Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Army Submits Gravesite Study of Arlington National Cemetery

No. 1038-11

Secretary of the Army John McHugh released today to Congress the results of a year-long effort to ensure accountability of gravesites and records at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). McHugh submitted the report in accordance with Public Law 111-339, which directed the Army to provide an accounting of gravesites at ANC, and put in place a plan of action for any discrepancies which may be found.

“The management team I put in place has now conducted the most comprehensive review and meticulous accounting of gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery’s 147 year history,” McHugh said. “They have examined every available record, physically counted every gravesite on the cemetery’s grounds, and created a digital record of every headstone and niche cover.”

McHugh said this report is the latest in a series that shows the Army’s commitment to and success in improving management and oversight at ANC. The Army’s inspector general recently reported that “significant progress has been made in all aspects of the cemetery’s performance, accountability and modernization.” The Government Accountability Office -- also directed to submit reports in accordance with Public Law 111-339 -- similarly noted that the Army “has taken positive steps to address management deficiencies at Arlington and has implemented improvements across a range of areas.”

The cemetery’s Gravesite Accountability Task Force reconciled existing records and conducted a physical identification of gravesites -- counting every marker in the cemetery and photographing each headstone and niche cover. They have completed nearly 200,000 cases, and validated those gravesites without any burial discrepancies in evidence.

Comprised of Army soldiers and civilians, the task force was charged with physically identifying every gravesite and niche cover, cross-referencing each with all available records, identifying discrepancies, applying appropriate corrective actions and developing standardized procedures that can be instituted into the daily operations of the cemetery.

“With the critical support of Congress and the American people, the task force’s significant work has resulted in a far more detailed and thorough understanding of Arlington’s records and living history than at any time since its inception during the Civil War in 1864,” said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of the Army National Cemeteries Program. “This comprehensive effort will create a set of proven procedures that will ensure the accountability of all current and future gravesites. While remarkable progress has been made this far, additional work is required.”

The gravesite accountability effort resulted in the first-ever review, analysis and coordination of all Arlington records that included more than 14 decades of varying records. The end result will be a single database that will serve as the authoritative record at Arlington National Cemetery.

The task force compared the photos for 259,978 headstones and niche covers in the cemetery against more than 510,000 records. Based upon its review, the task force validated 195,748 cases, and Arlington is currently completing the validation of 64,230 cases requiring additional review.

The Army is strengthening both accountability of gravesites and oversight of cemetery operations, identifying discrepancies and administrative errors, and taking immediate corrective action. The Army has defined new accountability processes, standards and technology, established a rigorous training program and gathered valuable best practices and lessons learned that are now being integrated into the Arlington’s daily operations.

As remaining cases are validated and resolved, Arlington’s leadership focus will shift to its plan for the future, having integrated the best practices from the task force into daily operations. With this plan in place, the next era at Arlington will be defined as one of modernization, transparency and accountability, with the goal of connecting the American people to Arlington’s rich living history.

Among the national cemeteries in the United States, Arlington National Cemetery is unique. It is the only national cemetery that routinely holds graveside services and provides full military honors for eligible veterans. It is a national and active military shrine, hosting 4.1 million visitors annually, as well as ceremonial functions involving heads of foreign countries and other high level dignitaries. As the second largest cemetery in the country, Arlington National Cemetery oversees approximately 27-30 funeral services per day, five days a week. On Saturdays, the cemetery holds services for which military honors are not required or requested.

News media with further questions may contact Jennifer Lynch at 877-907-8585 or jennifer.lynch1@us.army.mil . A copy of the ANC report is at http://www.defense.gov/news/20121222ANCtaskforcereportfinaldraft.pdf .

Pretrial Wraps Up for Alleged Document Leaker

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service


FORT MEADE, Md., Dec. 22, 2011 – The prosecution and defense rested today after delivering their closing statements in the Article 32 hearing of a soldier charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Today’s session, which adjourned at about 10:30 a.m., wrapped up eight days of pre-trial proceedings in the case against Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning that began Dec. 16.

