February 26th, 2009
03:55 PM ET
5 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are made—it’s expected that the President’s announcement Friday will call for the majority of combat forces to be withdrawn, leaving a residual force of as many as 50,000, largely in a training or advisory role.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. Mike W

    Osama Bin Laden must be on the floor laughing over this. Obama just sent 70,000 more troops over, who is he kidding that he intends to end this. Sorry BO, you will not catch Bin Laden, he is way smarter than you.

    February 26, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Zion

    During his campaign, he specifically said that he would increase troop levels in Afghanistan. He can't just pull troops out of Iraq, but he will get them out in 2010. It's amazing how Obama is expected to just come in and rescue a country that did not have enough respect for itself to not re-elect G.W. Bush.

    February 26, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Steve (the real one)

    Ladies and gentlemen, do I smell an implosion?

    February 26, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Franky

    Ohh guess what guys? Poker game!!! First place takes $2300($300 buy in) ans since is only 8 people, and they take first place...

    Got some business to attend to...ohh and by the way, you're concern about the budget?? Holla at us!! Keep this a secret...we generate as much $20,000 in a day!!! And the average bet is about 20-40 bucks...

    Yep, your system sucks! LOL!!!

    (Ohh boy, I may l;ose now)...LOL!!

    February 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.........to answer the experts if Obama has what it takes to make tough choices. He sure does.

    February 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Daisy

    it is easier to criticise than to give greater solution. for those opposing democrate senator, there is a better way to grab attention of the media. you don't need to learn it from GOP.

    February 26, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Pepou

    We don't need 50,000 troops in Iraq past the 19 months deadline. We just don't have the money,. This is pretty irresponsible and I am a great Obama fan.

    February 26, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Independent Paul

    That 50k troop level is what McCain meant by having troops in the region for 100 years. I knew this was gonna happen (meaning I knew Obama wasn't going to remove the troops in the first month like he said and residual forces would remain), so i am neither upset nor surprised about this when I voted for Obama.

    However, you people who actually thought he was gonna remove the troops, if i were you, I would be ticked!

    I wonder if Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink will now return to the White House and protest, since Obama is essentially following Bush's policy laid out a year ago.

    February 26, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. MW in Calif

    Did they all forget that as of August 2011 all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq as was agree'd upon with the Iraqi Prime Minister and Parlament? At least we are ending this bloody sharade for big corporations like Halliburton and KBR who have bleed billions from the taxpayers thanks to BushCo and Company.

    February 26, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. hello

    February 26th, 2009 4:27 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    CNN your heading for DEM blasts 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 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Tom in Delaware

    I bet most of you didn't know that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is also a 4-star General, just like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, so we really ought to listen to these very smart and informed people.

    They're also expert economists, as the evidence already shows, so who do those morons in the Pentagon think they are to ever question real intellect like theirs?!?

    I would wouldn't trust one of those retards to even replace toilet paper in a latrine.

    February 26, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. McCain was better

    We would have been better off with john McCain

    February 26, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. Frank

    WE NEED TO END ALL WARS A.S.A.P.

    AS LONG AS WE ARE IN WAR, OUR ECONOMY WILL REMAIN IN SHAMBLES.

    EXPENDITURE IN WAR IS ALWAYS A WASTE.

    HISTORY WILL PROVE, ALL COUNTRIES IN WAR HAVE HAD ECONOMIC CRISES AS A RESULT OF EXPENDITURE ON WAR.

    February 26, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Simmy

    Leave 20,000 troops maximum. The US has been there long enough for them to have gotten a handle on their "Own" country. It may be a situation where they will have to be left to their own expertise. It's time to throw the baby birds out of their nests. If we stay, the warring will continue between the factions and US. When we leave, the fighting will continue between the factions. What we stand to lose, has already been lost (over 4,000 lives). To leave now is to leave with honor. It is not cutting and running (Bush). Bush's words now consist of a noun, a verb, and Iraq-istan.

    Regardless of what President Obama has said, these will never be his wars. They will forever be called the Bush Legacy to America.

    February 26, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. abc

    can i remind both Democrat & GOP senators that you're not there to do what YOU like, same goes with our president, he didn't propose this budget base on what he likes. you didn't get pay 100K+ salary to whine and practice bull dog attacks, you're there to service the Americans, yes the less fortunate ones. it will be great to have a legislation to "lay off" some of these senators, maybe their salaries can be bring down more national deficit. argh~
    as a young independent, i truly hope we have younger yet intelligent, open minded candidates from all parties in the next election to vote for because these 10+ years of DC politics is hindering many generations future.
    as for GOP, please have some 21st century ideas besides tax-cut 30.0, if possible?

    February 26, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    The Pentagon knows more about how many Troops it needs to support Iraq after the majority of combat forces are gone. These Senators would not know how many Troops are needed to protect wet toilet paper. Such "Jack of All Trades and Masters of None!" Especially when it comes to the Armed Forces. Remeber a buck private out of boot camp could salute better than our las democrat in the White House. Atleast someone taught Obama to salute properly before he was elected.

    February 26, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. C

    50,000 SOUNDS GOOD. JUST IN CASE IRAN TRIES SOMETHING, OR IF BIN LADEN'S BOYS TRY TO SNEAK BACK INTO IRAQ! SPECIAL FORCES WILL BE WAITING!!! GO U.S.A!!! #1 TROOPS!!! STAY SAFE!!!

    February 26, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Mike in Houston

    Patience Schumer. Patience Reid.

    It's only February. There's still time for Obama to surrender.

    February 26, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. will

    "50,000 U.S. troops could remain in Iraq after President Obama fulfills his campaign pledge to pull all combat forces from that country"

    Is it me or does this sentence just not make any sense!

    February 26, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. David

    He must be doing something right he have Dem & GOP upset.

    February 26, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. element

    Yes I agree with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.Let's see what President Obama will say on the matter.Its just my guess but it may have something to do with security.

    February 26, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. still hoping

    Ok, I don't get it. He promised to bring ALL us troops home in 16 months. Now he says he wants to leave 50,000, yes 50,000, there for an indefinate period of time.

    Didn't he criticize McCain for saying troops may be there for 100 years, totally taken out of content, but indefinately has no end.

    But these don't count because they're staying for consulting purposes.

    Not only is Obama making McCain look like a genius, he's making Bush look like one too!!!

    Thanks Barack for bringing life back into the republican party.

    February 26, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Michael

    This is great. And if you read most of the Dems justifications for Obama tripling the deficit from the Bush years, it is that Bush wasted all that money on the wars. But Obama's budget spends almost as much as Bush did on the wars, and he is not bring the troops home as fast as promised and he is leaving more in Iraq then promised and he has no time line or plan to end the war in Afganistan. Reveal in your victory Obama voters, you must be so pleased.

    February 26, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Maria

    Hmm – sounds an awful lot like what McCain said during his campaign – that we would have to have a long term presence in Iraq, but I guess the change that Obama was speaking of was lies coming from Democrats rather than Republicans. This will not be the last campaign "promise" that does not materialize in the manner that Obama supporters thought it would.

    February 26, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    How is this ending the war in Iraq? Leaving 50,000 troops there?? I want change i can believe in.

    February 26, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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