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US troops spend their last Thanksgiving in Iraq

Fewer than 20,000 troops remain in Iraq for a traditional Thanksgiving celebration.

Iraq troop withdrawal 2011 10 21Enlarge
President Barack Obama announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year. U.S. soldiers are shown here boarding a Blackhawk helicopter in Yussifiyah, south of Baghdad, on Oct. 15, 2008. (Ali Yussef/AFP/Getty Images)

As US troops prepare to leave Iraq by year's end, military bases across Iraq are celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey dinner - and some rocket fire, reported the Washington Post. It was unclear if anything was hit by the rocket.

Since some of the bases are no longer using civilian contractors, many of the 19,000 troops left in Iraq are feasting on prepackaged meals.

The Sacramento Bee reported that soldiers stationed at the US base COS Echo in southern Iraq celebrated the American holiday with pumpkin pie, stuffing, turkey and sparkling cider.

Getting turkey and all the fixings to the troops is a tricky event. Rich Faso of the Defense Logistics Agency told NPR that they start planning for Thanksgiving about six months ahead of time, and about 30 people are responsible for getting "38,000 pounds of whole turkey, 18,000 pounds of smoked whole turkey, 30,000 pounds of ham, 27,000 pies, [and] 13,000 pounds of cranberry sauce" to the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Lt. Col. Robert Michael Rodriguez told the Associated Press that everyone's been working hard to make it a special last Thanksgiving in Iraq:

All of the commanders and the first sergeants and myself have been serving the soldiers all day. All the fixings, turkey, ham, lobster, shrimp. Trying to make it as close to home as possible.

President Obama made the announcement last month that all US troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year, and many have been packing up and moving south since the announcement.

More from GlobalPost: Obama announces full troop withdrawal from Iraq

Al-Arabiya reported that the Iraq military is gearing up for the withdrawal. Americans have turned over more than 500 military bases to the Iraqi army, as more than 4,000 troops are withdrawn each week.

Violence in Iraq continues, however. Nineteen people were killed and more than 65 were injured on Thursday after three bombs went off in a market in Basra, Reuters reported.

More from GlobalPost: Don't 'miscalculate' Iraq withdrawal, Clinton warns Iran

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/111124/us-troops-spend-their-last-thanksgiving-iraq