The last U.S. combat brigade leaves Iraq

 Seven years after the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war in Iraq is finally drawing to a close.  At least for U.S combat troops. 

The number of troops remaining on Thursday was estimated at 52,000. This means that the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq is on track.  As of September 1, there will be 50,000 U.S. troops. Their new mission will be called Operation New Dawn, and they will be tasked with training and advising the Iraqi Army. 

In the past 18 months, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has decreased by 90,000. President Obama has assured Americans that all troops will be out by the end of 2011. 

The Obama administration has made it clear that they do not consider the mission to be ‘accomplished’. Iraq still needs help. The Iraqi government is weak and has been for quite some time.  In the capital city, even basic utilities are intermittent. Violence appears to be increasing. 

The U.S. State Department is taking over many of the jobs that the military has been doing. They have asked for $400 million for the costs of these jobs, but it’s unsure if the funding will come through. The State Department has also asked that surveillance systems, bomb resistant vehicles, UH-60 helicopters, and additional equipment used by the vacating troops be left for their use. The Pentagon said that the State Department received many of its wishes, but the helicopters were limited, as they are needed in Afghanistan. 

To date, 4,419 U.S service men and women have been killed in Iraq.