WASHINGTON — Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama made many promises to the American people. Msnbc.com has chosen 14 of these to explain, explore, and track. See if the new president keeps his word, and vote on his progress during the first 100 days.
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Obama’s words: “Now, what I've said is we should end this war responsibly. We should do it in phases. But in 16 months we should be able to reduce our combat troops, put — provide some relief to military families and our troops and bolster our efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al-Qaida.”
The issue: U.S. troops have been heavily engaged in Iraq since they invaded in early 2003, when they deposed the regime of Saddam Hussein.
But that relatively easy victory gave way to slow-burning insurgency that has since claimed the lives of more than 4,000 members of the U.S. military and tens of thousands of Iraqis, at a minimum.
Throughout the campaign, Republican rival John McCain criticized Barack Obama for his stance on the war, arguing that that the troop surge, to which the Democrat objected, had been successful. "When you win wars, troops come home,” said McCain.
In September 2007, Obama unveiled his plan for withdrawal: bring home two combat brigades each month, with all brigades removed in 16 months, leaving a small number of troops to protect diplomats and launch small-scale missions.
But since the November election, the U.S. and Iraq signed a new security agreement that provides for all the more than 140,000 troops to leave by 2012. Obama has now pledged to consult with U.S. commanders and the Iraqi government before deciding on a withdrawal schedule.
Following through: On his first full day as president, Obama summoned civilian and military leaders to his office to begin exploring how U.S. troops can leave Iraq. “I asked the military leadership to engage in additional planning necessary to execute a responsible military drawdown from Iraq,” he said in a written statement.
On Feb. 27, Obama announced that U.S. combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by August 2010.
"I have come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end," Obama declared at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
But in the same speech, he revealed that the vast majority of those involved in the pullout will not leave this year. He also said that tens of thousands of U.S. personnel will remain behind afterward.
Senior Obama administration officials said that of the roughly 100,000 U.S. combat troops to be pulled out of Iraq over the next 18 months, most will remain in the war zone through at least the end of this year to ensure national elections there go smoothly. The pace of withdrawal suggests that although Obama's promised pullout will start soon, it will be backloaded.
At the tail-end of his April trip overseas, Obama made an unannounced stop in Baghdad to meet with troops and Iraqi officials.
During his five-hour stopover, Obama met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who said afterward that he had "assured the president that all the progress that has been made in the security area will continue."
Obama said he had "strongly encouraged" the Iraqi leader to take steps to unite political factions, including integrating Sunnis into the government and security forces.
On April 9, the president requested $83.4 billion for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The additional money would cover operations into the latter months of this year.
"This will be the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
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