Monday, September 24, 2007

Inhofe Rejects Chance to Help
Troops and their Families, Again

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe is risking the health and welfare of America’s soldiers and their families when he rejects bipartisan efforts to ensure a fair deployment rotation policy, State Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Ivan Holmes said today.

“Senator Inhofe votes consistently against policies that would benefit American soldiers and their families,” Holmes said. “He supports the war but his voting record makes it hard for him to claim that he supports the troops.”

Holmes was referring to an amendment before the U.S. Senate last week that Inhofe helped defeat for the second time this year that would establish rotation policies guaranteeing that most troops spend time at home between deployments equal to the duration of their last deployment.

Known as the “dwell-time” amendment, it had support of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate along with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and several veterans groups.

“Our men and women in uniform and their families have been pushed to the breaking point by these unreasonable deployments and redeployments,” Holmes said. “Regardless of his stubborn refusal to change course in Iraq after four and one-half years, Inhofe should at the very least, reconsider the toll on Oklahoma parents, children, and troops that the pace of the war is taking on America’s all-volunteer force.”

Holmes said that American ground forces are serving unprecedented periods in combat, which is leading to increased mental health issues among the troops and their families and a falling retention rate of experienced combat veterans. Most Army units today deploy for 15 months with 12 months at home. Most Marines have even less time at home. By contrast, British troops enjoy two years at home for every six months in combat.

The amendment’s author, Senator Jim Webb, D-VA, had cooperated with the Secretary of Defense to include a 120-day enactment period so the Pentagon could plan and organize the new rotation policy and he exempted Special Operations Forces because of the erratic nature of their mission.

“If Senator Inhofe doesn’t want to listen to me and other Oklahomans, he should listen to the Military Officers Association,” Holmes said in reference to a letter by MOAA President which stated: ”If we are not better stewards of our troops and their families in the future than we have been in the recent past, MOAA believes strongly that we will be putting the all-volunteer force at unacceptable risk.”

Holmes also noted that Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress clear authority to “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.”

“Congress has mandated military personnel policies in the past, even during war time,” Holmes said. “It’s too easy for war cheerleaders in Congress to say they’re following the advice of the Pentagon. They also have a responsibility to look out for the welfare of our troops and their families.”

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