An Article 32 hearing, often compared to a civilian grand jury, is a pretrial hearing to determine if grounds exist for a general court martial, the most serious of courts martial.

The investigating officer, Army Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, now has until Jan. 16 to issue his recommendations to the Special Court Martial Convening Authority, a Military District of Washington spokesperson told American Forces Press Service.

Alamanza may ask for an extension, if needed, the official said.
His report will recommend that the case be referred to a court martial, or that some or all of the charges against Manning be dismissed.

The Special Court Martial Convening Authority, Army Col. Carl Coffman, will then provide Alamanza’s recommendation to the General Court Martial Convening Authority, and indicate whether he concurs with it, the MDW official said.

Manning, an intelligence analyst, is suspected of leaking military and diplomatic documents to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks in what officials believe is the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history.

WikiLeaks, in turn, released thousands of these documents, including classified records about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on its website last year.

At the time, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other senior defense officials condemned the organization’s actions, claiming the act put deployed service members at an increased risk.

The Article 32 hearing marked 24-year-old Manning’s first appearance in a military court since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010.

He faces more than 20 charges alleging he introduced unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloaded it, improperly stored it, and transmitted the data for public release and use by the enemy.

The charge of aiding the enemy under Article 104 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice is a capital offense; however, the prosecution team has said it won’t recommend the death penalty, a legal official said.

If convicted of all charges, Manning would face a maximum punishment of life in prison. He also could be reduced to E-1, the lowest enlisted grade, face a total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and dishonorable discharge, officials said.

(Editors’ Note: Elaine Sanchez contributed to this article.)

Related Articles:
Pretrial Begins for Alleged Document Leaker
Army Adds 22 Charges Against Intelligence Analyst

Navy Continues Proud Tradition of Service

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For veterans battling the wounds of war, there's an APP for that

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The battle against the psychological scars of war is being helped by technology. One application for smart phones and the iPAD, is called the T2 Mood Tracker. It helps patients monitor their behavior over time.

Sailors Visit Orphans in Japan

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SECNAV Visits Afghanistan

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Norfolk Space A Terminal Helps Sailors During the Holidays

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Headlines for Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Headlines for Thursday, December 22, 2011: NPC Reminds Fleet of Changes to Evaluation Instructions; San Diego Sailors and Project Handclasp Send Cargo to Haiti.

2011 MCPON Holiday Message

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Binding the Wounds of War - Veterans deal with invisible scars of war

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In the first installment of the Pentagon Channel's three-part series, "Binding the Wounds of War" we look at how the Defense Department is helping veterans deal with post-traumatic stress.

DoD's Senior NCO concerned over report of shockingly high suicide rate

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SgtMaj Bryan Battaglia offers leadership support to servicemembers and veterans struggling with emotional stress.

Army Charges Eight in Death of Fellow Soldier

Regional Command South Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 21, 2011 – Eight U.S. soldiers deployed to southern Afghanistan were charged today in connection with the death of a fellow soldier, military officials reported.

Army Pvt. Danny Chen, an infantryman assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, died Oct. 3, officials said. His body was found in a guard tower with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Army has charged eight of Chen’s fellow soldiers in connection with his death:

-- 1st Lt. Daniel J. Schwartz

-- Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas

-- Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel

-- Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb

-- Sgt. Jeffrey T. Hurst

-- Spc. Thomas P. Curtis

-- Spc. Ryan J. Offutt, and

-- Sgt. Travis F. Carden

All of the accused are assigned to Company C, and posted to Combat Outpost Palace in southern Afghanistan, officials said.

Schwartz is charged with eight counts of dereliction of duty.

Dugas is charged with one count in violation of a lawful general regulation, four counts of dereliction of duty, and one count of making a false official statement.

Van Bockel is charged with two counts in violation of a lawful general regulation, three counts of dereliction of duty, four counts of maltreatment, one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of assault consummated by battery, one count of negligent homicide, and one count of reckless endangerment.

