It’s Officially Over

Baghdad—Pentagon leaders officially ended the US military mission in Iraq Thursday in a solemn ceremony here that recognized the sacrifices of Americans and Iraqis throughout the nearly nine years of war. “On this very historic occasion for both the Iraqi people and the American people, no words, no ceremony can provide full tribute to the sacrifices that have brought this day to pass,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in his address at US Forces-Iraq headquarters, along the flight line of the former Sather Air Base. Nearly 4,500 US military personnel were killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the follow-on Operation New Dawn and more than 32,000 were wounded. “For more than 20 years, Iraq has been a defining part of our professional and our personal lives. The road we have traveled was long and it was tough,” said Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey at the ceremony. Hundreds of troops were scheduled to fly out of Sather on Thursday, with the remaining roughly 3,500 US military personnel set to depart Iraq by month’s end. Click here to read Amy McCullough’s complete coverage of this historic event.