President Obama's strategy is to remove all combat troops from Iraq in 18 months, while leaving as many as 50,000 troops there in non-combat roles until the end of 2011. Now I was a lowly non-com in the Marines, so I don't claim to be some great strategy, but I do not get the 50,000 troops being left behind. The missions that get described when people are defending leaving 50,000 soldiers and Marines in Iraq, do not require that many soldiers.
The mission that gets described would only require 10,000 U.S. personnel with air support mostly coming from bases in neigboring countries.
During his speech, President Obama declared that:
"To achieve that goal [to remove combat troops from Iraq], we will work to promote an Iraqi government that is just, representative, and accountable, and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists. We will help Iraq build new ties of trade and commerce with the world. And we will forge a partnership with the people and government of Iraq that contributes to the peace and security of the region."
President Obama does seem to understand the quandaries that remain in Iraq. In today's speech he frankly described many of the challenges:
"Iraq is not yet secure, and there will be difficult days ahead. Violence will continue to be a part of life in Iraq. Too many fundamental political questions about Iraq’s future remain unresolved. Too many Iraqis are still displaced or destitute. Declining oil revenues will put an added strain on a government that has had difficulty delivering basic services. Not all of Iraq’s neighbors are contributing to its security. Some are working at times to undermine it. And even as Iraq’s government is on a surer footing, it is not yet a full partner – politically and economically – in the region, or with the international community."
President Obama also emphasized that the problems in Iraq will not be solved through military means. He stated that:
"critical recognition that the long-term solution in Iraq must be political – not military....The long-term success of the Iraqi nation will depend upon decisions made by Iraq’s leaders and the fortitude of the Iraqi people. Iraq is a sovereign country with legitimate institutions; America cannot – and should not – take their place."
Still he set an almost impossible goal when he declared that they will leave Iraq with Iraqi a "government that is just, representative, and accountable."
Watch President Obama speaking at Camp Lejeune:
David Gregory had an initial take on MSNBC with retired General McCaffrey and retired Colonel Jacobs. The NBC reporter of course is a tool who has no idea what he is talking about when he speaks about the surge. Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks has a really good take on the situation. You can watch it here:
Here is another take on the plan from NBC: