Sometimes you hear that Obama will leave thousands or even tens of thousands of troops, but on repeated occasions he has stated that the doesn't want to get into "precise numbers"until consultations with ground-level military advisers. He's also said he doesn't support any permanent military bases but does plan to keep the embassy open and U.S. civilians safe. He also wants to possibly continue anti-terrorism operations there.
After listening to the exchanges for months, I've come up with my own views. I'm no military expert, but did serve in the military and have stayed at the Holiday Inn on several occasions.
I don't think Obama can say he is removing all troops and continue anything but intelligence service-level anti-terrorism operations in Iraq. Any type of military operation on Iraqi soil will create the same problems we see today.
Indeed, there's nothing needed more than a reinforced detachment of the ordinary Marine guards for the embassy.
Now, my view is not too much different than that of Gov. Bill Richardson on this issue:
Leave Marine guards at the embassy, but nothing too unsimilar to what is seen at other embassies. Some degree of reinforcement is justified. Station rapid emergency response forces in Kuwait and in at least one battle carrier group that is always offshore in the Persian Gulf. Aircraft from these forces can fly over Iraq but not engage in military activity except in certain emergency cases i.e., genocide, attack on embassy, certain types of special requests by Iraqi government, etc. The rapid response force would have the ability to fully evacuate U.S. embassy and civilian personnel if needed.
An international force of peace-keepers from Muslim nations would replace U.S. forces partially with the express purpose of protecting foreign embassies and civilians, and monitoring against genocide. Significant quantities of U.S. military stores and equipment in Iraq would be turned over to Iraqi forces and the international peace-keepers allowing a quicker pullout and also increasing Iraqi capability. Training of Iraqi personnel would continue. A portion of the savings from winding down military operations in Iraq will be used to further bolster the security and economy of Iraq and promote stability.