by Matt Saldaña
UPDATE (2/27/09): As expected, Obama pledged to remove all combat troops from Iraq by August 2010, and leave behind 35,000 to 50,000 "transitional" troops through December 2011. “Let me say this as plainly as I can. By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," NYT quotes Obama as saying today at Camp Lejeune.
The White House has announced that Barack Obama will deliver a speech in North Carolina Friday, at the marine corps base Camp Lejeune. Reuters reports that Obama is expected to make a major announcement about the timetable of withdrawing American forces from Iraq, noting that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama had not yet made a final decision on a withdrawal timetable, and declined to offer specifics on the speech.
However, The New York Times and other news outlets--including Agence France Presse--are reporting that Obama will set August 2010 as the date for withdrawal, a slightly longer timetable than originally promised, and also that Obama may leave behind as many as 50,000 troops past that date, to be reassigned as “Advisory Training Brigades." Those reports relied on anonymous Pentagon sources.