Democrats have long been pushing to relieve the strain on our soldiers. Last year, Senate Democrats twice led the fight to ensure our soldiers have the same amount of dwell time at home between deployments as they do deployed in theater. These efforts garnered support from a majority of the Senate, but were blocked by Bush Republicans. Democrats welcome President Bush’s announcement today to limit future army deployments to 12 months, but believe more must be done to limit the strain on our forces currently deployed and relieve the strain on our marines. Now that President Bush has finally acknowledged the strain on our forces, will Bush Republicans join Democrats in codifying the announcement into law and ensuring that our troops have the dwell time they need to recover from combat and train for future operations?
Democrats have fought to ensure adequate dwell time for our troops:
Democrats Twice Led Efforts to Ensure Troops Have Adequate Dwell Time Between Deployments – But Were Blocked By Bush Republicans. Republicans twice killed an attempt by Democratic Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) to mandate minimum intervals between deployments for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measures sought to require active duty forces to be guaranteed as much time at home as they served while deployed. National Guard and reservists would be guaranteed three years at home between deployments. Both amendments garnered 56 votes, but were rejected due to Republican obstruction. [HR 1585, Senate Vote 241, 7/11/07; HR 1585, Senate Vote 341, 9/19/07]
- General Casey Said Six Years of War Have Left Our Army Out of Balance. “I also said that the cumulative effects of the last six- plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force and restore our flexibility for an uncertain future.…The harsh environments that we’re operating in, and the frequent deployments, are taking their toll on our soldiers and their equipment.” [General Casey’s Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/26/08]
- Army Vice Chief of Staff General Cody Said Army’s Readiness Is Being Consumed As Fast As It Can Be Built. “But today our Army is out of balance. The current demand for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds our sustainable supply of soldiers, of units and equipment, and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies. Our readiness, quite frankly, is being consumed as fast as we can build it.” [Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Readiness, 4/1/08]
- Secretary Geren Said He Wanted to Be on Track to Get Dwell Time to a 1:1 Ratio. “But we would like to see — this summer, we’d like to see us be able to put ourselves on track to get our deployments and our dwell time in a one-to-one ratio.” [Secretary Geren’s Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/26/08]
Bush Republicans opposed dwell time amendment in Septement – will they support it now?
Senator McCain Called Amendment Increasing Dwell Time for Troops a ‘Straightjacket’ For Commanders in Iraq. “Leading the fight against it was John McCain of Arizona, ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a GOP presidential candidate. McCain read aloud on the Senate floor a Gates letter saying the amendment would straitjacket commanders in Iraq. ‘Don’t say you support the troops when you don’t support their mission,’ McCain said. ‘The effect of this amendment would be to emasculate this surge.’” [CQ Today, 9/19/07]
Senator McCain Stated That Dwell Time Measure Was Unprecedented, Would Set a ‘Formula for Surrender.’ “Nowhere in the history of this country have such restrictions been imposed or privileges assumed by the Congress of the United States. We have one Commander in Chief, and one only. To somehow assume that we would begin with Congress’s 535 commanders in chief, I think, would reduce our ability to ever fight another war effectively… This is setting a formula for surrender, not for victory.” [Congressional Record, 9/19/07]
Senator Graham Urged Senate to Vote Against Extending Dwell Time. “Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the Webb amendment. I guess if I can pick up where my colleague from New Jersey left off, what is the best thing for the Congress to do in terms of supporting our troops? What are our duties? What are our obligations? I would argue the worst thing the Congress can do at a time of war is to start taking over operational control of deployments.” [Congressional Record, 9/19/07]
Senator Chambliss Said Extending Dwell Time Would Restrict the President. “I rise in opposition to the Webb amendment. This amendment is about restricting the President and his military leaders’ ability to prosecute a war we have asked them to execute and which we unanimously confirmed General Petraeus to carry out. It is an unwise and harmful effort to limit the ability of the President and his military leadership and to handicap their use of personnel and resources available to them.” [Congressional Record, 9/19/07]
Senator Bond Said Webb Amendment May Lead to Defeat in Iraq. “I am very concerned about the amendment before us. I urge my colleagues to think about it and then vote against it. This is an amendment which would micromanage the war. Even a few of its supporters have been forthright enough to admit that it is a backdoor way of achieving what they want, which is defeat in Iraq by a premature withdrawal, because they know the chaos this would spread.” [Congressional Record, 9/19/07]
Senator Bunning Strongly Objected to Longer Dwell Time for Troops. “Mr. President, I rise today to voice my strong objection to the Webb amendment. I voted against this amendment when it was offered 2 months ago, and I will vote against it again today. I will not support this slow-bleed strategy from Iraq. It ties the hands of our commanders. I cannot remember a time in history when the Congress of the United States has dictated to our commanders on the ground how to conduct their mission to this extent.” [Congressional Record, 9/19/07]
Senator Martinez Called Webb Amendment ‘Misguided.’ “Mr. President, I rise today to speak in opposition of the current amendment, the Webb amendment, to the fiscal year 2008 National Defense authorization bill. The fact is that this amendment, in its good intentions to think about the care and condition of our men and women in uniform who have so bravely served us, in fact is very much misguided in that it attempts to dictate to the military leaders exactly what type and how troop rotations should take place.” [Congressional Record, 9/19/07]
Senator Kyl Claimed That Any Legislation About Deployment Details Would “Not Make Sense.” “Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said, ‘We can’t have members of Congress deciding all these details with respect to the deployment of members of the military. It does not make sense.’ Attempting to do so by legislation, Kyl said, was infringing on the president’s powers as commander in chief of the armed forces.”[CQ Today, 9/19/07]