Barack Obama pledged during the past election he would withdraw all American troops within 16 months after assuming office. The pledge will be carried out, but not with the rapidity as planned. The removal of 150,000 troops, their equipment, and cleaning up bases to ensure they are environmentally safe will take longer than 16 months. A compromise plan will witness the removal of the vast majority of American forces by August, 2010. The reality is that a force of about 20,000 to 30,000 will remain for at least another year to ensure safety in Iraq and to serve as a protecting force as soldiers depart from Iraq.
The good news is the improvement in the capabilities of Iraq soldiers. The bad news is there are at least 200 U.S. military installations in Iraq and each must be made environmentally safe in order to protect the health of Iraqis. It makes no sense to squabble over whether it is sixteen or eighteen or twenty two months, the soldiers are returning home. Period.