Wire: Obama to Pull US Troops from Iraq by August 2010
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Feb 24, 2009 -- The Associated Press reported today that the U.S. plans to withdraw most of its troops from Iraq by August 2010, 19 months after President Barack Obama took office, according to administration officials. The withdrawal plan seeks to fulfill one of Obama's central campaign pledges. He said he would withdraw troops within 16 months, roughly one brigade a month from the time of his inauguration.
The officials said they expect Obama to make the announcement this week. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.The 19-month strategy is a compromise between commanders and advisers who are worried that security gains could backslide in Iraq and those who think the bulk of U.S. combat work is long since done, according to AP.
The U.S. military will leave behind a residual force, between 30,000 and 50,000 troops, to continue advising and training Iraqi security forces, the two officials said. Also staying beyond the 19 months will be intelligence and surveillance specialists and their equipment, including unmanned aircraft, they said.
A further withdrawal will take place before December 2011, the period by which the U.S. agreed with Iraq to remove all American troops.
A senior White House official said Tuesday that Obama is at least a day away from making a final decision. He further said an announcement on Wednesday was unlikely, but he said that Obama could discuss Iraq during a trip to North Carolina on Friday.
About 142,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, roughly 14 brigades, about 11,000 above the total in Iraq when President George W. Bush announced in January 2007 that he would "surge" the force to put down the insurgency. He sent an additional 21,000 combat troops to Baghdad and Anbar province.
The White House considered at least two other options to withdraw combat forces — one that followed Obama's 16-month timeline and one that stretched withdrawal over 23 months, AP reported earlier this month.
Since 2003, Congress has approved in multiple bills around $657 billion for the Iraq war, according to a report last year from the Congressional Research Service.
(Report from a commercial media source.)
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