Iraq: August ‘End of Combat’ Date an Exercise in Semantics

Iraq War Combat Will Continue in Everything but Name

Though the 50,000 troop target for the August drawdown seems almost certain to be missed, the Obama Administration appears to be still moving forward with its plans to announce the “end of combat operations” in the nation at that point.

This will not, however, actually spell the end of US forces engaging in combat, or even spell a marked change in anything but the language used by the administration to describe what troops are doing in Iraq. “Combat operations” will simply be renamed “stability operations.”

This is largely in keeping with the suspicions behind the administration’s initial pledges, which included keeping the 50,000 combat troops in the nation and simply redefining them as non-combat troops. The only thing which has really changed is the 50,000 number, as there will almost certainly be well more than this in the nation come August.

Instead, though the August date will probably include some sort of announcement of the so-called change, the reality will be that the month will come and go and little will have changed, except that instead of discussing an August 2010 date almost certain to be missed, we will be focusing on a December 2011 date that itself remains very much in doubt.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.