End of Combat Operations in Iraq Ain’t Happened Yet

U.S. forces are still engaged in full-scale counterrrorism operations in Iraq. In what sense are "combat operations" over?

This just in from Janine Zacharia and Aziz Alwan of the Washington Post Foreign Service:

A team of American and Iraqi troops killed at least eight people during a counterterrorism operation on the outskirts of Fallujah on Wednesday, Iraqi officials said. The raid was the deadliest incident involving U.S. troops in Iraq since President Obama formally announced the end of combat operations August 31.

U.S. and Iraqi ground forces backed by American helicopters began raiding houses at 3 a.m. in Jubil, about 30 miles west of Baghdad, officials said.

One soldier threw a grenade that killed a 70-year old man and three of his sons, all of whom were sleeping in the yard of their house, Iraqi officials in Anbar province said. A fourth son died later at a hospital.

Troops also entered a second house in the area and killed a former Iraqi military commander, Yaseen Kassar, Iraqi officials said. The forces also entered a third house and killed two more people. Iraqi soldiers subsequently cordoned off Fallujah.

It was not immediately clear whether the soldiers had been looking specifically for Kassar, or any of the other individuals killed. Many Iraqi army commanders who were fired shortly after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq later became insurgent leaders.

At first blush, this doesn’t sound like a very productive operation.   Seriously?   A 70-year-old man and his sons and a former Iraqi military commander?   But let’s presume that these are really bad men right at the heart of al Qaeda in Iraq.   In which case, hoo-ah.

Either way, doesn’t this sound an awful lot like a combat operation?   And, didn’t President Obama announce “the End of Combat Operations in Iraq” in a nationwide address two weeks ago?

Now, to be sure, he allowed that,”Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission:  advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces, supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counterterrorism missions, and protecting our civilians.”  But, given the context of the speech, wouldn’t one presume that “supporting Iraqi troops” would mean providing intelligence and logistical support rather than trigger pullers?

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Major combat operations are ended in Iraq.  It said so in all the papers.

  2. rodney dill says:

    “Mission Accomplished”
    Is exactly the same as “End of Combat Operations in Iraq.” It has a very specific meaning from an operational context, but fails as soon as the media or someone with a differing agenda wants to put their own slant on it.

  3. But, but, but, MSNBC did a special report as the last Stryker Bridge left Iraq. They told me combat operations were over. You’re telling me that’s not true ? What’s next, no Santa Claus ?

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    Gee, who would have thought that 50,000 American troops in a country still facing the prospect of a renewed civil war while terrorist organizations are routinely committing attacks in populated areas might be engaged in some form of combat?

  5. ponce says:

    “Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission:  advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces, <b>supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counterterrorism missions</b>, and protecting our civilians. ”
    – Obama August 31, 2010

  6. Wayne says:

    It is one thing to say we have transition from a combat force to an advisory and support force. It is even acceptable to say the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade have finish their mission and is heading home.  However to say
    “Two weeks ago, America’s final combat brigade in Iraq — the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade — journeyed home in the pre-dawn darkness”
    is B.S. especially when another Striker Brigade was replacing them. A combat brigade is a combat brigade regardless of what they are doing even if they are doing nothing but training back home in the good old U.S.A.
    When he said that “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended”, he should have been cleared that that doesn’t mean Americans will not conduct combat missions.
    This was a dog and pony show which I hate but understand there is a need for it at times. However a good deal of care should be taken not to mislead. Bush was bash for celebrating the end of one phase even though he went out of his way to say that a long hard road with a great deal of work was still ahead. People went out of their way to twist what he said into something he didn’t. Obama outright lies but that is Ok.