In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, a US Army soldier from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, is seen aboard a military aircraft in Baghdad, Iraq as he begins his journey home. These soldiers are part of the last brigade of combat troops which are now leaving Iraq, heading home as part of the U.S. drawdown of forces. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
The last 440 U.S. combat troops left Iraq and entered Kuwait with an NBC correspondent riding along. In Oceanside and near Camp Pendleton - home to the 1st Marines Expeditionary Force that sent thousands of troops to Iraq over seven years- many were pleased by the news.
"I think that's good news," said Oceanside resident Ernie Morgan.
It's also good news to Andra Martinez, whose husband is fighting in Afghanistan. "They should pull them from Afghanistan too," she said.
As troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based in Fort Lewis, reached the border of Kuwait, soldiers cheered "We're going home!"
The last American combat brigade left Iraq, well ahead of President Barack Obama's Aug. 31 deadline for ending U.S. combat operations there.
Some Marines who cannot speak publicly about the troop movement, said they too, are grateful it's finally gotten to this point.
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and the violence that followed, millions of Iraqis have left the country.
More than 30,000 Iraqis, mainly Chaldeans and Kurds, live in San Diego County, according to the Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego.
Sabre Tilko, an El Cajon resident for 16 years, said the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq will lead to civil war. "It's not a good time at all," Tilko said Wednesday "Iraqi governments are not prepared to control every single town in Iraq, from north to the south."
Issa Salomi, a U.S. Army linguist from El Cajon who was released two months after his capture by a Shiite extremist group, believes American troops have to be diligent in providing support for the Iraqi military.
"Although the American troops are promising the Iraqi army that they will continue training them and providing intelligence to them if this happens the Iraqi army has a better chance of controlling the situation," Tilko said.
The spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq says Iraqi police and military are up to the task of keeping the country secure after U.S. combat troops complete their withdrawal next week.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza told CBS' "The Early Show" Thursday that Iraqi security forces have shown professionalism and the will to improve and have made strong progress since 2003.
The mission of the 50,000 noncombat US troops that will remain in Iraq after next week's deadline will be to continue to train Iraqi security forces as part of Operation New Dawn.
Lanza said that fewer than 6,000 combat troops remain in Iraq as the drawdown continues toward the Sept. 1 withdrawal deadline.
According to Gil Field, president of San Diego Veterans for Peace, our troops should have never been sent to Iraq in the first place.
"The idea that we had to go in and attack a country that had done us no harm, when inspectors said there are no weapons of mass destruction," Gil Field said. "I don't think it was worth it."
Field, whose organization displays crosses for every service member killed during the war, pointed out, "We've lost 4435 troops so far."
Oceanside resident Sgt. David Bernstein, who fought in Iraq, questioned if it was worth it at all.
"I personally think we have enough problems in the United States where we need to start working on our own people before we need to start worrying about other people," Bernstein said.