Washington, DC – In a letter to the Secretary of Defense, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton expressed concerns about Army readiness and questioned the Pentagon about its preparations to fully train and equip the National Guard brigade combat teams which were recently alerted that they would deploy to Iraq later this year. A copy of Skelton’s letter to Secretary Gates is attached below:

April 10, 2007


The Honorable Robert M. Gates

Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As you know, I am very concerned about Army readiness. Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee has confirmed that the Army is under enormous stress and strain because of frequent deployments to Iraq. Our non-deployed forces are facing serious readiness challenges as well.

Yesterday, the Department of Defense announced that four National Guard brigade combat teams consisting of over 12,000 soldiers would deploy in December 2007 as replacement forces for formations currently operating in Iraq. Thus, I ask the following questions: What is the Department doing to ensure that these National Guard brigade combat teams are fully trained for the full range of missions they will be asked to perform, especially counter-insurgency tasks, and what is the Department doing to ensure that these forces have all the equipment required for force protection and other mission essential tasks?

Recent news reports also indicate that you are considering a request from General Petraeus, the Commander in Iraq, to extend by four months the deployments of five brigades that are currently scheduled to return home later this summer. If these reports are accurate, I want to express my concerns about the effect these proposed deployment extensions will have on overall Army readiness and morale, as well as the morale of our service members’ families.

I write this letter to you with the highest respect and affection for the American soldier. This is a sentiment that I know you share. But I must ask you, Mr. Secretary, where does this end?

Very truly yours,