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Leo good evening.
Tonight I'd like to talk to you about the end of our combat mission in Iraq.
The ongoing security challenges we face and the need to rebuild our nation here at home.
I know this historic moment comes at a time of great uncertainty for many Americans.
We've now been through nearly a decade of war.
We've endured a long and painful recession.
And sometimes in the midst of these storms.
The future of the we're trying to build for our nation.
The future of lasting peace and long term prosperity.
May seem beyond our reach.
This milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans.
That the future is ours to shape.
If we move forward with confidence and commitment.
-- also serve as a message to the world.
-- the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.
From this -- -- and -- half years ago.
President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq.
Much has changed since that night.
A war to disarm -- state became a fight against an insurgency.
Terrorist and sectarian warfare.
Threaten to tear Iraq apart.
Thousands of Americans gave their lives.
Tens of thousands have been wounded.
Our relations abroad -- strike.
Our unity at home was tested.
These are the rough waters encountered during the course -- one of America's longest wars.
-- there has been one constant admits to be shifting times.
At every turn.
America's men and women in uniform who serve with courage.
As commander in chief I'm incredibly proud of their service.
Like all Americans and awed by their sacrifice.
And by the sacrifices.
Of their families.
The Americans -- served in Iraq completed every mission they were given.
They defeated the regime that it terrorized its people.
Together with the Iraqis and coalition partners who made -- huge sacrifices of the wrong.
Our troops fought block by block to help Iraq sees the chance for a better future.
They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi People.
Train Iraqi Security Forces and took out terrorist leaders.
Because of our troops and civilians.
And because of the resilience of the Iraqi People.
Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny.
Even though many challenges remain.
I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has -- Operation Iraqi Freedom is over.
And the Iraqi People now have lead responsibility.
For the security of their country.
This is my -- to the American people as a candidate for this office.
Last February -- announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq.
While redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq's security forces and support its government and people.
That's what we've done.
We've removed nearly a 100000.
US troops from Iraq.
-- clothes -- transferred to the Iraqis hundreds of basis and we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out Iraq.
The transition to Iraqi responsibility.
For their own security.
US troops pulled out of Iraq's cities last summer.
An Iraqi forces have moved into the lead with a considerable skill and commitment to their fellow citizens.
Even as Iraq continues to suffer terrorist attacks.
Security -- have been near the lowest on record since the war began.
An Iraqi forces have taken the fight to al-Qaeda.
Removing much of its leadership in Iraqi led operations.
This year also saw Iraq hold credible elections that drew a strong turnout.
-- caretaker administration is in place as Iraqis form a government based on the results of that election.
Tonight I encourage Iraq's leaders to move forward with a sense of urgency.
To form an inclusive government but it's just representative and accountable to the Iraqi People.
And when that government is in place there should be no doubt.
The Iraqi People will have a strong partner in the United States.
Our combat mission to send it from our commitment to Iraq's future is not.
A transitional force of US troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission.
Advising and assisting Iraq's security forces.
Supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counterterrorism missions.
And protecting our civilians.
Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi Government.
All -- US troops will leave by the end of next year.
-- our military draws down our dedicated civilians.
Diplomats and aid workers and advisers.
Are moving into the lead to support Iraq has strengthens its government resolve political disputes.
We settles those displaced by war.
And -- ties with the region and the world.
That's a message that Vice President Biden is delivering to the Iraqi People through his visit there today.
This new approach reflects our long term partnership of Iraq.
One based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.
Of course violence will not and what our combat mission.
Extremists will continue to set off -- attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife.
But ultimately these terrorists.
Wolf fail to achieve their goals.
Iraqis are proud people they have rejected sectarian war and they have no interest in -- destruction.
They understand that in the end only Iraqis.
Can resolve their differences and police their streets.
Only Iraqis can build a democracy.
Within their borders.
What America can do.
And will do -- provide support for the Iraqi People there's both a friend.
And -- partner.
Attending this war is not only in Iraq's interest.
It's in our own.
The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people.
We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq.
-- spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home.
We persevered because of -- belief we share with the Iraqi People.
The belief that out of the ashes of war a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization.
Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq.
We have met our responsibilities.
It's time to turn the page.
As we do -- mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home.
-- true it's time to turn the page.
This afternoon I spoke to former president George W.
It's well known that he and I've disagreed about the war from south.
Did no one can doubt President Bush's support for our troops.
Or his love of country and commitment to our security.
As I've said there were patriots who supported this war and patriots who opposed to.
And all of us are united.
In appreciation for our servicemen and women.
And our hopes for iraqis' future.
The greatness of our democracy is grounded today in our ability to move beyond our differences.
And to learn from our experience.
As we confront the many challenges ahead.
And no challenge is more essential to our security.
-- our fight against al-Qaeda.
Americans across the political spectrum supported.
The use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11.
Now as we approach our tenth year of combat in Afghanistan.
There are those who were understandably asking tough questions about our mission that.
But we must never lose sight of what's at stake.
