WASHINGTON, DC –  House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement praising Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plan to increase the size of the Army by 22,000 troops: 

            "Even before 9/11, I advocated increasing the size of the Army.  Today, Army forces are stretched thin after almost eight years of continuous combat operations.  Although I am humbled by the dedication to duty and love of country demonstrated by those who wear our nation’s uniform, I am deeply concerned that the demands we place upon our service members will wear them out. 

            "While Congress has authorized increasing the size of the military for several consecutive years, I commend Secretary Gates for accelerating plans to increase the size of the Army.  This important step will help reduce the strain on the overall force and help address readiness concerns more quickly than we had anticipated.  It is the right thing to do.

            "In spite of the challenges our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines face, they always make us proud.  I hope to emulate their commitment as I work with Secretary Gates, the Administration, and my colleagues in Congress to take care of the service members and their families whose daily sacrifices keep America safe."