The United States’ eight-year military operation of Iraq is coming to an end. Military commanders in Iraq say the withdrawal of troops and equipment from the country is nearly complete. Welcome home ceremonies are being held across America and the families of the troops are enthusiastic and are now at ease as the U.S. military’s time in Iraq comes to an end.
President Barack Obama declared an end to the combat mission there last August, setting a goal of bringing all troops home by the end of this year.
“We’re quickly, quietly and professionally moving out,” said Army Lt. Col. Charles Krumwiede, strolling past lines of trucks driven by Indian and Pakistani contractors and protected by U.S. armored vehicles and attack helicopters. Only 8,000 U.S. troops and 5,000 support contractors remain in Iraq, said the general overseeing the exit of U.S. forces on recently, ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline for withdrawal.
Also leaving are hundreds of non-military personnel who worked on the military bases, including those from Pakistan, India and Nepal. Violence across Iraq has fallen dramatically over the last few years, but on the eve of the American withdrawal, Iraqi Army and police units are still overwhelmed by roadside bombs and assassinations.
Pictures of 17 dead Iraqi soldiers line the entry hall of a nearby Iraqi Army office, where a mourning banner for a revered Shiite imam hangs from the façade. U.S. officials have warned that the departure of American forces will leave some gaps in Iraq’s defenses, particularly in defending its airspace.
“For all the convoys that come through here, the convoy commanders come in and check in with us, we verify their documentation, and if there is anything wrong with the documentation, we correct it on the spot,” said Captain David Moses, one of the officers coordinating the final drawdown. The drawdown has been under way for months, but in recent days movement has accelerated at U.S. bases in Kuwait that serve as transit points. The drawdown is progressing with surprising speed.
Camp Adder, near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, is the last staging post for trucks and soldiers before they arrive in neighboring Kuwait. Most of the convoys have made it safe over the border, but the American Embassy recently warned of about the severe threat of kidnapping and terrorist attacks inside the walled-off International Zone, where American diplomats and the last forces in Baghdad are stationed.
Iraqi security forces are supposed to provide the first line of defense for U.S. facilities, and the Pentagon will also provide some support. A defense official said the Defense Department would operate a system to provide warning of incoming rocket and mortar attacks. It might have been just another day, if not for the backdrop of a withdrawal that has already cut the number of American forces to 7,500 on four bases, with all expected to be gone this coming week.
Soldiers who will stay behind until the end will still be responsible for securing roads, protect other American forces and ward off rebellious attempts to impose casualties on departing American troops. Since the war began in 2003, 4,485 American service members have been killed in Iraq, though none from this unit on this tour. Still, some of the soldiers said they worried about what could happen in their remaining days. The United States has paid not only in money but also loss of life. The dollar amount spent on the war as of Nov. 30 was $805 billion, according to the National Priorities Project.
Written for http://www.DrDinar.com/blog
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