Holcomb is charged with four counts of violation of a lawful general regulation, two counts of dereliction of duty, two counts of maltreatment, one count of destruction of military property, one count of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of assault consummated by battery, one count of negligent homicide, one count of reckless endangerment, and one count of communicating a threat.

Hurst is charged with two counts of violation of a lawful general regulation, two counts of dereliction of duty, two counts of maltreatment, one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of assault consummated by battery, one count of negligent homicide, and one count of reckless endangerment.

Curtis is charged with two counts of violation of a lawful general regulation, one count of dereliction of duty, six counts of maltreatment, one count of involuntary manslaughter, four counts of assault consummated by battery, one count of negligent homicide, and one count of reckless endangerment.

Offutt is charged with two counts of violation of a lawful general regulation, one count of dereliction of duty, four counts of maltreatment, one count of involuntary manslaughter, three counts of assault consummated by battery, one count of negligent homicide, and one count of reckless endangerment.Link
Carden is charged with two counts of violation of a lawful general regulation, two counts of maltreatment, and one count of assault.

As the legal process continues, further information will be published as it becomes available, officials said.

Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pentagon Official Underscores Zero Tolerance Policy for Bullying

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2011 – A senior Pentagon official today underscored the military’s “zero tolerance” against bullying and hazing in light of charges brought against eight soldiers.

Speaking at a Pentagon news briefing, Navy Capt. John Kirby offered condolences to the family of Army Pvt. Danny Chen, who was found dead in October from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Afghanistan where he was deployed. The Army today charged eight soldiers in Chen’s unit with being involved in his death, although officials won’t say how.

“Our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to the family here,” said Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations. “This is a tragic, tragic incident.”

Kirby declined to discuss the Chen case, but underscored that bullying and hazing are never tolerated by service members.

“Any single case of hazing or inappropriate conduct to a fellow soldier, airman, Marine, sailor [or] Coast Guardsman is inappropriate and not acceptable,” he said. “Zero is the right number.

“We treat each other with dignity and respect -- that’s what this uniform requires,” he added. “When we don’t, there’s a justice system in place to deal with it. And that’s what we’re seeing here in the case of Private Chen.”

Kirby said hazing is not tolerated in the military and “if it’s found and it’s proven -- it’s dealt with.”

“This is something inculcated in our culture from the moment you join the service,” he noted. “From the moment you raise your right hand through all your basic training and your first tours of duty, these notions are bred into you in the military.

“We treat each other with respect and dignity or we go home -- that’s it,” Kirby said pointedly. “The tolerance is absolutely zero and the system itself, because it works and works well, is in fact, a deterrent to future behavior.”

Kirby noted there are still “miscreants” who want to defy military regulations, and reiterated “when it’s found [and] proven, it’s dealt with.”

Kirby also cited “training mechanisms” in place throughout all the services designed to help curb these types of incidents.

“Whether you’re an officer or enlisted, this is something bred into you when you come into the service,” he said.

“Unfortunately, you’re never going to be 100 percent perfect in this,” Kirby said. “And there’s going to be those few who want to flaunt what the uniform stands for and what the regulations require … when that happens they’re going to be dealt with.”

Related Articles:
Army Charges Eight in Death of Fellow Soldier

Military Commissions Media Invitation Announced

No. 103-11

The Department of Defense and the Office of Military Commissions will provide seats for news media aboard military chartered aircraft for travel to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Jan. 16, 2012, to cover a military commissions motions hearing Jan. 17-18, in the case of “United States v. Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri.” Return travel is planned for Jan. 19.

Media applications to attend this hearing should be e-mailed to GTMO.Press@osd.mil . All requests must be received by 5 p.m. EST, Jan. 3. Due to a limited number of seats aboard the flight and limited accommodations at Guantanamo Bay, media travel is not guaranteed. There will be additional opportunity for media to view the proceedings by closed circuit television (CCTV) at Fort George G. Meade, Md.

