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Obama rallies troops in Baghdad

From NBC's Chuck Todd (from ISTANBUL, Turkey) and Domenico Montanaro
President Obama will be meeting in person in a few minutes with both Iraq's president and prime minister, who both decided to drive to Camp Victory. Originally, the president was to helicopter into the center of Baghdad, but there's a nasty sand storm preventing low-level air travel.

The president gave a pep talk of sorts to a raucous group of 500 to 700 troops at Camp Victory, according TV pool reporter Chip Reid. Obama told the troops that as long as he's in the White House, he'll be looking out for them. In the audience, by the way, was Vice President Biden's son, Beau Biden, who is currently on a one-year tour of duty.

In his speech, the president called the next 18 months "a critical period." "It is time for us to transfer to the Iraqis," Obama said, according to the print pool report by USA Today's Richard Wolf. "They need to take responsibility for their country." The U.S. role is to train Iraqis to take control, Obama added, so "we can start bringing our folks home."

He also spoke of the strain on military families -- something First Lady Michelle Obama has said will be a focus for her.

All indications are that when the president wraps up these meetings with Iraq's two leaders, he'll head to Washington, D.C.

*** UPDATE *** NBC's Andrea Mitchell adds: Based on the video being shown on MSNBC, President Obama is visiting with the troops at Army headquarters at Camp Victory inside a gray marble building that used to be Saddam Hussein's Al Faw Palace. It is a palace he built to celebrate Iraq's victory over Iran.