Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Announces Firm End of Combat Mission in Iraq

MSNBC reports on Obama's announcement, however, reading it leaves a lot of question marks:

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - President Barack Obama on Friday declared that the United States would end its bloody and costly combat mission in Iraq by late summer of 2010 — but a dramatic force reduction was not expected until after Iraq's elections at the end of this year.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," he said in a speech at the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, N.C. "As we carry out this drawdown, my highest priority will be the safety and security of our troops and civilians in Iraq."

Even with the end of the combat mission, which would come three months later than Obama pledged during his presidential campaign, a force numbering between 35,000 to 50,000 American forces will stay behind in non-combat roles, with the final troops not slated to leave until Dec. 31, 2011.


There were no assurances that the residual force would not be pulled into battle should Sunni Muslim insurgent holdouts or disaffected Shiite Muslims resume wide-scale fighting.

That is the big difficulty of course. Firstly, no troops are moving out until the December elections. All kinds of things can happen between now and then. If they actually do withdraw then, it still leaves behind those troops in non-combat roles. They could be used as lures to remain in Iraq. If they get attacked or a civil war breaks out the generals will call for more troops and an extension of the mission.

So, really, this is just an announcement. It doesn't mean any of the targets will be met. I very much doubt it will go smoothly.

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