Motions to be presented include Prosecution Motion for Protective Order to Protect Sensitive but Unclassified Information (AE 014), Defense Motion to Bar the Department of Defense from Monitoring Defense Counsel’s Computers (AE 016), Prosecution Motion regarding Public Access (AE 018), as well as the proposed trial schedule. The text of the motions can be found on the Office of Military Commissions website http://www.mc.mil under the active cases section using the defendant’s name.

Media should submit their names, positions, sponsoring organization and contact information to the above email address. Multiple names may be listed for organizations requiring support personnel. Requesters should indicate each individual’s desire to be considered for travel to Guantanamo or Fort Meade or both.

Media selected to travel to Guantanamo or attend the CCTV broadcast in the United States will be sent a selection notification by email after the closing date along with further travel information including media ground rules which can be viewed at the Office of Military Commissions website under the media resources section.

Unknown Service Member’s Remains Return to Hawaii

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Center for Information Dominance Fights with Computers

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Guam Service Members Wrap Donated Gifts

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Headlines for Wednesday, December 21, 2011

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Headlines for Wednesday, December 21, 2011: Final Iraqi Air Sortie Flies off USS John C. Stennis; USNS Mercy Celebrates 25 Years as a Hospital Ship.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NASCAR Drivers visit Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

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Students Go Wassailing Aboard Navy Ships in Japan

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Therapy Dogs Help Patients at Walter Reed Military Medical Center

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Fleet and Family Service Centers Provide Transition Services

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Headlines for Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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Headlines for Tuesday, December 20, 2011: Navy Accepts USS San Diego; Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Completes Integrated Exercise

Leon Panetta Holiday Message

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Secretary of Defense wishes the men and women of the U.S. military and their families and happy and safe holiday season.

The Passing of National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 19, 2011


With the passing of National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is now in a period of national mourning. We are deeply concerned with the well being of the North Korean people and our thoughts and prayers are with them during these difficult times. It is our hope that the new leadership of the DPRK will choose to guide their nation onto the path of peace by honoring North Korea’s commitments, improving relations with its neighbors, and respecting the rights of its people. The United States stands ready to help the North Korean people and urges the new leadership to work with the international community to usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and lasting security on the Korean Peninsula.


PRN: 2011/2174

Monday, December 19, 2011

New DoD Patient Safety Guide Draws Roadmap for Patient Activation

Posted by: Health.mil Staff
A newly released Patient Activation Reference Guide from the Department of Defense Patient Safety Program supports an agency-wide effort to foster an environment where patients are engaged participants in their health care. The guide provides a roadmap for moving patients toward full involvement and assistance of the health care team. The five module guide provides insight, background and resources that apply to all team members who care for patients and their families, including clinical and administrative staff, as well as the patient/family units themselves.

Activated patients have the information, skills and confidence to effectively make decisions about their health care. Research shows that patients who are engaged in their own care have better health outcomes, improving the quality of health care for both individuals and the entire system. Patients Safety Program leaders say that having an active patient population is critical as the Military Health System works toward high quality, cost-effective health care.

The Patient Activation Reference Guide is available on the Patient Safety Program website.

Involuntarily Separated Sailors Can Use Commissary

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Norfolk Auto Skills Available During the Holidays

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Celebrities visit Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan

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Headlines for Monday, December 19, 2011

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Headlines for Monday, December 19, 2011: USS Enterprise Returns from Two-Week Underway; SECNAV Updates Requirements for Purple Hearts

U.S.-South Korean Consults Follow Kim’s Death

By Cheryl Pellerin and Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2011 – U.S. officials are carefully watching the situation on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of news that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has died.

Kim died Saturday of a massive heart attack, according to a North Korean government release. Kim Jong-eun, the “Dear Leader’s” youngest son, is expected to replace him.

President Barack Obama consulted with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak last night. They discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula following the death of Kim Jong-il, according to a White House read-out of the call.

