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

Top Dems concerned over troop levels in Obama plan

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/26/art.getty.obama.stern.jpg caption="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are made—it’s expected that the President’s announcement Friday will call for the majority of combat forces to be withdrawn, leaving a residual force of as many as 50,000, largely in a training or advisory role.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. Patrick

    Yeah you hypocrites. Bush was right about Iraq and Obama is following his plan of victory to a T. Bush signed the pack with Iraq to have our troops out by 2012 and Obama is following it. If McCain had won everyone would be screaming that he's a warmonger or "McSame" or anything else your child like minds could come up with. I'm proud of Obama on this issue.

    February 26, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Nobama

    Where are the shrill calls from liberals asking Obama to send his daughters to Iraq????

    February 26, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. maf

    Man this crowd is tough! Can't end the war fast enough, spent too much money on the war, need to finish up responsibly. . . now that the number of troops needed to keep the region stable seems to be around 50,000, that's TOO many. Can't you be satisfied that Iraq is finally starting to be wrapped up. Let's say that 50,000 isn't enough to stabilize the region? There can be no mistakes at this point or the whole process gets wiped out.

    Let the PRESIDENT do his JOB! Stop whining and deliberating and stalling on EVERYTHING! If Gates and the best defense minds in the country believe that 50,000 is the right number, PLEASE stop hounding the process.

    Once Iraq is figured out (because you can't WIN a war in a country you are trying to stabilize), then there are other pressing issues like Afghanistan and heaven forbid, the economy stupid!

    February 26, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. Bob in Pa

    How many troops are still in Bosnia ?

    February 26, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. Bob in Pa

    At least GW was honest about his motives.

    February 26, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Bob in Pa

    At least GW was honest about his motives.

    February 26, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. raagos

    i am obama support's . let the man do his job. we gonna be all troops if everything goes as plan dont be kid's dem. he has plan

    believe me before u know all troops at home

    remember bush made alot mistakes we need to clean up.

    February 26, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Rob

    Gee, surprise, surprise. Spends all campaign listening to the idiots on the left, then once he gets elected (or more appropriately, annointed), he finds out just how things really are.

    Guess it shows what happens when you listen to dim-witted liberals who have no idea how the world really runs. You stupidly believe their garbage until you have to find out for yourself what the truth is.

    Too bad he wasn't listening to the right people when it comes to the economy.

    February 26, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. Robert

    Anyone who really believed that Obama, or any President for that matter, was going to bring home "all" the troops is either naive or stupid. We will have troops in Iraq when Obama leaves offices, whether that is in 4 years, or 8 years. Count on it!

    February 26, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. Randy Tate

    Leave half the troops there is not ending or bringing home. What a dirt ball you people voted for. The people who voted for this guy will be the first to lose there jobs once taxes increase!

    February 26, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Obama Victim

    I think you owe George W an apology

    February 26, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. TT

    There might be a reason why 50,000 troops will remain. But when
    he roll it out we will know for sure. This is still a good thing because
    the is not our fight . Lets wait until we hear the facts.

    February 26, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. How to disarm the Taliban: Tax Cuts!

    What's funny is Repubs and Conservatives did not want to pull out our troops, and now that it may not happen you guys think you can come on here and throw it in our face?

    Guess what? Even with this decision the majority of Obama voters still place their trust in him. I know it's too difficult to comprehend, but that's because unlike Repubs we actually like our President, we don't support him JUST because he is a Democrat.

    Isn't that cute?

    February 26, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. Brian Crooks

    Fact is, even if there are 50,000 troops there, it depends what their mission is. The Iraqis have placed on their books a law that we MUST be gone 36 months from last August (I believe it was then). The plan is to have the troops there JUST to train the Iraqis. They will not be conducting active combat missions. As it is now, the army must first consult the Iraqi government before conducting any missions to begin with. I'd much rather have 50,000 there than 142,000. Plus, this will shut up all of the crazy pro-war folks who keep wanting to say "precipitous withdrawal." One way or another, this war will be over soon, and that IS change we can believe in.

