The Troops in Iraq: Sent Home, as Promised

Obama follows through on a major campaign pledge.

ByABC News
July 5, 2012, 5:45 PM

July 9, 2012 -- The second in a series of articles examining the campaign promises Barack Obama made in 2008 and where they stand now. Read the first article in our series here.

As American troops were honored across the country last week, President Obama celebrated the first Fourth of July since announcing a formal end to the war in Iraq.

As a candidate in 2008, Obama vowed to end the war in Iraq that was started by his predecessor and that liberals for years had protested.

"I'll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home," Obama said as he won the Iowa caucus in January 2008.

His plan then was to pull combat troops from Iraq by May 2010, a proposal that was stalled as Obama became president and the war dragged on. In 2009, after he was sworn in, Obama modified the timeline for pulling out the troops, and more than two years later, he followed through on one of his bigger promises and announced to the pleasure of the left-wing of his base that the troops were coming home by year's end.

That didn't mean every American in Iraq was leaving, but it did mean formal combat operations would end. In the White House briefing room in October 2011, Obama declared that "after nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over."

He also noted his promise made as a White House hopeful.

"As a candidate for president, I planned to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end," he said. "So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year."

Obama couldn't make the war over simply by saying it, and the Associated Press wrote in a 2010 memo to its staffers that "combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials."

In December, the last troops left, officially ending the American military presence in Iraq. However, while most of the troops returned to the United States in time for Christmas as Obama promised, about 4,000 troops in a brigade were reassigned to nearby Kuwait to complete a tour involving security and training, Stars and Stripes reported.