February 25th, 2009
12:13 PM ET
14 years ago

Officials: Obama expected to OK 19-month Iraq plan


CNN has learned that President Obama is expected to approve a proposal to withdraw most combat troops from Iraq within 19 months. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama is expected to approve a proposal to withdraw most combat troops from Iraq within 19 months, several Pentagon officials told CNN Wednesday.

The decision will be announced at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Friday, according to one senior administration official.

Although no decision has been officially announced at the White House, a Pentagon official told CNN "that's the way the wind is blowing" in reference to the 19-month option.

A White House spokesman said no final decisions about Iraq policy has been made by the president.

The Pentagon several weeks ago sent the president options for withdrawals at 16, 19, and 23 months.

The 16-month option was Obama's campaign pledge. But shortly after taking office, he asked Pentagon and military commanders for an analysis of additional options, and they submitted the two other timeframes in response.


The details of what the shape of U.S. forces will be in Iraq over the next many months remains unclear until a number of additional decisions are made. It is expected that the announcement will call for the majority of combat forces to be withdrawn, leaving a residual force of as many as 50,000, largely in a training or advisory role.

U.S. military officials point out even those residual forces may find themselves in combat.

For the past two months, the U.S. Central Command has been conducting a detailed assessment of how equipment and personnel would be withdrawn from Iraq, according to a U.S. military official.

He declined to be named because of the sensitivity of discussing withdrawal details prior to the president's announcement. However, he confirmed the U.S. military is looking at exit routes through Jordan and Kuwait.

And they are trying to determine what equipment might be returned to the United States, transferred to the Iraqi or Jordanian governments, sent to Afghanistan, or simply discarded if not needed. Final decisions will depend on the timeframe for the withdrawal, he said.

Filed under: Iraq • President Obama
soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. get rid of campbell brown

    sounds good to me. keep moving forward obama. ignore the detractors and continue doing what you were elected to do.

    February 25, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Had It

    Come on you republican and CNN naysayers Nit-pick this one to death too.

    It's a shame none of you were ever critical of Bush/Cheney and all their deep dark secrets.

    February 25, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Robin

    Funny how now that Obama is President, all the crying and whining regarding Iraq has stopped.

    February 25, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. Robert The Man

    Lets see how many posts we get on here about, "Obama is finally bringing the troops home!!". Not really though. We're just going to a different country to fight.

    February 25, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Dawn

    Even though he campaigned to end the war in Iraq in sixteen months, but he has to listen to his Joint Chief of Staff. It is only three months longer.

    Former President Bush never placed this stupid illegal war in Iraq and Afganistan in the budget. Now please tell me where the h*ll did he take that money from? I can tell you, medicare/ medicad Social Security. Bush could careless if the elderly had medical insurance or people who is on unemployment or SSI. My daughter is on SSI, she has medical problems. She spent almost one year trying to find out what type of insurance she had. This was under Bush administration, I Know this has nothing to do with the war, but I had to add this because of what GWB had done. To pay for a war he took from the American people.

    February 25, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. Q

    I truly hope that he is listening to the commanders on the ground instead of trying to politicize a real-world situation. People's lives are at stake here...including me and many of my friends.

    February 25, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. Skyview

    I applaud the president. He is sincerely trying to fulfill the promises he made doing his campaign for president. I only hope that his hope and honety outlast the republican efforts to bring failure to his plans....I am optomistic because experience shows that truth and honesty will champion over lies and half-truths and slander.

    February 25, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Arden

    Listen up people: Pres. Obama said through out his campaign that he would have our troops out of Iraq in 16 months and do it in a safe, responsible way. So what if its 19 months as long as it gets done and its done in the right way. If he had to add on another what difference would it make as long as we get them out.

    February 25, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. Joyce in Indiana

    This is smart policy and smart politics. He seems to be modifying his specifics to adapt to what the military leaders think will work rather than blindly promising to "stay the course." Yet he is also keeping as close as is practical to keeping his campaign promise to get out of Iraq soon.

    I know some on the right will criticize by saying this is "cut and run." And some on the left will criticize by saying this is "more of the same." But I think this is exactly the right policy here because it allows for a gradual withdrawl, which is what the Iraqi government wants, yet still maintains some discipline so conditions on the ground don't devolve into chaos.

    February 25, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. Proud American

    Obama...what a disgrace to have this questionable individual leading our military....this country's sunk to it's lowest point. The recession is more of a moral nature than financial....we're bankrupting our moral values that this country was found on....

    February 25, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. Ann

    Oh well, that is still better then a hundred years... sorry McCain.

    February 25, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. Baze

    Mosul, Diyala, and female suicide bombers continue to be difficult points in this war, but I don't think that it's an issue American troops can solve. Let the Iraqis take over. They're the ones that can best identify al Qaeda infiltration of security forces, and recruiters of female sappers.

