US Combat Role In Iraq Set To End On Schedule, Says Barack Obama

Barack Obama declared today that he is on the brink of fulfilling a campaign promise to end US combat operations in Iraq – seven years after his predecessor's triumphalist pronouncement that the war was won and the mission accomplished.But the president warned that the plan to turn over military responsibility to the Iraqi government by the end of this month would not mean an end to the conflict or to US casualties in what he once called a "dumb war". Amid increasing doubts over the growing war in Afghanistan, Obama sought to shift attention to what the administration is heralding as the success of its strategy to pull troops away from the frontline in Iraq. "As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. I made it clear that by August 31, America's combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing – as promised and on schedule," Obama told the Disabled American Veterans convention in Atlanta. "Already, we have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. We're moving out millions of pieces of equipment in one of the largest logistics operations that we've seen in decades. By the end of this month, we'll have brought more than 90,000 of our troops home from Iraq since I took office – more than 90,000 have come home. "Obama said that, as agreed with the Iraqi government, the US would maintain a transitional force of about 50,000 troops until the military withdrawal is completed at the end of next year. "During this period, our forces will have a focused mission: supporting and training Iraqi forces, partnering with Iraqis in counter-terrorism missions, and protecting our civilian and military efforts. These are dangerous tasks. There are still those with bombs and bullets who will try to stop Iraq's progress, and the hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq,"