In 2008, in the height of the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama made a promise to give our military a new mission: ending the war in Iraq.
As the election unfolded, he reiterated this pledge again and again — but cautioned that we would be “as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”
Last year, the President made progress toward achieving that goal. He brought anÂ end to the combat missionÂ in Iraq, and through the course of the past 14 months, more than 100,000 troops have returned to their families.
Now, that promise will be wholly fulfilled. Today, President Obama announced that the rest of our troops will be home by the holidays:
Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq–tens of thousands of them–will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq–with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.
But this moment represents more than an accomplishment for the President. It marks a monumental change of focus for our military and a fundamental shift in the way that the our nation will engage in the world:
The United States is moving forward, from a position of strength. The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year. The transition in Afghanistan is moving forward, and our troops are finally coming home. As they do, fewer deployments and more time training will help keep our military the very best in the world. And as we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits, and the opportunities that they have earned.
Bringing our troops home from Iraq
I’m writing to tell you that all US troops will return home from Iraq by the end of December. After nearly nine years, the American war in Iraq will end. Our servicemen and women will be with their families for the holidays.
The war in Iraq came with tremendous cost. More than a million Americans served in Iraq, and nearly 4,500 gave their lives in service to the rest of us. Today, as always, we honor these patriots.
When I came into office, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. As Commander in Chief, I ended our combat mission last year and pledged to keep our commitment to remove all our troops by the end of 2011. To date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops from Iraq.
This is a significant moment in our history.
The end of the war in Iraq reflects a larger trend. The wars of the past decade are drawing to a close.
As we have removed troops from Iraq, we have refocused our fight against al Qaeda and secured major victories in taking out its leadership—including Osama bin Laden. And we’ve begun a transition in Afghanistan.
On the first day of my Administration,Â roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and we’ll continue to draw it down.
As we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll enlist their talents in meeting our greatest challenges as a nation–restoring our economic strength at home. Because after a decade of war, the nation that we need to build is our own.
Today the United States moves forward, from a position of strength.
President Barack Obama