Nearly four years after declaring an end to combat operations in Iraq, President Obama is sending up to around 275 combat troops back into the country to protect Americans as the nation Obama left behind falls apart.
From a presidential letter to Congress released this evening:
Starting on June 15, 2014, up to approximately 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.
Obama met with his national security team this evening to discuss Iraq, but the White House did not release any other decisions that might have come from that meeting and did not indicate that any other military operations are imminent.
Obama officially declared August 31, 2010 that combat operations in Iraq had ended. It was one of the central planks of his reelection campaign.
Vice President Joe Biden flew to Iraq to mark the day. From coverage of the event by the Guardian newspaper:
Addressing an audience of American troops and senior Iraqi officers, (Biden) offered an upbeat vision of what lies ahead for Iraqis: “I truly believe that their darkest days are behind them.”
Privately, some of the Iraqi guests suggested, the victors were writing history perhaps a little too early. But if the rows of Iraqi military brass at the front of the audience had a different view from Biden, or Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who had also flown in, today wasn’t the day to express it.
Ah yes, Joe really tells it like it is.