Obama to Announce End Of Iraq "Combat Mission" Set For Aug 2010, 50k "Residual" Troops


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. . . .“The combat, current combat mission in Iraq will end on August 31, 2010,” a senior administration official told reporters . . . At that point, the U.S. forces remaining in Iraq will undertake a new mission, a more limited mission.”

. . . 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.

Unlike some on the progressive side, who railed vehemently against the concept of residual troops (Bill Richardson became their favored candidate during the primaries because he said he was against leaving residual troops), I always thought this approach was reasonable. I support President Obama's policy. For an intelligent opposing view, here is Robert Stein. I've added a poll question below on whether you support or do not support President Obama's Iraq policy.

Speaking for me only

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Do You Support Obama's Iraq Policy?
Support 43%
Do Not Support 36%
Other 20%

Votes: 30
Results | Other Polls
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    50,000 Souls.... (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:03:30 AM EST
    That is some residual presence...it ain't like we're talking about a couple hundred advisers here, 100,000 boots on the ground still qualifies as an occupation in my book.  That's an end in name only.

    Have ya (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:48:16 AM EST
    Seen the size of the US Embassy in Iraq?  

    While I agree with your sentiments, "100 or so advisors" isn't going to cut it.


    I have.... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:59:52 AM EST
    one of the clues that leads me to surmise we will never stop occupying Iraq...the candidates in 2016 and beyond will be debating a pull-out until we the people forget about it like we forget that we stil occupy Japan...though in that case, with the full blessing of the Japanese people as far as I can tell.

    Well (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 10:05:04 AM EST
    People laughed at McCain for his often mis-quoted and taken out of context "100 years" comment, but he was right on one thing - we're still hanging around in Germany (and in Korea) and those wars / police actions have been over for decades.

    At this point, we're just staying in (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by tigercourse on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 10:09:38 AM EST
    Germany for the Beer and Knackwurst.

    Somebody makes money... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 11:33:03 AM EST
    off the continued occupation of Germany.

    Germany (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by cal1942 on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 11:47:51 AM EST
    And US military vendors... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 11:58:49 AM EST
    somebody has to stock the mess hall.

    They couldn't even get the cleaning (none / 0) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 07:44:51 PM EST
    of it done :)  Bush's legacy....a U.S. embassy in Iraq that you can see from space.

    Who will protect the protectors? the 50K trainers, (none / 0) (#29)
    by jawbone on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 12:10:04 PM EST
    responders to, uh, terrists? Who will supply them? Feed them?

    Will the numbers actually be much higher? Or will Xe, aka Blackwater, or KGB bring in more foreign contractors?

    Well, it's pretty much what I predicted based on Obama's campaign rhetoric.


    I never had a (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by dk on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:15:03 AM EST
    big problem, in theory if it could be explained rationally, with "residual" presence either.  But one thing I am pretty certain of is that calling over one-third of troops "residual" sounds pretty Orwellian.

    2011 (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by rea on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:21:07 AM EST
    The agreement with Iraq on the presence of US troops requires those 50,000 to be gone the following year.

    So basically he is (none / 0) (#4)
    by dk on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:34:42 AM EST
    postponing his campaign pledge to get all troops out by a year or so.  Too bad he wouldn't just own up to that and say it.  It's that he is trying to fool people with the "residual forces" language that seems problematic.  Also makes it harder to trust that he will actually follow through.  I guess time will tell.

    Well, not exactly (5.00 / 0) (#12)
    by rea on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:40:43 AM EST
    Rembmber, (1) the status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government was reached at a relatively late point during during the campaign.  Modification of the details of his position in light of the agreement doesn't seem all that objectionable to me. (2) He ws always cvlear that the 16 months was a target, not a deadline etched in cement. (3) The crucial point is, we're getting out.  (4) This is not just about the US--the Iraqis get a say in the matter, too.

    My memory (none / 0) (#26)
    by cal1942 on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 11:38:27 AM EST
    could be off here but I seem to remember that during the primaries Obama said he'd get combat troops out of Iraq, that he didn't say he'd withdraw from Iraq or end our involvement in Iraq.

