Obama: All U.S. Troops Out of Iraq by Year’s End

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2011 — All U.S. ser­vice mem­bers will leave Iraq by the end of the year, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma announced today.

About 40,000 U.S. ser­vice mem­bers are in the coun­try, and all will be “home for the hol­i­days,” Oba­ma said.

The pres­i­dent made the announce­ment after speak­ing with Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Mali­ki this morn­ing.

Since Amer­i­can forces went into Iraq in March 2003, more than 1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have deployed to the Mid­dle East­ern coun­try � many mul­ti­ple times. More than 32,200 U.S. ser­vice mem­bers and civil­ians have been wound­ed in the coun­try, and 4,482 were killed.

“Today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After near­ly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” the pres­i­dent said. “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,” the pres­i­dent said. “That is how America’s mil­i­tary efforts in Iraq will end.”

The Unit­ed States will main­tain a close alliance with Iraq, the pres­i­dent said, and the with­draw­al means the rela­tion­ship between the coun­tries will be just like that between the Unit­ed States with any oth­er coun­try. Oba­ma said it will be “an equal part­ner­ship based on mutu­al inter­ests and mutu­al respect.”

Oba­ma said he and Mali­ki agreed that a meet­ing of the High­er Coor­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee of the Strate­gic Frame­work Agree­ment will con­vene in the com­ing weeks, and that he invit­ed the Iraqi leader to Wash­ing­ton to plan the future rela­tion­ship.

“This will be a strong and endur­ing part­ner­ship, with our diplo­mats and civil­ian advis­ers in the lead; will help Iraqis strength­en insti­tu­tions that are just, rep­re­sen­ta­tive and account­able; will build new ties of trade and of com­merce, cul­ture and edu­ca­tion, that unleash the poten­tial of the Iraqi peo­ple; will part­ner with an Iraq that con­tributes to region­al secu­ri­ty and peace, just as we insist that oth­er nations respect Iraq’s sov­er­eign­ty,” Oba­ma said.

The Unit­ed States will offer to help Iraq train and equip its forces, just as the Unit­ed States offers assis­tance to coun­tries around the world.

“There will be some dif­fi­cult days ahead for Iraq, and the Unit­ed States will con­tin­ue to have an inter­est in an Iraq that is sta­ble, secure and self-reliant,” the pres­i­dent said. “Just as Iraqis have per­se­vered through war, I’m con­fi­dent that they can build a future wor­thy of their his­to­ry as the cra­dle of civ­i­liza­tion.”

The end of war in Iraq reflects a larg­er tran­si­tion in world affairs, Oba­ma said. “The tide of war is reced­ing,” he said. “The draw­down in Iraq allowed us to refo­cus our fight against al-Qai­da and achieve major vic­to­ries against its lead­er­ship, includ­ing Osama bin Laden.”

The Unit­ed States also is reduc­ing the num­ber of troops deployed to Afghanistan. He not­ed that when he took office in Jan­u­ary 2009, more than 180,000 U.S. ser­vice mem­bers were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. “By the end of this year, that num­ber will be cut in half. And make no mis­take: It will con­tin­ue to go down,” the pres­i­dent said.

The pres­i­dent said the Unit­ed States is mov­ing for­ward from a posi­tion of strength. The war in Iraq will end in Decem­ber. The num­ber of Amer­i­cans in Afghanistan will con­tin­ue to go down. As these actions con­tin­ue, there will be few­er deploy­ments and more time for train­ing, Oba­ma said.

The nation still has the respon­si­bil­i­ty and duty to pro­vide America’s newest vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies “the care, the ben­e­fits and the oppor­tu­ni­ties that they have earned,” the pres­i­dent said.

“This includes enlist­ing our vet­er­ans in the great­est chal­lenge that we now face as a nation � cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty and jobs in this coun­try,” he added. “After a decade of war, the nation that we need to build and the nation that we will build is our own, an Amer­i­ca that sees its eco­nom­ic strength restored, just as we’ve restored our lead­er­ship around the globe.”

Prepa­ra­tions to with­draw con­tin­ue. The Unit­ed States closed its U.S. Divi­sion North at Camp Spe­ich­er yes­ter­day. Only one divi­sion­al lev­el U.S. unit now remains in the coun­try.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)