President Barack Obama said Sunday that the peaceful elections in Iraq are "good news" for U.S. troops and their families, and he agreed with the suggestion that a substantial number of those troops could be home within a year.
"I think that you have a sense now that the Iraqis just had a very significant election with no significant violence that we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis and that's good news not only for the troops on the ground but for the families who are carrying an enormous burden," Obama said in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer before the Super Bowl. Lauer asked Obama if he could assure the troops "that a substantial number of them will be home" a year from now.
Obama said: "Yes."
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Obama gave few details, but said "we're going to roll out in a very formal fashion what our intentions are in Iraq as well as Afghanistan." He said he has been talking with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders on the ground.
Obama had vowed during the campaign to get combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months.
Since the November election, the U.S. and Iraq have signed a new security agreement that provides for all the more than 140,000 U.S. troops to leave by 2012, despite concerns among senior U.S. commanders that Iraqi forces might not be ready by then to ensure stability.
Iraqis voted in provincial elections under tight security this weekend that were conducted with remarkably little violence.