August 31 Marks End of U.S. Combat Mission in Iraq

August 31 Marks End of U.S. Combat Mission in Iraq

Biden Speaks During End of Combat Operations Ceremony

The end of August signaled the end of official combat missions for the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq.  A ceremony outside of Baghdad, in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, was presided over by Vice President Joe Biden.  The day marked the official departure of the last U.S. combat troops from Iraq, and brought the number of American troops in the country to roughly 50,000.

As the ceremony progressed, Biden spoke of the promise the U.S. had made to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq by the end of August, and that that promise was now fulfilled.  He also mentioned that American and Iraqi forces were on track to have all American military forces out of the country by the end of next year.

Outgoing General Ray Odierno, responsible for implementing and leading the surge of troops in 2007, said that, despite concerns raised in the media, he was confident that the Iraqi military forces were ready to take over.  Even though insurgent attacks continue to plague the country, the violence in Iraq is said to be at its lowest point since the U.S. – led invasion in 2003.

While there are still some 50,000 American troops in the country, they will no longer be leading any battles.  Incoming General Lloyd Austin, said that though the troops still in Iraq are trained and capable of launching full-scale assaults, their primary job is to act as trainers and to “advise and assist” the Iraq military.

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