    I do remember thinking that some of his followers tended to either ignore or didn't understand the ramifications the term combat troops.

    Not a knock on your comment dk just wondering if my memory is correct.


    Camp Lejune Speach (none / 0) (#32)
    by rea on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 01:34:03 PM EST
    Since this was posted, Obama has given his speach at Camp Lejune, where he said explicitly that the residual force will be oput in 2011 pursuant to the agreement with the Iraqi giovernmetn.

    In this case it's not about the concept (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by joanneleon on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:51:44 AM EST
    of residual troops, it's about the fact that 50K doesn't sound so residual.  It sounds like we're being deceived.  That's about a third of our "surge" levels.  And as far as I know, we don't know yet if there will be contractors added to that 50K number.

    I disagree with the criticisms of Pelosi and Reid this time.  Since they are the ones responsible for the funding, they have every right to question what "residual" means and ask for a justification for the figures proposed.  It's not like they have no experience or knowledge about this subject.  They've been dealing with it on a daily basis for six years.  And they are speaking for (and accountable to) the people -- you know, the ones who overwhelmingly have indicated that they want out of Iraq, and the ones who are paying for all of this, and the ones who have spent the last eight years being lied to about this war.

    They are not interfering with plans for safe withdrawal.  This is about how many troops we'll be paying for indefinitely, and for whose benefit?  The Iraqis?  The oil companies?  The latest news is that the residual forces will contain some combat forces.  So there's another deviation from what we've been told and what we promised Iraq via the SOFA.  There is also talk about renegotiation of the SOFA.  

    I hope to see more push back and calls for full explanations of what the plans are and why.  And I reject the very familiar voices trying to smack them down.  Next they will be questioning their patriotism.

    I agree with Mr. Stein. Especially since (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 10:11:20 AM EST
    a review of options and policy is happening but not completed.  Also, what is this about the U.S. State Dept. doing reconstruction of Iraq?

    I appreciate that (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by JThomas on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 01:39:03 PM EST
    the President has followed thru on his campaign promise to set a timetable to withdraw our combat troops from Iraq.

    His speech to the Marines was very sweeping and laid out the framework for moving forward in Iraq.
    This is yet another mess he has inherited from the Bush era and has started to take the necessary steps to clean up. Bravo,Mr.President.As a father of a soldier who just returned from Baghdad,I can only say:
    Thanks,Mr President.

    Not a surprise. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fabian on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:41:03 AM EST
    The OUT NOW folks were always asking for a miracle.

    I wish Iraq was ready to stand on its own.  I wish there was some simple way of defeating the Taliban so we could get out of Afghanistan as well.  But I'm stuck with reality instead.

    Did you mean to imply (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Samuel on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:05:19 AM EST
    that the stay longer people aren't hoping for miracles?  

    Miracles... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:44:03 AM EST
    or they are getting a slice of the action.

    Bush/Cheney were the original (none / 0) (#14)
    by Fabian on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:46:34 AM EST
    wish-upon-a-star executives.

    I watched the PBS special on the Iraq war and it was one horrible mistake after another.  Their narrative seems to have been: Remove Saddam Hussein from power, celebrate and go home.  Uh, and find those pesky WMDs.

    Right now no one seems to have a Plan other than Do our best and hope everything turns out okay.  Even the OUT NOW folks didn't have much of a plan other than Leave now and hope everything turns out okay.

    I'm not sure if I'd want to be in charge of fixing the economy or fixing the mess in the Middle East.


    So is it fair to say (none / 0) (#16)
    by Samuel on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:53:27 AM EST
    you don't think "Out Now" people are any more or less irrational than anyone else with an opinion on the matter?

    Not irrational, emotional. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Fabian on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:57:58 AM EST
    It's fine to be emotional.  Just don't expect me to buy anything based on emotion.

