February 26th, 2009
03:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Top Dems concerned over troop levels in Obama plan

Several top Senate Democrats Thursday expressed concerns about news reports that as many as 50,000 U.S. troops could remain in Iraq after President Obama fulfills his campaign pledge to pull all combat forces from that country.
Several top Senate Democrats Thursday expressed concerns about news reports that as many as 50,000 U.S. troops could remain in Iraq after President Obama fulfills his campaign pledge to pull all combat forces from that country.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Several top Senate Democrats Thursday expressed concerns about news reports that as many as 50,000 U.S. troops could remain in Iraq after President Obama fulfills his campaign pledge to pull all combat forces from that country, something that is now expected to happen by August of next year.

“That’s a little higher number than I expected,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid, NV, the Senate’s top Democrat.

“It has to be done responsibly, we all agree. But 50,000 is more than I would have thought” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, NY, the third-ranking Senate Democrat. “We await justification for why that many are needed.”

Earlier this week, CNN reported that while the details of what shape U.S. forces will take in Iraq over the next many months remain unclear until a number of additional decisions are made—it’s expected that the President’s announcement Friday will call for the majority of combat forces to be withdrawn, leaving a residual force of as many as 50,000, largely in a training or advisory role.

The justification Reid is waiting for is likely to come at a White House meeting Thursday afternoon to which President Obama has summoned bipartisan leaders from the House and Senate to explain his plan for the reduction of forces in Iraq.

Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, (D-MI), who will attend the meeting, told CNN 50,000 is “somewhat larger” than what he expected even though he has always believed “a few tens of thousands” of troops would be needed for non-combat missions such as training and fighting terrorism.

Sen. Richard Durbin, the number two Democrat and a close Obama ally, said he’s anxious to get troops home but defended the administration saying it is “trying to strike the right balance” between ending the war and maintaining stability in Iraq.

Another person who will attend the meeting is the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain, AZ, who when he ran against Mr. Obama for president criticized his opponent’s plan to pull combat troops from Iraq.

“50,000 advisors is a lot of people and they will be in harm’s way. The American people should know that,” he told CNN. “That is not the campaign rhetoric that President Obama used, I’m happy to say.”

In an interview that aired Wednesday on MSNBC, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Rachel Maddow “,,, I don't know what the justification is for 50,000, a presence of 50,000 troops in Iraq. I do think that there's a need for some. I don't know that all of them have to be in country. They can be platformed outside. I'll just be interested to see what the president has to say. But I do think that - I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000.


Filed under: Democrats • Iraq • President Obama
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Kurt C.

    Where are all the idiot liberals screaming Obama is murdering people and should be tried for war crimes? Oh, that's right, when a Democrat is in office, it really isn't murder and war crimes, it's just the military doing its job.

    Dimwitocrats make me sick.

    February 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Deb

    BRING OUR TROOPS HOME FROM THIS UNJUST WAR!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 26, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. bsmith171

    why both he and mccain with some bad advice said they wanted abigger war in afghanistan.

    afghan will be obama's VIETNAM.

    overrreaching.

    February 26, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Todd

    Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!!!!

    Guess it COULDN'T be done, huh, Barrack?!?!?!?!?!??!!

    February 26, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Scott the Independent

    50,000 is the gossip in DC – since President Obama has come on the scene how often has the gossip been correct? Enough said.

    February 26, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Sharon Kitchen

    I think the comanders on the ground are quite capable of informing the pres as to how many troops are needed.

    February 26, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. thomas

    President Obama needs to dig in his heels on the withdrawal deadline in Iraq and he has to avoid escalating the conflict in Afghanistan. Iraq is a promise chiseled in stone and if he reneges on this issue, he will find his support evaporating quickly.

    February 26, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. Scott the Independent

    “50,000 advisors is a lot of people and they will be in harm’s way. The American people should know that,” he told CNN. “That is not the campaign rhetoric that President Obama used, I’m happy to say.”

    McCain said – the hypocrite – he wanted to stay there maybe 100 years.

    February 26, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. fearful for my country

    Every troop should be moved out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. After a blitzkrieg, then we should start moving some troops back home.

    February 26, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Beverly, NYC

    Any Democrat who voted to send the troops to war should really shut it now that we are leaving. If the Iraqis decide they do not want a residual force we can get out. At no time have I heard President Obama say we would be there for 100 years. If it woere up to McCain my brother would have US and Iraqi citizenship since his deployment there would have no end.

    February 26, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Joe

    I thought the idea was to end the war...

