The military is at a turning point following a remarkable and historic year, Defense Department officials said today.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that this year has also seen the demise of Osama bin Laden and the decline of al-Qaida,” he added. “And the increased pressure on [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula], to include the loss of Anwar al-Awlaki to that terrorist group.”
“2012 is likely to bring opportunities for the United States military, and for all Americans,” he said.
The United States is “seeing successful transition efforts in Afghanistan” and “building a new relationship with Iraq” following the departure of the last U.S. combat troops there, Little said. But that doesn’t mean relations end in those areas, he said.
“The secretary [of defense] has made it clear that we are going to maintain a presence in the Middle East … that’s going to protect our interests and those of our allies in the region,” Little said.
Navy Capt. John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, emphasized no final decisions have been made about troop posture in the Middle East.
“We are still working through what the post-Iraq regional presence is going to be,” he said. “So there’s been no final decisions made about where any residual forces may stay, or for how long they will stay.”
“I would note that this was the most successful logistical drawdown in U.S. military history,” he said. “And General Austin and the men and women in uniform who carried that out deserve tremendous praise.”
Little expressed gratitude for service members and their families over the past year.
“The men and women of the U.S. military and their families have done incredible work, have had many successes, and of course, have made sacrifices,” he said. “And to them, especially, we say thank you.”
- 13,000 U.S. Troops Remain in Iraq As Drawdown Continues (abcnews.go.com)
- Panetta Formally Ends U.S. Military Mission in Iraq (foxnews.com)
- End of war for U.S. begins period of uncertainty for Iraqis (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- US Defense Secretary Panetta hopes for a deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq (thecurrencynewshound.com)
- Iraq Operations ‘Worth It’: General in Final News Briefing (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Taking stock of America’s defeat in Iraq…and Iran’s regional role (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- Biden praises troops as Iraq drawdown continues (cbsnews.com)
- Signs of looming US troop drawdown abound in Iraq (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- U.S. Military Press Office Iraq, Signing Off (atwar.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Iraq PM not under sway of Iran: Obama (news.nationalpost.com)