    If one's not being irrational (none / 0) (#24)
    by Samuel on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 11:37:08 AM EST
    then whether they are being emotional or not is irrelevant, no?

    I always say... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 11:37:27 AM EST
    do what is right, or what you think is right, and come what may.  

    Occupation of foreign lands is not right according to my moral code...so "out now" is right in my book, and come what may.  


    Does anyone care about (none / 0) (#6)
    by Green26 on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 08:45:52 AM EST
    listening to the advice of the generals and advisors and listening to the Iraqi leadership-- and then making the best decision for the U.S, Iraq and the Middle East? As opposed to just fulfulling a campaign promise (and risking a significant loss of gains in Iraq, as well as a possible blowup in the region).

    In my view, Obama is very fortunate the the Surge, which he opposed, was so successful. Otherwise, he'd be facing a much bigger problem and decision at this time. Without the Surge and Sunni Awakening, Iraq would be a much uglier situaion.

    The surge was a complete failure... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Dadler on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 10:43:41 AM EST
    ...in terms of its real goals, which were political.  Come on, that is common knowledge.  If anything, the misperception that it succeeded is going to do more harm than good, because Obama is operating on the assumption that it did work.  Iraq is going to forge its own history after we are gone for good, and the longer we put that off, the worse that forging is going to be for everyone.

    We are such imperialist occupiers at heart, we are brainwashed in our ridiculous paradigms and can't, for anything, see our way out of them.

    We believe we are the only one with answers when, it is laughably obvious, we don't even have answers for our own nation's problems.

    Anyone who likes these residual troops should sign up and be a part of them.  Not willing to do that?  Then stuff it and go sit in the corner.

    We are back, always back, to the same idiocy.  Waging a war none of us fight in ourselves and talking about it like it's just, well, too far in to get out of.

    Again and again and again, the same stupidity, the same arrogance.  It never ends.  Until we do, I suppose.


    The Surge was very successful militarily. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Green26 on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 02:45:34 PM EST
    I don't believe the Surge was done for political reasons.

    The Surge improved the security situation in Iraq significantly. The Surge and Sunni Awakening beat down Al Qaeda of Iraq, and pushed them into a few remaining pockets of territory.

    Markets and stores are now open in Baghdad, have goods in them, and have large numbers of people in them. Girls are now frequently seen going to school, which was not the case before the Surge. There are far more policeman on the streets everyday, which was not the case before the Surge.


    "Successful" (none / 0) (#36)
    by jondee on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 03:48:31 PM EST
    What a pathetically sad joke it is to use the word success in relation to ANY aspect of that murderous and entirely unecessary misadventure.

    Is in't a wash (none / 0) (#11)
    by Saul on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:29:04 AM EST
    if Obama pulls out from Iraq just to send them to Afghanistan.  It going to be worst for our soldiers in Afghanistan.  Much harder fighting there and a place that has been a grave yards for many empires that have tried to win there. You will have to be in Afghanistan forever.  Impossible to convert their type of thinking.  Time is on their side. Plus we really can not afford it.  I doubt if the majority of people want us in Afghanistan any more than they want us in Iraq.

    My plan is (none / 0) (#15)
    by Fabian on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:48:43 AM EST
    Go to Afghanistan, do our best to whack the Taliban but good and then tell Russia that we are leaving, best of luck, see ya.

    Recent polls (none / 0) (#31)
    by JThomas on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 01:33:23 PM EST
    in Afghanistan indicate that the citizens want us there rather than a return of the Taliban.
    Support is eroding but it is still a majority who hate the Taliban more than NATO.

    Most are opposed to war in Afghanistan (none / 0) (#42)
    by Saul on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 08:25:32 AM EST
    Just saw a poll on this

    63 percent favor the beef up in Afghanistan
    36 percent oppose the beef up


    only 47 percent favor fighting in the war
    while 51 percent oppose the war in Afghanistan.


    Aren't Reid and Pelosi a bit (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 09:55:44 AM EST
    late on the uptake?  I would like to have seen this leadership in the past re U.S. military in Iraq.  

