Thursday, April 12, 2007

Troops Extended In Iraq, Democrats Comment

The Bush administration announced on Wednesday that almost all of the active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will have their tours of duty extended by three months -- from one year to 15 months -- to accommodate George W. Bush's dismal stay-the-course strategy.

"I realize this decision will ask a lot of our Army troops and their families," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Wednesday. "This approach also up holds our commitment to decide when to begin any drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq solely based on conditions on the ground."

The only exceptions to the extension are the two brigades currently in Iraq that have already been extended to 16 months.

Yeah, and it's Democrats that the White House accuses of not supporting the troops…

Here's some Democratic comments on the announcement:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

"Today's news that active-duty troops' tours in Iraq will be extended to 15 months is another in a long line of examples of how the President's Iraq policies are making us less secure. A bipartisan majority of Congress sees it, the American people see it and military experts see it.

"It is time for the President to work with Congress to change course in Iraq. Congress will send President Bush a bill that gives our troops the resources they need and a strategy in Iraq worthy of their sacrifices. If the President vetoes this bill he will have delayed funding for troops and kept in place a strategy that neither our troops nor the American people can afford any longer."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

“Today’s announcement just underscores the fact that the burden of the war in Iraq has fallen upon our troops and their families. The Bush Administration has failed to create a plan to fully equip and train our troops, bring them home safely and soon, and provide our veterans with the quality care they deserve.

“Extending the tours of all active-duty Army personnel is an unacceptable price for our troops and their families to pay.

“Democrats have offered a new direction in Iraq – one that would bring our troops home safely and soon. We encourage President Bush to sit down with us to find a solution to bring this war to an end.”

Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

"This Administration keeps asking our troops for more - do more without the right equipment, spend more time on deployment even as our generals say there is no military solution to the war in Iraq. Now the President is asking families to wait 15 months to see their loved ones instead of 12 months. This is the latest sign that the Bush Administration continues to overextend our military to the breaking point.

"Extending the tour of duty of our National Guard will not solve Iraq's deadly civil war, it only exposes our volunteer Army to more danger. To top it all off, the President has the nerve to suggest that the Congress is putting our brave troops in jeopardy by demanding a better policy, when it's this Administration that sends them back into a civil war with no end in sight."

Presidential Candidate John Edwards

"President Bush's announcement that tours of duty will be increased to 15 months borders on the unconscionable. Our military - and particularly our Army - has already been stretched to the breaking point by this President's misguided, disastrous policy in Iraq.

"Due to the President's disastrous policy, our recruiting has suffered, our equipment is deteriorating, and businesses employing Guardsmen will be forced to carry additional financial burdens. But no one has suffered under this unsustainable operations tempo more than our military families. We must stand by them, end the conflict in Iraq, and force the Iraqis and their neighbors to find a political solution to the conflict."

Senator and Presidential Candidate Joe Biden (D-DE)

"The decision to extend the tours of U.S. service members by three months is an urgent warning that the administration's Iraq policy cannot be sustained without doing terrible long-term damage to our military. If the administration insists on keeping this many troops in Iraq into next year, it will have to send soldiers back on third, fourth and fifth tours and extend deployment times from six months to a year for Marines and from 12 months to 16 or 18 months for the Army.

"The military will also be forced to end the practice of keeping troops at home for at least a year between deployments; forced to fully mobilize the National Guard and Reserve; and forced to perpetuate a backdoor draft. We don't have to guess at the impact on readiness, recruitment and retention. Just today, we also learned that recent graduates of West Point are choosing to leave active duty service at the highest rate in more than three decades. This administration's policies are literally driving out some of our best young officers. Instead of escalating the war with no end in sight, we have to start bringing it to a responsible conclusion."

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

"I am very troubled by the decision to extend deployments even further. Our troops are already stretched too thin with equipment shortages and multiple, lengthy deployments. We must be fair to these brave men and women and their families. In Iraq, the president has not done nearly enough to press for the political solution needed to lessen ongoing violence. In Afghanistan, we face a resurgent Taliban.

"We must rethink our strategy, truly stand by our military families, and make sure our troops have the tools and support they need to succeed in their mission. Our troops and their families should not be forced to bear the burden of this administration's failed policies."

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

“Secretary Gates’ extension of the tours of duty for as many as 85,000 soldiers demonstrates a callous disregard for these brave men and women. The announcement proves that the surge is not temporary but rather a permanent escalation of our involvement in Iraq's civil war.

"The military have done everything they have been asked to do. Instead of asking these soldiers to do more, the Administration should be demanding that the Iraqi Government do more, including taking the responsibility for the security and stability of Iraq. The President should work with Congress to begin to bring our troops home to the hero’s welcome they have earned many times over.”

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)

“Secretary Gates’ announcement today is the foreseeable consequence of three years of a flawed strategy. The Army has attempted in vain to stabilize a rotational scheme for an unstable and open-ended strategy. Once again the failures of this administration are being underwritten by our troops; the cost of this will fall on the backs of the brave men and women already serving in harm’s way, and their families.”