Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) today offered H. Res. 305 to honor the 20th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  The resolution passed under suspension of House rules by voice vote.  Smith chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee. 

Below are Smith’s remarks:

“Mr. Speaker, I’m proud to work with Representative Drake to mark the 20th anniversary of founding of the Special Operations Command. 

“Congress established SOCOM on April 16, 1987 in response to the failure of the Desert One mission to rescue American hostages in Iran.  We learned two main lessons from Desert One.  First, we needed a better joint command structure; our military was too divided and did not work well together, due to a lack of interoperable equipment and a lack of familiarity and joint training among the various branches.  Second, we lacked forces trained for these kinds of missions.  The establishment of SOCOM was meant to address these shortcomings.

“SOCOM has been a fabulous success.  We have roughly 53,000 special operations personnel operating in more than 50 countries around the world, taking direct action to counter terrorists and working with local populations to prevent terrorists from taking root. 

“I am especially proud of the three special operations force components housed in the 9th District of Washington:  the Army 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) – 4th Batallion at Fort Lewis and the Air Force 22nd Special Tactics Squadron at McChord Air Force Base.  I’ve also been able to visit several other components of our special operations forces across the country and around the world, and they are doing a fantastic job.

“Going forward, we need more special operations forces to fight the spread of the totalitarian ideology pushed by al-Qaeda and related groups.  Consistent with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, we will seek to grow SOCOM forces by 15 percent.  We will not sacrifice quality for quantity, but we must have the capability to train more special operations forces to face complex national security challenges. 

“And, we must ensure proper emphasis on indirect action.  Often when people think of special operations, they think of direct action against terrorists.  But much of SOCOM’s mission involves less dramatic but essential work.  Special operations forces are currently working in well over a dozen countries to prevent al-Qaeda and other organizations from taking root.  They train locals to defend themselves and help local populations improve their living situations so that they are less susceptible to terrorist recruitment. 

“Getting to know local populations, learning the languages, becoming helpful to them – these steps are vital to preventing insurgencies and terrorist groups from taking hold.  We recently heard from a special operations veteran who told us that the most helpful counter-terrorism tool his force brought with them in North Africa was a dentist.  The population needed this service so badly that our providing it led to them working with us to root out terrorists in the area.  This kind of work to win the hearts and minds of local populations is essential if we are to defeat the spread of al-Qaeda’s message across the globe.  That’s why we in Congress must ensure that SOCOM is resourced and structured properly to sufficiently emphasize and effectively carry out this critical indirect work.

“I want to thank the members from both parties on the terrorism subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee for their work to make sure our special operations forces have the tools they need to protect our country.  I want to especially thank Ranking Member Mac Thornberry and Representative Thelma Drake for their hard work on this important resolution.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the Pentagon’s decision to extend Army deployments from 12 months to 15 months.  Smith is chairman of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.

"This is hard news for our Fort Lewis soldiers and families.  They should know how proud we are of their service. My office stands ready to help them in any way and I hope they and their families will contact me if we can be of any assistance.

"They should also know that Congress is doing everything we can to get them the tools, equipment and training they need so they can finish their extended tour safely and come home to their loved ones."

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after voting for H.R. 1591, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.  The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 218 to 212.

“This bill is an important first step to get the President to change course in Iraq.  The American people have made it absolutely clear they want a new direction, but the President wants ‘no strings attached’ funds so he can pursue the same failed policies in Iraq.  The time has come to acknowledge that we will not stay in Iraq indefinitely.  This bill provides a responsible blueprint for the redeployment of our troops to better fight the war on terror.

“Our bill will also put pressure on the Iraqi government to meet the benchmarks the President enumerated months ago.  It gives our leaders in the field leverage they need to force Iraqi politicians to commit to a just accommodation among the warring factions in Iraq. 

“I support this legislation, and I strongly believe it will help lead to a better course of action by our nation in Iraq and in the broader war against Al Qaeda and their violent totalitarian ideology.”

