NPR logo On Eve Of 'Operation New Dawn,' Joe Biden Makes Unannounced Trip To Iraq


On Eve Of 'Operation New Dawn,' Joe Biden Makes Unannounced Trip To Iraq

Vice President Joe Biden, in Washington last week. Earlier today, he made a surprise trip to Baghdad. Charles Dharapak/Associated Press hide caption

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Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

Vice President Joe Biden has made an unannounced trip to Iraq, ahead of a Change of Command and Change of Mission Ceremony there, scheduled to take place on Wednesday. At Camp Victory, Gen. Ray Odierno will transfer command of U.S. forces in Iraq to Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin.

According to ABC, "while in Baghdad, the vice president will also hold several meetings with senior Iraqi government officials and other political leaders." Among them: President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqiyya coalition.

Tomorrow, President Obama will travel to Fort Bliss, in Texas, to speak to troops there. Tuesday night, he is scheduled to deliver a prime-time address from the Oval Office at the White House, focusing on Iraq.

At a press briefing last week, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza explained what is expected to happen in early September, when "Operation New Dawn" begins:

On September 1st, with the beginning of Operation New Dawn, we formally will transition to stability operations. But again, our commitment to the people, this government, this country, and the security forces will not change. We still retain a capable force of 50,000 people in this country, and that force is organized with advise-and-assist brigades to assist in this transition of your security forces.

Our mission will be three parts, and I’ve talked about this before. First, we will continue to conduct partnered counterterrorism operations with your special operations forces. Second, we continue to support the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, nongovernmental organizations, and the United Nations as they continue to support the government in building civil capacity and developing civil institutions. And third, we continue to support the capability and capacity designed to develop the Iraqi Security Forces in the future.