“The president reaffirmed the United States’ strong commitment to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the security of our close ally, the Republic of Korea,” according to the read out. “The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch as the situation develops and agreed they would direct their national security teams to continue close coordination.”

U.S. leaders have been in constant contact with South Korean and Japanese allies since Kim’s death was announced, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him in Germany that the allies have not seen any change “in North Korean behavior of a nature that would alarm us.”

Speaking broadly, the general said he is concerned about the transition, but there have been no changes to the alert readiness for U.S. forces on the peninsula. South Korean officials announced their armed forces are on a higher level of alert.

U.S. and South Korean leaders quickly established a network “to discuss this issue and to determine what we could do to contribute to understanding what might happen next,” Dempsey said.

“It is my expectation … that he will be the successor,” the chairman said. “We’ve gone to significant effort to understand, and I would only say at this point that he is young to be put in this position and we will have to see if it, in fact, is him and how he reacts to the burden of governance that he hasn’t had to deal with before.”

Kim Jong-il took over from his father Kim Il-sung in 1994. It was the first case of a son taking over for a father in a communist nation. In 2010, he announced his youngest son would succeed him.

North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and missile technology, U.S. officials have said. It is a pariah among nations in that it has actively sought to export nuclear and missile technology even as up to a million North Koreans are believed to have starved to death.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il, 69, Has Died

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
at The New York Times

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader, has died. He was 69.

Kim's death was announced Monday by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media.

The leader, reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine, was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

The news came as North Korea prepared for a hereditary succession. Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994.

In September 2010, Kim Jong Il unveiled his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.

Dear Friends

Early this morning, the last of our troops left Iraq.

As we honor and reflect on the sacrifices that millions of men and women made for this war, I wanted to make sure you heard the news.

Bringing this war to a responsible end was a cause that sparked many Americans to get involved in the political process for the first time. Today's outcome is a reminder that we all have a stake in our country's future, and a say in the direction we choose.

Thank you.

Barack

MSNBC

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Last Convoy of American Troops Leaves Iraq, Marking an End to the War

By TIM ARANGO and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

at The New York Times

BAGHDAD — The last convoy of American troops to leave Iraq drove into Kuwait on Sunday morning, marking the end of the nearly nine-year war.

The convoy’s departure, which included about 110 vehicles and 500 soldiers, came three days after the American military folded its flag in a muted ceremony here to celebrate the end of its mission.

In darkness, the convoy snaked out of Contingency Operating Base Adder, near the southern city of Nasiriyah, around 2:30 a.m., and headed toward the border. The departure appeared to be the final moment of a drawn-out withdrawal that included weeks of ceremonies in Baghdad and around Iraq, and included visits by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, as well as a trip to Washington by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq.

As dawn approached on Sunday morning, the last trucks began to cross over the border into Kuwait at an outpost lit by floodlights and secured by barbed wire.

“I just can’t wait to call my wife and kids and let them know I am safe,” said Sgt. First Class Rodolfo Ruiz just before his armored vehicle crossed over the border. “I am really feeling it now.”

Shortly after crossing into Kuwait, Sergeant Ruiz told the men in his vehicle: “Hey guys, you made it.”

Then, he ordered the vehicles in his convoy not to flash their lights or honk their horns.

For security reasons, the last soldiers made no time for goodbyes to Iraqis with whom they had become acquainted. To keep details of the final trip secret from insurgents, interpreters for the last unit to leave the base called local tribal sheiks and government leaders on Saturday morning and conveyed that business would go on as usual, not letting on that all the Americans would soon be gone.

Many troops wondered how the Iraqis, whom they had worked closely with and trained over the past year, would react when they awoke on Sunday to find that the remaining American troops on the base had left without saying anything.

“The Iraqis are going to wake up in the morning and nobody will be there,” said a soldier who only identified himself as Specialist Joseph. He said he had immigrated to the United States from Iraq in 2009 and enlisted a year later, and refused to give his full name because he worried for his family’s safety.

