WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's top military officials say they'll make sure he knows the potential downside of any speeded-up timetable for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, describe Wednesday's meeting with the new president as the beginning of a process. Obama set a 16-month deadline during his presidential campaign and Gates describes that as one of several withdrawal options.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker and the top U.S. general in Iraq briefed the president by video connection from Baghdad Wednesday. Crocker won't say what they told him, but he did tell reporters today that "a precipitous withdrawal runs some very severe risks."
Crocker says al-Qaida has been "much weakened" by setbacks on the battlefield and a loss of support among Sunni Arabs. But he says "as long as they can cling to some handhold," they'll try to fight back.