Senate Democrats

REID AND PELOSI CALL ON PRESIDENT TO ADDRESS MILITARY READINESS CRISIS

Washington, DCSenate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote President Bush today encouraging him to act immediately to reverse the decline in our military’s readiness caused by the failing national security policies of his Administration and the Republican Congress. With the Army, Marine Corps and National Guard all facing severe strains on personnel and equipment shortages, America’s ability to deal with an overseas crisis is being placed at risk. The war in Iraq, now in its fourth year and with no end in sight, continues to add to the mounting readiness problems. It is imperative to our nation’s security that the President change course and restore military readiness.

Quotes from the letter:

“…not a single non-deployed Army combat brigade is currently prepared to execute its war time mission. The National Guard faces equally serious challenges and the Marine Corps will require significant reinvestment to replace equipment damaged or destroyed in Iraq. Not since the Vietnam era has the military’s readiness been so degraded.”

“Readiness levels will continue to suffer as long as we stay the current course with US troops bogged down in an intractable civil war in Iraq. Deterioration in readiness levels already constrains our ability to deal with the escalating conflict in Afghanistan, much less potential crises in North Korea and Iran.”

“Unfortunately, your administration’s response to expressions of concern about these readiness issues has been a combination of denial and indifference. Our military must be able to accomplish the range of missions given to it at acceptable levels of risk, but it will not be able to do so if readiness problems are not resolved. Yesterday, you ruled out any change to the top civilian leadership of the Defense Department before the end of your term despite the fact that the responsibility for looming readiness challenges lies precisely with Secretary Rumsfeld and his team.”

The text of the letter follows below:

November 2, 2006

The President

The White House

Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our deep concern about the dramatic decline in the readiness levels of our military under your administration and the Republican Congress. An unclassified Army chart alerted us this summer that not a single non-deployed Army combat brigade is currently prepared to execute its war time mission. The National Guard faces equally serious challenges and the Marine Corps will require significant reinvestment to replace equipment damaged or destroyed in Iraq. Not since the Vietnam era has the military’s readiness been so degraded.

Despite the fact that this situation has existed for months, your Administration has done precious little to address the root causes of this crisis. Readiness levels will continue to be under pressure while our military and its equipment remain burdened by the operational tempo. In short, your failed policies in Iraq and elsewhere have only served to exacerbate our military’s problems.

As you know, Mr. President, some U.S. troops are now serving their fourth deployment to Iraq, with Defense Department officials suggesting that even more troops may be mobilized for the war. Meanwhile, the top U.S. general in Iraq has indicated that Iraqi security forces may need until at least 2008 to prepare to take over security responsibilities from the US military. We learned this morning that the Iraqi President believes U.S. troops should remain in Iraq for at least another three years.

Readiness levels will continue to suffer as long as we stay the current course with U.S. troops bogged down in an intractable civil war in Iraq. Deterioration in readiness levels already constrains our ability to deal with the escalating conflict in Afghanistan, much less potential crises in North Korea and Iran.

Unfortunately, your administration’s response to expressions of concern about these readiness issues has been a combination of denial and indifference. Our military must be able to accomplish the range of missions given to it at acceptable levels of risk, but it will not be able to do so if readiness problems are not resolved. Yesterday, you ruled out any change to the top civilian leadership of the Defense Department before the end of your term despite the fact that the responsibility for looming readiness challenges lies precisely with Secretary Rumsfeld and his team.

This problem can no longer be denied or ignored. As a group of distinguished defense experts chaired by former Defense Secretary William J. Perry recently said, “the Administration’s willingness to put our nation at such strategic risk is deeply disturbing. And its failure to adequately support the soldiers who are risking their lives for this nation is unacceptable.”

We agree with this assessment and believe our troops and the American public deserve better. Therefore, we call upon you to provide Congress with an updated summary of the current readiness levels of Army and Marine Corps combat units as soon as possible.

We also believe the American people and our troops are entitled to answers to the following questions:

  1. How does the Administration plan to sustain the planned troop deployments in Iraq without further eroding our readiness or our ability to meet other national security challenges?
  2. To what extent will your Administration continue to rely on the so-called “stop loss” process, which has been referred to as a “back door draft” to ensure that troops are available in sufficient levels to support deployment schedules?
  3. Will your Administration’s planned troop levels in Iraq require revisions to the existing policy that restricts the deployment of National Guard and Reserve personnel to not more than twenty four months cumulatively under the current Presidential Reserve Call-up authority?
  4. Will your Administration’s upcoming budget proposals to Congress request the resources necessary to continue military operations in Iraq and the war on terror, including providing the funds needed to repair, replace, and recapitalize the military’s equipment worn out by current deployments?

Mr. President, the crisis facing our military is real. We urge you to replace the partisan attacks of the political campaign season, work with us to find a way forward in Iraq and restore the capabilities the military needs to defend American interests around the world.

Thank you for your consideration of our views on these important matters.

Sincerely,

Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader

Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader

###

Bookmark and Share