GoP backs Obama plan to end Iraq mission Aug 2010

US President Barack Obama headed to one of the nation’s most storied military bases on Friday morning to unveil plans to pull most troops out of Iraq by August 2010....

Written by New York Times | Washington | Published:February 28, 2009 1:07 am

US President Barack Obama headed to one of the nation’s most storied military bases on Friday morning to unveil plans to pull most troops out of Iraq by August 2010 and he has support from an unlikely quarter — Senator John McCain.

McCain and other Republicans,emerged from a meeting with Obama at the White House on Thursday evening,reassured that Obama’s withdrawal plan is responsible and reasonable.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Friday before the President’s speech,McCain credited the opportunity to pull troops out to the surge of troops that George W Bush ordered two years ago with McCain’s support and he cautioned that Iraq remains fragile,so Obama should stay flexible and listen to military commanders.

“I believe the President’s withdrawal plan is a reasonable one… Given the gains in Iraq and the requirements to send additional troops to Afghanistan,together with the significant number of troops that will remain in Iraq and the President’s willingness to reassess based on conditions on the ground,I am cautiously optimistic that the plan… can lead to success,” McCain said.

Aides to the President said Obama approved his withdrawal plan at a meeting with his National Security Team on Wednesday and would tell an audience of several thousand Marines and their families at Camp Lejeune,North Carolina,on Friday that he is bringing the current phase of the war to a close in 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 US forces remaining in Iraq will undertake a new mission,a more limited mission.”

Obama agreed to give commanders 19 months to withdraw all combat brigades,three months more than he promised on the campaign trail,to guard against any resurgence of violence. The bulk of the forces will remain in place until nearly next year to allow commanders to keep as many forces as possible through elections in December.

After August 2010,the plan will leave behind 35,000 to 50,000 of the 142,000 American troops now in Iraq to train Iraqi security forces,conduct discrete counter-terrorism missions and protect American civilian and military personnel working in the country.

The “transition force” will remain only through December 2011,when a strategic agreement negotiated by Bush before he left office mandates the withdrawal of all American troops.

However,Democrats criticised the size of the residual force,even though Obama said consistently during last year’s campaign that he would leave troops behind for limited missions.

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