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Iraq Update: Longer Tours of Duty Taking Toll on our Troops

Seven months ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a 'temporary' tour of duty extension for all active duty Army soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan - from 12 month long deployments to 15 months - to meet the president's so-called 'surge.' Yesterday, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno told the Associated Press that these 15-month combat tours are likely to last until at least the end of 2008.

Our troops and their families deserve more than a continuation of the President's stay-the-course, failed Iraq policy. Democrats are committed to a New Direction in Iraq that holds the President accountable, provides real support to our men and women in uniform and will bring our troops home responsibly, safely, and soon.

Last month, House Democrats again fought for a New Direction in Iraq by passing a funding bill that provides our troops with $50 billion and a strategy that brings them home - because that is the best way to honor the sacrifice of our troops and their families and restore our military readiness.

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  • More than 1.6 million American men and women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001 - nearly 565,000 have been deployed more than once. [Department of Defense, 10/31/07]
  • This year, while U.S. troops were serving 15 month-long tours fighting in Baghdad, Iraqi military forces had 90-day combat tours in the city.Washington Post, 6/2/07]
  • Since the beginning of the Iraq war, the readiness of our forces - active duty and reserve - has plummeted.
  • Today, not a single active duty or reserve brigade in the U.S. is considered 'fully combat ready.' Our strategic reserve of forces has eroded to dangerous levels.
  • All of the Army's available active duty combat brigades have served at least one 12-month tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • 3,883 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 28,500 have been wounded since the war in Iraq began. [Department of Defense, 12/5/07]