News / Middle East

US Withdrawal From Iraq Nears Completion

Luis Ramirez

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. Fewer than 4,000 remain in the country and officials say they will likely be out in the next few days, in keeping with President Obama's orders for a pullout by the Christmas holiday.

Another convoy reaches Kuwait. For the U.S. Air Force and Army combat truckers who have been on the road for days, the trip is exhausting and dangerous. On the way out, the trucks face gunfire and rock-throwing.

For soldiers like 21-year-old Johan Robinson, the departure is part of history. “We accomplished safety for our own people over here during our operations, and safety for others from terrorism," he said.

A Look at Key Events in US-Iraq Invasion

  • March 20, 2003: US forces invade Iraq.
  • April 9, 2003: US forces pour into Baghdad.
  • May 1, 2003: President George Bush says major combat operations are over in Iraq.
  • December 13, 2003: Saddam Hussein is captured near his hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
  • December 30, 2006: Saddam Hussein is executed.
  • January 10, 2007: President Bush announces a surge of more than 21,000 troops to combat growing violence.
  • July 22, 2008: Troop surge ends, leaving about 147,000 US troops in Iraq.
  • November 27, 2008: Iraqi parliament approves US-Iraq security agreement which sets a date of December 31, 2011, for all US forces to leave Iraq.
  • February 27, 2009: President Barack Obama says all but 50,000 troops will withdraw by August 31, 2010.
  • August 31, 2010: President Obama announces end of US combat mission in Iraq. About 50,000 troops remain to train and advise Iraqi forces.
  • December 21, 2010: After nine months of delays, Iraq approves a new government.
  • August 02, 2011: Iraqi political leaders agree to negotiate a possible deal that would allow some US troops to remain after December on a training mission.
  • August 15 2011: Bombings and attacks in 17 Iraqi cities leave more than 60 people dead, raising concerns about security after the US pullout.
  • September 1, 2011: The US military says no American service members died in Iraq in August, the first month with no US military fatalities there.
  • October 21, 2011: President Obama confirms all US troops with be withdrawn by the end of the year.
  • November 29, 2011: US Vice President Joe Biden tells Iraqi leaders the two countries are embarking on a "new path" as the US nears completion of its withdrawal.

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 goal - to fulfill President Obama's promise to have the troops home by the Christmas holiday.

What took eight years to put into place is being dismantled in weeks.

One of the generals overseeing the drawdown, Army Brigadier General Jonathan Ives, calls it the biggest trucking operation since the World War II mission that supplied U.S. troops invading Europe.

“We’ve moved a million tons with 4,000 vehicles in the same amount of time [as the World War II operation]. They did it over 90 days, a three-month period. We’ve done it really from October 16 to today," he said.

Most camps in Iraq have been emptied or handed over to Iraqi authorities, a process that began in the north, making its way south.

U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Curt Stewart has deployed several times since the war started in 2003. “I almost feel like I've spent more time here than I have in the States over the last six or seven years. So, it's definitely historic in terms of finally bringing things to a close and closing bases that I've traveled to and from numerous times over the last several years. Seeing them close and bringing things home feels pretty good," he said.

Specialist Robinson says his deployments have caused his family suffering and he hopes the sacrifices that U.S. soldiers have made will mean a safer world. He also hopes that no others will have to fight in Iraq again.

“A lot of blood has been shed in this country. Now that we're going to be gone, I know that neither me nor my family nor my friends are going to [have] to come back here to this country and do more damage. It's actually a relief," he said.

For the troops returning home and the families of the more than 4,000 Americans who perished in this war, this journey out of Iraq is the end of a chapter.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid