Thursday, February 26, 2009

50,000 US troops to remain in Iraq under Obama 'withdrawal' plan

Obama Likely to Announce Iraq Pullout This Week, Official Says

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President Obama will likely announce a pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq later this week, according to a Defense Department official.

Obama has been given three plans by the current top U.S. commander in Iraq, Ray Odierno, for troop withdrawal -- 16 months, 19 months or 23 months. The official said it appears Obama is "trending" toward 19 months, although the decision is coming form Obama, not the Pentagon, the official said. While campaigning for President, then Sen.-Obama pledged to drawdown U.S. forces in Iraq within 16 months. But he was always careful to add that troop withdrawal needed to be done carefully.

A residual force would be left behind, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 troops. Also, Obama must take up the big issue of whether to stop production of the F-22 aircraft. The fighter jet is not scheduled to be a part of the March 1 budget but will be part of a budget announcement at the end of March. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates does not like the F-22, but knows that if the U.S. cancels the aircraft it will mean tens of thousands of jobs lost.

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