• Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta landed in the Iraqi capital for the ceremony officially ending the military mission here and closing out a bloody and controversial chapter of American relations with the Islamic world.

  • The tenor of the farewell ceremony, officially called "Casing the Colors,” was likely to sound an uncertain trumpet for a war that was launched to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction it did not have and now ends without the sizable, enduring American military presence for which many officers had hoped.

  •  The final American combat troops withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31, under rules of an agreement with the Baghdad government, a few hundred military personnel and Pentagon civilians will remain, working within the American Embassy as part of an Office of Security Cooperation to assist in arms sales and training.

  • The war was launched by the Bush administration in March 2003 on arguments that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had ties to Al Qaeda that might grow to an alliance threatening the United States with a mass-casualty terror attack.