News Releases

Senator Murray Presses Defense Secretary on Training Iraqi Forces, Political Benchmarks, and Mental Health Care

May 09 2007

Gates on benchmarks: "We are buying them time for political reconciliation, and every day we buy them we buy with American blood."

Video - Senator Murray's Questioning

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D - WA) questioned Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the training of Iraqi security forces, the lack of progress on meeting political benchmarks, and the need to end the stigma surrounding mental health care in the military. Senator Murray also discussed training concerns with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace who was also at the hearing of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Political Benchmarks

Murray also asked about the amount of progress the Iraqi government is making on meeting the political benchmarks necessary to achieve a stable democracy.

Murray asked: Have you seen any progress on the political benchmarks that have been set for the Iraqi government -on oil revenue sharing, national reconciliation, new elections...?

Gates: "Clearly it hasn't moved as far and as fast as we would like."

Gates: "We are buying them time for political reconciliation and every day we buy them we buy with American blood"

Audio: Secretary Gates' Answer on Meeting Political Benchmarks (1 Min 43 Sec)

Mental Health Care

Senator Murray, who has been a national leader on caring for service members with PTSD, asked Secretary Gates about how the Department of Defense is working to ensure that troops are getting the mental health care they deserve.

"I've been very concerned because I have been hearing directly from soldiers that they feel that the effects of PTSD are being dismissed by military care providers as being 'all in their head' " Murray said. "I want your assurance today that you will make sure that is not the case?"

Audio: Secretary Gates' Answer on PTSD (2 Min 46 Sec)

Training of Iraqi Forces

Senator Murray began her questioning by asking for answers on the painfully slow pace of training and equipping forces in Iraq.

"Our troops have been training forces now for more than four years in Iraq," Murray said "In your opinion where are we in having an Iraqi security force that is able to stand up on its own?"

Pace: "the current proposed size of the Iraqi army will be met by the end of this year."

Audio: Secretary Gates and General Pace's Answers on Training Iraqi Forces (1 Min 47 Sec)