Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated Friday that while there may be wiggle room in President Obama's plan to draw down troops in Iraq, he is unlikely to use it.

"The president has made clear that he's the commander in chief and retains the flexibility to make changes," Gates said during a conference call with reporters to explain the policy. "He clearly doesn't have plans to do this."

He said that there is no clear sense for how many troops will leave the country still this year, and that it would be up to top generals on the ground to help determine how many forces would remain.

"I think that it is important to have a date in terms of setting the conclusion of one mission, and the beginning of another," Gates said of the Obama policy, setting specific dates for a change of mission and withdrawal.

Gates added that it is his personal view that Americans should be prepared to have some kind of modest force still in place for training and other purposes after 2011.