It is disappointing that Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, is portraying his efforts to cut funding for troops deploying to Iraq as an attempt to fix problems with our military when he previously told the liberal organization MoveOn.org that his real motivation was to ensure that the military "won't be able to continue" with its new Iraq strategy to secure Baghdad.
Rep. Murtha's policy and the reasoning behind it are seriously flawed for three reasons: It would make America less secure, it ignores the realities faced by our troops on the ground and it is at odds with the reality that America possesses the greatest fighting force on Earth.
Instead of pursuing victory in Iraq, Rep. Murtha supports a premature U.S. withdrawal that would endanger America. Rep. Murtha's reasoning that Iraq's government will hold after U.S. forces leave, that Iraq's security forces will not disintegrate and that the Islamic fascists will not be able to establish a safe haven in Iraq is seriously flawed.
In an attempt to stop the president's new strategy before it is given a chance to succeed, Rep. Murtha would mortgage our nation's safety and set up our military for a tougher fight.
Today, new units deploying to Iraq spend several weeks training with the units they are replacing to learn from their predecessors' experiences -- an important edge our troops would lose if Congress adopted Rep. Murtha's proposal to end tour extensions. According to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, Rep. Murtha's policy would allow us to field only 14 to 19 brigades, instead of the 20 necessary for victory in Iraq. There would be gaps between deployments, and new units might have to enter areas long vacated by their predecessors.
Rep. Murtha's rationale is even more disappointing considering he knows that our forces are properly trained and equipped for this fight. Gen. Pace has certified that our deploying forces will have all of the training and equipment they need, but Rep. Murtha disputes this, using Cold War-era equipment and readiness standards that Congress long-ago directed the Defense Department to reform. In fact, the Defense Department has requested funds for additional cutting-edge protective equipment for our forces -- a request awaiting review by the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee that Rep. Murtha chairs.
Former Senator Rick Santorum is the author of It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good. He is writing a second book on the “Gathering Storm of the 21st Century” – the war against a radical, Islamic fascist enemy and its growing alliances around the world.
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