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As Combat Phase Ends, Obama Will Say Mission in Iraq Goes On

Updated: 6:18 p.m.

President Barack Obama will starkly avoid declaring the mission accomplished in Iraq on Tuesday when he delivers a speech from the Oval Office to mark the end of combat operations in the country, his spokesman said Monday.

“Obviously, tomorrow marks a change in our mission,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “It marks a milestone that we have achieved in moving our combat troops out.”

But, he warned, “there is still work to be done, without doubt, on the political side, in terms of government formation.”

Gibbs said Obama would avoid making the same kind of “mission accomplished” declaration that President George W. Bush famously did in a premature 2003 speech announcing the end of the U.S. combat role in Iraq. Instead, Gibbs said, Obama’s address will serve as an explanation to the public of “what’s involved in the drawdown — the missions that have been changed, the number of troops that have been moved out and where that leaves us in Iraq.”

Obama met privately with injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Monday and awarded 11 Purple Hearts, according to the White House. He will travel Tuesday to Fort Bliss in Texas to meet with troops before his prime-time speech in Washington.

Obama is expected to reach out to Bush on Tuesday, although the two likely won’t cross paths in Texas during the day, Gibbs said. Obama also reached out to Bush last year before announcing a timeline for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) plans to give a speech Tuesday afternoon on national security, progress in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan and the war on terrorism. He will speak at the American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee.

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