Today, President Barack Obama, who's due back in Denver next week after a visit late last month, announced the end of the Iraq war, more or less, with the vast majority of U.S. troops due out before 2011 bids adieu. Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet quickly released statements about a moment that's been anticipated for nine years. Here's what they had to say.
"I voted against the Iraq war, and I still believe that it ultimately harmed what should have been our military's top priority - our mission in Afghanistan. However, once our forces were committed in Iraq, abandoning that country would have risked the security of the entire region.
"I remain concerned about the security situation in Iraq and believe that keeping a limited number of U.S. troops in place to continue training and assistance would have helped sustain U.S. and Iraqi progress in stemming violence. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue to monitor the situation closely.
"It is ultimately unacceptable to expect our troops to provide that assistance without immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, which has become a sticking point between U.S. and Iraqi negotiators. Our troops have fought and died to establish a functioning democratic government in Iraq, and now we must respect the wishes of Iraq's leaders."
"Our troops have performed bravely and effectively in Iraq and accomplished everything that was asked of them, securing communities and creating the space for democratic change to begin to take root. Our gratitude for their selfless service, and the sacrifice of their families, cannot be overstated. I welcome the President's announcement that - after nine long years, $1 trillion and 1 million service members deployed - he will keep his promise to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year.
"Today is an occasion to again honor the service of those we have lost and recommit ourselves to our obligation to provide returning troops with the health care and support they have earned after a decade of war.
"This announcement represents another significant milestone for the country and U.S. forces, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. However, serious threats against the United States remain, and we must continue to work to ensure we have the best-trained and best-equipped military in the world."
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