Obama to address nation to mark end of Iraq combat

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VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. (AP) — President Barack Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office and visit troops at Fort Bliss, Texas, on Tuesday to mark the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced the dual commemoration in a statement and Twitter post on Wednesday.

The speech will mark only the second address Obama has made from the Oval Office. He first spoke to the nation from the presidential office on June 15 about the Gulf oil spill.

Fort Bliss is a symbolic military venue. The sprawling Army base in El Paso, Texas, is home to the 1st Armored Division — “Old Ironsides” — and has been providing heavy armor throughout the war. Last week, some 600 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team returned there in two groups after their latest tours.

Obama promised in 2009 to end the formal combat mission by Aug. 31, and earlier this week the White House said the number of U.S. troops staged in Iraq had fallen below 50,000.

Iraq is scheduled to assume security for its own territory after Tuesday, with the U.S. falling into an advisory and backup role.

U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq in March 2003. More than 4,400 U.S. troops have subsequently died in the fighting.