WASHINGTON, DC – Today the House Armed Services Committee heard testimony from General John Abizaid and Ambassador David Satterfield on the current situation in Iraq.  Ranking Member Ike Skelton (MO) made the following statement regarding the need for a new approach to the situation in that country.

"Our committee hasn’t held a hearing on Iraq since General Abizaid was here last March.  With the way things are going in that country right now, it is clear that this hearing is long overdue.  Congress needs the honest advice of our military leaders.  Hopefully, having received that, Congress and the Administration can move toward a common bipartisan understanding of how to achieve progress in Iraq.

"The Battle of Baghdad, a decisive battle akin to Midway in World War II, is not progressing well. Iraqi security forces are not performing up to standard, and the Iraqi government has not shown the political will to take on the militias, which will be key to national security.

"We need a new direction in Iraq that moves toward the redeployment of American forces.  The administration must look carefully at our objectives in Iraq: whether they are achievable, by what means and whether they are worth the cost in money, lives and military readiness.   

"I am very interested in the findings to come from the Baker/Hamilton Study Group, as well as the group convened by General Pace to examine options for the way ahead.  This is the central issue for today’s military.

"As we move forward in a bipartisan way, support for effectively training the Iraqi Security Forces is a common thread among us.  This effort must be a partnership between the Iraqis and us.  We have to put enough of the best American trainers toward the effort and ensure that they are properly trained in how to build stable Iraqi units. 

"I am pleased to hear that General Abizaid agrees that we need more qualified U.S. troops in position to train the Iraqi Security Forces."