U.S. soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, return home from Iraq to Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - Almost 7½ years ago, President George W. Bush launched a blistering "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq.
The goal: eliminate a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction while replacing a hostile, tyrannical regime with a friendly democracy in the heart of the Middle East.
At 5 p.m. ET Tuesday - at a cost of more than 4,400 U.S. military personnel killed and 30,000 wounded - America's combat mission in Iraq will officially draw to a close.
The quick removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ushered in years of grinding sectarian violence, war, terrorist attacks and, according to some observers, increased Iranian influence in the region. But it also paved the way for nationwide elections and increasing economic development.
Whether the war was worth the price remains a subject of fierce debate both at home and abroad.
(CNN) - President Obama said Tuesday his Oval Office address to the nation marking the end of the combat mission in Iraq will not be anything close to the "Mission Accomplished" moment his predecessor had.
"It is not going to be a victory lap," Obama said in brief remarks to troops stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas. "We still have a lot of work to do."
In fact, Ft. Bliss has supplied soldiers to Iraq at all stages of the seven-year war and is still sending more troops to the region as part of the 50,000-troop contingent that is staying behind in Iraq to held wind down the war completely.
Obama said his main message to the troops in Texas, and his broader message tonight at 8 p.m. ET, will be simple: "Congratulations on a job well done."
Fort Bliss, Texas (CNN) - President Obama telephoned former President George W. Bush from Air Force One in advance of Tuesday night's prime time speech regarding the end of the combat mission in Iraq - but the White House isn't saying what the two men discussed.
Related: Obama to tip his hat to Bush?
Obama called his predecessor while flying to Fort Bliss to meet with military personnel Tuesday morning ahead of his Oval Office address. The two spoke for several minutes according to Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton. There were no details about the subject of their conversation and Burton said no read out of the phone call would be provided.
Washington (CNN) - In the battle for control of Congress, the generic ballot is arguably the most watched polling indicator. And thanks to the latest generic ballot from Gallup that indicates the Republicans 10 points ahead of the Democrats, the indicator is getting a lot of buzz.
So what is it and is it a reliable barometer of what may happen on election day?
The generic ballot question asks respondents if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district, without naming any specific candidates. It's used by many polling organization, including CNN/Opinion Research Corporation surveys.
(CNN) - Patricia DiCarlo, a Senior Producer for CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, has been named the program's new Executive Producer, CNN announced Tuesday.
DiCarlo's 15 years in broadcast journalism have spanned important producing positions from WFLA and WTVT in Tampa to the Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago.
DiCarlo also ran one of the largest newsrooms in Washington, DC as Executive Producer at WTTG-TV.
(CNN) - Newt Gingrich is headed back to Iowa.
The former House Speaker and possible 2012 GOP presidential hopeful will take part in four events in the state on Thursday September 9, according to a Gingrich spokesman. Those events include campaigning for Iowa Republican state senate candidates and speaking at a lunch held by the Team Iowa PAC. Tuesday the political action committee, which supports GOP candidates in the state, put out a release highlighting Gingrich's upcoming appearance.
Word of the Gingrich event for the Team Iowa PAC came just a few hours after the Republican Party of Iowa announced that former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin would deliver the keynote address at the party's annual Ronald Reagan dinner on September 17.
According to a Gingrich spokesman, the former House Speaker will also speak to the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC and hold an American Solutions business leader roundtable while in the state on September 9.
The Oval Office recently underwent an extreme makeover. (PHOTO CREDIT: Shawna Shepherd/POOL)
(CNN) - It may not have been a design on a dime but the Oval Office underwent an extreme makeover and, just like the popular television program of the same name, the renovation was done while the First Family was away on vacation.
A design team swooped in and in less than 10 days, transformed the president's office from a traditional and somewhat formal setting to a more modern family-style room.
There's a new signature oval rug, leather desk chair, two overstuffed light brown couches, a walnut and mica coffee table with modern lines, two blue ceramic lamps and blue accent pillows on the couch, reupholstered furniture, and handmade striped wallpaper.
See more pictures and a video tour of the redesigned Oval Office, after the jump:
Washington (CNN) - His beginnings are humble - he started out sweeping floors in his father's Cincinnati bar and met his wife working as a janitor - but if Republicans take control after November elections, Rep. John Boehner will likely become the next speaker of the House.
The 10-term Ohio Republican will make a speech on national security on Tuesday ahead of President Obama's prime-time address on the end of combat operations in Iraq. It will be the second time that Boehner directly takes on the president in two weeks.
Last week while the president was on vacation, Boehner grabbed headlines by urging the president to fire his economic team. In Tuesday's speech, Boehner is expected to deliver a preemptive attack on the president's prime-time address on Iraq.
Washington (CNN) - When President Obama steps into the Oval Office to deliver his prime-time address on Tuesday, he won't be taking a victory lap and won't utter the words "mission accomplished, a top aide says. Instead, the president will have a "change of mission" moment, where he explains the way forward in Iraq and thanks U.S. troops for their sacrifice.
The address, which is expected to last between 15 and 20 minutes, will mark what the White House is calling an important "milestone" and a campaign promise accomplished.
While the president's remarks have not been released, top aides say Americans will hear about the end of the combat mission in Iraq, about the challenges of forming a unified and stable government, and about the new role for the fewer than than 50,000 U.S. troops remaining to advise and assist Iraqi security forces.
(CNN) – As White House aides put the finishing touches on President Obama's Oval Office address marking the end of combat missions in Iraq, how will they negotiate the biggest elephant not in the room – former President George W. Bush?
In an interview with CNN's John Roberts Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was decidedly unclear when it came to whether the president would tip his hat to his predecessor's successful surge strategy – a strategy both Obama and Vice President Biden stridently opposed when they were both presidential candidates during the early stages of the 2008 race for the White House.
In his interview with CNN, Gibbs suggested the improved conditions in Iraq were the result of more than the decision to add more troops in 2007.