"After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," he said in a statement to reporters. “Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”
Obama pledged a commitment to a stable Iraq and said the United States will continue discussions with the country on how to best train Iraqi security and forces. By Jan. 1, 2012, the United States will have a “normal relationship” between two sovereign countries based on “mutual respect.”
More than one million Americans have served in Iraq since the beginning of the war in 2003 and nearly 4,500 U.S. troops have died in the fight, he said.
The withdrawal in Iraq coincides with a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, as well. At the beginning of Obama’s presidency, around 180,000 troops were stationed in the country. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, Obama said.
The president also used the opportunity to make a brief statement on the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s death on Thursday. He said the U.S. military had played an important role in shaping the situation on the ground that ultimately led to Gaddafi’s fall.