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Military anxious to hear from Commander in Chief

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The Commander and Chief will address the nation to talk about the end of combat operations in Iraq.

Tuesday, President Obama thanked dozens of soldiers just back from Iraq in Texas. Many southwest Georgians who served in Iraq are anxious to hear what the President will say.

The Marine Corps Logistics Command in Albany continues to receive war equipment returning from Iraq to be repaired and refurbished. It's part of the President's end to combat operations and everyone from the Commanding General to civilian employees will be watching what the President has to say about the mission.

"His speech tonight hopefully gives that sense of Mission Accomplishment. When we served over there we did what we were sent to do," said Lt. Kyle Thomas, Marine Corps Logistics Command.

Lt. Thomas served in Iraq early in the war during the second battle on Fallujah. He says the violence that's escalated since the troops departure can make it seems like things weren't accomplished.

"Talking with the Iraqi people and working with the Iraqi people on a daily basis that just wasn't the truth. They were excited about having a government that they could partake in and they were very excited that the future was now in their hands," said Lt. Thomas.

President Obama indicated his speech won't be a victory lap or self congratulatory. He says there's still a lot of work to be done, and Major General James A. Kessler expects that.

"I hope we'll always have a presence in that part of the world It's a very important part for the world for us," said Major General James A. Kessler, Marine Corps Logistics Command.

Major General Kessler was in Al Anbar province during his 13 month tour and experience the turn around that may ultimately led to today's progress.

"The first six months I was there, was still a pretty kinetic fight and as a result of a lot of things happening, two of the principle things I think being the awakening and the surge we really turned a corner and the second half of my out there was much less kinetic," said Kessler.

Both expect the President to say the work that continues in Iraq will be critical and that Iraqi forces will need continued training and assistance for the violence that they'll continue to face.

A million men and women have served time in Iraq over the last seven years.

Congress authorized President Bush to use military force against Iraq in October 2002.

Troops invaded in March 2003. Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed the next month, but he escaped.

He was captured near Tikrit that December. Hussein went to trial for crimes against humanity in October 2005. He was found guilty and executed in December of the next year.

In January 2007, President Bush announced the surge-- An extra 20,000 troops sent to Iraq.

Some troops remain, but the U. S. combat mission is now over.


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