The coverage has been near breathless the last 24 hours as Fort Lewis' 4th Stryker Brigade pulled out of Iraq. The war, it seems, was over. NBC reported it as a scoop, and the AP put it this way: "Seven years and five months after the U.S.-led invasion, the last American combat brigade was leaving Iraq, well ahead of President Barack Obama's Aug. 31 deadline for ending U.S. combat operations there." It is Obama's "Mission Accomplished" banner - as misleading as George Bush's was.
For that matter, a U.S. official is already saying even the designated-combat unit pullout hasn't happened. It was a "re-organization of troops" as the Strykers left. The remainder of the designated combatants, about 6,000, will leave at the end of this month, said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.
Yet after that, 50,000 U.S. troops will still remain. Their main mission will be to train Iraqi forces and keep the peace - for the next (your guess here) years. They too could face combat, defending themselves from insurgents and local hostiles. In other words, the "combat mission" ends August 31. The combat ends when the fighting, and the war, does.