Editorial

Skelton's oversight

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton of Lexington, Mo., has had a keen interest in the nation's military readiness since he first went to Congress 30 years ago.

Now, as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Skelton has taken on another military mission by stepping up congressional oversight of the military. The congressman said his primary concern is the readiness of U.S. troops that has been stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Skelton worries that our forces might not be about to respond to other national security threats or conflicts elsewhere.

One key finding of a series of hearings the Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has conducted is that the U.S. has spent $19 billion to train Iraqi security forces, but a bipartisan report found that it would be years before they could operate without U.S. help.

There is no question that military oversight is crucial to the efficiency, staffing and equipping of U.S. armed forces, and there is probably no one better to lead that oversight than Skelton. But there also is no question that Skelton and other Democrats in Congress are looking for ways to force a withdrawal from Iraq. These withdrawal advocates have been unable to muster enough votes to set a deadline and have turned to the oversight process as leverage against the Bush administration.

Let's hope Skelton will advocate a prudent course of much-needed oversight without allowing political maneuvering to cloud the process.

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