Vineyard Haven, Mass. President Barack Obama said the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq means “the war is ending” and Baghdad is in position “to chart its own course.”
Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to highlight Tuesday’s formal end to U.S. combat missions in Iraq and remind people that he’s keeping a promise he made as a candidate in the 2008 election.
Remaining troops will assume a backup and training role, a shift Obama will underscore with a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, on Tuesday and then a prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office. The events come on Aug. 31, the date he set last year for the change in focus in the war.
U.S. troop strength dropped below 50,000 this past week, a milestone also highlighted by the administration.
“In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions and protect our civilian and military efforts,”
Driving home his point, the president said, “The bottom line is this: The war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.”