The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is the last full Army combat brigade in Iraq. The soldiers drove out in their armored vehicles early this morning. A few hundred members stayed behind to finish administrative and logistical duties but will fly out of Baghdad later today.
After seven years of war, the last combat brigade is gone from Iraq. The 2nd Infantry Division's 4th Styker Brigade crossed over into Kuwait Wednesday night as the U.S. mission officially turns from war to diplomacy.
"Our commitment in Iraq is changing -- from a military effort led by our troops, to a civilian effort led by our diplomats," said President Barack Obama on August 2, 2010 in Washington D.C.
The exodus comes nearly two weeks before the president's August 31st deadline for ending combat operations -- not a day too soon for many troops.
"Best part of going to Kuwait? Number one: no one else will get hurt. Number two: I'm going home," said Steven Bearor with the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry.
For troops who've done two, three, four -- or more -- tours here; it's a time to exhale.
"Immense, immense relief. It's over. It's all over for us," said Curtis Bitterly with the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry.
For Iraq's security forces still battling weekly, sometimes daily, insurgent explosions, the struggle continues.
There are still 59,000 troops in Iraq with the goal to get to 50,000 by August 31 when the combat mission is officially over.
A number of troops who served in Iraq have ties to California. One of those who served in the Middle East is General Donald Currier of Folsom.
General Currier has served three tours of Iraq. His last tour lasted over a year and just wrapped up this summer.
The general says there is still insurgent violence that could last for a while. His group's mission was training Iraqi police to protect their own country.
General Currier believes Iraq is at a crossroads and is on the verge of control or chaos. He says it is now up to Iraqis to decide the future of their country.