Panetta Issues Message on Iraq

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta, en route to Indone­sia on the first leg of a three-nation over­seas trip, issued the fol­low­ing mes­sage con­cern­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s announce­ment today that all U.S. forces will be out of Iraq by the end of the year:

The Unit­ed States and Iraq affirmed today that the U.S. will ful­fill its com­mit­ments under the cur­rent U.S.-Iraq Secu­ri­ty Agree­ment and with­draw all of our mil­i­tary forces by the end of 2011.

Today’s announce­ment means that at the end of this year, there will be a clear end to the U.S. com­bat pres­ence in Iraq. I want­ed to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to express my pro­found grat­i­tude and appre­ci­a­tion to our men and women in uni­form who have served in Iraq since 2003.

Our troops and their fam­i­lies have borne a heavy bur­den dur­ing more than eight years of war, and paid a great price. Yet it is a tes­ta­ment to their strength and resilience that we are now able to bring this war to a respon­si­ble end. Thanks to their ser­vice and sac­ri­fice, Iraq is ready to gov­ern and defend itself and to con­tribute to secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty in a vital part of the world.

We will now turn our full atten­tion to pur­su­ing a long-term strate­gic part­ner­ship with Iraq based on mutu­al inter­ests and mutu­al respect. Our goal will be to estab­lish a nor­mal rela­tion­ship sim­i­lar to oth­ers in the region that focus­es on meet­ing secu­ri­ty and train­ing needs. Iraq is a sov­er­eign nation that must deter­mine how to secure its own future. Going for­ward, we will work close­ly with the Iraqi gov­ern­ment and their armed forces to help them con­tin­ue to build a stronger and more pros­per­ous coun­try.

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