August 31st, 2010
03:43 PM ET
12 years ago

Gates marks ends Operation Iraqi Freedom with emotion and warning

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption =" Defense Secretary Robert Gates grew emotional Tuesday when discussing the toll Operation Iraqi Freedom has taken on American men and women in uniform."]Washington (CNN) - Just hours before the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Defense Secretary Robert Gates grew emotional when discussing the toll it has taken on American men and women in uniform.

"Today, at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 4,427 American service members have died in Iraq, 3,502 of them killed in action; 34,265 have been wounded or injured," Gates said, appearing to choke up before an audience at the American Legion convention in Milwaukee Tuesday. "We must never forget."

Gates also warned that while the U.S. military can point to many accomplishments there, all is not "well in Iraq."

"The most recent elections have yet to result in a coalition government. Sectarian tensions remain a fact of life. Al Qaeda in Iraq is beaten, but not gone," he said. "This is not a time for premature victory parades or self-congratulation."

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Filed under: Iraq • issues • Robert Gates
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Well said Sec. Gates. This is not the time for a premature victory lap which it seems like we'll be hearing from Bonehead Boehner tonight. As long as there are boots on the ground, we are still at war!

    August 31, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Buster

    The entire middle east has been fighting for 1000 years. It goes along with their makeup and religious beliefs. Peace will never happen. Russia couldn't win in Afghanistan and we won't either.

    August 31, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Thank you, Sec. Gates, for your words and for reminding us that there is still much to do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I so appreciate your and President Obama's willingness to face these challenges, treating the American public with respect – and the expectation that we can handle these hard truths.

    Thank you, also, to all who have served and may serve in Iraq and Afghanistan! We so appreciate your service to our country!

    August 31, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  4. Eric

    3,502 KIA by hostile action in eight years of armed conflict.

    By way of comparison, the Allies lost 750 servicemen during Exercise Tiger, a training exercise in preparation for the D-Day landings, during which the Germans discovered the exercise and slaughtered the training troops like sitting ducks. 750 troops lost in a mere training exercise.

    Also by way of comparison, the Allies lost more than 1,500 servicemen in the three-day battle of Leyte Gulf in late October 1944. In THREE DAYS, we lost nearly half of the entire KIA of the modern continuation of Operation Desert Storm... yes, kids, it WAS the continuation of Desert Storm since Hussein violated the UN resolutions that halted the Desert Storm bombing in 1991.

    August 31, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. Willy Brown

    Gates is a SOS.

    August 31, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    How long before the next batch of Neo-Cons forget the "lessons of Iraq"? It took them only 28 years to un-learn the "lessons of Vietnam". None of the new Neo-Cons, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, fought in'Nam. Connection ?

    August 31, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    To all the right-wing posters who will crow about how much former Prez Bush owes to President Obama and how gracious and "statesman-like" former Prez Bush was in taking President Obama's call earlier today:

    I'd lay money the reason Bush has been so quiet since leaving office – and has only done one public speaking engagement – is because he's fallen off the wagon.

    August 31, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. Dan

    Good, we can finally come close to calculating the final total cost of the war: 4,427 lives, and 34,265 wounded.

    If you think of the cost of the war in terms of dollars, what does that say about you?

    August 31, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Laverne

    That's right, I hope you REPUBLICANS read that and will heed his warning since Mr. Tan man is prepared to declare victory when there is no victory for a war that is shameless and has cost Americans so many lives and money!

    August 31, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Boehner is ready to hang out a "mission accomplish banner" for the Bush administration for political reasons which tells me he cares more about a vote than the cost of American blood and treasure. He is a total disgrace.

    August 31, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Russia couldn't win in Afghanistan and we won't either."

    To be fair, Reagan and company supplied the Taliban with all kinds of weapons and assistance in order to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan as part of our Cold War strategies. Wanna take a guess at how many American servicemen and women have died by American weapons in Afghanistan since 2001?

    And stuff it, you conservative panwetters. Gates is telling it like it is. No, there is no "mission accomplished" and never will be. Iraq is a freekin mess on all kinds of levels and those KIA/wounded numbers represent the shame of anyone who voted for the war and the damnation of those who spread lies to get them to do so. We destroyed Iraq's infrastructure, killed 100K or so of its innocent civilians, angered a whole new generation of potential terrorists/extremists whose families and lieves have been thoroughly rined and left Iraq with unstable governance barely capable of running itself...let alone defending itself. I know you're just trying to pre-empt any credit you think people will give Obama for seeing the plan through and getting the combat troops out, claiming that all credit shoudl go to Bush and oh what a success, but the only way you can claim "mission accomplished" was if the mission boiled down to one objective and one objective alone: destabilize the region further and create more future boogeymen so GOP/conservative demogoguery-for-leverage politics can continue. We're well on our way to fascism because of you people and your fearmongering and hate rhetoric. Jesus would vomit on your shoes.

