He has been ranking member. Soon, he will be chairman. West-Central Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton wielded influence as the top Democrat on the US House Armed Services Committee, now he’ll wield more as chairman. Skelton says he’s humbled by the work ahead. He says the committee has a lot of hard work to do, with Iraq topping the agenda. Iraq isn’t the only concern of Skelton. He also wants to keep abreast of progress in Afghanistan and ensure that Congress takes care of the troops and their families. The military’s equipment needs also will be a top concern of the committee. Skelton plans to revive the committee’s commitment to oversight of the Pentagon and the Bush Administration’s military policies, a role Republicans discarded when they took control of the committee in 1985. Skelton has served on the committee since 1981. He has been the top Democrat since 1998. Democrats take control of Congress next month.