Out Of Iraq! In 19-34 Months
The background here is that, per Gareth Porter, Petraeus and the commanders didn't want any withdrawal, but Obama insisted they draw up plans. So they rsignedly offered a menu of a 16-month, 19-month, and 23-month withdrawal. Obama predictably chose the one in the middle.
The United States will withdraw most of its troops from Iraq by August 2010, 19 months after President Barack Obama's inauguration day, according to administration officials who expect Obama to make the announcement this week.
The withdrawal plan would fulfill one of Obama's central campaign pledges, albeit a little more slowly than he promised. He said he would withdraw troops within 16 months, roughly one brigade a month from the time of his inauguration.
The U.S. military would leave behind a residual force, between 30,000 and 50,000 troops, to continue advising and training Iraqi security forces. Also staying beyond the 19 months would be intelligence and surveillance specialists and their equipment, including unmanned aircraft, according to two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.
A further withdrawal would take place before December 2011, when the U.S. has already agreed with Iraq that it would remove all American troops.
So, just residual forces by August 2010 when the combat withdrawals are done, and a full withdrawal of all forces by December 2011 as per the status of forces agreement.
It's a slightly lengthier stay, but we are on the path of leaving Iraq and that misbegotten war. And also, Obama is both asserting control over generals that wanted to continue the war while agreeing to a 3-month delay in pulling out. I'll accept it, because it moves us to a better path, for the security and safety of our troops (who would be giant targets if we didn't agree to the SOFA and leave), the ability to work with our allies, and our domestic fiscal situation. This is change.