The combat withdrawal will take three months longer than he promised. It is now be to completed by the end of August 2010, 19 months after Obama's inauguration. Though what Obama emphasized most as a candidate was his determination to bring about a quick end to the war, in the fine print of almost all his statements was a twin commitment to flexibility. One administration official said Obama was never wedded to the timeline encased in his overall public pledge.
_The withdrawal will not happen at an even pace of one combat brigade per month, as he had repeatedly said. Instead, it will be backloaded, so that the force posture for this year and into the first few months of 2010 likely will be essentially the same as it would have been under Bush. Under Obama's plan, troops will start leaving in large numbers probably only next spring or summer, though the president intends to leave the pacing decisions up to field commanders.
_Even after the combat drawdown, a very large force of as many as 50,000 troops will remain — an element of the withdrawal strategy that has caused heartache among anti-war Democrats who wanted a fuller pullout.
This residual force will have a new mission, of training Iraqis, protecting U.S. assets and personnel, and conducting anti-terror operations. While those are technically noncombat tasks, the soldiers and Marines will remain in harm's way and engage at times in some form of fighting.
I read this and was immediately excited. It means that we are actually *supporting* Iraq instead of *abandoning* them. That this is being done despite the uproar from the Leftists makes it all the sweeter.