Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement concerning the President’s speech on troop levels in Iraq: 

 “Longer deployments have caused a lot of good people to leave the Army, so I’m glad that the President has decided to reduce active duty Army deployments from 15 to 12 months.  This is good news for soldiers and for Army families who are under enormous strain, but I fear this step does not go far enough to repair the readiness problems confronting our Army. 

 Just yesterday, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, General Richard Cody, told the House Armed Services Committee that our Army is out of balance and that the demand for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the sustainable supply. Our people do not have enough recovery time between deployments. 

 By bringing down the number of troops after the surge, we are making a virtue of a necessity because we simply don’t have ready troops available to maintain those force levels.  The President’s decision to adopt an open-ended pause in further redeployments from Iraq will make it even more difficult for us to restore military readiness and deal with other urgent national security needs, including the need to bolster our efforts in Afghanistan.

 With the lives and the heroic efforts of our troops, we have tried to buy time for the Iraqis to bring their country together through reconciliation.  Unfortunately, the Iraqis have failed to take advantage of this opportunity and little progress is apparent.  It would help if we could turn over more security to the Iraqis so we could redeploy our troops. In the meantime, our Army has become overstretched and becomes more overextended with each passing day.  We cannot afford to take on more strategic risk to buy more time for a government uninterested in reconciliation.”