By Joseph Kishore
28 February 2009
President Obama formally announced his administration’s plans for the continued US military occupation of Iraq on Friday, in remarks delivered at the Camp Lejeune marine base in North Carolina. Far from bringing the war to an end, the plans will maintain present troop levels for one year and ensure a substantial military presence for at least three years, through the end of 2011.
As leaked to the press earlier this week, Obama’s plan calls for the withdrawal of all “combat troops” by August 31, 2010, 19 months after his inauguration. This means that the US military presence will continue at present levels through the Iraqi elections scheduled in the fall, ensuring that the occupying forces can maintain a watchful eye over the “democratic” process.
Beginning next year, troops are scheduled to be gradually transferred out of Iraq, leaving a “residual force” of up to 50,000 soldiers after August 2010. Although referred to by the administration as “non-combat troops,” this is a verbal sleight-of-hand, as they will continue to be involved in combat activities. Obama said that these soldiers will be involved in “training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq.”
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