“Operation Iraqi Freedom ends on your watch!” exclaimed Col. John Norris of the the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, as the final U.S. combat brigade crossed into Kuwait from Iraq early this morning.
“Hooah!” his soldiers roared back. Norris later told The Washington Post: “They’re leaving as heroes. I want them to walk home with pride in their hearts.”
By the end of August the United States will still have about 50,000 troops in six brigades in Iraq. These “advise and assist brigades” will be primarily tasked with training Iraqi troops with the ultimate goal of all U.S. troops out of Iraq by December 31st, 2011.
The successful end of Operation Iraqi Freedom is a complete vindication of President George Bush’s surge strategy and Gen. David Petraeus’ and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno’s implementation of it. Credit should also be given to President Barack Obama who had the courage to completely abandon his reckless campaign rhetoric and eventually embrace an adult policy on the issue.
There is still much to be done if we want to Win The Long War, especially Winning the War in Afghanistan. But today is good moment to reflect on what we have accomplished and thank our troops for their heroism and sacrifice.