Missouri’s leading Congressman on defense issues challenges President Bush to pay attention to the soldiers at home. Congressman Ike Skelton says the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are well-trained and well-equipped. But the brigade combat teams at home? Skelton says he’s “truly concerned” about the Army’s readiness. He says the army combat teams are not ready to go into action in some other part of the world, other than Afghanistan or Iraq,if they’re needed…He says the Bush administration has not asked for the money the Army needs. Skelton recalls President Bush said in 2000 that two division were below required readiness levels and could not report for duty if called. Now it’s much worse–that the Army’s own briefings indicate “nearly every” non-deployed combat brigade is not ready to carry out a mission assignment. This isn’t long-range criticism. Skelton says he’s delivered this message to the President face-to-face.He thinks Congress would appopriate the money if the administration asks for it. The army says it needs 12-billion dollars a year for the next several years to cover its readiness needs. Skelton is the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
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