As Iraq Drawdown Continues, Obama Directs Pentagon to Plan Drawdown
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2009 -- President Barack Obama directed key defense and military officials he met with yesterday to come up with plans for "a responsible military drawdown in Iraq."
However, in September 2008 former President Bush originally announced a planned American military force drawdown in Iraq. That drawdown was based upon a return on success, which followed the departure of the five “surge” brigades, the Marine Expeditionary Unit, two Marine Corps battalions, and majority of the Coalition nations.
As of September 2008, there were 25 countries contributing to the Coalition force effort in Iraq. In October, five Coalition force partners concluded their missions in Iraq. In November, three more countries followed suit, with 11 additional countries departing in December; totaling 19 Coalition force partners finalizing their missions in Iraq.
Obama declared yesterday's meeting on Iraq productive and valuable. Participants in the late-afternoon session during his first day in office included Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command.
Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, also participated by teleconference.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker, key Cabinet members and senior national security officials also were included, collectively providing what Obama called "a full update on the situation in Iraq."
"The meeting was productive, and I very much appreciated receiving assessments from these experienced and dedicated individuals," the president said in a statement released after the session.
"During the discussion, I asked the military leadership to engage in additional planning necessary to execute a responsible military drawdown from Iraq," he said.
Obama said he plans to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Middle East.
"In the coming days and weeks, I will also visit the [Defense Department] to consult with the Joint Chiefs on these issues, and we will undertake a full review of the situation in Afghanistan in order to develop a comprehensive policy for the entire region," he said.
(From a report by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, and related sources.)
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