August 19th, 2010
03:50 PM ET
4 years ago

White House downplays combat brigade pullout in Iraq

(CNN) –  With broadcast reports and pictures  Wednesday evening celebrating the last U.S. brigade combat team leaving Iraq and  crossing the border into Kuwait, the White House and Pentagon scrambled to  explain that the war in Iraq is not over.

With the August 31 deadline for withdrawing  U.S. combat troops fast approaching, administration officials were caught off  guard by the onslaught of questions about the moment's  significance.

The broadcast pictures were of a convoy of service members from the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division leaving Iraq.


White House spokesman Tommy Vietor  said Thursday, "it was an extraordinary moment. The men and women in this brigade and all others serving tours of duty in Iraq  deserve our sincerest thanks for their enormous sacrifice. But this brigade leaving doesn't mean the mission has ended early.

Operation Iraqi Freedom ends  August 31, and on September 1 we transition to Operation New  Dawn." Operation New Dawn is the official  name for the new U.S. mission in Iraq. Those remaining U.S.  forces will take on a new advise-and-assist role. Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman  told CNN Wednesday, "I have daily conversations with Iraq to talk about important issues - they never mentioned that there was anything  significant about what's been happening this evening."

Adding to the confusion  about the significance of the brigade's departure, earlier in the day at fundraisers in Columbus, Ohio, and Miami, Florida, President Barack Obama made two separate on-camera statements pledging to fulfill his campaign promise of bringing the Iraq war to a responsible and swift  end.

Wednesday afternoon, Obama released a letter on the White House website, whitehouse.gov, saying "[T]oday, I'm pleased to report that - thanks to the extraordinary service of  our troops and civilians in Iraq - our combat mission will end this  month, and we will complete a substantial drawdown of our troops."

Vietor said none of the president's statements were meant to foreshadow or give any  particular weight to the 4th Stryker Brigade's departure, which happened later that evening.


Filed under: Iraq • issues • White House
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. bennie new york

    They're downplaying one of their promises- nice job.

    August 19, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Everything is on track with the timetable of the S.O.F.A.

    August 19, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  3. gt

    get all our troops home now....no more deaths in the middle east

    August 19, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. GOP Scorched Earth Politics

    Yes the hype is not necessary. We still have over 50K troops even after the final "combat" brigade pulls-out. So it is trivial considering the huge number still there for the next phase of "Mission".

    August 19, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Gail Fiveash

    How can they say we've withdrawn our combat troops from Iraq...when the members 3rd Infantry Division were just deployed...they were the mechanized units that made the run on Bagdad in Operation Desert Storm....they ARE combat units...it's all a game of deception as usual.
    50,000 soldiers are still in danger

    August 19, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. All the news ths is fit to omit

    Of course they were caught off guard, THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

    Acknowledging it, they would have had to point out that the surge Barry Sotero was against, WORKED and the deal here was DONE by Bush the dolt with the agreement being that Oweblamo have NOTHING to do with it per the Iraqi's.

    Signed, sealed and delivered BEFORE he became your president (no cap ever deesrved).

    August 19, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. All the news ths is fit to omit

    Of course they were caught off guard, THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

    Acknowledging it, they would have had to point out that the surge Barry Sotero was against, WORKED and the deal here was DONE by Bush the dolt with the agreement being that Oweblamo have NOTHING to do with it per the Iraqi's.

    Signed, sealed and delivered BEFORE he became your president (no cap ever deserved).

    August 19, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Another accomplishment fo rthe Obama administration!
    Wake up America- he's doing his job as promised with no support.
    The Republicans fight him with rejecting every proposal and the Democrats are such wimps, thye can't get a bill passed even when they has a strangel-hold on the process.

    August 19, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    WHAT ! No Mission Accomplished ? No jet landing ? No flight suit ? You mean this isn't all fun & games like Poppies' War ?

    August 19, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Klaxon McFlinderginder

    Finally, an end to one of the useless Bushflop wars. Entanglement in the Middle East was such a bad idea.

    August 19, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. proud dem in nc

    Thanks God for this. Now bring them ALL home from that hell hole!!!!!

    August 19, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Dave, CA

    White House and Barack Obama has not done anything for our troops. Barack Obama and Joe Biden were against the surge. it is because of the surge, troops can come home now. Why/hos should Barack Obama and his White House take credit for it. I am yet to see a single achievement form Barack. CNN, can you tell me.

    August 19, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Cindy

    No Drama Obama.... yawn.

    Yippy! The troups are coming home!!!!!

    August 19, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Commander in Chief of What

    If the administration was caught off guard by the significance of the moment it shows they are completely out of touch with what our military means to us, what their sacrifice means to us. It shows they make all decisions from a political view and not the view of the American people.

    August 19, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. KPATL

    Boy is Obama gonna have egg on his face if Iraq isnt ready,.. already Petraus is publicly pulling back on pulling out of Afghanistan from Obama's timetable,..

    Obama is such a one termer,... thank god.

    August 19, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Thank you Mr. President. Our military men and women have done a great job now it's up to the people of Iraq.

    August 19, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Dave

    This administration gives a new definition to incoherence!

    August 19, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. jpmichigan

    Thank GOD, theAmerican Troops 50,000 ar out of Iraq. Wish all American could leave!

    August 19, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. Peter s

    Whether its over or not who cares!if the Iraqians themselves don't stabilize their country! next time send Dick Cheney and her daughters, Bush and his daughters. The killing of brave men and women from poor families have to stop!!

    August 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. cardog

    Lets see how long it will be before Fox News and their pals in the Republican party/Tea Bag party/Birthers turn this story into something else our President did wrong.
    The removal of troops (combat) is not new news. To broadcast our every move so that the media can report it also goes out to our enemies. On our next combat mission in Afganistan, why don't we tell the Taliban in advance that we are coming or what we intend to do. Getting American soldiers killed makes a great story for Fox and other media outlets, but I find this need for "Shock" news on their part disgusting.

    August 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. Do not pass GO - Do not collect $200

    The reason Obama is downplaying this Iraq withdrawal is because the troops are going on to Afghanistan -- this is a shell game with American lives - take them out of one combat theatre of operation and move them to another - net result is we still have far too many troops in harm's way defending governments that are inept or corrupt or both ...

    Obama should ask for a percent of the heroin crop profits coming out of afghanistan – afterall it is American troops that are guarding them

    August 19, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |