U.S. Marks End of War on Terror in Iraq

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After seven-and-a-half years of fighting, U.S. combat operations in Iraq officially came to an end Tuesday.

President Barack Obama delivered a prime-time speech from the Oval Office to mark the transition.

"[The end of this war] is not going to be a victory lap. It's not going to be self-congratulatory," Obama told troops at Fort Bliss, Texas, earlier Tuesday. "There's still a lot of work we've got to do."

About 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for several months working in non-combat roles.

Many people still wonder whether the Iraqis are prepared to take over their country.  The U.S. military says "yes" and that a decline in fighting in the country provides proof.

"Gen. Odierno reports that his forces haven't needed to conduct an air strike in more than six months," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. "And in an important victory against transnational terror, al Qaeda in Iraq has been largely cut off from its masters abroad."

CBN News spoke with Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, about the U.S. troop withdrawal and how it affects Iraq and the war on terror.  Click play for his comments, following Paul Strand's report.

Also, CBN News Chief International Correspondent Gary Lane offered insight on why Iraq's leaders are finding it difficult to form a government and the greatest dangers to democracy in Iraq.  Click here for his comments.

With a bruising midterm election predicted for the Democrats, ending the war allows Obama to turn away from the far-away problems of Iraq and concentrate on the ever-present problems of the American economy.

"The president will talk about the steps that we have to take because the nation that he truly wants to rebuild is the nation that he lives in -- the United States of America," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Though the U.S. soldiers that remain in Iraq after Tuesday's withdrawal will not be there for battle, some warn they could still be targeted in attacks.

"We're combat troops. We're still here. We still have a job to do," one U.S. soldier in Iraq said. "The names change but the mission's pretty much the same."

Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq to mark the transition and to assure the Iraqis who worry they can't make it without U.S. troops that indeed they can.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.