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US Forces “Stretched and Strained”: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) told defense reporters in Washington yesterday he’s been “quite concerned” about the readiness of the US military for more than a year. Under the readiness banner, Skelton includes equipment, training, personnel, leadership, and education. “Readiness gives one the ability to deter or wage a present conflict, or fight future conflicts, hopefully successfully,” he said. He went on: “I think we’re slipping. We’re stretched and strained—[in] Iraq to a great extent, Afghanistan to some extent. We’re stretching ourselves almost beyond recognition in Iraq.” He cited a lack of training in the US, a lack of equipment, scheduling problems, multiple deployments, and the high operational tempo as the major causes of the “serious, serious readiness problem.” In his view, “It’s very alarming.” And, Skelton asked rhetorically, “What if we had another contingency?”