"Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," the President said today at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
"I want to be very clear," the President said. "We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime – and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government – and you got the job done. And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life – that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible."
Though he and the nation's civilian and uniformed leaders have established a clear timeline for withdrawal, the President emphasized that many challenges remain:
But let there be no doubt: Iraq is not yet secure, and there will be difficult days ahead. Violence will continue to be a part of life in Iraq. Too many fundamental political questions about Iraq’s future remain unresolved. Too many Iraqis are still displaced or destitute. Declining oil revenues will put an added strain on a government that has had difficulty delivering basic services. Not all of Iraq’s neighbors are contributing to its security. Some are working at times to undermine it. And even as Iraq’s government is on a surer footing, it is not yet a full partner – politically and economically – in the region, or with the international community.
The President ordered the review that led to this decision on his first day in office, and considered options for moving forward that reflected input from military commanders, the Joint Chiefs, Secretary Gates, and his national security team. Read the entire speech to see the details of the plan.
White House photos 2/27/09 by Pete Souza