Obama lauds armed forces for their service in Iraq, Afghanistan

| August 7, 2010 | 0 Comments

Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden, Army News Service

President Barack Obama speaks at the convention of Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 2. He lauded veterans for their service and sacrifice, and he praised today’s military for bringing the Iraq war to a close, as well as embracing the difficult mission ahead in Afghanistan. (Pete Souza, White House)WASHINGTON — After nearly a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, today’s military has become one of the greatest generations to serve, President Barack Obama said, Aug. 2.
In a speech at the Disabled American Veterans National conference in Atlanta, Obama lauded veterans for their service and sacrifice. He praised today’s military for bringing the Iraq war to a close, as well as embracing the difficult mission ahead in Afghanistan.
“For the past nine years, in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have borne the burdens of war,” Obama said. “They, and their families, have faced the greatest test in the history of our all-volunteer force, serving tour after tour, year after year.
“Through their extraordinary service,” the president continued, “they have written their own chapters in the American story, and by any measure, have earned their place among the greatest of generations.”
The U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially ends Aug. 31, a goal Obama set in February 2009, just after entering office. Violence in Iraq over the past year is at an all-time low since the war began there in 2003.
The U.S. has withdrawn 90,000 troops from Iraq over the last year and a half. About 70,000 troops are in Iraq today, and by Sept. 1, only 50,000 U.S. troops will remain, transitioning the U.S. mission from combat to supporting and training Iraqi forces.
All U.S. forces are scheduled to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, Obama said.
Through the mission’s end date, the president added, U.S. troops will partner with Iraqis in conducting counterterrorism missions and safeguarding civilians. But although the mission may be changing in Iraq, he said, it’s still dangerous.
“There are still those with bombs and bullets who will try to stop Iraq’s progress,” he said. “The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq. But make no mistake: Our commitment in Iraq is changing from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats. And as we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful America must pay tribute to all who served there.”
As the Iraq war winds down, the war in Afghanistan continues. About 98,000 U.S. troops, including almost all of the 30,000 reinforcements Obama ordered in December, are deployed there.

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