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As you may know, the U.S. House of Representatives recently considered H.Res. 861. This measure, in a very general way, declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror and the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary and states that the war in Iraq is part of this effort. After careful deliberation, I decided to vote against H.Res. 861. While I applaud the House leadership for allowing such a prolonged debate on this issue, and while I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in the resolution, I cannot in good conscience support this measure. It is little more than lip service to the status quo, and any legislation on this issue that does not recognize the need for a new direction in Iraq will fail to garner my full support.

There will be some who will seek to portray this vote as a sign of my lack of support for our troops. At best this is intellectually dishonest. At worst it is a politicization and devaluation of the sacrifices our fighting forces have made over the last three years. As one of three co-chairs of the Democratic Study Group on National Security, I have spent late night after late night on the floor of the House of Representatives extolling the virtues and praising the valor of America’s military. Moreover, I have spent much of that time on the floor, and even more of my time in Congress, fighting for those who are fighting for us…calling for increased funding for body armor and other equipment vital to the protection of those in harm’s way.

There will also be those who seek to label me as a “cut and run” Democrat, willing to abandon a cause the moment the course becomes rocky. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. While I agree that an open ended commitment in Iraq is not desirable, it is certainly more harmful to set an arbitrary date or timeline for troop withdrawal. To hand over the ship of state to a government that is not equipped to conduct it would lead to disaster. The insurgency in Iraq would grow and the entire country would become a haven for terrorists. What is necessary, however, is a well defined series of benchmarks around which we can develop a plan for phased withdrawal of our troops from the country.

With our support, the Iraqis have already achieved great strides. They have held free and open elections, developed a constitution, created a permanent government and each day the Iraqi military and police forces become more capable of protecting their own country. However, there is still work to be done, and abandoning the country now would send a poor message to Iraqi citizens and indeed the world. Moreover, it would put the troops who remain in grave danger, and most importantly would send a message to America’s military that the sacrifices they have made were made in vain.

As I mentioned previously however, there is a clear need for a new direction in the conduct of this war. I have traveled to the war zone in both Iraq and Afghanistan and have had the privilege of speaking to troops both at home and abroad. The one thing that has become evident from these conversations is that our nation entered into this conflict without proper planning and with a force that was undersized and poorly equipped. This administration ignored years of planning for such an invasion, and casually dismissed the advice and expertise of scores of the Pentagon’s most experienced officers. This has lead directly to a military that is stretched extremely thin, and quite frankly worn out. Every available combat brigade from the active duty Army and Marine Corps has already been to Afghanistan and Iraq at least once for a 12-month tour. Many are now in their second or third tours of duty.

Likewise our troops were sent to combat without adequate protection. Their vehicles were not equipped with sufficient armor, and there were reported occasions of troops having to scour scrap yards to find metal to weld to their vehicles to protect them from IEDs. What’s perhaps even worse, is that in many instances soldiers have had to wait as long as 18 months to even receive body armor. We have all heard stories in the news of soldiers’ families having to spend their own money to buy body armor to send to their loved ones in harms way. This to me is deplorable and embarrassing. Fortunately the Pentagon has seen fit to reimburse those families; however it is this situation and many like it that are indicative of the poor conduct of this operation.

It is painfully evident, borne out by the bodies of over 3,000 U.S. military personnel and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians that the status quo is not working. That is why I have chosen to vote against this resolution, and why I will continue to fight for new leadership, and a new direction in Iraq.

Related Documents:

Speeches and Floor Statements - Congressman Scott: How Safe Are We 5 Years After 9/11 9.6.2006

Speeches and Floor Statements - Congressman Scott's Floor Speech Supporting the Democrat Plan For a Way Forward in Iraq 6.8.2006

Speeches and Floor Statements - CONGRESSMAN SCOTT HONORS AMERICA'S VETERANS 5.26.2006

Press Release - Congressman Scott Visits Georgia Soldiers in Iraq 1.13.2006

Press Release - Congressman Scott Travels to Iraq 1.8.2006

More Documents...

Related Files:

Video: Floor Speech on National Security & Iraq

Video: Floor Speech on National Security & Iraq

Video: Scott Honors American Veterans (High)

Video: Scott Honors American Veterans (Low)

Video: Scott Fights to Keep America Safe (High)

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