    February 26, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. commonsense

    Let's have a little common sense here... We have problems on American soil. Housing, hunger, medical.. Jobs... As much as we don't want war, want our service men and women home.. Don't you think we need to rebuild a few things so they have something to come home to?

    Is it fair? no.... but it's part of the truth

    February 26, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Laura, Boston

    Two articles where the democrats are upset or concerned over the numbers in the budget and now about leaving 50,000 troops in harms way.

    Of course the bloggers on CNN are attacking anyone Republican, Blue Dog Dems, anyone who doesn't see eye to eye with the extreme liberal left of the democratic party. I would like to know why people aren't upset with the broken promises from just a few months ago. "The first thing I will do is end the war in IRAQ".

    Sorry, I am middle of the road and I don't like this budget or these new policies of our President one bit. With all the spending, my kids may as well move to China after all they own the U.S. anyway. I hope they don't call the loan due or we are all up the creek without a paddle.

    February 26, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Michael

    So McCain doesn't like 50k troops "in harm's way?"
    That is pretty hypocritical from the guy who guaranteed we would be in Iraq for 100 years.
    But then, he's a teeth-gnashing old dinosaur; he's not supposed to make any sense.

    February 26, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Baze

    These Dems are out of their minds. 50,000 troops is nothing, and are needed to keep al Qaeda from reinfiltrating Baghdad from the north.

    February 26, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Execute

    This is Reid trying to stay relevant.

    Only the President has to answer for the troop number to voters. Mr. Reid does not. Harry think before you open your mouth, this isnot yours to comment on.

    February 26, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Mari

    Obama inherited the Bush Disaster..... instead of complaining OFFER a solution!

    February 26, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. pete

    Obama campainged on pulling troops out immediately, he was against the surge and thought we should have pulled out two years ago, and when he changed near the end of the campaign to pulling out in 6-12 months, he said he would keep a small, 1,000-2,000, reactionary force in place.

    When can we expect him to send his appology note to Bush?

    When can we expect the tools who voted for him to do the same?

    February 26, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. hello

    CNN your heading for DEM blasts on Obama on budget is misleading it was only one stupid democrats from south, he should change the party like senator Shelby and shut up.
    Obama is projecting deficit it is not actualy materilized yet.
    so when some stupid republican in this blog says that he increase deficit of 1.75 trilion in one month is nothing but stupidity.

    February 26, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    “50,000 advisors is a lot of people and they will be in harm’s way. The American people should know that,” he told CNN. “That is not the campaign rhetoric that President Obama used, I’m happy to say.”

    McCain's right. he said he would pull all combat troops out in 16 months. He's doing it over a time period that's a little longer, which is fine...he's privy to more information now than he was during the campaign. HOWEVER, Obama NEVER, in fact, talked about how many non-combat troops would remain, so it's hard to imagine why McPampers is acting so smug. Oh wait, no it's not, he's lying GOPer moron trying to micharacterize this into political leverage. Phew. Thought I lost it there for a second.

    February 26, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. Vietnam COMBAT Vet, OHIO

    I say bring home the troops that have been on the front lines ( Infantry, Arty and Armor). Leave the desk jockeys there!!!!

    February 26, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. lefty loosy

    Wah , Wah Obama shows a little courage and all we get is more of the same from the far left.
    Far ;eft as bad as the Far right.
    We need center right dems and center left reps , for sane government.
    Sick of all the nur cases in both parties.

    February 26, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. lefty loosy

    Wah , Wah Obama shows a little courage and all we get is more of the same from the far left.
    Far ;eft as bad as the Far right.
    We need center right dems and center left reps , for sane government.
    Sick of all the nut
    cases in both parties.

    February 26, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. Shari, NY

    It would be nice if they could all be pulled out ASAP but I guess one has to remember that this is a delicate exercise which has to be handled with care.

    As regards Pres. Obama's high speed rail plan, please allow me this comment: As a frequent rail traveler to the South who has an aversion to flying this is most welcome. Japan and Europe outshine us in this area and Acela is an expensive joke. A half an hour less ride than the regular train from NY – DC is nothing to crow about. This undertaking will be costly but its rewards will come in the end after opening up many employment opportunities and boosting tourism (thanks to international as well as domestic travelers). Dependence on oil would also be minimized.
    .

    February 26, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Tennessee Libertarian

    The singer Charlie Daniels said it best of Senator Harry Reid:

    "I am more afraid of you and your ilk than I am of the terrorists"

    February 26, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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