Under President Obama’s plan, up to 50,000 US troops would remain in Iraq through 2011.
President Barack Obama: “As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counterterrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35,000 to 50,000 US troops.”
President Obama’s decision to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq has angered many critics of the war. Iraq Veterans Against the War described Obama’s proposal as a “plan for almost three more years of an unjustified military occupation.” During an interview on MSNBC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke out against part of Obama’s plan.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “And 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, and I don’t know that all of them have to be in country. I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000.”
President Obama’s speech on Iraq left several major questions unanswered. He did not address whether the US will keep permanent military bases in Iraq, and he made no promise to withdraw the over 100,000 private US military contractors and mercenaries stationed in Iraq.