Posted on February 27, 2009. Filed under: News And Politics... |

I’m all for transparency in the government, but the media gives out too much information.  Giving a precise date as to when Obama is going to pull out military troops from Iraq then go so far as to publicize his trip itinerary to Camp Lejeune today is totally inappropriate in today’s world.  This is information terrorists love to get ahold of.  Even when Obama traveled to Canada last week on his first international trip, the Prime Minister’s Office released Obama’s complete itinerary schedule.  I don’t care for Obama, but he is our president and deserves to be kept safe…
February 27, 2009

Obama Plans to End Combat Mission in Iraq by August 2010


Soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., unloaded luggage this month for troops who had recently returned from a 15-month tour in Iraq.


WASHINGTON — President Obama heads to one of the nation’s most storied military bases Friday morning to unveil plans to pull most troops out of Iraq by August 2010 and he has support from an unlikely quarter — Senator John McCain, the Republican he beat in last year’s election.

Mr. McCain and other Republicans emerged from a meeting with Mr. Obama at the White House on Thursday evening reassured that the president’s withdrawal plan is responsible and reasonable. After securing assurances from Mr. Obama that he would reconsider his plans if violence increases, Mr. McCain and the Republicans expressed cautious support.

The convergence of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain on Iraq would have seemed highly improbable just a few months ago, when they clashed sharply on the future of the American mission there. Mr. McCain accused Mr. Obama of being naïve and opposed his withdrawal plans. At one point, Mr. McCain said Mr. Obama “would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.”

Aides to the president said Mr. Obama approved his withdrawal plan at a meeting with his national security team Wednesday and would tell an audience of several thousand Marines and their families at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday that he is bringing the current phase of the war to a close in August 2010.

“The combat, current combat mission in Iraq will end on August 31, 2010,” a senior administration official told reporters at a briefing under ground rules that he not be identified to avoid upstaging the president’s announcement. “At that point, the U.S. forces remaining in Iraq will undertake a new mission, a more limited mission.”

Mr. Obama agreed to give commanders 19 months to withdraw all combat brigades, 3 months longer than he promised on the campaign trail, to guard against any resurgence of violence. The bulk of the forces will remain in place until nearly next year to allow commanders to keep as many forces as possible through parliamentary elections in December.

After August 2010, the Obama plan will leave behind 35,000 to 50,000 of the 142,000 American troops now in Iraq to advise and train Iraqi security forces, conduct discrete counterterrorism missions and protect American civilian and military personnel working in the country, including State Department reconstruction teams.

The residual troops, which the Obama administration is calling a “transition force,” will remain only through December 2011, when a strategic agreement negotiated by President George W. Bush before he left office mandates the withdrawal of all American troops.

While the Bush team once envisioned a long-term military presence in Iraq long after violence subsides, akin to the deployment of tens of thousands of American forces in Germany or South Korea for decades after wars there, the Obama team said it plans to stick to the complete withdrawal by the end of 2011.

“The path we’re on here, the path is not towards any sort of a Korea model,” said the senior administration official. “The path is towards reducing, in a fairly substantial way, U.S. forces in 2010 and then down to what’s currently anticipated, down to zero, by the end of 2011.”

Officials said the plan has the support of all of Mr. Obama’s national security team, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both holdovers from the Bush administration. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the Middle East commander, and Gen. Ray Odierno, the Iraq commander, who were the main architects of Mr. Bush’s “surge” strategy credited with turning Iraq around, are also comfortable with the plan, officials said.

But leading Democrats are not. Even before the briefing at the White House on Thursday evening, Democrats criticized the size of the residual force, even though Mr. Obama said consistently during last year’s campaign that he would leave troops behind for limited missions.

“I’m happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president, but when they talk about 50,000, that’s a little higher number than I anticipated,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, told reporters before heading to the White House. After the meeting, his spokesman said Mr. Reid still held those concerns.

Another person briefed on the closed-door session said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House speaker, was particularly upset about the residual force. She kicked off the public criticism on Wednesday by saying she did not understand “the justification” for 50,000 troops.

By contrast, Republicans seemed more accepting of the plan. During the session with Mr. Obama, Mr. Gates, Admiral Mullen and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the State Dining Room, Mr. McCain said he thought the withdrawal plan was thoughtful and well prepared, according to several people who were in the room. His spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan, confirmed by e-mail on Thursday night that Mr. McCain is “supportive of the plan.”

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, and other senior Republicans were likewise generally supportive, while advocating flexibility to preserve the security gains since Mr. Bush sent more troops two years ago, according to Congressional aides.

Representative John M. McHugh of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Obama had reassured him that he would revisit his plan if circumstances changed.

“The president’s objective to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq is one that we should pray for, plan for and work toward,” Mr. McHugh said. “However, I remain concerned that the security situation in Iraq is fragile, and we should work to mitigate any risks to our troops and their mission.”



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