Last Combat Soldiers Leave Baghdad, Ending Operation Iraqi Freedom

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM COMES TO AN END.... It is not a "Mission Accomplished" moment, and it'd be an irresponsible exaggeration to suggest the war in Iraq is "over."

But as the last American combat soldiers head home from Iraq -- two weeks early -- and Operation Iraqi Freedom comes to a formal end, there's ample reason to be pleased with a milestone that, for a long while, seemed like it would never arrive.

The last US combat convoy left Iraq on Thursday, rather some time after George W. Bush declared an end to combat operations in Iraq in May, 2003.

Of course, this flat statement is not entirely accurate. The remaining 50,000 troops are viewed as trainers and logistics support to the Iraqi government. But they include special operations units, helicopter gunship crews, and other war fighters who are still going to be engaged in combat but will not be categorized as being in Iraq for that purpose. Iraq has no air force to speak of, and the US will be providing the air support until at least 2018.