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are made—it’s expected that the President’s announcement Friday will call for the majority of combat forces to be withdrawn, leaving a residual force of as many as 50,000, largely in a training or advisory role.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. Alicia

    I believe the President of the USA reads information we all don't have privvy to. I would believe he is listening to the generals on this one.

    Maybe we will catch Bin Laden after eight years!

    **I am sick of McCain being referenced. I thank him for his service, but it does not make him an expert on war.

    February 26, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. GuyInVA

    The president must be wearing his WWDCD bracelet. "What Would Dick Cheney Do?"

    February 26, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  3. arithmetic is liberal

    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.

    I am so sick and tired of reading half-baked comments from people who obviously don't pay enough attention.

    It's a wonder half of you aren't hit by a bus on the way home with how little attention you pay to what is actually going on and being said.

    February 26, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  4. Hammer

    Obama is totally out of control!
    Obama was elected to change Washington. Obama was elected to end corruption in Washington. Obama was elected to change the way business is done in Washington. Obama was elected to restore confidence in government. All these Obama's words.
    Has Obama delivered on any of these PROMISES?
    Obama has joined in the way Washington has done business for years. Make pretty speaches and lead the "Nation of Cowards" to destruction of life as we knew it.

    February 26, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  5. Nino

    Obama personally doesn't want troops there. He's afraid the NWO will get him. Obama is just the puppet.

    February 26, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    @ still hoping (and the rest of you), who said "Thanks Barack for bringing life back into the republican party."

    hehe...you might want to hit that back button and check out the article stating that well over 60% of those polled support President Obama's plan for Afghanistan at the moment. I know, I know...inconvenient facts and evidence...you'll probably deny they exist or rationalize them away, but I have to keep trying.

    February 26, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  7. RM in CO

    Michael @ 5:20 pm ET:

    he has no time line or plan to end the war in Afganistan

    He cannot end the war in Afghanistan until Osama bin Laden is either captured or killed. He was the mastermind behind 9/11, not the Iraqi Dicatator. We had no business going into Iraq in the first place.

    I do however agree that he needs to pull all troops out of Iraq and end the war in Iraq as promised.......................................................

    February 26, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  8. Skip, a black man

    I think i will go back home and live with Obama`s brother!

    February 26, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  9. Military4OBAMA

    I am glad wealthy farmers, normally Republican Ranchers and Farmers will not get Federal "Socialized" help any more. These Farmers consistently vote against American interest by siding with the GOP and they lined their pockets with Federal Funds. CHANGE is beginning to look very good and Pres O is extremely competent! Radical decisions will do well to realign America to the Gods!

    February 26, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  10. Susan

    We need to get out of Iraq.......and slow down in Afghanistan........war is what cost our country SO MUCH.

    February 26, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  11. w.l. jones

    Remember Korea, 50,000 troop in that country to sudsize there economy and look at there economy now We have long expierience in help rebuilding theirs by given local jobs.

    February 26, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  12. Dan

    You guys on this post either didn't support Obama in the election or you are far too fickle and forgetful. Obama always said he would leave a residual force behind. Go back and look at the campaign videos.

    February 26, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
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