Three days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the end of the Iraq War, the final US convoy of around 110 vehicles and 500 soldiers slipped out of the country and into Kuwait. "The Iraqis are going to wake up in the morning and nobody will be there," a soldier who asked that his name be withheld told the AP. Warrant Officer John Jewell told a reporter, "My heart goes out to the Iraqis. The innocent always pay the bill."
4,500 Americans perished in almost nine years of war, on top of the $800 billion in taxpayer money spent. But the number of Iraqis that were killed is more than 100,000, which is a conservative estimate. “We are glad to see the last U.S. soldier leaving the country today," Said Hassan, a 25-year-old Baghdad shop owner said. "But the most important thing now is the future of Iraq. The Americans have left behind them a country that is falling apart and an Iraqi army and security forces that have a long way ahead to be able to defend the nation and the people.”
Though President Obama promised the soldiers he'd bring them home for the holidays, 4,000 troops will remain near the Kuwaiti border for months, to be "used as a quick reaction force if needed." America also leaves behind its embassy in Baghdad, the largest U.S. embassy in the world, with a staff of 16,000, most of whom are private contractors. According to Spencer Ackerman, a small army of at least 3,650 security guards will be responsible for the embassy's safety. It's unclear whether they will be subject to Iraqi laws, which was a major consideration for Americans when determining when to exit the country.
Predator Drones—unarmed, of course—will still prowl the Iraqi skies. Somewhat ironically, a Predator Drone witnessed the U.S.'s withdrawal this morning.