Today, American combat forces withdrew from Baghdad and other urban areas of Iraq. Iraqi security forces have taken control of all major cities; a small number of U.S. forces will remain in training and advisory capacities for an undetermined length of time.
While marking an important security milestone for the Government of Iraq, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Howard P. "Buck" McKeon today praised U.S. troops for their courageous service and dedication.
McKeon also urged the President and Congress to work to ensure military commanders have the support and flexibility they need in order to protect U.S. military and civilian personnel in Iraq.
"Today's milestone is a welcome development for Iraqis and Americans alike," McKeon said. "Building on the great success of the 'surge', the primary responsibility for securing the Iraqi population has steadily shifted to Iraqi hands as the Iraqi Security Forces-and the Government of Iraq-have become more capable and professional.
"The men and women of America's military have invested heavily in defeating terrorist networks in Iraq and sacrificed even more while achieving the current level of stability. They are to be commended-and thanked-for their courageous efforts and sacrifices.
"As General Odierno has reminded us, today's milestone should not be misconstrued as a signal that the U.S. mission in Iraq is complete or waning. Our troops remain committed to their mission, and there is much to do before the President's plan to withdraw all U.S. combat troops by next August is realized.
"In Congress, we should use this milestone as an opportunity to recommit ourselves to ensuring our troops have the funding and support they need. We must also work with the President to make sure our commanders have the flexibility and authority they need to hold hard-fought gains and continue to pressure and defeat terrorist networks."