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Monday, December 18, 2006
Skelton: Boosting troop levels may worsen Iraq conflict
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Incoming House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, congratulated Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on his formal assumption of office Monday, but expressed reservations about a potential increase in Iraq troop levels.

"Everything I've heard and everything I know to be true lead me to believe that this increase at best won't change a thing, and at worst could exacerbate the situation even further," Skelton said in a statement.

However, Skelton said he would withhold his final judgment until Gates presents him with an official policy change.

"I expect to be shown that any decision on future troop levels is based on a realistic assessment of the situation on the ground and sound strategy, not political assumptions and wishful thinking," Skelton said.

-- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
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