President Barack Obama yesterday announced the official end to combat operations in Iraq during a prime-time Oval Office address, promising Iraqis “a new beginning.”
“Operation Iraqi Freedom is over,” Obama said, speaking just hours after the launch of Operation New Dawn in Iraq. “The Iraqi people now have the lead responsibility for the security of their country.”
Obama praised the men and women in uniform whose service and sacrifice led to this “historic moment” in time.
“The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given,” he said. “They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block-by-block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future.”
Noting that more than 4,400 U.S. troops were killed and thousands more were wounded, the president said the efforts in Iraq came at tremendous cost and ending the war is in the best interest of both Iraq and the United States.
“The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people,” Obama said. “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people: a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization.”
The president said after going through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, it is time to turn the page. He outlined the future role of the transitional force of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq through December 2011, a task in which they will advise and assist Iraqi security forces, support Iraqi troops in targeted counterterrorism missions and protect U.S. civilians.