Washington , DC Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement to announce the projected schedule for hearings before the Full Committee during the month of January.


            “As we begin the 110 th Congress, I am committed to pursuing an aggressive hearing schedule focused on issues of strategic priority to our military and our national security.   I believe it is essential for Members of Congress to have access to Administration, military, and other outside witnesses so that we can ask tough questions and make the best policy decisions to support our men and women in uniform and to protect the American people.  


            “In light of the upcoming announcement from the President on Iraq policy, the House Armed Services Committee plans to hold a series of hearings, beginning this Thursday, January 11 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 2118 Rayburn, when we have invited the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Robert Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, to testify on the way forward in Iraq.


            “In the weeks ahead, we will call upon strategic thinkers and outside experts to examine the likely impact of the President’s Iraq policy on security in Iraq and on America’s military posture and we will invite military leaders to discuss the implications of the President’s policy for readiness, the Total Force, and strategic risk.   Other hearings will address the status of the Iraqi Security Forces and the audit work of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).   In the coming weeks, we plan to invite the perspectives of returning soldiers and Marines – both officers and enlisted – to ensure we hear the views of those who have been on the front lines and not just their senior commanders.


            “In addition to work related to the war in Iraq, the Committee will examine other strategic priorities, including hearings on the status of operations and the overall efforts in Afghanistan and on military support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations.   These efforts will be the first in an ongoing effort to look at the current and future challenges that face our nation and our military.


            “Having met with Democratic and Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee, I am convinced that all of us are eager to begin our work so that we may best support the men and women of our Armed Forces and provide the necessary resources to protect all Americans.   This is our responsibility, but it is also our privilege,” said Skelton.    


            All Full Committee hearings will be held in Room 2118 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Detailed hearing schedule information will be released as it becomes available.