Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) addressed the U.S. House of Representatives today during consideration of H.R. 3159, Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Act of 2007.
This legislation, which would mandate a minimum period of rest and recuperation for members of the Armed Forces between deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom, was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 229 to194, with 2 voting present. Skelton’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are attached:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3159, introduced by my colleague on the House Armed Services Committee, Ellen Tauscher, and other members of the House.
"Mr. Speaker, our troops and their families are stressed and under enormous pressure. Yesterday, USA Today published an article entitled “Stress of War Hits Army Kids Hard.” The article, sadly, was about the increasing number of child abuse and neglect cases among deployed Army families. The article quotes Amy Lambert, an Army wife living at Fort Stewart, Georgia. She states, “I firmly believe that more time at home between deployments would be the most beneficial solution.” I think that quotes sums up the reason we’re here and why this bill is before the House today.
“Our troops and their families are tired. They are being stressed by the continued and extended deployments, it is time for Congress to take a stand on behalf of our families and say in a clear, unequivocal voice that it is time that service members have a minimum dwell time between deployments.
“This bill would require that active component units and members be provided at least the same time at home as they are deployed, and it would also require that reserve and National Guardsmen who are called to deploy are given at least three times the amount of time at home as they are deployed. This proposed minimum period of deployment is less than the Department’s own goal, which provides that active duty service members should be deployed for one year with two years back in home station, and reservists and Guardsmen should have five years between deployments. The Army recently implemented a policy that requires active duty units to deploy for 15 months and only spend 12 months back at their home station. This is a troubling sign since the time back at home station is used to reset, retrain, and re-equip forces.
“Service members and their families are entitled to a predictable and stable time between deployments. Congress needs to step up on behalf of our troops and their families and say enough is enough. We need to hold the Department accountable to their own policies and protect the readiness of our forces. We have a moral responsibility to our troops to ensure that their quality of life is reflective of the sacrifices that we ask them to make. We need to ensure that our active forces have at least the same amount of time deployed that they have back home with their families, and that our citizen-soldiers have at least three times the amount home as they do deployed.
“This bill is also about our national security and its readiness and strategic risk. This bill will help to ensure that our military can deal not only with Iraq, where they have been serving remarkably under extraordinarily difficult conditions for four years, but wherever the next conflict is. Our force must have adequate time to train if it is to be prepared. And, in this exceptional all-volunteer force, we must keep our retention levels up if we are to ensure that our military will be able to succeed both now and in the next fight.
“H.R. 3159 is a step in the right direction and I urge my colleagues to stand with us in support of our troops and their families.”