The term withdrawal seems a bit overstated when it comes to describing the changing U.S. military strategy in Iraq, but President Obama emphasized the thematic over the technical in a speech he delivered Monday to a veterans’ group in Atlanta, during which he explicitly referenced “the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq” by the last day of this month. However, what that will actually look like may be different from how it might sound, as about 50,000 of the 65,000 American troops there now will remain in Iraq until the end of 2011.


The remaining 50,000 troops will stay in the country in order to train Iraqi security forces, conduct counterterrorism operations and provide civilians with ongoing security, said Mr Obama.

But the president also warned the US had “not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq”.

He added: “But make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing — from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats.”

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