The U.S. troop surge in Iraq has ended.
The last of the additional five combat brigades ordered over by President Bush last year has pulled out. There are now about 150,000 American troops in the country, which is still about 15,000 more than when the build-up began. The military attributes the higher number to some overlap and a larger replacement brigade.
The end of the surge marks the start of a 45-day evaluation period called for by General David Petraeus. He's the top U.S. commander in Iraq and soon-to-be chief of all U.S. forces in the Middle East. Petraeus plans to use the time to assess Iraq's security situation and come up with a recommendation on when more troops can come home.
Military leaders point to two significant improvements since the surge began: violence in Iraq is generally down and Iraq's own military is bigger and better.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)