Democrats Wary of Residual Iraq Forces

Posted February 26, 2009 at 12:41pm

Updated: 2:04 p.m. Senate Democratic leaders expressed skepticism Thursday about an expected Obama administration plan to leave 50,000 residual troops in Iraq after a massive drawdown of combat forces. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the number is “a little higher than I expected.” But he said he was heading to the White House for a briefing on Iraq later Thursday afternoon. The White House invited the top two leaders of both parties as well as the chairmen and ranking members of the Armed Services panels to the briefing. Similarly, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said, “50,000 is more than we thought would stay and we await the explanation for why that’s needed.” Those comments came on the heels of an appearance Wednesday night by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” where she said she thought the troop levels being contemplated sounded too high. Pelosi said she would be more comfortable with a residual force of 15,000 to 20,000. “So we have to see what the purpose is, how it fits the mission of our national security and why that number is important,” Pelosi said. “But again, [Obama] hasn’t said it yet, so I would love to see what he has to say.” President Barack Obama may announce as early as Friday his plans for drawing down forces in Iraq, as well as his plan for a residual force, according to published reports.