President Obama didn’t mince his words in his address at Camp Lejeune, NC, today. “By Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” he declared, earning his first applause from the audience of Marines. “Iraq is not yet secure, and there will be difficult days ahead,” he said, but all US troops will be out by the end of 2011, USA Today reports.
Those dates are in line with the Status of Forces agreement the Bush administration signed with Iraq. Obama said he settled on the Aug. 31 deadline, three months later than the 16 months promised during the campaign, after consulting with military leaders. He also reassured Iraqis that America “pursues no claim on your territory or resources,” and is hoping for “a new era of American leadership and engagement in the Middle East.”