The End of a War
Yesterday, President Obama marked the end of the war in Iraq by addressing our troops at Ft. Bragg. On his order, this morning our forces in Baghdad conducted the final ceremony of a mission that has lasted nearly nine years. The war in Iraq is over. By the end of this month - and hopefully in time for the holidays - our last remaining troops will come home from Iraq.
It's a war that the United States should have never waged in the first place. But when called to duty, the members of our Armed Forces served exceptionally and honorably. We continue to honor their sacrifice.
Only one percent of our population heeds the call to service in our military. Only one in one-hundred felt the full burden of this war. More than 4,000 service members lost their lives fighting in Iraq and thousands more were wounded in the conflict. We owe a debt of gratitude to them and their families.
The fiscal cost to our nation was also great. To date, we've spent $806 billion in Iraq, which is one of the largest contributors to the budget deficit we face.
Today also marks a new era in our relations with Iraq - one that will require a strong diplomatic presence in the region focusing on stabilizing Iraq and the surrounding region. The Department of State will now have the lead to ensure we continue to work with a free and sovereign Iraq.
As we mark this occasion, regardless of how we felt about the reasons for undertaking this war, I want to take a moment to thank all of those brave service members who spent time in Iraq and welcome home all of those who will be returning soon. As troops become veterans, our commitment to them must continue to strengthen, along with our recognition for all they have done.