President Obama, with First Lady Michelle, greets members of the military at the 440th Structural Maintenance Hangar at Fort Bragg, N.C., Wednesday.
President Obama, with First Lady Michelle, greets members of the military at the 440th Structural Maintenance Hangar at Fort Bragg, N.C., Wednesday.

“Promises Made, Promises Kept”

President Obama, with First Lady Michelle, greets members of the military at the 440th Structural Maintenance Hangar at Fort Bragg, N.C., Wednesday.

President Barack Obama saluted returning troops returning from Iraq Wednesday, declaring that the nearly nine-year conflict is ending honorably, “not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home.”
Marking the conclusion of the war at this military base that’s seen more than 200 deaths over nearly nine years of fighting in Iraq, Obama never tried to declare victory. It was a war that he opposed from the start, inherited as president and is now bringing to a close, leaving behind an Iraq still struggling.
But he sought to declare a noble end to a fight that has cost nearly 4,500 American lives and left about 32,000 wounded.
“The war in Iraq will soon belong to history, and your service belongs to the ages,” he said, applauding their “extraordinary achievement.”
All U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq Dec. 31, though Obama has pledged the U.S. will continue civilian assistance for Iraq as it faces an uncertain future in a volatile region of the world. Even as majorities in the U.S. public favor ending the war, some Republicans have criticized Obama’s withdrawal, arguing he’s leaving behind an unstable Iraq that could hurt U.S. interests and fall subject to influence from neighboring Iran.
Obama, appearing with first lady Michelle Obama, highlighted the human side of the war, reflecting on the bravery and sacrifices of U.S. forces now on their way back home. He recalled the start of the war, a time when he was only an Illinois state senator and many of the warriors before him were in grade school.
“We knew this day would come. We have known it for some time now,” he said. “But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long.”