Fearing that insurgents would try to attack the last Americans leaving the country, the military treated all convoys like combat missions.

As the armored vehicles drove through the desert, Marine, Navy and Army helicopters and planes flew overhead scanning the ground for insurgents and preparing to respond if the convoys were attacked.

Col. Douglas Crissman, one of the military’s top commanders in southern Iraq, said in an interview on Friday that he planned to be in a Blackhawk helicopter over the convoy with special communication equipment.

“It is a little bit weird,” he said, referring to how he had not told his counterparts in the Iraqi military when they were leaving. “But the professionals among them understand.”

Over the past year, Colonel Crissman and his troops spearheaded the military’s efforts to ensure the security of the long highway that passes through southern Iraq that a majority of convoys traveled on their way out of the country.

“Ninety-five percent of what we have done has been for everyone else,” Colonel Crissman said.

Across the highway, the military built relationships with 20 tribal sheiks, paying them to clear the highway of garbage, making it difficult for insurgents to hide roadside bombs in blown-out tires and trash.

Along with keeping the highway clean, the military hoped that the sheiks would help police the highway and provide intelligence on militants.

“I can’t possibly be all places at one time,” said Colonel Crissman in an interview in May. “There are real incentives for them to keep the highway safe. Those sheiks we have the best relationships with and have kept their highways clear and safe will be the most likely ones to get renewed for the remainder of the year.”

All American troops were legally obligated to leave the country by the end of the month, but President Obama, in announcing in October the end of the American military role here, promised that everyone would be home for the holidays.

The United States will continue to play a role in Iraq. The largest American embassy in the world is located here, and in the wake of the military departure it is doubling in size — from about 8,000 people to 16,000 people, most of them contractors. Under the authority of the ambassador will be less than 200 military personnel, to guard the embassy and oversee the sale of weapons to the Iraqi government.

History’s final judgment on the war, which claimed nearly 4,500 American lives and cost almost $1 trillion, may not be determined for decades. But it will be forever tainted by the early missteps and miscalculations, the faulty intelligence over Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs and his supposed links to terrorists, and a litany of American abuses, from the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal to a public shootout involving Blackwater mercenaries that left civilians dead — a sum of agonizing factors that diminished America’s standing in the Muslim world and its power to shape events around the globe.

When President George W. Bush announced the start of the war in 2003 in an address from the Oval Office, he proclaimed, “we will accept no outcome but victory.”

But the end appears neither victory, nor defeat, but a stalemate — one in which the optimists say violence has been reduced to a level that will allow the country to continue on its lurching path toward stability and democracy, and the pessimists say the American presence has been a bandage on a festering wound.

The war’s conclusion marks a political triumph for President Obama, who ran for office promising to bring the troops home, but is bittersweet for Iraqis who will now face on their own the unfinished legacy of a conflict that rid their country of a hated dictator but did little else to improve their lives.

CNN Breaking News

The last U.S. troops in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait on Sunday morning, ending almost nine years of a deadly and divisive war.

About 500 soldiers based in Fort Hood, Texas, and 110 military vehicles made the journey south from Camp Adder, near Nasiriyah, to the Khabari border crossing, from where they will head to Camp Virginia in Kuwait before flying home.

They were the last soldiers in what amounted to the largest U.S. troop drawdown since the war in Vietnam.

America's contentious and costly war in Iraq officially ended Thursday with an understated ceremony in Baghdad, when U.S. troops lowered the flag of command that flew over the Iraqi capital.

Justified by President George W. Bush largely on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was seeking weapons of mass destruction that he could share with terrorists such as al Qaeda, the invasion cased deep divisions in America and around the world.

Pres ident Obama, elected partly on the strength of his opposition to the war, has promised economic, diplomatic and military help to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Nearly 4,500 Americans were killed and more than 30,000 injured in Iraq.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

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