    February 26, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Judy

    He NEVER promised 16 months as an absolute timeframe. He ALWAYS said he would be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were carelss getting in. He also said he would listen to the commanders on the ground. It would be extremely irresponsible to get out so quickly that we risk the lives of our troops. Do you really think if he thought we could get out safely in 16 months, he would just choose to stay longer?? I thank God we have a President who is flexible enough to do what's right. This argument makes no sense to me!

    February 26, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    “That is not the campaign rhetoric that President Obama used, I’m happy to say.”

    That's right McCain, Obama did NOT make promises about how many NON-COMBAT troops would remain in Iraq. He promised all COMBAT troops would be home in 16 months. He's going to take a little longer, but that's no big deal...he's got more info now than he did back then and the situation is dynamic. More mischaracterization and misinformation from a GOPer. Typical.

    February 26, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. Zion

    The next article reads that most support the idea of increasing forces in Afghanistan. Watch these old tired Republicans, and Democrats start supporting Obama's plan. Obama said he would pull troops out responsibly. We re-elected Bush twice, which means Obama has to work with Iraq and Afghanistan. If Iraq goes to shambles, then Obama will be blamed. During McCain's campaign, he not only changed his position on Iraq, but he went from being a person against the surge to being an individual in full support. See, I don't like hypocrisy. Hey, we're too obsessed with finding ways to make a popular president unpopular.

    February 26, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  18. Paul H

    Maybe just maybe Obama is listening to his Military advisers, and think that they know best. Maybe congress needs to get back to listening to the people instead of dictating to the people.
    The Pelosi congress will be the down fall of the Democratic Party! Mark My WORDS!

    February 26, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. John doe

    Obama said he will bring troops home responsibily without endergering our troops.
    What would say if violence erupt once more puting more Soldiers life in danger? Oh yeah you going to come back here and criticize him.
    He did not say 50000 will stay indefinitly in Irak. He said it's for training purposes and I'm very confident that that level of 50000 will be brought down continuously as well.
    You Guys just talk and talk without having any fact of what is going on on the ground in Irak.
    I Trust OBAMA's Judgement and that's why I voted for him and I believe he will do the right thing period.

    February 26, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  20. shannon

    Obama is a fraud, he has not kept one promise he made. Leavign 50,000 troops in Iraq, is not bringing the troops home. Change, what a joke!

    February 26, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. mike

    How about this. Wait until the plan is rolled out before being critical. Did Obama say 50,000? Unless thursday is now friday I don't think he did.

    February 26, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  22. Freed_From_W

    Well, McCain's rhetoric should be immediately disregarded considering he's older than dirt, his ideas are even older, and he is an angry vindictive warmonger...

    No more fascist wars. None. You want to prove people like me right, who believe that the Nazis never went away completely? Then you should probably keep the imperialism going. You want freedom and prosperity to spread? Stop blowing the crap out of those who have none!!

    February 26, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. CAW in MD

    People - take a chill pill. On the campaign trail Obama didn't say he would pull all the troops out, just most of them. He always envisioned leaving a residual force there. He is pulling out a large majority (over 60%) of the troops under this plan. 50,000 is the high number, not *the* number. And the money to support that many troops, along with the extra ones headed to Afghanistan, is going to be expensive (though not as expensive as the peak).

    The troops will not be there an indefinite period of time - the Iraqi law that authorizes troops to be in Iraq runs out in 2011. So most likely everybody will be home by the end of 2011 from Iraq. Certainly there will not be 50,000 troops in Iraq by the end of 2011.

    There's no plan to end the war in Afghanistan YET because the Obama administration hasn't finished their 120 day review of the situation there.

    This mess wasn't created in a day, or even 16 months. It's going to take longer than a day, or 16 months, to put it right. Let the man work. If you don't like it by 2012, vote him out.

    February 26, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  24. Griff............... on The Truth...

    The Loser! With no Idea's. He is just using Biden's idea's, and he is gambling. Knowing he can blame Obama.

    February 26, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  25. Skip, a black man

    I feel like such the FOOL!

    February 26, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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