President Obama’s ‘soft pullout’ deadline of August, which would see 50,000 troops remaining in the nation but the formal end of “combat operations” is in growing peril, as top commander General Ray Odierno reportedly wants to keep a combat brigade in Kirkuk past the deadline.
It was only three days ago that General Odierno was openly talking about “plan B” in Iraq, which would involve significantly slowing down the pullout, though at the time he said “if you ask me today, I’m fully committed” to the pullout. Apparently today came and went, however.
Though Obama ran on a campaign pledge of withdrawing all American troops from Iraq by May of 2010, he quickly backpedaled from this pledge once elected, and it seems now that even his existing pledge is not safe.
Officials have made it clear they envision violence in Iraq getting worse up to the March 7 election and then getting even worse after the vote. The “stabilizing event” that the parliamentary election was supposed to be is gone, and officials don’t seem to be offering any suggestions of what will finally slow Iraq’s violence. Officials are still scrambling to claim credit for the military “victory” however, even as it looks like troops will remain in the nation for a long time to come.