Defense Secretary Gates in Iraq to meet with US troops as they end combat mission

AL-ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates has arrived in Iraq to meet with U.S. troops as they formally close down their combat mission.

The Pentagon chief's plane landed at Al-Asad Air Base, about 100 miles west of Baghdad, just a few hours after President Barack Obama told Americans it was time to "turn the page" on Iraq.

Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops remain, down from more than 165,000 at the height of the fighting. The remaining forces' primary role is to help train and equip Iraqi forces over the next year.

Gates flew to Iraq from Milwaukee, where he told an American Legion audience Tuesday that Iraq's problems had not all been solved.

Still, he expressed "pride on what our troops and their Iraqi partners have accomplished."