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Due to the great progress made by our brave men and women on the front lines, President Obama has announced the US mission in Iraq will shift from a combat role to an advisory and assistance mission for the Iraqi government and its security forces beginning August 31, 2010 and continuing for the next 17 months.
As many of you recall, the situation in Iraq in early 2007 was bleak at best. We were losing ground on all fronts, and changes needed to be made. The new strategy adopted by President Bush and Generals Petraeus and Odierno was a 20,000 troop surge to the country. This strategy was controversial at the time and met with some opposition in Congress. However, the American people joined President Bush and his commanders in their confidence in the ability and drive of our American soldiers and believed this new strategy should be given an opportunity to succeed before it was assumed it would fail. And succeed it did. In just three-and-a-half years since the surge was implemented, our troops on the ground have performed exactly as our commanders had hoped – bringing about the progress that allows for this new drawdown and shift.
As the role of American troops begins to shift at the end of this month, it is important to remember there is still much to do in Iraq. However, this discussion of success and the new shift in strategy in the country would never have been possible without the hard work and sacrifice of those troops on the ground and their families back home. This new role must only strengthen our resolve and commitment to ensuring a secure Iraq, free from oppression and terrorism.