BAGHDAD, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. military leaders are preparing for a "methodical and measured" plan to get remaining combat forces out of Iraq by year's end, an official said.
A bilateral status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq requires U.S. combat forces to leave the country by Dec. 31.
U.S. President Barack Obama, announced last month that all U.S. combat forces in Iraq would "definitely be home for the holidays." The "long war" in Iraq will come to an end this year, he added.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Spoehr said in statements from Iraq to reporters that nobody was rushing toward the exit in Iraq despite the president's announcement.
"What we're executing is a deliberate plan to safely and responsibly withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31," he said. "This plan is flexible enough to account for change, no plan should be so rigid that it cannot account for adverse weather or enemy activity but it's a methodical and measured plan."
Spoehr said the U.S. State Department would take the lead in Iraq at the start of 2012. It would oversee the transfer of weapons purchased by Iraq from the United States, including M1 tanks and F-16 fighter jets.