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 It is expected that the announcement will call for the majority of combat forces to be withdrawn, leaving a residual force of as many as 50,000, largely in a training or advisory role.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two months, the U.S. Central Command has been conducting a detailed assessment of how equipment and personnel would be withdrawn from Iraq, according to a U.S. military official.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. matt

    This is all smoke and mirrors. He is LYING to all of you. He can "withdraw" whatever he wants, but he IS leaving tens of thousands of people behind. You libs are so easily fooled (ie.. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman")...

    February 25, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. LIP

    Personally kept my expectations low even though he said he would have the troops out in 16 months. Everyone knows that campaign promises are rarely kept, so it came as no surrprise that this would be extended by a few more months. We went in for the right reasons, to stop the mass murder of Shiite Muslims and establish a "sort of" democracy. Actually their elections appear to be working better than our own, so we must have done something right. Obama's decision to leave behind 50k troops after we supposedly withdraw, harkens back to the days of the election when McCain was criticized for his statements saying we would be there for a hundred years. With 50k troops left behind, for supposedly training purposes, this may keep us there for many many years to come. His statements that he will be adding more troops to the armed services and sending additional troops to Afganistan makes me think we really didn't get anything different than what we already had with Bush and could have had with McCain. Same-o same-o

    February 25, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Tulsa L

    Good the sooner the better......then maybe this $10 billion a month that we have been spending on this war can now be put to good use and help the suffering here in America

    February 25, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. texas teacher

    I am pleased to hear the President has a plan for Iraq rather than just to continue the status quo... which is all that the Republicans can offer! I was truly surprised at how many Repubs included McCain gave a little smirk as though to say, "Well, we shall see." They are so sure that Bush/Cheney's plan to merely stay there forever and keep throwing our money at the problem instead of planning an exit and a sure plan to find bin Laden! Just having that War Money will go a long ways to lifting up our Home Problems!

    I was and so was the whole country very pleased that Pres. Obama stressed that we are behind our troops and plan to support them in all ways... unlike Bush who sent them off to war without even proper equipment and taking away Veteran benefits rather than supporting the terrible sacrifices of our troops! I am proud of our President in recognizing that fact and in no uncertain terms stating that we will take action to change those horrid practices of the past... namely Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld's plan of action!

    February 25, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. obama-mama

    I am sure the troops are happy to hear that. I know we would all love to see them come home sooner but I guess you can't just pull them out and call it a day. Good luck with the transition Mr. President.

    February 25, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. peter

    Whatever happen to the 16 month plan,i can still here Obama saying that we have to make a change .jesue give me a break.

    February 25, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. worriedmom

    Um and did he say if he gets our brave men and women out of Iraq he is transferring them to Afghanastan! God Bless our Military and their families!!!

    February 25, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. J

    19 months from now you will hear about another 19 month plan.

    February 25, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. Laura, Boston

    I seem to remember "candidate" Obama as saying he would END the war in IRAQ. Leaving some 30,000 troops in harms way is not ending the war. That is roughly the same amount of troops we left in South Korea and we still are there.

    So let IRAQ handle itself and let our young men and women come home and not spend years with the possibility of getting killed in roadside or suicide bombings!!

    If he can't keep his promise, he needs to stop making them!

    February 25, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. Noah

    i thought he was the anti-war candidate when he ran for election? That is the main reason he won. Liberals were dumb enough to believe he would end these wars immediately.

    February 25, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. grahame

    I well remember the phrase the Republicans used time and again when they thought anybody was disagreeing wirth them concerning th iraq war. That phrase of course was "Cut and Run." This was delivered by a tired bunch of old men who had never been to war, (or in John McCains case was fighting an old one where the battle lines were better defined.) There are people in this country who have no concept, and who could care less anyway, about sending our soldiers to be killed for their interpretation of 'The Common Good.' Most of these people are called the GOP. While this is going on just remember that the more education the American public gets the less likely they are to vote Republican anyway. Perhaps somewhere in the future there will be a new party which embraces some of the GOP's better ideals but not the old ones of division and hate. There are even some menbers of the Republican party who view Barack Obama as the second coming of Adolf Hitler. This sort of childing nonsense is just what the GOP fosters in order to get votes. I thank God that the Bush era is over and people like Sarah Palin is considered a joke.

