Rep. John Murtha on Troop Protections
MR. RUSSERT: What are the Democrats going to do to try to stop the war in Iraq?
REP. MURTHA: Well, the, the details haven't been released yet. Until the members see it, we're not going to talk about the details of what's going to happen. That will be released tomorrow. But let, let me talk about what, what I think needs to be done. The other day, General Pace said, the chief of the Joint Chiefs said, look, you're going to hurt the troops deployment overseas if you do what Murtha wants to do, what he's recommended to the committee. And I said what he didn't talk about was our strategic reserve, what he didn't talk about, we're sending troops back without a year at home, what he didn't talk about was the fact they're going in without the equipment they need to fight in combat. That's unconscionable, and the Congress is going to stop that. The White House is finally beginning to recognize they don't have the troops, as I predicted they wouldn't have, to sustain this deployment. They certainly don't have the troops to increase and to have a surge without breaking every rule that they set, Tim.
Mr. Russert followed up soon after:
MR. RUSSERT: Besides setting the deadline of six months and bringing troops home, you've also said that a U.S. soldier should not spend more than a year in Iraq, this whole notion of the stop-loss, where young men and women are kept in the service after they serve in Iraq. You also talked about the level of preparation that a soldier should have before they're sent to Iraq. And you referred to Peter Pace. He responded to you, and this is what he said before the committee on Tuesday: "If the one year rest at home, the no-extensions in the battlefield and the no stop-loss were implemented," we've "done our homework on that ... if those are the rules, that instead of being able to have the 20 brigades on the ground in Iraq that we require, ... we would have somewhere between 14 and 19 brigades, at most. ... It would have enormous effect on the battlefield with regard to what's required versus what's available. ... I can simply tell you what the effect is. And the effect is damaging on the battlefield." He's saying that you are going to damage our ability on the battlefield.
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. What, what he's saying, in answer to a leading question by a Republican senator--they kept badgering him to answer this question. Now, what is he doing? He's violating every rule, every, every rule they set up for themselves. The troops have to be home for a year. Is it wrong to insist they have equipment? Is it wrong to insist they have training before they go into Iraq? And the other thing that I've said, and everybody's lost sight of, we've lost our strategic reserve. We could not respond to a threat to our national security, China or Iran or any other country that were to threaten us, we couldn't respond, because we've completely depleted it and it's readiness. You saw an article in The Washington Post the other day, National Guard, 90 percent of the units are, are below the readiness level to be deployed. It's almost exactly the same in the regular forces. We have no active reserve, no ground forces that can be deployed. So he's breaking all his rules by, by reducing the standards, taking people and keeping people in, and then sending them back without equipment. The public agrees with me, we should not send troops into combat if they don't have equipment and if they don't have the training they need.