Obama Campaigns: 'We've Brought Our Men and Women Home From Iraq and Afghanistan'

By Susan Jones | November 4, 2016 | 5:43am EDT
President Barack Obama greets supporters after speaking at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - Speaking in Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday, President Obama repeated something he's said elsewhere on the campaign trail: "We've brought our men and women home from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Earlier, on a stop in Miami, he phrased it differently: "We brought home more of our men and women in uniform."

Obama made the comments on a day when two U.S. troops were killed and four others injured in Afghanistan. The president did not mention that during his campaign stops.

But in a statement issued on Thursday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he was "deeply saddened to learn overnight that we suffered casualties in Afghanistan."

According to U.S. Central Command, the American troops came under fire during a "train, advise and assist mission" with Afghan forces to clear a Taliban position and disrupt the group's operations in the Kunduz district. Some of the Afghans also died.

"Our service members were doing their part to help the Afghans secure their own country while protecting our homeland from those who would do us harm," Carter said in his statement. "On this difficult day, please keep their families, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers. We will honor their sacrifice by finishing our important mission in Afghanistan."

Shortly after taking office, President Obama ordered an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan.  In June 2011, he announced that the troop surge was over and he would begin drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan from a peak of 100,000 troops.

But as CNSNews.com reported this past July, some 8,400 U.S. troops still remain in Afghanistan, well above the "normal embassy presence" that Obama envisioned when he announced the end of major combat operations in 2014. And as the latest casualties show, those U.S. troops are still in harm's way.

As for Iraq, Obama campaigned on a promise to end the war started by President George w. Bush, and he did remove all U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2011.

But in mid-2014, as ISIS began seizing Iraqi territory for its Islamic caliphate, Obama started sending U.S. "military advisers" back to Iraq.

Since then the number of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq has steadily escalated as part of the new "train, advise, assist" mission. Around 4,600 U.S. troops are now in Iraq, and although they are not taking the lead in combat with ISIS, they are in harm's way.

Four American troops have died in Iraq since the U.S. began air strikes against ISIS in August 2014.

Last month, Defense Secretary Carter said the death of the fourth American in Iraq was a "reminder that our people who are participating in the counter-ISIL campaign, whether they be flying aircraft or working with the Iraqi security forces and the other forces and enabling their consistent advances of the kind that we see in the region of Mosul today, are in harm's way."

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