End of an Era

U.S. Hands Over Combat Role to Iraqis

The last U.S. combat brigade handed over combat duties to Iraqi security forces Saturday, a sign that the military is on track to end combat operations there by President Obama’s August 31 deadline. There are still just under 65,000 troops in Iraq right now, and that number will drop to 50,000 by September 1 (150,000 troops were deployed there at the height of the surge). Six Advice and Assist brigades will remain to help support and develop Iraq’s struggling government—its parliament has yet to form a coalition government after close national elections in March. Insurgents have stepped up their attacks, and July saw a sharp rise in violence as insurgents tried to exploit the political turmoil.