Obama marks formal end of US combat in Iraq

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass.  —US President Barack Obama said Saturday that the end of combat operations in Iraq doesn't just reaffirm that country's sovereignty, but also makes good on one of his principle campaign pledges.
Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to highlight Tuesday's formal end to US combat missions in Iraq — the realization of a promise he made as a candidate in the 2008 election.
Remaining troops will assume a backup and training role, a shift Obama will underscore with a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, and an Oval Office address to the nation on Aug. 31, the date he targeted last year for the change in focus. US troop strength in Iraq dropped below 50,000 this week, a milestone also highlighted by the administration.
"In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions and protect our civilian and military efforts," Obama said, a day before ending his 10-day Martha's Vineyard vacation to travel to New Orleans and mark another somber date: the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.