Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher from California delivered the Democratic response to President Bushâ€™s radio address this week. Rep. Tauscher is also the chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee. Last week, the House passed her bill that intends to stop the Pentagon from sending soldiers to Iraq without adequate rest or training. â€œLast week I was honored to see the House pass my bill to stop the Pentagon’s practice of sending soldiers and marines back to Iraq without proper rest or training.Â The President’s surge has sent many of our Army units to Iraq for the second and third time. We are asking our troops to make heroic sacrifices – yet as soon as they return we rush them back into battle. Army generals recommend that in times of war, our troops have two years away from combat after one year on the battlefield. â€ Tauscher said.
She talked about what her bill does, â€œMy bipartisan bill sets a bottom line – a minimum period of rest, recuperation and training between deployments. Today that ratio is upside-down. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan spend only twelve months at home for every fifteen months in combat. The result is that after more than four years of over-extended and frequent deployments we have put our troops and our overall defense readiness at risk. When we send our troops back into battle before they are ready – we put them in greater danger than we should. That’s not fair to them and it’s not good for national security. With policies like this it is no wonder the Army found itself three thousand officers short. Or that mid-grade sergeants are leaving at higher than desired rates.â€
Tauscher then mentioned how the war in Iraq is threatening American national security. â€œAs the Chairman of an Armed Services Subcommittee I know how this war has threatened our national security and damaged military readiness. As a Californian I’m well aware that spending nearly $330 million every day in Iraq is draining the homeland security resources of my state and others. As we speak, an Army National Guard unit from Walnut Creek, California is leading a task force deploying to Iraq. These 824 brave men and women are the largest California Guard unit to be deployed since the Korean War. These are the men and women who my legislation will protect. We are sending more and more men and women to Iraq everyday — while the Bush administration wastes billions in Iraq.”
The Congresswoman continued, â€œThey deserve better than a revolving door of service that keeps them away from their families for too long and sends them back to battle too quickly. Those who refuse to admit we need a change of course in Iraq claim this legislation will tie the hands of the Commander in Chief. This is simply untrue. There are waivers for operational emergencies that pose threats to national security, as well as for individuals who volunteer to redeploy sooner. A similar measure sponsored by Jim Webb of Virginia is currently stalled in the Senate because of a Republican filibuster. President Bush has also threatened to veto the legislation if it should reach his desk.â€
â€œIf we are honest about wanting to support our troops, there is no better place to start than with the rest and training they require to complete their mission and return home safely. To those who would stand in the way rather than behind our troops, I say: If you truly support the fighting men and women of our Armed Forces and if you truly believe in a military that stands second to none in a dangerous world then stop the obstruction and start by doing what you know is right. My friends, we must come together as Americans to preserve the readiness of the greatest military in history – for our troops and for our national security,â€ Tauscher concluded.
The reason why President Bush opposes this bill is because if soldiers had to be given adequate rest and training, then there would not be enough troops left to fight the war. This administration has tried to fight a war on the cheap, and the people who have suffered the most are the soldiers and families. I donâ€™t think this White House views the troops as real human beings who have friends, loved ones, jobs, and lives back at home. These are people who have been taken advantage of because they love their country and volunteered to serve. There are many terrible things that have happened during this war, but one of the worst, and least reported, has been the treatment of these soldiers by their own government. It has been a disgrace, and it is something that we must change.
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics
Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse