Iraq reaches New Dawn, ends combat operations
Task Force Marne Soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division board a C-17 scheduled to depart Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, Aug. 23. More than 100 Soldiers were part of the responsible drawdown of forces to 50,000 troops by the end of August.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 31, 2010) -- Beginning Sept. 1, the ongoing U.S. presence in Iraq will be coined "Operation New Dawn," marking the transition from combat operations to an advisory role.

The shift in mission parallels downsizing troop levels: there are currently about 50,000 U.S. servicemembers in Iraq, down from 112,000 in January.

"Aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission," Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in February.

Operation New Dawn will have three primary missions: advising, assisting, and training the Iraqi Security Forces; conducting partnered counterterrorism operations; and providing support to Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the Iraqi government.

"This redoubles the efforts of the Iraqis," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a briefing Monday. "They will write the next chapter in Iraqi history, and they will be principally responsible for it. We will be their ally, but the responsibility of charting the future of Iraq first and foremost belongs to the Iraqis."

Also, according to a United States Forces-Iraq press release, the state and defense departments are slotted to take the lead on the U.S. presence in Iraq, turning efforts there diplomatic rather than military-focused.

"This transition represents a change in the nature of U.S. commitment to the government and people of Iraq, but not a change in the level of commitment," the press release states.

Bases and equipment have also been downsized. U.S. forces currently occupy 121 posts, a number down from 357 in 2009, and the total number of equipment in Iraq is expected to be cut to 1.2 million pieces, down from 3.4 million in 2009.

Since 2003, it is estimated that more than one million Americans have served in uniform in Iraq.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16