Democrat Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the President’s plan to send another 21-thousand-500 troops to Iraq is the wrong strategy and, on the home front, could ultimately damage the Iowa National Guard — and put Iowa at risk. Harkin says last night’s speech from President Bush was "deeply disappointing."
Harkin says "The only way the president’s plan can go forward is to reach deeply into our Reserve and National Guard components and to pull them back into this. I really am concerned about this because we’ve put great strains on our National Guard and on our Reserves. Right now, the Army’s having a hard time recruiting and I’m concerned about what it’s going to mean for our recruiting and retention efforts."
There are already 140-thousand U.S. troops in Iraq. More than three-thousand have died in the effort so far and Harkin says "there’s no end in sight" and 49 of the dead were Iowans. He says he doesn’t want to see more Iowans put in peril. Harkin says "Instead of protecting our home front, the National Guard is spending more and more time away from home, sacrificing homeland security. They’re not getting the necessary training and recruitment time. I just fear what the president’s doing is going to put an undue strain on our Iowa National Guard and Iowa Reservists. Many of them have done two tours already, sometimes three, and they’re looking forward to probably going back again."
Harkin is cosponsoring legislation that says no money can be spent to send more troops to Iraq unless Congress first approves the President’s plan for an escalation of forces. Harkin says "The president’s speech last night was deeply disappointing. Mr. Bush has refused to listen to the Iraq study group which said there cannot be a military solution to the chaos in Iraq. He’s refused to listen to his top generals who opposed this new escalation as counterproductive. He’s refused to listen to the American people who said loudly and clearly on November 7th they want our troops out of the civil war in Iraq." Republican Iowa
Senator Chuck Grassley says, in a written statement, "I understand the skepticism and apprehension among Americans. But, we also can’t forget that we expect the government to protect us from another 9-11, and that means dismantling terrorist networks and activities in Iraq and around the world for the sake of our own security." Grassley says "Most importantly, I remain committed to supporting our troops. Congress gave the president the authority to go to war. As long as our troops are in harm’s way, whether or not Congress agrees with the president’s tactics, support for the troops ought to be nonnegotiable."