BAGHDAD — In Iraq, it’s the end of an era: The U.S. military on Wednesday closed its press desk, which has sometimes informed and often baffled journalists for the past eight and a half years.

True to form, the final announcement — from the soldiers whose job it was to shape the message of the war — had members of the press corps scratching their heads.

“Due to our reposture efforts the press desk function will no longer provide releases or responses,” said the brief e-mail that landed in journalists’ in-boxes on Wednesday morning.

Col. Barry Johnson, a senior spokesman who will remain in Iraq until the troops have departed by the end of the year, explained that “reposture efforts” is the phrase the military has determined most appropriate to describe what news outlets are calling a “withdrawal.”

“The reposture is how we refer to moving our troops to other locations outside the country,” he said. “The decision was made last year to talk about this as reposturing.”

The intent is to convey a sense of continuity by the military, which is still fighting in Afghanistan, will remain in the region, and is ready to undertake other missions, he added. 

“There’s nothing wrong with the word withdrawal, and that is a part of what we’re doing … but it’s bigger than that,” he said. “We remain a military and we’re prepared to go where we’re needed.”

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