The Armed Services Committee is currently receiving testimony on H.R. 3087, to require the President, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military leaders, to develop and transmit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq, and H.R. 3159, the “Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act of 2007.”
Watch the hearing live on C Span 3.
Captain Lawrence Korb (USNR, Ret.), who was Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1981-1985, and current Senior Fellow and Director of Military Strategy at the Center for American Progress, gives opening testimony:
“These are going to be our future leaders. This is the Army that we’re dealing with if we do not do something. Now, we have done studies at the Center for American Progress in terms of the deployment of active duty brigades and enhanced brigades in the Guard. And if you take a look at the numbers they’re startling. You have two brigades on their fourth deployment. You got nine on their third deployment. 20 have been deployed twice. The four Guard brigades that have been alerted and are scheduled to deploy to support this ‘surge,’ they are not ready because they don’t have the equipment to get themselves ready. And all of them are being sent back without the minimum of three years at home.”
Rep. Nancy Boyda (KS-02), whose state saw the effects of the strain on the National Guard during the tornadoes in May, speaks in favor of legislation requiring a waiver from President Bush to send troops back without a 1:2 deployment ratio for the active duty and a 1:5 ratio for most of the reserve component. She is responding in part to General Jack Keane, who testified before the Committee but left before Rep. Boyda’s remarks, and was reportedly one of the architects of the escalation policy.
“I hear over and over again, we have probably as much or more military in my district than anyone — and I hear over and over again, that the Marines are at war, the Army is at war and this country is at the mall. And the implication that it will take too much time for the President… that it will take too much time for him to sign this waiver is almost more than I can sit here and bear. This country has to come together and to ask him to sign a waiver, I think is very much not only the right of this Congress but it is our moral responsibility to do so.”
“I was certainly hoping that General Keane would be able to be here as well. Let me say thank you very much for your testimony so much, Mr. Korb, and I just will make some statements more for the record based on what I heard mainly General Keane. As many of us, there was only so much that you could take until we, in fact, had to leave the room for a while, and so I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things that after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to.
“But let me just first say that the description of Iraq as if some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation, things are going so well, those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying here’s the reality of the problem and people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.
“Second of all, I hear over and over again, we have probably as much or more military in my district than anyone — and I hear over and over again, that the Marines are at war, the Army is at war and this country is at the mall. And the implication that it will take too much time for the President… that it will take too much time for him to sign this waiver is almost more than I can sit here and bear. This country has to come together and to ask him to sign a waiver, I think is very much not only the right of this Congress but it is our moral responsibility to do so.
“And finally, I would just like to share a story. When I was speaking back at home with one of a very right wing conservative talk show hosts and after, thank God, after we were off the air, I said something that I assumed he would agree with and I just said ‘you know, I’m really worried about these guys and gals, but mainly guys, that have gone, that they’ve been redeployed now three and four times’ — he came back to me and said ‘you know what, they should have thought about that before they enlisted, before they signed up.’ He said ‘it’s their fault.’ And I was so upset, I looked at him and I said with all due restraint, and I said no respect, it’s not with all due respect because quite honestly, I have no respect for that opinion, with all due restraint, and I got myself calmed down and left the room. But I am very disappointed, I would hope that General Keane would not say that. But I am very disappointed that, where is he to get up and defend the men and women who have so honorably served our country? Where is he and where is the rest of this military to say this is the right thing to do? With all due respect, this country has to come together and first and foremost deal in the reality of the situation and find a way to come together and put these crazy partisan politics behind us, and come up with a way forward. And maybe that’s where I should stop. And I will yield back my time.”