Nearly 9 years on, US withdraws from Iraq
Updated: 2011-12-18 14:38
After Obama announced in October that troops would come home by the end of the year as scheduled, the number of US military bases was whittled down quickly as hundreds of troops and trucks carrying equipment headed south to the Kuwaiti border.
US Air Force airmen walk to board the last Air Force flight out of Ali Air Base near Nasiriyah, en route to Kuwait Dec 17, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
US forces, which had ended combat missions in 2010, paid $100,000 a month to tribal sheikhs to secure different parts of highways leading south to reduce the risk of roadside bombings and attacks.
At the height of the war, more than 170,000 US troops were in Iraq at more than 500 bases. By Saturday, there were fewer than 3,000 troops, and one base.
At COB Adder, as dusk fell before the departure of the last convoy, one group of soldiers slapped barbecue sauce on slabs of ribs brought in from Kuwait and laid them on grills alongside hotdogs and sausages.
The last troops flicked on the lights studding their MRAP vehicles and stacked flak jackets and helmets in neat piles, ready for the final departure for Kuwait and then home.
"A good chunk of me is happy to leave. I spent 31 months in this country," said Sgt. Steven Schirmer, 25, after three tours of Iraq since 2007. "It almost seems I can have a life now, though I know I am probably going to Afghanistan in 2013. Once these wars end I wonder what I will end up doing."