    August 31, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates grew emotional when discussing the toll it has taken on American men and women in uniform.


    No disrespect Mr. Gates, but I'd be emotional too if I knew that tens of thousands of innnocent civilians and soldiers died IN A WAR THAT WAS UNNECESSARY. The Iraqui war was a personal Bush vendetta, justified to a scared country with LIES UPON LIES. And we (the country) swallowed the lies.

    I'd be emotional too if I had to stand in front of our men and women in uniform and not be able to point to a SINGLE good reason as to why we sent them off to die. And not be able to assure them that the "mission" was in fact accomplished.

    I'd be more than emotional Mr. Gates. I'd be ashamed. I would look back in shame as to how a country that was once so proud and so strong resorted to sordid and outright LIES to send their countrymen off to a foreign land to kill people that had done NOTHING to us.

    America The Bully. That's all we were in Iraq. Bullies, and dopes. No disrespect to our men in uniform for following the orders of that idiot you had as Commander-in-Chief, yes, BUSH AGAIN!

    August 31, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. Ed

    50,000 American Military in country is NOT THE END.

    August 31, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    And Eric, grow up. Arguing that close to 50,000 dead or wounded Americans is "not so bad" in comparison to, well, anything...and acting as if it's a mark of how "successful" we unarguably disgusting and an abject disgrace. Hang your head in shame.

    August 31, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. ruty

    It is high time we keep our nose out of other country's business. Let us sweep our own kitchen clean before we sweep others kitchen. Thank you George Bush for 2 wars and trillions of dollars in debt-and all for nought. George Bush you are an idiot.

    August 31, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Bill


    Cuban leader Fidel Castro has claimed in an interview that Osama bin Laden is a CIA paid agent used by former President George W. Bush for the sake of scaring the world to further his political agenda.




    August 31, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but....

    How is killing people who never attacked you in order to spread "democracy" any different from doing the same thing to spread Islam? Iraq was never about WMD. It was about PNAC and their terrorist agenda. Have a nice day!

    August 31, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    President Obama you kept your word. And this citizen, and her family THANKS YOU!

    August 31, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. Tony

    Bush Bankrupted America.

    Gas @ $150 a Barrel and @ $4.50 a Gallon during Bush's Presidency.
    G.W.Bush is the Greatest Oil Greedy President of America.
    Oil Prices went up to $150 a Barrel in July 2008.

    It was a Scam Created by G.W.Bush.

    This must be investigated.
    Stocks Tanked below 7000 points.
    Real Estate Tanked the Lowest in 50 years.
    Industries all Gone in 100 Years.
    4300 US Troops Died for No Reason or Threat from Iraq.
    No Healthcare for Millions.
    No Regulated Banking, Predatory Lending to Millions.
    $ 2 Trillion spent on Iraq War, even though no 9/11 terrorist was from Iraq.
    Jobs Lost in Millions and the RIPPLING EFFECT is still felt in 2010.
    Lied to the American People that Iraq has WMDs.
    8 Years of Bush were the Worst in US History in 200 Years.

    August 31, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    The name "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is so arrogant, so offensive. Did the Iraqi people email Bush & DICK and asked to be liberated? No. Sure, Sadaam was evil. But....... the U.S. had no moral right to attack a sovereign country. Iraq had not attacked us on 9/11, and there was NO proof of WMD's to this day!

    We cannot march into a sovereign country, and import our system of government. Democracy must be born in the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. How many Iraqi civilians did the U.S. maim and kill?

    The war with Iraq was about getting Big Oil back in Iraq! Sadaam had thrown U.S. Big Oil out. Saudi Arabian nationals attacked us on 9/11, but Bush couldn't attack the "kingdom"!

    What a tragedy, that our Nations sons and daughters died so we can continue to drive our big SUV's and mega trucks!

    In NOvember vote NO for the Party of NO!

    August 31, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Buster

    @Tony..........You sure have clear thoughts on Bush, but can't seem to see the truth about Obozo. Sad sheep you are.

    August 31, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. Kimberly

    Why did G.W.Bush attack Iraq?


    Why did G.W.Bush not go after Bin Laden ?

    .....Bin Laden was G.W.'s friend and G.W. was an insider to 9/11 attacks.

    Why did G.W.Bush not strengthen homeland security?

    .....He wanted to invade other countries for Oil.

    Why did G.W.Bush put our troop in harmsway?

    .....Oil is more precious for G.W than human life.

    Why did G.W.Bush not care for economy, healthcare, jobs, industry, .... ?

    .....He wanted Oil Oil and nothing but Oil.

    August 31, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |