Larsen Supports Troops, Opposes Escalation</A

Feb 14, 2007


Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) spoke on the House Floor today in favor of the Iraq resolution that expresses support for our troops and opposition to the President's proposal to escalate the war in Iraq.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of a strong U.S. military, a military that is ready to combat terrorists and a military that is ready for the challenges of this century.  For these reasons I oppose the President’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq.

“The president's announcement to add 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq is a step in the wrong direction. The American public does not want an escalation of the Iraq war, especially without an explanation of what we are trying to achieve. The president promised a new approach but more troops does not equal a new way forward.

“The United States has a choice: we can keep a lid on Iraq's civil war or we can devote enough time and attention to fighting terrorists wherever they are and securing a military that is prepared to protect our national security.

“I choose the latter.  But at a time when we need to manage our strategic risk in the face of terrorists and nuclear uncertainty -- at a time when our enemies are numerous, unpredictable and dangerous -- this Administration has made the wrong choice. 

“I believe this approach damages our military readiness today and damages our ability to prepare for threats in the future.

“This war has sapped our ability to train here at home with functional equipment. It has sapped the ability of our services to recruit for the future and it has sapped our ability to prepare a defense budget that can prepare us for 21st century threats.

“Every state in this union, including Washington state, has National Guard units that are depleted, that don’t have the equipment they need to train and are forced to leave equipment in theater, making it harder to do their job here at home.

“In Washington state 90 percent of the Army National Guard and 65 percent of the Air National Guard have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and performed admirably and honorably.

“But at home they only have 55 percent of their required equipment on hand.  Equipment that is integral to the training of those guardsmen.

“The president’s escalation plan will not solve these problems, it will make them worse. The president’s plan will not decrease our strategic risk; will exacerbate it. 

“Units at home are struggling just to meet the training requirements necessary to deploy to Iraq. 

“With this escalation plan, units at home will suffer as the Army and Marine Corps are forced to take more of their equipment to supply the additional brigades going into Iraq, depleting their training opportunities.

“Equipment shortages at home are what we hear about most, but the war’s effect on our prepositioned equipment abroad may be as serious a threat.

“The Army relies on prepositioned sets of equipment in strategic locations around the world.  This equipment ensures that our troops are able to deploy at a moments notice.  A large portion of this equipment has been taken to support the troop increase, increasing the chance that equipment won’t be available in case of an emerging crisis.

“As we can see, this escalation will hurt our military at home and it will hurt our military abroad, but most importantly it is another flawed strategy that hinges its success on a weak Iraqi government beset by a sectarian civil war.

“I have lost confidence in the Iraqi government to fulfill its commitments to the United States. I want our women and men in the military to know we have a strategy that is worthy of their individual actions and sacrifice and that they will have the resources necessary to do their jobs.  Most of all, I am concerned that the president's decisions have led us away from our greatest national security threat--fighting terrorists who will do us harm.

“And make no mistake – while some of us support this escalation and some of us oppose it, all of us can agree on the need to support our men and women in the military, honor their commitment, and make sure they get the resources they need to do their jobs.

“Vote for H.CON.RES 63 to show that the escalation is a step in the wrong direction.”