On Heels of British Announcement, Obama Calls for U.S. Redeployment to Begin May 1st

CHICAGO, IL- Today Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama responded to the announcement that the British will begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq by calling for a new policy from the Bush White House.

Barack Obama has a plan that would begin a phased withdrawal on May 1st, 2007, with a goal of removing all of our combat troops by March 31 of 2008 (LINK). The Obama plan currently has thirty supporters in Congress including two co-sponsors in the Senate and twenty-eight to the House companion bill (HR 787).

"Tony Blair’s announcement made it clear that one of our greatest allies recognize the fact that there is no military solution to this war. Just about everyone in the world understands this except the White House and a few of their friends running for President," said Senator Barack Obama. "What’s worse is that 14,000 of our National Guard members are leaving for Iraq for the second time before they were supposed to, before they’re ready, and before they have the proper equipment to do the job they’re being sent for. We shouldn’t be sending more troops to Iraq, we should be bringing them home."

Key Elements of Obama Plan: Stops the Escalation: Caps the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007. This does not affect the funding for our troops in Iraq. This cap has the force of law and could not be lifted without explicit Congressional authorization.

De-escalates the War with Phased Redeployment: Commences a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. This redeployment will be both substantial and gradual, and will be planned and implemented by military commanders. Makes clear that Congress believes troops should be redeployed to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region. A residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.

Enforces Tough Benchmarks for Progress: These 13 benchmarks are based on President Bush's own statements and Administration documents and include:

Security: Significant progress toward fulfilling security commitments, including eliminating restrictions on U.S. forces, reducing sectarian violence, reducing the size and influence of the militias, and strengthening the Iraqi Army and Police.

Political Accommodation: Significant progress toward reaching a political solution, including equitable sharing of oil revenues, revision of de-Baathification, provincial elections, even-handed provision of government services, and a fair process for a constitutional amendment to achieve national reconciliation.

Economic Progress: Requires Iraq to fulfill its commitment to spend not less than $10 billion for reconstruction, job creation, and economic development without regard for the ethnic or sectarian make-up of Iraqi regions.

Congressional oversight: Requires the President to submit reports to Congress every 90 days describing and assessing the Iraqi government's progress in meeting benchmarks and the redeployment goals.

Intensified Training: Intensifies training of Iraqi security forces to enable the country to take over security responsibility of the country.

Conditions on Economic Assistance: Conditions future economic assistance to the Government of Iraq on significant progress toward achievement of benchmarks. Allows exceptions for humanitarian, security, and job-creation assistance.

Regional Diplomacy: Launches a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative - that includes key nations in the region - to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people, end the civil war in Iraq, and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and regional conflict. Recommends the President should appoint a Special Envoy for Iraq to carry out this diplomacy within 60 days. Mandates that the President submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.