Sedalia, MO—At a press conference today at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, commented on the likelihood for increased violence in Iraq in the period leading to the mid-September assessment of the surge by GEN David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

            “It is very likely that we will see a Tet-like offensive in Iraq by insurgents in the period before General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker report to the Congress in mid-September. Despite the great efforts of our American military, the violence in Iraq remains at a high level and additional attacks, against American forces and Iraqi civilians, would be disturbing and tragic.

            “However, it is critical that Congress assess the September report based on the bigger picture.  We must have an honest and thorough assessment of Iraqi political progress and the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces to take over security responsibilities.  Congress must use that assessment to make an informed judgment on the way forward.  I remain deeply skeptical of the Iraqi government’s ability to bring about the political reconciliation that would allow for real progress in Iraq.

            “In the absence of real progress, we must begin the responsible redeployment of American combat forces from Iraq and the transition to a more limited set of missions.  This redeployment must be carefully planned so as to protect American forces and our enduring national interests in Iraq and in the region.”