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Introduction of the United States Army Relief Act

Location: Washington, DC

INTRODUCTION OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY RELIEF ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 14, 2005)


* Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I introduced a bill with my colleague in the House, Representative ELLEN TAUSCHER, to increase the end-strength of the Army. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators LIEBERMAN, CLINTON, REED, NELSON, and SALAZAR. I am grateful to Sen. LIEBERMAN and Rep. TAUSCHER for their leadership on this issue, and to the Third Way organization for its recent report on this issue and its help on this bill.

* We are introducing this legislation at a critical time for our military. The war in Iraq has put a tremendous strain on our Army, the Reserves and on National Guard units that were never intended for such long deployments, and ought to be used more effectively for homeland security.

* There is deepening concern that our current force requirements cannot be sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan without depleting our reserves and diminishing our capacity to meet other global threats.

* I am one who believes we have more work to do to thoroughly understand these other global threats and the strategies and tactics necessary to prepare for the kind of conflict we are facing in Iraq. The upcoming Pentagon defense review needs to look at increased troops levels in the context of our long-term security needs as well as the immediate challenges.

* But in the meantime, the Bush Administration's lack of foresight in Iraq has left us with an immediate problem that cannot be ignored. Our troops are overstretched--not just in Iraq and Afghanistan but in 117 other countries around the world. Last year, nine of the Army's ten divisions were deployed to, preparing to deploy to, or returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And we continue to rely too heavily on our Guard and Reserve.

* Without this bill, we risk asking too much of our men and women in uniform who have performed so courageously and sacrificed so much in their service to this country. They, future recruits, and the country all need to know that we are committed to providing the resources necessary to keep our Army strong.

* Let me emphasize that this is not about increasing troops so that President Bush can plan for more Iraqs; this is about rebuilding the strength of the incredible institution that is the U.S. Army.

* Leadership begins with recognizing reality. Although we may wish we had a different starting place, this is the place that we find ourselves after much miscalculation and wishful-thinking by the Bush Administration.

* So we ask the Administration today to heed our call and to heed the call of so many in the military community who understand the importance of increasing the Army's end strength. The defense of the United States is and must continue to be the first priority of our government.

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