WASHINGTON, DC – Today Representative Ike Skelton (MO), Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee, delivered the following statement on the floor of the House during consideration of the 9/11 resolution.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize September 11 th as a national day of mourning, to commemorate and honor America’s 5-year long national sacrifice, and to warn of clear and present danger in the days ahead.
“Our nation will never forget the terrorist acts on September 11 th, 2001. Nearly 3,000 innocent Americans perished, the lives of many thousands more were forever changed, and the tools of national power were mobilized to bring to justice those responsible.
“To each and all experiencing personal loss we honor and pay respect. To each and all responding to a call of duty we extend a note of thanks. Their sacrifice and our nation’s initial response led to a successful military strike against terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan. As we all can agree, it was an impressive operational display of technological might. It was swift. It was right. And it enjoyed widespread support among the world’s family of nations. In short, it was a step towards a more safe and secure environment for Americans.
“But in the past five years much of the initial gain has been squandered. We have failed to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and have found ourselves bogged down in a costly, imprudent war in Iraq that detracts from our pursuit of those responsible for attacking American soil. We are also facing a resurgent threat in Afghanistan.
“Our nation is now engaged in two wars: the first against terrorism; the second – a war of choice – to effect a regime change in Iraq, has dragged us into a sectarian clash on the verge of a civil war.
“The war on terrorism rightfully continues, and by all accounts remains a war of necessity. In contrast, the war in Iraq – initiated with faulty intelligence and without proper planning and resourcing – has created for our nation a strategic risk:
· More than 40% of Army and Marine Corp ground equipment is committed to the combat theater;
· That deployed equipment is wearing out nine times faster than the normal rate;
· And not one Army combat brigade in the continental United States is ready for its war time mission;
“Simply put, the war in Iraq has sapped our strategic base and threatens to break our Army. Regrettably, our nation today is not safer than it was on September 10 th five years ago. Because this “war of choice” has tapped our resources, our nation’s ability to confront future security challenges is less than it was only five years ago.
“As we commemorate the heroes of 9/11 and beyond let us not forget our solemn oath to protect and defend this nation and the Constitution. Let us not forget our responsibility to take every step necessary to make America stronger, not weaker than before. And let us never forget our duty to prevent the occurrence of another similar tragedy. We must have the best and most capable military to meet any threat that faces this nation
“If we fail in this endeavor then we will have truly failed to honor the memory of the fallen.”