American combat operations in Iraq officially come to an end Tuesday more than seven years after the U.S. invasion began. Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq to mark the occasion while President Obama will address Americans in a primetime speech Tuesday night.
The END of America's combat operations in Iraq marks the BEGINNING of a new mission.
“What you’ll see is the changing of a mission from one of combat to one of support,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Roughly 50,000 American forces will take part in "Operation New Dawn", down from the nearly 170,000 that once patrolled the streets. They'll focus on stabilizing the country, training and advising security forces.
Vice President Joe Biden flew to Iraq Monday to reassure the nation of America's commitment. He'll preside over Tuesday's ceremonies and push leaders to end a six-month old stalemate that's prevented them from forming a new government.
President Obama heads to Fort Bliss, TX, Tuesday morning to meet with soldiers who served in Iraq. Later he’ll return to the White House to deliver a primetime address from the Oval Office.
The President is expected to tell the American people Iraqis are now in charge of their own destiny. But one phrase you won't hear is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
“First and foremost, you know, you won’t hear those words coming from us,” said Gibbs.
The remaining U.S. forces aren't expected to come home until the end of next year, and even then some experts say that may not happen.
“The Chief of Staff of the Iraqi army said we could need the Americans here as long as 2020,” said CBS News Military Analyst Col. Jeff McCausland.
Iraq has recently seen a spike in violence including a string of deadly attacks just last week.