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Ear to the Ground

War in Iraq: 2003-2010

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Posted on Feb 27, 2009
Combat vs. Support

With 142,000 U.S. soldiers now in Iraq, Obama’s plan would reduce troop levels by only 65 percent.

Well, not exactly a real pullout, but a plan to be announced by the Obama administration on Friday is expected to withdraw “combat” troops from Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, officially ending U.S. combat operations in the war-torn country while keeping 50,000 ambiguously labeled “support troops” there.

Updated: The official Obama plan has puzzled many, as the administration’s August 31st date of withdrawal is two full months after the existing withdrawal date agreed upon between Bush and the Iraqi parliament. While Bush’s “U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement” is qualitatively different than Obama’s—it only removes troops only “out of cities and populated areas” by June—the key timetables for withdrawal are relatively similar.


President Obama will say in his Friday speech at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, that the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end next year, two senior administration officials said.

President Obama says he plans to keep up to 50,000 support troops in Iraq after combat troops leave in 2010.

“Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” Obama will say, according to the officials.

Under this plan, all combat troops will be withdrawn within 19 months of Obama’s January inauguration, three months longer than his promise on the campaign trail.

In a meeting at the White House on Thursday evening, Obama also told lawmakers that he plans to keep a range of 35,000 to 50,000 support troops on the ground in Iraq after combat troops are out, the officials said.

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By purplewolf, February 28, 2009 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment

We still have 57,000 troops stationed in Germany and how long ago did we end that war? And still have our soldiers stationed in over 150 other countries around the world. Just who is protecting America’s borders??

There will still be a residual number of our military people left here for a long time. We did not build the worlds biggest embassy in Iraq just to abandon it.

These people have fought since they learned how to kill each other. No amount of intervention by the outside world will change that unless the people who live their actually have an epiphany of some kind or their hearts and minds become touched by something greater then their own hatred toward each other.

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By cyrena, February 28, 2009 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

By dihey, February 28 at 8:17 pm #

Obama’s intentions (isn’t the road to hell paved with them?) depend on “the situation on the ground”, a euphemism for “we will stay if the Iraq people start killing one another again”.



I’d be willing to bet a few coins that this IS the ‘intent’ of withdrawing over a graduated period of time…to avoid another Vietnam withdrawal.

You remember that, right?

There’s something to be said for the pure practicality of doing a logistically pragmatic withdrawal.

(Gee, maybe I should have been a military commander…that just seems like common sense).

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By M.B.S.S., February 28, 2009 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

now that the wall st. journal and mccain have provided their blessings to this plan i feel so much better about it all.  dont give up hope in obama folks, this is real politik and he is playing 9D chess.  you people are just to stupid to understand.  just have some blind faith and go shopping or something (buy a chevy or some bank stocks for goodness sakes, be a patriot!)

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By dihey, February 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Obama’s intentions (isn’t the road to hell paved with them?) depend on “the situation on the ground”, a euphemism for “we will stay if the Iraq people start killing one another again”.

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By James, February 28, 2009 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems to me that the combat operations ended about the time that Saddam Hussein was captured and that the military role after that was as peacekeepers.  That is the war ended about six years ago.  Remember that after 60 years, the US still has military presence in Europe.  Hasn’t that war ended?  So isn’t Obama just reducing the peacekeeping forces?  The ideas of combat forces is misinformation on Obama’s part.

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By cyrena, February 28, 2009 at 12:48 am Link to this comment

So, I checked…details matter, eh? All COMBAT forces out by next August, (2010) and ALL the rest by the end of the next year, December, 2011.

•  “CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — President Obama declared the beginning of the end of one of the longest and most divisive wars in American history on Friday as he announced that he would withdraw combat forces from Iraq by August 2010 and all remaining troops by December 2011.”

Uh, remind me again how long we’ve been there. Oh yeah, SEVEN YEARS!! And remind me again what would have changed about that, if the repigs had stayed in control. Oh yeah…McCain spent several months telling us, and Cheney has reminded us since, about the dangers of closing gitmo and ending the wars of aggression begun by his regime.

In fact, HE said we should expect another 9/11 if we follow this course of action.

Looks like Obama has extended the proverbial middle finger to that and Cheney.

The written transcript of what he actually DID say, (as opposed to what this promises that he will say) is at the link.

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By cyrena, February 28, 2009 at 12:38 am Link to this comment

This article was obviously written on what Obama was ‘going to say’ prior to him actually saying it.

Now, from what I’ve been told, (because I haven’t seen President Obama’s speech yet, though I suspect I can find it) the President said he was going to have ALL TROOPS OUT of Iraq by the end of 2010.

ALL. Did the person telling me that mishear the President? I guess I’ll have to check.

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By marcus medler, February 27, 2009 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So sad! An antiwar,  I’ll bring troops home guy, becomes a militarist. It says pools of blood about America’s addiction. It is a personal tragedy for an american politician, the ethical, moral and political turnarounds they make in order to stay alive or exercise some influence. We can only hope that the economic mess at home will halt the war makers. I have little faith. Ike ended the war in Korea, but left the troops. Maybe the new electric car will be made in Iraq!

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By Paul H, February 27, 2009 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pelosi needs to shut up. Obama is obviously listening to his Military advisers, and thinks they know better than he does.
This is a sign of things to come. This low approval rated congress is going to be the reason we the people are going to take this country back. The vote will look a lot different in 2010!

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By brasswatchman, February 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

... to be honest, I kind of see this as probably a wise move on Obama’s part. Decolonization* strikes me as a tricky thing - pull out too quickly, and the power vacuum you create might do more harm than good. C.f. what happened when Belgium pulled out of the Congo in 6 months. People are still paying for the mess they left behind, and that was sixty years ago. I also take some measure of encouragement from the fact that Obama at least consulted with the Iraqi government and prime minister before he announced the plan… in general, we’ll have to see how the Iraqis react. Point is, believe it or not, this might be the most responsible thing to do.

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By Joe Fattal, February 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President Obama should at least know that in that part of the world you do not make promises, or set up any deal to take anyone from Iraq.  Tomorow the whole area might blow up again. If he wanted the troops back and he means it, he bring them back now.

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By AFriend, February 27, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By and large this appears to be a continuation of the “U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement”.

At the very least this appears to be yet another broken promise. The promise to “remove ALL TROOPS from Iraq” within 16 months.

Before the economy tanked the removal of all troops from Iraq was the flagship campaign platform in the Obama candidacy.

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By sapeye, February 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excellent! Only 35,000 to 50,000 US troops still there. Support only. I imagine Iraqi people will make the fine distinction about which kind of foreign soldiers continue to occupy their land. Oh yes, and how many thousands of mercenaries will also remain? Why isn’t Obama or anyone else mentioning the mercenaries?

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By KDelphi, February 27, 2009 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

I honestly cannot believe this. CHANGE!

“McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that a “failing situation in Iraq has been arrested and reversed” due to the “dramatic success of the surge strategy.”

He also praised Obama’s willingness to leave behind a significant residual force and reassess the situation if conditions change in the future.

“We are finally on a path to success,” McCain said. “Let us have no crisis of confidence now”

The article also says that forces will “support Iraqi troops, assist civilians, blah, blah, and participate in some counterterrorism operations”.

And, the “terrorists” will “terrorize” our military in kind, and, the US will zombie bomb, and they will retaliate, and, ....

I hope that I am wrong…

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