Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wire: In Iraq, the War's Name has Changed but the War Remains the Same

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

Operation Iraqi Freedom is now Operation New Dawn

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2010 -- Newswire services yesterday reported that even as President Barack Obama was announcing the end of combat in Iraq, American soldiers were sealing off a northern village as their Iraqi partners raided houses and arrested dozens of suspected insurgents.

The Associated Press noted that while the U.S. has reduced number of troops and the White House has re-branded the mission, the operation in Hawija was a reminder that U.S. forces are still engaged in hunting down and killing al-Qaida militants and may have to use lethal force to defend themselves against attacks.
That reality was front and center at a change-of-command ceremony in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces outside Baghdad that the American military now uses as its headquarters. Officials warned of a tough road ahead as the U.S. moves into the final phase of the 7 1/2-year war.

Of paramount concern is Iraqi leaders' continued bickering, six months after parliamentary elections, over forming a new government -- a political impasse that could further endanger stability and fuel a diminished but still dangerous insurgency.

"Iraq still faces a hostile enemy who is determined to hinder progress," Gen. Lloyd Austin, the newly installed commander of the just under 50,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq, told the swelling crowd that was clad in military fatigues and political suits. "Make no mistake, our military forces here and those of the Iraqi nation remain committed to ensuring that our friends in Iraq succeed."

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The remaining U.S. forces in Iraq would be "as combat ready, if need be, as any in our military," Biden said, flanked by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen for the 75-minute ceremony, which also changed the U.S. mission's name from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to "Operation New Dawn."
AP said that three years ago, about 170,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq. Of those who remain, fewer than 10 percent -- or 4,500 -- are special forces who will regularly go on raids and capture terrorists, albeit alongside Iraqi troops.

(Report from newswire sources.)


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