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Feb 27th, 2009

Iraq Withdrawal Plan Gains G.O.P. Support

Key Republicans more supportive than several leading Democrats

Soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., unloaded luggage this month for troops who had recently returned from a 15-month tour in Iraq. (Photo credit: Rick Wilking / Reuters via The New York Times)

By Peter Baker

February 27, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama won crucial backing on Thursday for his Iraq military withdrawal plan from leading Congressional Republicans, including Senator John McCain, the party’s presidential nominee, who spent much of last year debating the war with Mr. Obama.

As the president prepared to fly to Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday to announce that he would pull combat forces out by August 2010 while leaving behind a residual force of 35,000 to 50,000 troops, he reassured Congressional leaders from both parties that his plan would not jeopardize hard-won stability in Iraq.

But Republicans emerged from a meeting Thursday evening more supportive than several leading Democrats, who complained earlier in the day that the president was still leaving behind too many American forces.

Mr. McCain said during the private White House meeting that he thought the withdrawal plan was thoughtful and well prepared, according to several people who were in the room. His spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan, confirmed by e-mail on Thursday night that Mr. McCain is “supportive of the plan.”

The convergence of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain on Iraq would have seemed highly improbable just a few months ago, when they clashed harshly on the future of the American mission there. Mr. McCain accused Mr. Obama of being naïve and opposed his withdrawal plans. At one point, Mr. McCain said Mr. Obama “would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.” …

Mr. McCain’s views were echoed by other Republicans briefed in the State Dining Room by Mr. Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Obama team told two dozen lawmakers from both parties that at least 90,000 of the 142,000 troops in Iraq would be withdrawn by August 2010 — 19 months after the president’s inauguration, or three months longer than the time frame he had outlined as a candidate.

Most withdrawals will take place next year to allow commanders to keep as many forces as possible through parliamentary elections in December. Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen told the lawmakers that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the Middle East commander, and Gen. Ray Odierno, the Iraq commander, were comfortable with the plan, according to people in the room. …

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, and other senior Republicans were … generally supportive, while advocating flexibility to preserve the security gains since President Bush sent more troops two years ago, according to Congressional aides.

But even before the session, Democrats criticized the size of the residual force, even though Mr. Obama said consistently during the campaign that he would leave troops behind to continue training Iraqi soldiers, hunting terrorists and protecting Americans in Iraq. …

Another person briefed on the session said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House speaker, was particularly upset. She kicked off the public criticism on Wednesday by saying she did not understand “the justification” for 50,000 troops. …


Security Developments in Iraq

Security developments in Iraq on Feb. 27, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAGHDAD – A U.S. soldier died on Thursday from combat wounds received while on patrol in Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb near the home of a police officer wounded one policeman and one civilian on Thursday in central Mosul, 240 miles, north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb wounded two army officers in western Mosul, police said.

Security developments in Iraq on Feb. 26, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAGHDAD – Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and 10 people wounded, including eight students, when a roadside bomb exploded on Thursday morning near an Iraqi army patrol on a road to Baghdad University in southern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol, wounding six people, including two policemen, on Wednesday evening in the Ilaam district of southern Baghdad, police said.

Security developments in Iraq on Feb. 25, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

KIRKUK – Gunmen killed a prominent businessman after riddling him with bullets in his car in the northern city of Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, on Tuesday night, police said.

RASHAD – Gunmen kidnapped four people, including three employees of Iraq’s state-run Northern Oil Company, in the town of Rashad, 25 miles southwest of Kirkuk, on Wednesday, police said.

Security developments in Iraq on Feb. 24, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – Amir al-Lihaibi, who was a candidate in Jan. 31 provincial elections for the secular Iraqi National List, was wounded on Monday by a bomb attached to his car in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Three policemen were wounded on Monday when militants threw a grenade at their checkpoint in southern Mosul, police said.


U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq

As of Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009, at least 4,251 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq, 31,089 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department’s weekly tally.

Latest identifications:

Three Army soldiers died Feb. 23, 2009 in Balad, Iraq, when insurgents attacked their unit with small-arms fire. All were assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Cpl. Micheal B. Alleman, 31, Logan, Utah

Cpl. Michael L. Mayne, 21, Burlington Flats, N.Y.

Cpl. Zachary R. Nordmeyer, 21, Indianapolis

Army National Guard 1st Lt. William E. Emmert, 36, Lincoln, Tenn., died Feb. 24, 2009 in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds sustained when he was shot while participating in a local Iraqi police function. He was assigned to the 269th Military Police Company, 117th Military Police Battalion, Tennessee National Guard, Murfreesboro, Tenn.


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3 Responses to “GOP Support for Iraq Pullout”
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