The war in Iraq, which began in March of 2003, is coming to a symbolic end as the last of 95,000 U.S. combat troops exit the country and head home. But, not all U.S. soldiers will leave Iraq; about 50,000 troops will remain until the end of 2011 to help train Iraqi forces to defend and protect their country. Although the Pentagon says combat will not be those forces' primary mission, they may still end up in combat situations while assisting Iraqi soldiers.
NewsHour Correspondent Margaret Warner, who is reporting on the troop drawdown, says most of the U.S. troops left in Iraq are in outlying areas and not in Baghdad, the capitol city. The Pentagon plans to divide the remaining troops into three segments - one in the north based in Tikrit, one i based at the airport, Camp Victory, and one in the south at Basra.
Warner also reports that while the number of attacks on U.S. troops and interests in Iraq is down significantly, there has been a slight uptick in recent weeks. A sheik who governs Fallujah, the site of a major U.S. battle in 2004, says that while his city has remained quite safe during the past two years, more IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) have been launched in the last few months.
"The best part of getting back to Kuwait? One, I know no one else is going to get hurt, and, two, I'm going home." - Staff Sgt. Steve Bearor, U.S. Army
"The Pentagon decided not to let it end with a whimper, but rather to stage a highly symbolic exit. And, so, they invited journalists to ride along with this last convoy of what's called dedicated combat troops, or a dedicated combat brigade, as it made its way from Camp Victory near the Baghdad Airport, near here, all the way down to the Kuwait border and into Kuwait, really right along the route that some of the U.S. forces had used when the U.S. invaded Iraq seven years ago." - Margaret Warner, NewsHour Correspondent
1. Where is Iraq?
2. How has the U.S. been involved in Iraq during the past seven years?
3. What is combat?
1. Margaret Warner says the Pentagon "staged" the symbolic exit of some U.S. troops for journalists. Why do you think they wanted to do that?
2. Do you think the combat troop drawdown in Iraq was a good idea? Why or why not?
3. Do you know anyone who has fought in Iraq? How do you imagine they feel about the U.S. mission there slowly coming to a close?