US commanders there may find it hard to quickly reduce the use of almost 150,000 contractors.
At Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, he announced that all combat troops would depart by Aug. 31, 2010. Following are the president's prepared remarks.
The president listens to tactical commanders in extending it to 19 months.
The Habur Gate – a dusty two-lane checkpoint – may be one of the best routes out.
US forces may stay in the volatile northern city beyond the June deadline for Americans to pull back to bases.
Amid growing opposition, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Sunday for more time to negotiate a plan that could begin US troop withdrawals in June 2009.
One key reason: uncertainty about what upcoming provincial elections will bring.
Gen. David Petraeus, who handed over command on Tuesday to Gen. Raymond Odierno, will lead US Central Command.