Ed. note: Click here to see the timeline of President Obama's promise to end the war in Iraq and support service members as they return home.
Ten years ago my US Army unit was returning from our final training exercise in preparation for deploying in support of Operation Iraq Freedom. We listened intensely as President Bush announced the start of the war 10 years ago today, and my platoon prepared to deploy as part of the 1st Armored Division into the breach of battle. Within a few short weeks, my soldiers and I were rolling across the Kuwaiti border on our way to Baghdad to relieve the 3rd Infantry Division.
My soldiers and I spent most of the next 15 months based out of a Forward Operating Base on the banks of the Tigris River trying to bring stability to a chaotic and complex situation. We had a front row seat as the Iraqi’s celebrated the capture of Saddam Hussein, but also felt the war turn as we went from eating dinners in the homes of everyday Iraqi’s to fighting insurgents on the streets in places like Najaf.
Although there is still much to learn about this war, one thing is certain; President Obama’s commitment and focus on taking care of our service members brought this war to an end. He held to his promise and ensured that by December of 2011, “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.”
To my fellow veterans and the military families that support them, this moment represents closure to an experience that for many was life changing. As an Iraq veteran who now serves in the President’s Administration, I am incredibly proud of the vigilant focus that he and his wife have shown in support of our military, military families, and veterans. President and Mrs. Obama understand the sacrifices that so many have made and remain committed to the families of those who never came home, but also to those who continue to serve.
Jonathan Powers is the Federal Environmental Executive.