U.S. troops pack up in Iraq

Reuters
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At Al-Assad Airbase in Iraq's Anbar Province, U.S. servicemen and women pack their belongings and wait to board planes to return home - ending their mission in Iraq.
Around 40,000 American troops remain in Iraq, all of whom will withdraw by December 31 - a deadline set in a 2008 security agreement between Baghdad and then U.S. President George Bush.
The scale of the operation is unprecedented in the military's history - and daunting to say the least.
There are dozens of bases to be transferred to Iraqis, thousands of vehicles to be disposed of or shipped out, not to mention dealing with countless generators, air conditioners, and so forth.
Serviceman Julian Davis says he feels his deployment was a success.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) JULIAN DAVIS, SAYING:
"I feel great - I feel like we have done a lot, a lot of changes, a lot of things come from here - a lot of progression to the society, to the people. A lot more social barriers have been kind of
broken and have been brought back together again and we can actually start working on a better future for everybody else."
First Class Sergeant Nick Laiola also says he had a great time in Iraq.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FIRST CLASS SERGEANT WITH U.S. AIR FORCE PROTECTION, NICK LAIOLA, SAYING:
"I was really happy with the experience I got. I got to work with a lot of diverse and interesting people and I had a really good time with my tram as a lot of guys actually I was really close
friends with, so I got to actually come to my first point with a lot of my close friends."
The United States handed over all combat duties to Iraqi security forces in August 2010, moving into an advisory and assistance role to Iraq's army and police.
U.S. troops have not been legally able to conduct unilateral operations in Iraq since a bilateral security pact came into force in 2009.
Travis Brecher, Reuters

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