WASHINGTON, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives approved H. Con. Res. 63, a resolution disapproving the decision of the President to deploy more than 20,000 additional U.S. combat troops to Iraq:


            “This week’s extended debate on our nation’s Iraq war policy showed the world how our democracy empowers elected representatives to give voice to the concerns of the people they represent.  I commend the Speaker and the Majority Leader for making it possible for members of the House to express their views so that Congress may influence the direction of U.S. policy in Iraq.


            “Well before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, I worried about our nation’s plan for Iraq once Saddam Hussein was no longer in power.  As we approach the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion, I continue to worry that planning for the ongoing and expanding U.S. military commitment in Iraq is inadequate.  We cannot turn back the clock to fix the irretrievable strategic mistakes that were made in 2003, and I cannot support the President’s plan because it will embroil our troops even more deeply in Iraq’s sectarian conflict.  This is a conflict that we cannot resolve and which ultimately cannot be resolved militarily.    


“Our enormous military commitment in Iraq is taking a toll on our service members and their families, but it is also taking a toll on our ability to deal with other existing security threats and those that may emerge in the future.  In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, our nation’s highest ranking Army officer, General Peter Schoomaker, reiterated his concerns about the impact a troop increase in Iraq would have on the already strained readiness of Army units in the United States.  Also troubling is testimony from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Conway, indicating that preparedness for the full spectrum of threats may be suffering because the Marines are not training for the types of conflicts beyond the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.


“The resolution, which I’m pleased was approved with bipartisan support in the House, is straightforward and easy to understand.  First, it expresses our continuing support for members of the Armed Forces who are serving or who have served in Iraq.  Second, it makes clear that we disapprove the President’s decision to deploy more than 20,000 additional combat troops to Iraq.  We have stretched and strained our forces and their equipment to the breaking point, degrading our military readiness and exposing our nation to unacceptable levels of strategic risk.  We must ensure that our involvement in Iraq does no further harm to our military preparedness and our ability to protect the American people.”