08-18-2010, 08:04 PM
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U.S. ends combat operations in Iraq
U.S. ends combat operations in Iraq
After 7½ years, last convoy of fighting forces rolling into Kuwait
IRAQ-KUWAIT BORDER — The last U.S. combat troops were crossing the border into Kuwait on Thursday morning, bringing to a close the active combat phase of a 7½-year war that overthrew the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, forever defined the presidency of George W. Bush and left more than 4,400 American service members and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead.
The final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., began entering Kuwait about 1:30 a.m. (6:30 p.m. Wednesday ET), carrying the last of the 14,000 U.S. combat forces in Iraq, said NBC’s Richard Engel, who has been traveling with the brigade as it moved out this week.
The departure marks the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the State Department, told msnbc TV. But while it is “an historic moment,” he said, it is not the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
“We are ending the war ... but we are not ending our work in Iraq,” he said. “We have a long-term commitment to Iraq.”
The long convoy began moving earlier this week, and as the last soldiers reached Kuwait after midnight, they said they were proud of their effort.
“We are done with operations,” Lt. Steven DeWitt of San Jose, Calif., said as his vehicle reached Khabari Crossing on the border.
“This was a professional soldier’s job,” he said, describing “a war that has defined this generation of military men and women.
“And today it’s over,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Nick Tooliatos, deputy commanding general for First Theater Sustainment Command in Kuwait, stood at the border saluting each soldier as he or she crossed.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better honor than to greet some soldiers who have done great work for a year fighting our nation’s war, and to just be here and render honors to them and welcome them and thank them for a job well done,” Tooliatos said.
“It’s a historic event,” he said. “In 2003, we rolled across this berm into Iraq, and now as we get ready to transition the security of Iraq to Iraq’s own forces, this is a significant retrograde of a combat unit.”
50,000 advisers remain
The timing of the final departure was a closely held secret, and the end came in dramatic fashion two weeks ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline
President Barack Obama had set to withdraw combat forces and close Operation Iraqi Freedom, which the U.S.-led multinational coalition began March 20, 2003, in the belief that Hussein possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that threatened the West.
In a statement, Obama called the troops’ withdrawal a “milestone in the Iraq war” and said, “I hope you’ll join me in thanking them, and all of our troops and military families, for their service.”
At one point, the United States had blanketed the country with nearly a quarter-million-strong combat force; by the end of the month, Obama said, about 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in the country, in a non-combat role providing support and training for the Iraqi military.
“This is an extremely interesting night to see these pictures, but I think people need to understand ... this is a transition from one that is military over seven years to one that is a transition to diplomacy,” Crowley said.
U.S. ends combat operations in Iraq - TODAYshow.com
Thank you for your service,well done...
Last edited by Spencer Collins; 08-18-2010 at 08:20 PM..