President Barack Obama has told Congress he may extend the US forces’ presence in Iraq if the security situation worsens, says a lawmaker.
“He assured me that he will revisit his plan if the situation on the ground deteriorates and violence increases,” Representative John McHugh, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
With a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars, the Obama administration has signaled that it hopes to scale back military spending partly through a planned reduction of troops in Iraq and by taking the axe to big ticket weapons programs.
Obama was expected to announce on Friday that the US would end operations in Iraq by August 2010. However, McHugh said the president had assured him that there was a ‘Plan B’ as Washington was faced with ‘significant challenges’ in Iraq in 2009.
“Iraq faces significant challenges in 2009, including the national parliamentary election in December. Our commanders must have the flexibility they need in order to respond to these challenges, and President Obama assured me that there is a ‘Plan B’,” said McHugh.
Obama’s withdrawal timetable is three months longer than the 16-month withdrawal schedule promised during his campaign for the presidency.
“The president’s objective to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq is one that we should pray for, plan for, and work toward,” the New York Republican added.
“However, I remain concerned that the security situation in Iraq is fragile, and we should work to mitigate any risks to our troops and their mission. I specifically raised these points with the president this evening.”