As Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM continued onward into 2010, rhetoric and policy began to change in Washington. President Obama had pledged an eventual drawdown of American forces throughout Southwest Asia (SWA), and Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense, indicated that a new operations title was needed to better frame the situation in SWA. On 17 February, Gates announced that OIF would be replaced with Operation NEW DAWN.
NEW DAWN is framed in a few different phases, including the drawdown of forces, the rise of ISIS/ISIL, and the restoration of the Iraqi Army. In the days leading up to the transition to OND, U.S. forces along with Iraqi Security Forces continued to make gains in the Global War on Terror. In particular, the 18 April ISF raid that led to the death of al-Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri had a profound impact on the posture of the terrorist organization in Iraq.
Insurgency continued in Iraq leading up to the rise of the Islamic State organizations. Despite this, U.S. Forces continued drawn down, with the last combat troops leaving on the morning of 19 August. Remaining U.S. personnel in the region continued to offer advising and counsel to the Iraqi Army as a means to continue to aid in counter-insurgency operations. Despite the advising role, members of the 25th ID found themselves in combat in the Battle of Palm Grove.
Drawdown was designated as complete by December of 2011, when the only remaining forces in Iraq were associated with the U.S. Embassy. Approximately 23,000 U.S. personnel remain as security guarantors to the Embassy, with other forces remaining just across the border in Kuwait.
Withdrawal of U.S. forces did not see the end of OND, nor the continued threat of insurgency or terrorist movement in Iraq. IS insurgency began to increase as early as mid-2011 with American intervention requested as early as 2013. In 2014, the U.S. redeployed forces to Iraq to aid the ISF in counterinsurgency operations. IS operations have continued in Iraq through the present day.
Despite NEW DAWN’s completion at the conclusion of the Second Iraq War in 2011, issues which arose during OND and OIF continue in the region today with insurgency operations threatening to destabilize the region. Approximately 5,000 active U.S. military personnel remain in Iraq today, despite the efforts in drawdown a decade earlier.
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