AP: The United States will withdraw most of its troops from Iraq by August 2010, 19 months after President Barack Obama's inauguration day, according to administration officials who expect Obama to make the announcement this week.
The withdrawal plan would fulfill one of Obama's central campaign pledges, albeit a little more slowly than he promised. He said he would withdraw troops within 16 months, roughly one brigade a month from the time of his inauguration.
The U.S. military would leave behind a residual force, between 30,000 and 50,000 troops, to continue advising and training Iraqi security forces. Also staying beyond the 19 months would be intelligence and surveillance specialists and their equipment, including unmanned aircraft, according to two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.
A further withdrawal would take place before December 2011, when the U.S. has already agreed with Iraq that it would remove all American troops.
A senior White House official said Tuesday that Obama is at least a day away from making a final decision. He further said an announcement on Wednesday was unlikely, but Obama could discuss Iraq during a trip to North Carolina on Friday.