August 31, 2010
Posted: 03:21 PM ET
By Alan Silverleib, CNN
The goal: eliminate a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction while replacing a hostile, tyrannical regime with a friendly democracy in the heart of the Middle East.
On Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET - at a cost of more than 4,400 U.S. military personnel killed and 30,000 wounded - America's combat mission in Iraq will officially draw to a close.
The quick removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ushered in years of grinding sectarian violence, war, terrorist attacks and, according to some observers, increased Iranian influence in the region. But it also paved the way for nationwide elections and increasing economic development.
Whether the war was worth the price remains a subject of fierce debate both at home and abroad.
President Barack Obama, who based much of his campaign for the White House on growing public exhaustion with the conflict, will announce the conclusion of the combat mission in a speech to be delivered from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. ET. He spent the day meeting with troops at Fort Bliss, Texas - a base which has supplied soldiers at all stages of the conflict.
Obama called Bush for a "few minutes" from Air Force One while en route to Texas, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton. The White House has not said if Obama will give Bush any credit during his speech for the controversial 2007-08 military "surge," believed by some observers to have helped curtail Iraqi violence.
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