As we speak al-Qaeda continues to plot against us and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions.
Of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
We will disrupt dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda.
While preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists.
And because -- -- -- down in Iraq we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense.
In fact over the last nineteen months nearly a dozen al-Qaeda -- And hundreds of Al qaeda's extremist allies have been killed or captured around the world.
Within Afghanistan -- ordered the deployment of additional troops -- under the command of General David Petraeus.
-- fighting to break the -- bonds momentum.
That's when the surge in Iraq.
These forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity.
And secure their own future.
But as was the case in Iraq.
We can't do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves.
That's why we're training Afghan security forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan's problems.
The next August we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility.
The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground.
And our support for Afghanistan will endure.
But make no mistake and this transition will begin.
Because open ended war serves neither our interests.
Nor the Afghan people it's.
Indeed and one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq.
There's good American influence around the world it's not a function of military force alone.
We must use all elements of our power.
Including our diplomacy.
Our economic strength.
And the power of America's example.
To secure our interests and stand by our allies.
And we must reject the vision of the future that's -- not just our fears.
But also on our hopes.
Provision that recognizes the real dangers that -- just around the world.
But also the limitless possibilities of our time.
Today pulled out -- -- peaks.
And emerging democracies are potential partners.
New markets for our good stretch from Asia to the -- A new push for peace in the Middle East will begin here tomorrow.
Billions of young people wanna move beyond the shackles poverty and conflict.
As the leader of the free world America will do more than just defeat on the battlefield those who offer hatred and destruction.
We will also lead among those -- -- willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity.
For all people.
-- that effort.
Must begin within our own borders.
Throughout our history America.
Has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas.
Understanding its links to our own liberty and security.
We have also understood that our nation's strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home.
And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class.
Over the last decade.
We've not done what's necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prospered.
A trillion dollars at war -- financed by borrowing from overseas.
This in turn has shortchanged investments in our own people and contributed to record deficits.
For too long we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base for energy policy.
To education reform.
As a result too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less.
More -- long term competitiveness.
Is put at risk.
And so -- this moment.
As we wind down the war in Iraq.
We must tackle those challenges at home -- this much energy and -- And sense of common purpose.
As our men and women in uniform which served abroad.
They have met every test that they face.
Not far turn.
Thought our responsibility to honor them by coming together.
All of us and working to secure the dream that so many generations fought for.
The dream that a better life awaits anyone who was willing to work force.
And reach -- -- most urgent task is to restore our economy and put the millions of Americans lost their jobs back to work.
To strengthen our middle class.
We must give all our children the education they deserve.
And all our workers -- feels that they need to compete in the global economy.
We must jump start industries that create jobs and then our dependence on foreign oil.
Most unleashing innovation allows new products to roll off -- assembly lines and nurture the ideas spring from our -- from -- This will be difficult.
But in the days to come it must be our central mission as -- people.
-- my central responsibility.
Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such an hour.
As long as I'm president we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.
And we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us.
This is a sacred trust.
That's why we've already made one largest increases in funding for veterans in decades.
We're treating the signature wounds of today's wars.
Post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
While providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have.
We're funding the post 9/11 GI bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education.
This is the GI bill help those who fought World War II.
Including my grandfather.
Become the backbone of our middle class.
So today's servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy.
This part of ending a war responsibly.
-- standing by those who fought.
Have two weeks ago.
America's final combat brigades in Iraq.
We army's fourth Stryker Brigade.
-- home in the predawn darkness.
Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of vehicles made the trip from Baghdad.
The last of them passing into Kuwait an early morning hours.
I was seven years before.
American troops and coalition partners have fought their way across and more highways and this time no shots were fired.
Just a convoy of brave Americans.
Making their way home.
Of course the soldiers left much behind.
Some were teenagers when the war began.
Many -- served multiple tours of duty.
Far from families -- more -- burden of their own.
And during -- -- Husbands embrace.
Her mother's kiss.
Most painfully -- war began.
55 members of the fourth Stryker Brigade made the ultimate sacrifice.
Part of over 4400.
Americans we've given their lives in Iraq.
Because one staff sergeant says.
I know that to my Brothers in arms who fought and died.
This -- would probably mean a lot.
Those Americans who gave their lives.
For the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries.
Along with nearly one point five million Americans -- served in Iraq.
Fought a -- place for people they never knew.
They stared into the dark darkest.
Of human creations.
And help the Iraqi People.
-- -- -- -- -- In an age without surrender ceremonies.
We must -- victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation.
Every American who serves it joins an unbroken line of heroes that stretches from Lexington to -- From Iwo jima to -- -- From case to -- -- Americans who have fought to see that the lives of our children.
Are better than our -- Our troops.
For the steel.
In our ship of state.
And know our nation may be traveling through work waters.
They give us confidence.
That our course is true.
And the beyond the predawn darkness.
Better days -- Thank you.
May god bless you.
And may god bless the United States of America.
And all --
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