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Drawing Down In Iraq

The U.S. continues to transition from a military effort led by soldiers, to a civilian effort led by U.S. diplomats, in Iraq.

The U.S. is keeping its promise to end all combat missions in Iraq by the last day of August; it is drawing down troop levels and bringing its soldiers home.

Speaking at a Disabled American Veterans Conference in early August, President Barack Obama said that "already, we have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases."

"We’re moving out millions of pieces of equipment in one of the largest logistics operations that we’ve seen in decades. By the end of this month, we’ll have brought more than 90,000 of our troops home from Iraq since I took office — more than 90,000 have come home."

Beginning in September, said President Obama, the U.S. mission in Iraq will change from a military effort led by soldiers to a civilian effort led by U.S. diplomats; from conducting combat in the field, to supporting and training Iraqi security forces. Even today, in many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security, he said:

"As agreed to with the Iraqi government, we will maintain a transitional force until we remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of next year. During this period, our forces will have a focused mission — supporting and training Iraqi forces, partnering with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protecting our civilian and military efforts."

According to State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, after September 1st, his agency will begin to take over responsibility for key programs that have previously been overseen by the U.S. military, such as defending U.S. diplomats, or overseeing the training of Iraqi police officers.

"As a candidate for President," said Mr. Obama, "I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31st, 2010 America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing — as promised, on schedule."