Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement on President Obama’s plan to redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq:

 “I was pleased to attend the White House briefing to learn about the President’s proposal for a safe and responsible drawdown of American forces from Iraq. President Obama has an excellent national security team around him, led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

 “The President’s plan balances the benefits of reducing our presence in Iraq with the need to do so deliberately and responsibly. By drawing down troops, we will reduce the strain on our military, free up resources for Afghanistan and other priorities, and support the Iraqi government. Redeployment must be done in a way that assures the safety of U.S. forces during the draw down and provides for the return of critical U.S. military equipment. Given America’s enduring national security interests in the region, the President’s plan to gradually shift the mission of American troops will ensure that we have sufficient forces to continue the training of Iraq’s security force, to provide force protection for American personnel and facilities, and to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions. 

 “I commend the President for this bold decision on our Iraq policy. As I have argued for years, we must restore our focus to the Afghanistan theater to ensure that no attack on our homeland can be launched from there again. I look forward to working with the administration to ensure the effective implementation of this plan.”