    February 25, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. gg

    that should make chenney and friends happy more payola

    February 25, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. George

    I say bring them home and stop Bush/cheney and co. madness!
    What are we fighting in Iraq?

    February 25, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Larry of Massachusetts

    Let's hope that the President brings the troops all the way home, and does not merely redeploy them to Afghanistan, where they could languish and be killed and maimed for decades in a fruitless, endless war against an invisible enemy.

    February 25, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. Mark

    Isnt this the plan McCain campaigned on not Obama:)

    February 25, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. Kim

    My cousin died of this war....My Bro is Iraq. I freak out everyday.....

    Yes, bring them home President Obama. It's Illegal war!

    February 25, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Scott, Tucson

    "And they are trying to determine what equipment might be returned to the United States; transferred to the Iraqi or Jordanian government; sent to Afghanistan; or simply discarded if not needed" If we're not going to bring our gear back than why not sell the equipment instead of simply handing it over for nothing? Typical governmental waste of billions of dollars.

    February 25, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. Allison

    It will be wonderful to have our troops home in 2010!

    We need to also understand that just because our troops leave Iraq or Afganistan does not mean those battles are over. Many say, "ed the war, US out of Iraq" but leaving Iraq does not end the war if fighting continues.

    Since 2005, Iraq should have been labled a peace keeping mission, not a war. That way anyone who fought our stabilzation forces would have been fighting against peace, stability and freedom in Iraq. When our forces do leave Iraq it will show the world our intention was to remove Saddam and stabilize the nation, not control and colonize. If Afganistan receives that message we may succeed there as well.

    February 25, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. karen-Phoenix

    You Go President Obama!!! You are going to beable to keep all your promises!!! God Bless You and your team!! We can be a very, very well educated and strong country again!!! I feel it!!! It's feels soooo different than the fear mongering from the last 8–like the sky was falling! BUT NOW we can move on and WE, together will be a great country again–GLOBALLY!!!

    February 25, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Jason from Nashville

    This would be a definative begining to keeping more of our tax dollars for our citizens and soldiers. I've noticed a trend; conservative commentors on these ticker blogs constantly refer to "leaving debt behind for out children". I'm sorry to give you this reality, but regardless of party affilliation, we will ALWAYS have debt. That is the one constant of American life, debt. Now I voted for President Obama, but I won't cry foul like most of these other people. You have a right to your opinion, but please, show some consistency. When this particular war started, we were all behind Bush. But as the truth behind our reason for invading slowly became apparent, he lost most of us. This war was a catalyst on the list of many blunders that lead to our current situation, if you can't atleast admit that; then you live in a world of fantasy. Mr. President, End This War.

    February 25, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  22. Yes Sir!


    Obama is a solid manager. It is his job to set the vision and it is the military's job to execute it.

    He gave his team the stretch goal of being out in 16 months and never wavered. At the same time, he was respectful of the input from the "hands doing the heavy lifting", he listened and was willing to modify his timetable. This is known as Presidential leadership ... without "I'm The Decider" arrogance.

    I recall all the critics of his who derided this man in the primary with Hillary and the main election with McCain. I remember the betrayal of Lieberman. All Obama does is stand tall above the fray and continue to out work and out think his detractors. America get behind this transformational leader.

    We will be a stronger, more civil, more honorable, more fair, smarter, more stable, safer, more respected, more nimble nation IF you demand that Congress (Republicans & Democrats) support him.

    February 25, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I hope that the redeployment/withdrawl of troops doesn't lead to instability for Iraq. I also think that people there will not 100% trust the government because: there is no one that 100% trusts their own government; there seems to be ingrained corruption in much of the Arab world like in Iraq.

    If we do leave equipment there (presumably for the Iraqis to use), we best get paid for it. I want the US government to get the amount we paid for it from the Iraqis.

    February 25, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  24. Mari

    Some may be upset that it is not .....16 months..... but I for one appreciate the fact that Obama is consulting with the military and being wise and cautious about the withdrawal of our troops.

    I am deeply saddened that this war was ever fought? American families have lost thousands of loved ones........... and for what?

    Bush will have but One judge to face, may God have mercy on him!

    February 25, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. Freed_From_W

    Ah, the illegal Bush Wars continue...

    On one hand, we sort of have an obligation to stay there and help the Iraqis rebuild – our country did invade them illegally after all.

    On the other hand, it seems like the longer we stay, the longer the Iraqis rely upon us to police and lead the country in the aftermath of Bush – instead of rising up and using their own power to govern themselves.

    This being said, I still think nineteen more months if far too long to be there. They don't want us there, they don't deserve us there, and our military deserves better.

    February 25, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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