Washington, DC -- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement on the President’s plan to reduce force levels in Iraq by approximately 8,000 troops over the next six months:

 “The President’s plan to reduce force levels in Iraq may seem to signal movement in the right direction, but it really defers troop reductions until the next administration.  More significant troop reductions in Iraq are needed so that we can start to rebuild U.S. military readiness and provide the additional forces needed to finish the fight in Afghanistan. 
 “Our troops in Iraq are doing a magnificent job, making it possible for the Iraqi people to build the foundations for their new government.  But Iraq cannot continue to overshadow other critical U.S. security needs. 

 “The al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 found safe haven in Afghanistan, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has testified that another potential attack on our nation would most likely originate from this volatile region.  The effort in Afghanistan must move to the forefront and once again become our top priority.”