Last combat brigade pulls out of Iraq

Last combat bridge leaves Iraq but 56,000 American troops remain (AFP)

The last US combat brigade pulled out of Iraq and crossed into Kuwait almost seven and a half years after the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, US media reported.

Television footage showed an NBC reporter travelling with the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division crossing the border into Kuwait to be followed in the coming hours by the rest of the brigade.

The pullout comes just one day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded army recruitment centre in Baghdad killing 59 people, as violence coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan raged across Iraq.

The attack, blamed on Al-Qaeda and the deadliest this year, wounded at least another 100 people and came a day after Iraq’s two main political parties suspended talks over the formation of a new government.

News of the milestone withdrawal was also carried by Al-Jazeera and US media such as The Washington Post, CNN and The Los Angeles Times, many of which had reporters embedded with the departing troops.

CNN reported that 56,000 troops will remain in Iraq after the brigade has left.

Only 50,000 are set to stay past August 31, when the United States declares an end to combat operations and switches to a training and advisory mission.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, live on MSNBC as the footage was shown, described the end of combat operations as a “historic moment,” but vowed that America’s long-term commitment was unwavering.

“The last thing that we want to see is an occasion where we have to send troops back into Iraq yet again so we are ending the combat phase of our involvement in Iraq for a second time,” he said.

“We’re not ending our involvement in Iraq. We will have important work to do. This is a transition. This is not the end of something. It’s a transition to something different. We have a long-term commitment to Iraq.”

Crowley said that after spending one trillion dollars in Iraq and with 4,400 lives lost, the conflict had come “at high expense.”

“We’ve invested heavily in Iraq and have to do everything we can to preserve that investment to integrate Iraq along with the neighborhood into a much more peaceful situation that serves their interests as well as ours.

“But this is a historic moment.”

In a letter dated August 18 and posted on the White House website, President Barack Obama also hailed the end of combat operations but made no mention of the final combat troops leaving on Wednesday.

“Shortly after taking office, I put forward a plan to end the war in Iraq responsibly,” the president said in the letter.

“Today, I’m pleased to report that — thanks to the extraordinary service of our troops and civilians in Iraq — our combat mission will end this month, and we will complete a substantial drawdown of our troops.”

The Los Angeles Times report differed from other media, saying it would take three days for the 360 military vehicles and 1,800 soldiers of the 4th Brigade to get down the road from Baghdad, through the Shiite south and into Kuwait.

Other media talked of the pullout being complete in a matter of hours.

The Pentagon had long said that the 64,000 American soldiers in Iraq would fall to 50,000 by the end of the month, despite warnings from senior Iraqi politicians and officers about the dangers of an early exit.

All US troops are supposed to leave the country by the end of next year, according to the terms of a bilateral security pact, and Obama has insisted the ongoing withdrawal is on schedule and will not be altered.

Iraq’s top military officer told AFP last week on the sidelines of a defense ministry conference in Baghdad that American forces may be needed in the conflict-wracked nation for a further decade.

“At this point, the withdrawal is going well, because they are still here,” Lieutenant General Babaker Zerbari said.

“But the problem will start after 2011 — the politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011. If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.”

Copyright © 2010 AFP

7 Responses to "Last combat brigade pulls out of Iraq"

  1. Carl Nemo  August 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    This entire pullout is a canard. We’re still leaving an estimated 50,000 ‘advisors’ in country with another 30,000 to be deployed to the “killing hills” of Afghanistan…!

    When you leave a country militarily speaking, you’ve only left when the last boot on the ground is debarking via transport or chopper as in Nam. We’re still being bled white by this criminally disposed regime that’s been set up by our CIA in Afghanistan; ie., the Karzai brothers & Co.

    Talk about in our face propaganda or what…! / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. woody188  August 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    If these are any indication, we still have troops in Korea (28,500). That was “over” 57 years ago. We still have troops in Germany (52,440), Japan (35,688), and Italy (9,660). That was “over” 65 years ago. According to our mantras, we don’t conquer, but we never leave. More of that doublethink. It’s as American as apple pie.

    • Carl Nemo  August 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm

      Yep Woody, along with 700 other bases worldwide along with vestigial military depots in CONUS. It’s going to finish us off and we’re now in the process of unraveling economically speaking. It simply can’t go on.

      Rome was the same with outposts in faraway places in Northern Britain, maintaining Hadrian’s Wall to separate the hostile northern barbarians from Roman conquests on the south side of the wall. Eventually Rome’s currency was debased to the point is was worthless, finally they couldn’t pay the troops to maintain these faraway symbols of Roman hegemony. In the end the soldiers finally deserted in a benign fashion by setting up farms about the wall etc. so they could feed themselves and their families. They didn’t go home so to speak, but merged with the local populations.

      We’re headed the same way and 500 hundred years from now if history is still written, our disposition will be no different. The following quote includes wasting huge amounts of tax revenues defending the nation against “straw” enemies. We’re all suffering from a “MIC gone wild syndrome”.

      *****

      “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” …Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

      *****

      Carl Nemo **==

  3. guardhouse lawyer  August 19, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    The pullout isn’t a pullout. Even though the last combat troops are really gone, this is nothing but a canard and in your face propaganda!! Reality is not what it seems!!

    Why?

    Because some of you people just cannot get over the FACT that the “Nigerian criminal usurper” (a description I saw on another website recently) has kept yet another campaign promise. You people are really fooling only yourselves, whether you realize it or not.

    • Carl Nemo  August 19, 2010 at 10:28 pm

      Yep GHL we shor be foolin’ ourselves fallin’ fer”change we can believe in” talk from an aspirin’ candidate…no?

      I gess we juzz ignernt folk in this here CHB site .

      What is the ‘truth’ good buddy? We all want to know what your perception of what the truth might be to you in these interesting times. : |

      Carl Nemo **==

  4. Doc_Holiday  August 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Some units just changed hats!!! Turning Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) into Advise and Assist Brigades (AABs).

    The State Department will be taking the lead.

    Security Contractors will be forming “Quick Reaction Forces” to be ready incase the need arises that they would have to stand and fight.

    What the hell else can go wrong?

    -Doc

    • Carl Nemo  August 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm

      Nice, son of Bryan of the clan McClellan… : )

      I hope those with a military background whether current or from the distant past get the drift concerning a SNAFU…FUBAR situation to the 100th power concerning our new ‘peace-keeping’ advisory mission in Iraq…? : ))

      The guys running the MIC are ready to sit down on ol’ Bossy’s milking stool and fill their pails with an ocean of national defense milk courtesy of the U.S. tax debtor. : |

      Carl Nemo **==

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