WASHINGTON, DC – Today House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Ike Skelton (MO) released the following statement in response to General Casey’s announcement that it will take 12 to 18 months more before Iraqi Security Forces are capable of providing for their country’s own security:

“General Casey’s announcement today is a sobering assessment from our top military commander of how much farther Iraq’s forces still have to go. 

“In recent fighting in the critical battle for Baghdad, only two of the requested six battalions of Iraqi forces showed up to fight.  Iraq is their country and increasingly and more quickly, the Iraqi forces will have to shoulder this burden.

“I have been saying this to the President and the Secretary of Defense for the last two years.  While it is helpful to lay out a timeline for the training of the Iraqi forces, after three and a half years of training, this timeline is too long. 

“Iraqi forces will best be able to provide for the security of their own people and must begin to do this far sooner than called for under this new timeline.  American force readiness is at critically low levels and will only fully recover when significant numbers of personnel and equipment can begin to redeploy from Iraq. 

“We must accelerate the timeline of training Iraqi security forces for the benefit of American force readiness and the Iraqi people.  To do so, the Defense Department must at least double the number of trainers assigned to these critical roles. 

“Our very best officers and non-commissioned officers should be assigned to these missions and the services must treat these assignments as career-enhancing tours. Lastly, we must ensure the Iraqis are properly equipped to take on the range of missions facing them.”