A Responsible, Phased Withdrawal
Barack Obama believes we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – more than 7 years after the war began.
Under the Obama plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. He will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.
Resurgent Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: The decision to invade Iraq diverted resources from the war in Afghanistan, making it harder for us to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden and others involved in the 9/11 attacks. Nearly seven years later, the Taliban has reemerged in southern Afghanistan while Al Qaeda has used the space provided by the Iraq war to regroup, train and plan for another attack on the United States. 2007 was the most violent year in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. The scale of our deployments in Iraq continues to set back our ability to finish the fight in Afghanistan, producing unacceptable strategic risks.
Bush Decides to Withdraw 8,000 Troops From Iraq By February
The White House says President George Bush has decided to withdraw about 8.000 U.S. troops from Iraq by next February and that he will announce the plan in a speech Tuesday in Washington.
A transcript of that speech was released on Monday.
In the prepared remarks, Mr. Bush says the U.S. military will bring home 3,400 combat support forces from Iraq in the next few months.
He also says a Marine battalion will leave Iraq's Anbar province by November and an army combat brigade will withdraw from Iraq in February.
Mr. Bush says a Marine battalion that was due to be sent to Iraq in November will instead go to Afghanistan and an army combat brigade will follow in January.