President Obama seeks to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by August of 2010, The New York Times reports.
During his campaign, the president vowed to withdraw U.S. troops within 16 months of being elected, but has decided to extend operations for three additional months. Government officials told the New York Times that Obama agreed to extend the timetable at the request of ground commanders who wanted more time to ensure the security and stability of Iraq.
According to the Times:
“Even with the withdrawal order, Mr. Obama plans to leave behind a 'residual force' of tens of thousands of troops to continue training Iraqi security forces, hunt down foreign terrorist cells and guard American institutions, as he said he would during last year’s campaign.”
Although the president has not made a final decision on the matter, officials have said that he may announce his plan as early as Friday. In his Tuesday night speech before congress, Obama said that he would “soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.”
Military leaders have expressed mixed opinions about Obama’s proposed withdrawal, with some saying that he should stick to his original 16-month promise and others insisting that more time is still needed. An anonymous senior official told the New York Times that “the president has been struck by the fact that there has been a meeting of the minds in a lot of ways among his military advisers about what would be a safe and responsible way to redeploy our troops while protecting our interests in Iraq.”
No word on yet on how many of the 140,000 deployed troops will be sent down, or whether any would remain under a new mission.
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