Obama Announces Iraq Withdrawal Plans
Making good on his campaign promise, today President Obama announced that all U. S. troops will have been withdrawn from Iraq by August 2011 and all “combat bridades” will have been withdrawn by August 2010:
In remarks prepared for delivery at Camp Lejeune, Mr. Obama said, “Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.
“As we carry out this drawdown, my highest priority will be the safety and security of our troops and civilians in Iraq,” he said . “We will proceed carefully, and I will consult closely with my military commanders on the ground and with the Iraqi government. There will surely be difficult periods and tactical adjustments. But our enemies should be left with no doubt: this plan gives our military the forces and the flexibility they need to support our Iraqi partners, and to succeed.”
He added: “Under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned.”
I think that’s appropriate. Casualty levels among U. S. troops in Iraq and among Iraqi civilians have fallen dramatically over the last year and a half. Indeed, current U. S. military casualty levels in Iraq aren’t enormously higher than the casualties that the Pentagon would expect in a force of its size stateside (75/year/100K). The country is undeniably calmer than it was. And it’s time for us to start leaving.
We’ll have to wait to see how “combat brigades” is defined, if the country remains stable as U. S. forces draw down, and whether troops are redeployed stateside, to Afghanistan, or to some other location.
Meanwhile, I think I should remind everyone of the story of the caliph, the grand vizier, and the donkey.