News / Middle East

US Withdrawal From Iraq Nears Completion

TEXT SIZE - +
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  • October 21, 2011: President Obama confirms all US troops with be withdrawn by the end of the year.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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid