Watch this phrase: "Residual force." I think it will be President Obama's term for what he hopes to have in Iraq by the end of next year.
But White House over-optimism about Iraq is nothing new. As I recall, President Bush also thought he could get out of Iraq quickly. The original U.S. military plan for Iraq called for us to be down to about 30,000 troops by the fall of 2003. Here we are more than five years later with nearly five times that number of soldiers there.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.