Withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq: Possible Timelines and Estimated Costs

That’s the headline of the Congressional Budget Office blog post. (Hey, it’s a public entity. I don’t mind stealing that one verbatim.)

In February 2009, President Obama described his strategy for ending the war in Iraq, and announced that all U.S. combat operations there would cease by the end of August 2010 and all troops would be withdrawn by December 2011. In response to a request by the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, CBO released a letter today outlining the costs for ceasing military operations in Iraq under the Administration’s plan and under four alternative timetables for withdrawal.

There are some alternative plans.

• Option 1: Remove U.S. forces beginning in October 2009 at a rate of 14,400 troops per month to complete the withdrawal by the end of June 2010.

• Option 2: Draw forces down more rapidly—at a rate of 17,500 service members per month—starting in October 2009 and removing all troops by May 2010.

And here are the dollars:

CBO identified how some of OIF’s direct costs would change, from the estimated $156 billion over the 2009-2014 period, under the four alternative timetables. Options 1 and 2 would provide the greatest savings—$50 million and $54 million, respectively—as troops would be withdrawn at a rapid pace beginning in October 2009 before the Iraqi elections. Savings relative to the Administration’s plan would be smaller, approximately $34 billion, if the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq did not begin until after the elections and troops were withdrawn by September 2010, as in Option 3. The more gradual withdrawal CBO analyzed—Option 4—would cost about $5 billion more than the Administration’s plan.

Ok, call me a confused housewife, but why is option one being provided a reply on October 7th. And aren’t we post Iraqi elections?

The reply has a great deal of detail. If you are interested in the subject, it’s probably worth your time.