“Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
- President Barack Obama, Camp Lejeune, February 27, 2009
Troops and Change of Mission
When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. At his Camp Lejeune speech on February 27, 2009, President Obama announced that the United States would end its combat mission on August 31, 2010, and retain a transitional force of up to 50,000 U.S. troops to train and advise Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered and targeted counter-terrorism operations; and protect ongoing U.S. civilian and military efforts.
- By January 2010, there were 112,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. By the end of May 2010, that number had been reduced to 88,000. General Odierno made the decision in May 2010 that positive developments in the security sector permitted the drawdown to go forward as planned. The final tranche of the drawdown to reach the President’s commitment to end combat operations began in earnest in June 2010. By the end of August 2010, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will be further reduced to 50,000. On August 31, Operation Iraqi Freedom will end. The transitional mission will be called Operation New Dawn. Consistent with our agreements with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
- There are currently 665,000 Iraqi Security Forces who have been leading the effort to secure Iraq since June 2009, when U.S. troops repositioned outside of Iraqi cities. Even as terrorists have sought to exploit the period of government formation that has followed Iraq’s successful election, security incidents remain near the lowest level since we’ve been keeping records. Since the beginning of this year, the U.S. and Iraqi military partnership has resulted in the death or arrest of more than 30 members of the top leadership of al-Qai’da in Iraq.
- 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. The transitional force that we will have in place can continue to support Iraqi Security Forces. And we will strengthen the U.S. and Iraqi partnership in fields such as education, the rule of