When U.S. President Barack Obama first took office in early 2009, he promised that the U.S. would end its combat mission in Iraq and reduce its troops to 50,000 by the end of August 2010. He is on schedule to fulfill that promise.
“Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” he said speaking at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in 2009.
Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched March 2003, will be replaced by Operation New Dawn to mark the new phase in the country’s commitment in Iraq, according to a White House statement. All the U.S. troops are planned to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
“The reduction in troops does not mean a reduction in the U.S. commitment to Iraq–it means a change in the nature of our commitment from one led by the military to one that is civilian-led,” according to the statement.
The 50,000 troops left in Iraq will advise Iraqi Security Forces, protect ongoing U.S. civilians and military efforts, and conduct partnered and targeted counterterrorism operations.
In January of 2009 there were a total of 144,000 troops in Iraq. That number had decreased to 88,000 by May this year.