Obama Thanks Troops At Fort Bragg For Iraq Service

Applauding their "extraordinary achievement," President Barack Obama saluted returning troops Wednesday, declaring that the nearly nine-year conflict in Iraq is ending "not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home."

Marking the conclusion of the war at this military redoubt that's seen more than 200 deaths over nearly nine years of fighting in Iraq, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama addressed several thousand troops and several hundred military families.

"The war in Iraq will soon belong to history, and your service belongs to the ages," he said.

Obama highlighted the human side of the war, reflecting on the bravery and sacrifices of U.S. forces now on their way back home. He recalled the start of the war, a time when he was only an Illinois state senator and many of the warriors before him were in grade school.

The war, he said, took many twists and turns.

"We knew this day would come. We have known it for some time now," he said. "But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long."

He noted the early battles that defeated and deposed Saddam Hussein and what he called "the grind of insurgency" -- roadside bombs, snipers and suicide attacks.

"Your will proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it," he said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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President Barack Obama is marking the end of the Iraq war with a tribute to the troops who fought and died in a conflict he opposed from the start.

Accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, the president was traveling Wednesday to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to address service members and their families as he brings the war to a close.

At a base that's seen more than 200 deaths over nearly nine years of fighting in Iraq, Obama was to highlight the human side of the war, reflecting on the bravery and sacrifices of U.S. forces now on their way back home.

All U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq Dec. 31, though Obama has pledged the U.S. will continue to help Iraq as it faces an uncertain future in a volatile region of the world. Even as majorities in the U.S. public favor ending the war, some Republicans have criticized Obama's withdrawal, arguing he's leaving behind an unstable Iraq that could hurt U.S. interests and fall subject to influence from neighboring Iran.

Obama has on several occasions addressed his reasons for ending the war, casting it as a promise kept after he ran for president as an anti-war candidate and speaking of the need to refocus U.S. attention on rebuilding the troubled economy at home.

On Wednesday, his focus will be principally on the troops and their role and his commitment to ensuring veterans get the jobs and resources they need once they're back home. His audience will be those people most personally affected, including troops back from Iraq and their families.

In a local television interview Tuesday, Obama previewed some of his likely themes.

"We must not forget the men and women who gave their lives, tens of thousands wounded, all those missed birthday parties, missed soccer games and missed dinners because folks were on their second or third deployment. We should not take that for granted," the president told KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs, Colo. "It is an extraordinary testimony to the bravery, courage, dedication and patriotism of our soldiers."

It's the president's first visit to Fort Bragg, which is home to Army Special Operations, the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne, among others. Special Forces troops from Fort Bragg were among the first soldiers in Iraq during the 2003 invasion and its paratroopers helped lead the 2007 troop increase.

North Carolina, which Obama narrowly won in 2008, also is an important state for the 2012 presidential election and will host the Democratic convention.

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  • by 40some on Dec 16, 2011 at 06:04 PM
    And again...“Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc-ra-cy) — a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers!” ..
  • by real truth on Dec 15, 2011 at 07:53 PM
    I say a true american hero(burnt his draft card,refused to kill another human for the united states military war machine,threw shoes at the great satan "BUSH" and voted all encumbents out of office)HE/SHE IS A TRUE HERO
  • by No Gratitude Here on Dec 15, 2011 at 07:01 PM
    Wow. The WWE and Obama at Fort Braggart in the same week. Now these "heroes" have something else to talk about besides their PTSD flashbacks. No thanks, american soldier. I do not owe you anything. You owe me a refund for all of the destroyed and abandoned equipment left in Iraq bought with my tax dollars. If this country can spend billions on the business of killing and maiming other people, why can't we do something positive? But, that makes too much sense.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 05:44 AM
    You know what would be great if more Americans on here thanked our troops and there familes for the tremendous sacrifice they made for this country the last nine years. We will continue to diasagree about why we entered this war and even how we exited. It will become like the Civil War , some still clam it was about States rights and others say it was about Slavery. But for right now lets thank God for bringing these young men and women home.
  • by Get it together on Dec 15, 2011 at 05:42 AM
    Good news for a war that should never have been. Let's get out of Afghanista­n now and take care of the huge problems we face at home and demand a congress and government that works -- end the gridlock or vote the current GOP out for some that are willing to work for the country, not just for their own party. There's no shortage of problems here not to mention all the returning vets who will need jobs and long term medical and psychologi­cal care, many for the rest of their lives.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 05:37 AM
    Hey GOPee war mongers. Its time to rebuild America. Stop sucking up to the Department of Perpetual Warfare.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 04:06 AM
    Thank You Mr. President for getting us out of this war. I fear the GOP NEOCON has destabiliz­ed the area in favor of Iran and it will come back to bite us. And that the GOP has stripped this nation of it's manufactur­ing ability to do anything about it. There is nothing we can do if we have to purchase our military equipment and material from communist China. Welcome to America that profits only for 1% of it's people. The GOP has left the nation broke and unable to defend it's self.
  • by Disabled Vet on Dec 15, 2011 at 04:03 AM
    GW Bush lied through his teeth and we haven't had the guts to nail him and his whole coterie of rats for the outrage. There are even some who still repeat the lie about weapons of mass destructio­n. All that adventure has done is cost us the lives and blood of our troops, vast amounts of money and made more enemies for us. I'm glad we're out of Bush's Vietnam.
  • by Party of pro-life?....yea right on Dec 15, 2011 at 03:59 AM
    Now that the mission has ended in Iraq, what do we tell the families and children of the 4000 American soldiers and marines that lost their lives there? Was it worth it for the orphaned children? Was it worth it to kill more than150,00­0 Iraq children, men and women? By the way how does our former president feel now as he sits in a rocking chair in Texas? He is very lucky, in other countries he would have been tried for war crimes. How does he sleep at night?
  • by Its all about the Troops on Dec 15, 2011 at 03:54 AM
    Please remember our troops, they have paid with their blood for this misadventu­re. Thank the men and women who have sacrificed so much. Buy a soldier breakfast or gas or pay off their Christmas layaway. Yes this is a disappoint­ment to those invested in the military industrial complex

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