Last US Troops Exit Iraq

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The 3rd Brigade of the 1st Calvary, the last US troops to leave Iraq, cross into Kuwait.
Source: Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 17, 2011

The final convoy of US troops left Iraq a few minutes before 8 am on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2011, marking the end of the nine-year US-Iraq War.

16,000 people are scheduled to remain at the US State Department’s embassy in Baghdad and other consulates throughout Iraq. The remaining US presence includes 5,000 security contractors, and 1,700 diplomats and experts in agriculture, economics, and law enforcement. The Baghdad embassy, the largest US embassy in the world, is estimated to cost the United States $3.5 billion a year.

At the war’s peak in 2007, over 170,000 US troops were stationed in Iraq. A total of 1.5 million US citizens have served in Iraq since the war began on Mar. 20, 2003. According to a Mar. 29, 2011 Congressional Research Service report, the
war cost the US more than $800 billion. Other estimates, which include addtional costs such as veterans’ health care, went as high as $4 trillion.

President Obama announced on Oct. 21, 2011 that he would pull all US troops out of Iraq by the end of the year, the same date agreed upon by former President George W. Bush in 2008 under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The United States also offered to keep 5,000 troops in Iraq to train the Iraqi military, but Iraqi politicians refused to grant American troops immunity from local prosecution.

Between Mar. 20, 2003, and Dec. 19, 2011, 4,487 service members were killed in Iraq, and more than 31,920 were wounded in hostile combat according to the US Department of Defense. 174 journalists were killed on assignment in Iraq as of Nov. 30, 2011. Independent database Iraq Body Count found that more than 150,000 Iraqis were killed between the invasion and Oct. 2010, with four out of five killed being civilians.

Since the 2003 invasion, Saddam Hussein was hanged for committing crimes against humanity, and Iraq held its first competitive election in a half-century and formed a unity government. President Obama said in an interview with Barbara Walters, “I would describe our troops as having succeeded in the mission of giving to the Iraqis their country in a way that gives them a chance for a successful future.”

Sources:

Moni Basu, “Deadly Iraq War Ends with Exit of Last US Troops,” www.cnn.com, Dec. 18, 2011

“Over and Out: Soldiers Cheer as America Closes the Gates on Iraq,” www.dailymail.co.uk, Dec. 19, 2011

“Romney Attacks Obama over US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq,” www.bbc.co.uk, Dec. 18, 2011