Obama promised during his campaign to withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months of his election. Well, maybe not.
Officials said Obama is prepared to to add three months due to the concerns of ground commanders who wanted more time to cement security gains, strengthen political institutions and make sure Iraq did not become more unstable again.
Even with the withdrawal order, Mr. Obama plans to leave behind a “residual force” of tens of thousands of troops to continue training Iraqi security forces, hunt down foreign terrorist cells and guard American institutions, as he said he would during last year’s campaign.
The top two commanders responsible for Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus and Gen. Ray Odierno, have declined to say what options they preferred, but military officials made it clear that the two were uncomfortable with the 16-month plan that Mr. Obama backed during the campaign.
Administration officials said it was possible that Mr. Obama would announce his decision on Iraq withdrawals on Friday during a visit to North Carolina, possibly at either Camp Lejeune or Fort Bragg. Camp Lejeune is the home of some 8,000 Marines who are to be deployed to Afghanistan under a plan Mr. Obama announced last week to send 17,000 more troops to the country.
Promises are easy to make.