US shuts down ground operations command in Iraq

US shuts down ground operations command in Iraq
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The headquarters responsible for coordinating U.S. and coalition ground operations in Iraq shut down on Monday, “signifying the end of major combat operations against ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]” in that country, the U.S.-led coalition said in a statement.

The Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command (CJFLCC) was deactivated at a ceremony in Baghdad that included a casing of the colors.

The command’s authorities were transferred to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the headquarters that oversees all anti-ISIS operations, including airstrikes.

“Casing the CJFLCC Colors is a symbolic gesture, honoring the perseverance and sacrifice of our coalition partners. Thanks to our partnered success, we are able to continue our support to the government of Iraq under the unified command of CJTF-OIR,” Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, former commanding general of the headquarters, said in a statement.

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Moving the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command’s responsibilities to the coalition’s headquarters reflects “the changing composition and responsibilities of the coalition,” it said in the statement.

It’s also meant as a show of the coalition’s commitment to reducing command structures as the coalition’s role “evolves from supporting and enabling combat operations to the training and development of self-sufficient Iraqi security-related capabilities,” the statement said.

“The commitment and professionalism of all the men and women from all the coalition nations has been of the highest order, and Iraq is immensely grateful for their sacrifice and dedication in this task,” Iraqi Security Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool Abdullah said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory against ISIS in his country in December. Still, some operations continue as the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces seek to eliminate remnants of the terrorist group and prevent a resurgence.

At the mission’s height, the United States had about 5,000 troops in Iraq. The United States has not updated its official number since then, though Pentagon officials have also said they are moving people and equipment from Iraq to Afghanistan as the fight in Iraq winds down and the U.S. refocuses on Afghanistan.

Still, Monday’s statement suggested there will be some form of enduring presence in Iraq.

“We look forward to taking the partnership forward with the Combined Joint Task Force and a friendship that will endure for years to come," Abdullah said.