    Still believe (none / 0) (#30)
    by cal1942 on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 12:34:11 PM EST
    that if we stay in Iraq for 6 months or 10 years the ultimate outcome will be the same. There will likely be a civil war after we leave.

    In Vietnam we committed combat forces because the wrong side was winning the war. Nixon's secret plan for ending the war turned out to be escalation of the war.  Vietnamization for the war covered our withdrawal and in the end the wrong side won anyway. 58,000 dead, triple that number wounded and billions in treasure. A precipitous pullout wouldn't have changed the outcome but would have saved lives, damaged bodies, damaged minds and many billions of dollars.

    Iraq isn't the same as Vietnam, no two wars are alike. But, the outcome in Iraq will depend on the indigenous just as it did Vietnam. Our many years of commitment in Vietnam only made matters worse with each passing day. In Iraq the major antagonists are still more or less intact and no less fanatic than at the outset.  Even if a strong central government emerges from our occupation the old antagonisms won't have changed and the central government will probably be vulnerable to those factions. Staying for the sake of an oversized embassy and a hoped for miraculous settlement of age old grudges seems pointless and is draining our wealth.

    Generalized numbers about troop levels (none / 0) (#35)
    by wurman on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 03:03:21 PM EST
    Army Times, May 5, 2008.
    A 9-month old snapshot of assignments in Iraq indicates---
    About 53 percent of deployed soldiers is assigned to BCTs, but the rest belong to units such as division headquarters, sustainment brigades, engineer brigades, combat aviation brigades, military police brigades and military transition teams, according to information provided by the G-3 staff.

    Critical military occupational specialties include special operations, infantry, aviation, military intelligence, engineers, civil affairs and military police, Thurman said, and the Army is focused on growing those jobs.

    [BCT = brigade combat team]

    It would appear, then, that about 47 percent of the troopers in Iraq are generically "non-combat" personnel, even though they are all in harms way & at risk of becoming involved in a battle at any time.  For Pres. Obama to leave a residual force of about one-third of the assigned personnel takes a good cut out of even the so-called "non-combat" categories.

    And far fewer than 47% are shooters-- (none / 0) (#37)
    by Green26 on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 04:09:06 PM EST
    i.e. the soldiers that actually go out in the field with their weapons in ready position, looking for problems and problem people--as opposed to the people who support them.

    One of the problems before the Surge was that there were not enough shooters (as they call themselves). With the Surge came not only more soldiers, but a higher proportion of shooters (according to what I read).


    That's highly variable. (none / 0) (#38)
    by wurman on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 04:47:58 PM EST
    A combat battalion can be nearly 70 percent infantry rifleman as per USMC averages.

    A regiment, however, as reinforced with a weapons unit, tanks, artillery, etc., can drop down to as low as 50 percent rifleman.  That's a form of empty labeling, though, because each of the support elements is made up of fully armed "shooters" who can defend their unit, send out offensive patrols, & back up the infantry units down to company level.

    The percentages are grossly variable because a unit such as the 82nd Airborne may rotate out as the 555th Combat Engineers deploy in.  It's a very fluid "average," which bothers some of the purists attempting to evaluate whether the residual forces are really "garritroopers" or "shooters."


    While I assume what you say is true, (none / 0) (#39)
    by Green26 on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 06:32:48 PM EST
    nothing close to 70% of the people in Iraq were or have been shooters.

    This Afghanistan thing (none / 0) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 06:40:04 PM EST
    What a pain!  First they say they need people for the fight, now maybe just not Mr. MT.  Look, I'm fine if he doesn't go.  Really, I'm better than fine.  But Korea?  Come on people!  We have a disabled child who does two surgeries a year.  We are ready to deploy and now Korea?  NO!  If I'm humping a 40lb child in my arms here and there and everywhere it will be because we are relieving others in the FIGHT!  I hope DOD reads this and gets it so I don't have to make one of the "wife" phonecalls that I have never made. Leaving Iraq though, we may need some margaritas this weekend!!!!!