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Democrat asserts that Army is 'broken'

LATROBE, Pa. -- Most US troops will leave Iraq within a year, and the Army is ''broken, worn out," and may not be able to meet future military threats to the country's security, Representative John Murtha said.

Two weeks ago, Murtha created a storm of comment when he called for US troops to leave Iraq now. The Democratic congressman spoke to a group of community and business leaders in Latrobe on Wednesday, the same day President Bush said troops would be withdrawn when they've achieved victory, not under an artificial deadline set by politicians.

Murtha predicted most troops will be out of Iraq within a year.

''I predict he'll make it look like we're 'staying the course,' " Murtha said, referring to Bush. ''Staying the course is not a policy."

Murtha, 73, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, expressed pessimism about Iraq's stability and said the Iraqis know who the insurgents are, but don't always share that information with US troops. He said a civil war is likely due to factionalism among Sunni Arabs, and Kurds and Shi'ites.

He also said he was wrong to vote to support the war. ''I admit I made a mistake when I voted for war," Murtha said.

Murtha, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said the Pennsylvania National Guard is ''stretched so thin" that it won't be able to send fully equipped units to Iraq next year.

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