Langevin Pushes for Definitive Answers on Iraq

Jun 24, 2005

(Warwick, R.I.)–Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today cosponsored a resolution calling for the accelerated training of Iraqi security forces to help alleviate the strain on the United States military. The resolution also urges the President to develop a strategy for bringing troops home once the goals on the ground have been met.

Langevin became more adamant about his position on Iraq after meeting with retired General Barry McCaffrey and listening to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during a committee hearing yesterday.

The legislation, sponsored by House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Ike Skelton (D-MO) and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Jane Harman (D-CA), calls upon the Administration to develop specific plans to improve the training of Iraqi security forces so they are able to secure their own country.

"There is no denying that Americans have valid concerns about operations in Iraq," said Langevin. "I continue to be troubled by the strains on our military due to repeated deployments and equipment degradation. While we have made progress in helping Iraq establish its own government, the Administration must recognize the need to expand training of the Iraqi Security Forces so we can begin to ease the burden on our own troops. The Administration should also begin describing to Americans its long range goals and strategies to get our troops home as quickly as possible."

The development of operationally capable Iraqi security forces and the infrastructure supporting and sustaining them is crucial to the withdrawal of coalition and American forces. Unfortunately, only three battalions (about 5,000 soldiers) capable of conducting fully independent operations have been reportedly produced in the last year.

It is also no secret that the U.S. military has begun showing dangerous signs of strain as the war in Iraq and the war on terror proceeds. In a recent article in the Armed Forces Journal, retired General Barry McCaffrey noted that recruitment has fallen to dangerously low levels, and the military has had to reduce its quality standards by enlisting fewer high school graduates, retaining problematic recruits and relaxing commissioning qualifications for its officers to meet its need.

“The longer our troops stay in Iraq, the greater the risks our military faces in the long term,” said Langevin. “The Administration owes it to the troops and their families to develop and execute sound policies to establish security forces in Iraq and end our presence there. Additionally, the Administration must recognize that we cannot achieve success in Iraq through military might alone and strategies need to be developed for non-military action as well.”