 

On Friday, March 9, U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) fought to change the Bush Administration’s flawed Iraq policy and provide Congress with a plan to responsibly redeploy our troops.  Smith and Tauscher introduced a bill that would terminate the authorization for the use of force in Iraq and allow for a new vote on a different mission for our Armed Forces.  In addition, it would require the President provide a plan for redeployment of our troops in Iraq and to step up political and diplomatic pressure to end the Iraq crisis and meet key Iraq Study Group recommendations.

The Smith-Tauscher bill would:

  • Terminate the existing authority for the use of force and allow for a new vote on the mission in Iraq;
  • Require a plan from the Defense Department to redeploy our troops for a mission that includes counter-terrorism, force protection, and training Iraqi troops;
  • Require the President appoint a Coordinator for Iraq Stabilization to organize regional cooperation to stabilize Iraq; and
  • Tie funding for Iraqi security and reconstruction beginning in 2008 to the President’s certifying that the Iraqi government has met specific benchmarks they have committed to.

“The situation in Iraq has changed since we first authorized the use of force against Saddam Hussein.  We must alter our Iraq mission to one acceptable to the American people, but in order to do that, we need military planners to begin planning the redeployment of our forces.  Our bill would allow us to set a new mission, force the Defense Department to craft a plan to redeploy our troops, and require the President engage in vigorous diplomacy to help settle the Iraq crisis,” Smith said.

The Smith-Tauscher bill has the support of key House Democrats, including:

  • Artur Davis  (D-Ala.)
  • Joseph Crowley  (D-N.Y.)
  • Jane Harman (D-Calif.)

Smith and Tauscher chair subcommittees on the House Armed Services Committee, which is responsible for authorizing funds for our military.  Smith chairs the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities.  Tauscher chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. 

“Our bill fits well with the supplemental appropriations measure introduced by House Democrats.  This bill, however, focuses on the underlying authorization for the war, rather than the appropriation of money for it.  Both are good first steps.  We have to keep pressure on the President to change his failed Iraq policy,” Smith said.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) today requested Secretary Robert Gates share with Congress any Defense Department contingency plans for the failure of the President’s troop increase strategy in Iraq.  Smith chairs the terrorism subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.

The Washington Post reported on March 5, 2007 that the Administration has “no … backup strategy for Iraq.”  Last month Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he “would be irresponsible if I did not have people looking at contingencies in the event this does not work…”

The letter states: “… whatever one’s opinion on the [troop surge] plan, it is critical that Congress have a realistic understanding of what our troops may need through the remainder of the year.  This must include knowledge of alternative options and contingency plans for our military.”  Full text below.

Smith believes:

  • backup plans are necessary to support our Armed Forces in the event that the President’s troop increase in Iraq fails to produce desired results;
  • lack of such plans would indicate a serious failure on the part of the Defense Department; and
  • Congress must have a realistic understanding of what our troops may need through this year. 

Further, Smith believes we must change the mission in Iraq to one acceptable to the American people and that benefits our national security interests.  Military planners with proper expertise must begin planning for redeployment.  Smith hopes this letter will help pressure the civilian leadership of the Defense Department to order military commanders to do so.

Full text of Smith and Skelton’s letter to Defense Secretary Gates:

Dear Secretary Gates:

As the new Secretary of Defense, you have been tasked with helping bring greater stability to what has become an increasingly turbulent Iraq.  We acknowledge the enormity of that challenge and seek to assist you in every way possible.

As such, we believe it is important to identify the alternatives to the President’s current plan for Iraq.  In your testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in February, you indicated that the Department was preparing military contingency plans in the event that the troop increase plan does not yield results in the next few months.

We write to formally request that the Department of Defense share with the Committee the range of contingencies under consideration and discuss with us the possible options for dealing with them.

As you may know, we disagree with the President’s decision to increase U.S. combat forces in Baghdad by over 21,000 troops.  But whatever one’s opinion on the plan, it is critical that Congress have a realistic understanding of what our troops may need through the remainder of the year.  This must include knowledge of alternative options and contingency plans for our military. 
 
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request and for your continued service to the country.

Sincerely,

Ike Skelton (D-MO)
Chairman, House Armed Services Committee

Adam Smith (D-WA)
Chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities