It has been a long time coming.
More than eight years after the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq, the last Marine team involved in Operation New Dawn has left the country.
Iraqi Marine Training Team 03, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., rolled out on a convoy to Kuwait on Oct. 14, according to a U.S. military news release. They trained the Iraqi marines in patrolling, night tactics, marksmanship and other military skills.
The training team instructed more than 1,200 Iraqi marines and conducted over 500 combat patrols with them in and near Umm Qasr, a port city in southern Iraq. They also trained the Iraqi troops how to board naval vessels and conduct missions tied more closely to amphibious operations.
It’s a long way from the battlefields of Fallujah and Ramadi. Other U.S. Marines will remain behind in an unrelated mission to guard the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and other State Department facilities.
UPDATE: Marine officials at the Pentagon tell us that there are now about 50 Marines left in Iraq. They include embassy security guards and a handful of Marines serving in joint billets.