    February 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Mickie

    If they are going to keep killing our troops, let's pull out and let them defend themselves against the taliban. I still don't think we should have been in there in the first place. Worse than the drain of money, is the wasting of our soldiers' lives. Bush/Cheney should be tried as war criminals once our country can focus on more than clean up.

    February 25, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. PJP

    Wow, I thought he was going to get them out in a couple of months. It's amazing that after he got in office he saw that we really did need them there. No matter what the news shows, the people, like you and me, appreciate them being there. I know plenty that have been over there and they say that the people are always thanking them for being there to try to protect them. War is war, there has a;ways been war and will always be war, and that is for all the world, not just a few.

    February 25, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Erik from Real Pennsylvania

    This is good news. We're heard so much propaganda about letting oru troops "finish the job." What is the job? Ensuring there are no WMDs aimed at America? Check. Removing the tyrant? Check. Elections in Iraq? Check. OK, all the things we said we'd do in Iraq are completed. Bring our brave Americans home.

    February 25, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Back to the future

    Except that McCain referred to a potential long-term presence.,..

    February 25, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Sniffit

    Read Bush's agreement with Iraq. We have to be out of the provinces by June 2009. Ergo, these combat troops will pretty much be sitting in reserve in the desert until August 2010. Hopefully that means less of them getting killed.

    @ Proud American, who said "recession is more of a moral nature than financial"

    Tell that to the almost 4,000,000 people who have lost their jobs as a result of the GOP's inane adherence to a failing ideological economic model.

    February 25, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. Matt in MN

    19 Months... quite interesting, considering that's been the timeline that the Iraqi government and the US agreed upon LAST SUMMER/FALL, however since it was during election cycle it go no coverage.

    The US has turned over quite a few of the provinces to Iraqi control and withdrawn from them for the most part, the plan going forward was for the US to return control of all the provinces back over to Iraqi control and wait a few (3 or so) months with a smaller force not doing much before withdrawing completely.

    Funny how this will now be spun as an Obama accomplishment.... Gates and General Petraeus are more responsible for this timeline than Obama...

    February 25, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  18. New Day

    Imagine that, a President that isn't pigheaded enough to stick with his first plan if the situation changes.

    February 25, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Angie in Pa

    Better then 100 Years Sorry Mccain I know it would of Been 100 years with you

    February 25, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Stacy

    I am just so happy that this war is finally coming to an end. Whether you believe we should have been there in the first place or not it is good to get our troops home.

    February 25, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. Oregonian

    I can hear the screamers now! He's backing down on his promise! Impeach him! Inexperienced! Empty suit! No Change!

    He also said (we have to be as careful at withdrawing as we were careless in going in) I don't have it in quotes because I know it isn't exact but pretty close.

    There are people out there that won't be happy no matter what. So be it. I would rather see a project slip based on reality than bull straight forward based on being a cowboy like our previous administration.

    February 25, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. JIM...TX

    It's way past time to bring our troops home! PJP..."you thought" he'd bring them home in a couple of months?????? Hell you whinney Republicans won't give him a month to do anything without bitching. Take your meds an chill out. I hope all you nay sayers DON'T benefit ANY from the turn around thats coming:)

    February 25, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. erick in al

    People, realize that Obama didn't put us in Iraq. He makes a great commander in chief.The troops want out. I have realatives and friends there that want out.i honor the troops and their service but enough is enough.Stand behind our president.

    February 25, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  24. Kelly

    I am ex-Army and I applaud this move by the President. This war cannot be sustained by the U.S. any longer and we must get out now. If any of you like history, think about this and remember how the fall of the Soviet Union started. They had been in a long and drawn out fight in Afghanistan and at the same time trying to keep pace with the U.S. in new weapons and military spending. Yes the Cold War ended, not because we forced them to but because Russia was in a financial crisis and their economy and military were broke.

    In my opinion we are headed down that same path if we don't change what we're doing. By getting out of Iraq, it saves our already depleted military and it saves us financially. We're crying about a $700 billion dollar stimulus package when Iraq is costing us a few billion dollars a month.

    February 25, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. sensible Cape Coral L

    @Proud American

    You may be proud but you are also a VERY VERY VERY stupid American.

    February 25, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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