HELENA — The three members of Montana’s congressional delegation say they’re opposed to sending any additional U.S. troops or advisers into Iraq to help quell a Sunni Muslim-led insurgency.
Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., the Senate’s only Iraq War veteran, said Thursday he is “deeply troubled” by President Barack Obama’s decision to send 300 U.S. military advisers to help the Iraqi government, “because it looks like the slippery slope we’ve been down before.”
Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Rep. Steve Daines, a Republican — who is challenging Walsh in this year’s election — also said they oppose sending new military personnel into Iraq.
However, Daines added Thursday that he’ll “closely analyze other limited options” that U.S. military commanders may propose to help repel al-Qaeda-linked forces in Iraq.
All three men also said it’s important that the president consult with Congress before making any critical decisions on involvement in Iraq.
Obama announced Thursday he would send the 300 military advisers. On Wednesday, the White House indicated it doesn’t believe it needs congressional authorization for steps Obama might take to quell the insurgency in Iraq.
Both Walsh and Tester have been speaking out this week strongly against further U.S. military involvement in the troubled Mideast country.
Walsh spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday, saying the United States invaded Iraq based on “false information,” that the war is over and it’s time for the country to move on.
“I’ve seen the war up close,” he said. “And like too many American families, I’ve seen the costs of war up close, on families, on communities. It is now time for the Iraqis to secure and defend their own nation.”
Walsh, former adjutant general for the Montana National Guard, led a Guard infantry battalion in Iraq in 2004-2005, for 11 months. The battalion’s mission was to “remove insurgents” in an area north of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, Walsh has said.
Tester, who made opposition to the war part of his first Senate campaign in 2006, said in an interview with MSNBC Wednesday that sending in more U.S. troops now isn’t going to change anything in the long run.
“We’re going to get the same result, when we move out,” he said. “You can’t give people freedom who don’t want to have freedom, and that’s exactly the kind of situation we have in the Middle East.”
Daines also said that “only Iraqis” can secure their future and security, but that he doesn’t want to “allow the lives of the 4,486 Americans who died in Iraq, including 28 Montanans, to casually go in vain.”