In a speech at Camp Lejeune, NC today, President Obama announced that the U.S. “combat mission in Iraq will end” by August 31, 2010, at which point a residual force of 35,000 to 50,000 troops will continue “training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces.” Obama reiterated his intention to honor the Status of Forces Agreement which calls for full U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “by the end of 2011.” Finally, Obama spoke directly to the Iraqi people, explaining that the U.S. seeks “no claim” to Iraqi territory or natural resources:
So to the Iraqi people, let me be clear about America’s intentions. The United States pursues no claim on your territory or your resources. We respect your sovereignty and the tremendous sacrifices you have made for your country. We seek a full transition to Iraqi responsibility for the security of your country. And going forward, we can build a lasting relationship founded upon mutual interests and mutual respect as Iraq takes its rightful place in the community of nations.
The speech comes 5 years, 9 months, and 26 days after former President Bush first declared “mission accomplished” in Iraq. Watch highlights from Obama’s speech:
Prior to delivering his speech, Obama called Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and “briefed the prime minister on the plan he would announce.” Obama also called former President Bush, “as a courtesy.”