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Iraq war would end in 2011 for US: Obama

Last updated on: August 18, 2009 

'Iraq war would end in 2011 for US'

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For America, the war in Iraq would end in 2011 when it would pull out all its troops from the country, US President Barack Obama has said.

"We will remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. For America, the Iraq war will end," Obama said in his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. The United States will begin removing its combat brigades from Iraq later this year.

"In Iraq, after more than six years, we took an important step forward in June. We transferred control of all cities and towns to Iraq's security forces," he said.


Image: Obama addresses 110th annual VFW National Convention in Phoenix
Photographs: Larry Downing/Reuters
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'Iraqis must know US will keep its commitments'

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"The transition to full Iraqi responsibility for their own security is now underway. This progress is a testament to all those who have served in Iraq, both uniformed and civilian. And our nation owes these Americans -- and all who have given their lives -- a profound debt of gratitude," he said, amidst applause.

The US President said, "Now, as Iraqis take control of their destiny, they will be tested and targeted. Those who seek to sow sectarian division will attempt more senseless bombings and more killing of innocents."

"As we move forward, the Iraqi people must know that the US will keep its commitments. The American people must know that we will move forward with our strategy," Obama said.


Image: A US soldier walks past a resident during a patrol in Samarra, 100 km north of Baghdad
Photographs: Mohammed Ameen/Reuters
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Obama's pledge and commitment

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By moving forward in Iraq, the US is able to refocus on the war against Al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he asserted.

Obama asserted that his administration would send its troops on foreign soil only when it is absolutely necessary. "I will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary," Obama pledged.

"When I do, it will be based on good intelligence and guided by a sound strategy. I will give you a clear mission, defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That's my commitment to you," Obama asserted, amidst applause.


Image: An Iraqi soldier stands guard as US helicopters land before a military parade in Latifiya
Photographs: Atef Hassan/Reuters
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Why Obama increased defence spending

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The US President said his administration would ensure that the American forces remained the best fighting troops in the world.

"We need to keep our military the best-trained, the best-led, the best-equipped fighting force in the world. And that's why, even with our current economic challenges, my budget increases defence spending," he said.

"We will ensure that we have the force structure to meet today's missions," Obama said, adding that his administration had increased the size of the Army and the Marine Corps two years ahead of schedule and has approved another temporary increase in the Army.


Image: A United States Marine Corps Cobra helicopter fires a missile
Photographs: Rick Scuteri/Reuters
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'Insurgency in Afghanistan didn't just happen overnight'

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Noting that it took years for insurgency to gain ground in Afghanistan, Obama said terrorism in the region cannot be expected to be defeated so soon.

"Insurgency in Afghanistan didn't just happen overnight and we won't defeat it overnight. This will not be quick, nor easy," Obama said.

Observing that Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan would enable Al Qaeda to plan more attacks like 9/11, the US President said the war against terror is necessary for the defence of the people.


Image: An Afghan man speaks with a US Marine during a patrol at a village in the Golestan district of Farah province
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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'This is a war of necessity'

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"This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So, this is not only a war worth fighting, this is fundamental to the defence of our people," he said.

Referring to the comprehensive Af-Pak strategy announced by his administration early this year, Obama said the strategy recognises that Al Qaeda and its allies have shifted their base from Afghanistan to remote, tribal areas of Pakistan.

"This (Af-Pak) strategy acknowledges that military power alone will not win this war -- we also need diplomacy, development and good governance. And our new strategy has a clear mission and defined goals: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies," he said.


Image: Sgt William Olas Bee, a US Marine from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has a close call after Taliban fighters opened fire near Garmsir in Helmand Province of Afghanistan
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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'We will adapt to new tactics to stay ahead of the enemy'

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"In recent weeks, we have seen our troops do their part. They have gone into new areas -- taking the fight to the Taliban in villages and towns where residents have been terrorised for years. They are adapting new tactics, knowing that it is not enough to kill extremists and terrorists; we also need to protect the people and improve their daily lives.

Today, our troops are helping to secure polling places for this week's election so that Afghans can choose the future that they want," Obama said.

The US President said his administration will adapt to new tactics to stay ahead of the enemy and give its troops the tools and equipment they need to succeed.

"And at every step of the way, we will assess our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and to help the Afghan and Pakistani people build the future that they seek," Obama said.

Image: Afghan men sit on top of a wrecked car to watch a dog fight during the dog-fighting season in Kabul
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters
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