medical units and close air support.

Hunter’s statement follows:

Today, the House of Representatives debated a war spending bill, which is supposed to make emergency money available for our military to prosecute the global war on terror.  It is designed to provide Congressional support for our brave men and women in uniform who are defending our nation, protecting freedom and taking the fight to the terrorists.

However, this bill suffers from a fatal flaw: it requires our military leaders to submit to Congress written notification of any unit deployment into Iraq at least 15 days in advance of that deployment.  This is an unreasonable restriction on our commanders and limits their flexibility to respond to the exigencies of the battlefield.  It mandates a delay that, to my knowledge, no nation has never before levied on its military for the sole purpose of notifying politicians in that nation’s capital.

Most damaging of all, it destroys the American military quick response capability.   Let’s think about what a 15-day delay would have meant in the beginning of our engagement in Iraq. 

Within 15 days of entering Iraq in 2003, Tommy Franks’ lightning-quick forces had reached Saddam International Airport on the outskirts of western Baghdad. 

They had already worked with British forces to capture the port of Um Qasr. 

The U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade and special operations troops had already established cooperation with Kurds in the north to call in airstrikes. 

The 101st Airborne Division had begun securing Najaf.

And less than a week later, Baghdad fell.

U.S. forces can accomplish a lot in 15 days. 

In requiring advance notification of deployments, this legislation inserts Congress right into the middle of the military chain of command.  Some politicians may point out that this bill allows the President to waive the limitation placed on military commanders.  However, congressional lawyers note that, as written, this additional paperwork drill would only waive the funding limitation associated with the original notice.  It does not obviate the requirement to submit that original notification.

The practical result?  Every time that a military commander on the ground in Iraq wants a specialized team—say, for example, to dispose of Improvised Explosive Devices—he will need to wait for Washington.  Whenever he wants to call in a specialized medical unit to help with the day-to-day realities of enemy fire, he must first inform politicians.  If he wants to request much-needed combat reinforcements or logistics support, he must remember to route that request through the halls of Congress.

The practical result is that the highly mobile, highly skilled units of the U.S. military—such as the 82nd Airborne and the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Units—are hamstrung.  And the days of “lightning strikes” are over.

This fatal flaw alone is enough to justify voting no on this resolution.


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