CONGRESSMAN DAVIS ON IRAQ TROOPS - Kristen Friend-Weaver

06/07/04

This afternoon, Florida Congressman Jim Davis met with David Brown, an Army Specialist with the 4th Infantry Division, at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. There the two discussed how Congress and the President could better equip troops to deal with ongoing struggles in Iraq. WMNF’s Kristen Friend-Weaver has more on their discussion…

Congressman Davis first met Specialist Brown while he was serving with the Signal Battalion in Tikrit. There, Davis had the opportunity to discuss conditions for American troops in Iraq and bring suggestions back to the civilian leadership in America. Now that Brown has completed his tour, the two again met to discuss current Iraqi policy and the concerns of soldiers still serving in Iraq. Davis said that although most decisions had to be left to Army Generals, he understood that there were still things that he could do as a public official. He said that it is crucial to recognize the human aspect of the conflict and better arm each individual…

Specialist Brown surprised Davis by bringing his fiancée, Jesica Skaggs, with him to the meeting. The two met while playing video games in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, and the their story underscored the congressman’s point about the human side of war. Both Brown and Skaggs talked about helping each other through assignments, and dealing with one close call in particular…

Congressman Davis then encouraged the two to discuss their experiences openly with the public so that more people could learn about the realities of the current conflict. And, he said that it was important that the two shared the experience because so many soldiers return to find they have trouble connecting with friends and family…

Davis said that his top priority is still learning how he can better prepare American troops that remain in Iraq for the battles they continue to face. And he said that although he had learned a lot from his travels to Iraq, he was not finished getting suggestions from soldiers who had recently returned home…

Although the two were somewhat reluctant to speak on the record about Army shortcomings, Specialist Brown did agree that his unit was short on vests and other supplies. He said that often soldiers traded equipment because it was either incomplete or did not fit correctly. Jesica agreed, saying that often the equipment was cumbersome and she was not confident that it protected her as well as it could. However, she said that the main shortcoming she experienced was a general lack of understanding…

Many times during the course of his conversation, Congressman Davis referred to a letter he wrote that appeared in the October 28 edition of the St. Petersburg Times. In it, Davis laid out some of his suggestions and concerns about the ongoing struggle in Iraq. According to Davis, the most important thing the United States needs to do is make a more concerted effort to reach out to international allies. Davis said in his letter that he sensed an unwillingness on the part of some Americans to share the burden of leadership. But, he said he also talked to many soldiers who said they were short on supplies and body armor and were simply exhausted. And Davis said that the recent issuance of a stop loss order preventing some soldiers from leaving the military just confirms his belief that America must reach out to other countries for support…

To learn more about Congressman Davis’s recommendations for Iraq, visit his website at www.house.gov/jimdavis.

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