Political News

Thousands of NC troops in Iraq will soon head home

Posted October 21, 2011

— President Barack Obama's declaration Friday that the war in Iraq is over, means thousands of North Carolina troops will be headed home by year's end.

About 4,500 Fort Bragg troops are still on the ground in Iraq. Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro has nearly 40 airmen in Iraq.

No Marines from Camp Lejeune are in Iraq now, but the base has seen numerous deployments over the past nine years.

Anthony Smith served with the Army in Desert Storm. The retired soldier said he was at the VA hospital when Obama made the announcement that Iraq soldiers would be home for the holidays.

“Everybody in the room reacted to it. Everybody was happy about it. I hope they can pull this off,” he said.

The Iraq war has been one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history.

“Finally, they are coming home and get them out of there,” Fayetteville resident Cathy Gignilliat said. “It is time. They need to get them out.”

Fort Bragg Fayetteville awaits return of soldiers

Obama's statement put an end to months of wrangling over whether the U.S. would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011. He never mentioned the tense and ultimately fruitless negotiations with Iraq over whether to keep several thousand U.S. forces there as a training force and a hedge against meddling from Iran or other outside forces.

Instead, Obama spoke of a promise kept, a new day for a self-reliant Iraq and a focus on building up the economy at home.

"I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," Obama said. "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over."

Obama spoke after a private video conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and he offered assurances that the two leaders agreed on the decision.

The U.S. military presence in Iraq stands at just under 40,000 service members. All U.S. troops are to exit the country in accordance with a deal struck between the countries in 2008 when George W. Bush was president.

Obama, an opponent of the war from the start, took office and accelerated the end of the conflict. In August 2010, he declared the U.S. combat mission over.

"Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home," Obama said. "The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops."

More than 4,400 American military members have been killed since the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq in March 2003. 

One hundred eight soldiers originally from North Carolina, not including those stationed in the state, died in Iraq.

Camp Lejeune lost 295 soldiers and Fort Bragg 196, including special forces. The North Carolina National Guard lost 14 soldiers and the Marine Air Station at Cherry Point had eight causalities. Pope and Seymour Johnson Air Force Bases had a combined four deaths in Iraq.


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  • Nancy Oct 24, 2011

    Voice of reason, I know, I read the article, completely. It would appear that some don't but post anyway ;)

  • Voice of Reason 23 Oct 24, 2011

    Nancy - it's in this paragraph in the article "The U.S. military presence in Iraq stands at just under 40,000 service members. All U.S. troops are to exit the country in accordance with a deal struck between the countries in 2008 when George W. Bush was president."

  • kjkoval Oct 24, 2011

    "Whiny Comments" looks like you are going to have to read your own comments Mr fayncmike

  • Nancy Oct 24, 2011

    fancymike, where is the agreement you say the president remade? I have not found any reference in any article about that.

    The only thing I have read is that he could not get Iraq to agree to let a few remain to assist due to Iraq not giving immunity to the remaining few thousand the president wanted to leave there.

    Please provide a link to the 'new' agreement you speak of.

  • fayncmike Oct 24, 2011

    President Obama took some shards of a possible agreement, overhauled them and is implementing it. It's the same as a new agreement. I might point out that if Bush and the rest of his Nazis hadn't attempted to conquer Iraq, thousands of lives wouldn't have wasted and billions of dollars saved. At the time of our invasion Iraq was a functional, prosperous nation. We are leaving it a total wreck which will take many years to rebuild. Our invasion of Iraq destroyed our image worldwide and was the lynchpin for most of the problems that we're now having.

  • Nancy Oct 24, 2011

    Yes, fancymike, and here is the report on that negotiated end of the war:

    Iraq-US pact puts troop pullout by 2011: negotiator

    by Staff Writers
    Baghdad (AFP) Aug 22, 2008
    Negotiators have finalised a deal which will see the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by 2011, ending an eight-year occupation, the top official in the Iraqi team told AFP on Friday.
    Under the 27-point deal all American combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraqi cities by next June, said negotiator Mohammed al-Haj Hammoud.

    The agreement has already been approved by US President George W. Bush and now needs to be endorsed by Iraqi leaders, he added.

  • fayncmike Oct 24, 2011

    I can't wait to read all the whiny comments about this one:) I'm willing to bet my sox that someone is going to try to get us to believe that this is actually Bush's plan that was somehow kept secret till now and that President Obama had nothing at all to do with it.