New Democratic Chair of House Armed Services Committee Opposes More Troops

Brian Zick

Walter Pincus in WaPo reports: Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, questioned the purpose of sending an additional 20,000 U.S. troops into Baghdad, the surge option being mentioned as one strategy change in Iraq being considered by President Bush. "What is the military mission?" Skelton asked yesterday during a meeting with reporters. "I don't think it will change a thing," he said, adding: Would the added troops "exacerbate the problem by being more targets? Is there something to go after that we don't know?" (…) Skelton, in a news conference to outline his strategic priorities for the committee next year, took the time to voice his opposition to the surge proposal and, in so doing, seemed to reflect the position taken by members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "The time for a troop increase," he said, "was about 3 1/2 years ago, when we initially went into Iraq." Referring to the 2003 suggestion of Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff then, that several hundred thousand troops may be needed, Skelton said: "If we had done that, I don't think we would be in the situation we are today."

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