It is August 31. After 7 years, 5 months and 11 days -- and 4,416 American lives -- the official U.S. combat mission in Iraq is over.
Good morning from West Wing Report, and President Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office tonight about Iraq. He'll outline the situation to the American people and also pay tribute to the men and women who served. Today he'll visit the troops in Ft. Bliss, Texas.
Yesterday, he pinned Purple Hearts on 11 wounded vets at Walter Reed hospital here in Washington.
One thing you won't hear from the President tonight are the words -- "Mission Accomplished" -- that phrase, of course, used prematurely by the Bush White House back in 2003. But Obama will call his predecessor to brief him on the speech.
But keep in mind just because the White House says the combat role is over, it's really not. There are still 50,000 American troops there - including special forces and intelligence units -- who will remain for another 16 months to support the final transition to Iraqi authorities. And they will go into harm's way from time to time.
So even if the official combat role comes to and end today - the fighting -- and the dying -- probably will not.
In addition to the 4,416 American lives lost since 2003, another 31,882 servicemen and women were wounded. Then there are the countless number of Iraqis who have been killed and wounded. Also among the dead: an estimated 135 journalists.
- Paul Brandus at the White House