The United States military ended its combat mission in Iraq this week, though it will not pull out its troops, the Pentagon announced on Thursday.

The announcement came following the conclusion of the Military Technical Talks, a series of conversations that came after the Joint Dialogue between the two governments on July 26. The U.S. was obligated to wrap up its combat role in Iraq by the end of the year, per the agreement.


“There’s no significant posture change in Iraq right now. The numbers are still where they were, which is about 2,500,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. “Remember, this is a changing mission, right? Not necessarily a change in physical posture.”

The U.S. mission in Iraq will now be to “advise, train, and assist,” the press secretary explained.

“Tomorrow, we join the people of Iraq in celebrating the fourth anniversary of the victory over Daesh,” Maj. Gen. John Brennan, Jr., commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement referencing the Islamic State with the term used by Iraqis. “Many brave men and women gave their lives to ensure Daesh never returns, and as we complete our combat role, we will remain here to advise, assist, and enable the ISF, at the invitation of Republic of Iraq. We are confident that the fruits of our strong partnership will ensure Daesh will not reconstitute and threaten the Iraqi people.”

The U.S. military pulled back troops a decade ago, in 2011, though it had to reenter the country to take on the growing threat of ISIS. At the time the U.S. went back to Iraq in 2014, ISIS had already captured roughly a third of the country, according to the Washington Post.


At one point, ISIS was made up of 40,000 soldiers and terrorized 8 million people in 110,000 square kilometers in Iraq and Syria, according to the statement from Operation Inherent Resolve.

ISIS “is down, but not out,” Brennan concluded.

The threat of ISIS permeates more than in just Iraq. U.S. officials have expressed concern about the possibility of ISIS regrowing in Afghanistan, which is now under the Taliban leadership. DOD officials have said that the ISIS-K affiliate, based in Afghanistan, could be capable of launching an external attack within a year.