Obama Cites Military Successes in State of Union Address

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2011 — In a State of the Union address here marked by a call for renewed Amer­i­can inno­va­tion and coop­er­a­tion, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma point­ed to the nation’s mil­i­tary as an exam­ple to fol­low.

State of the Union address
Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma paid trib­ute to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces dur­ing his State of the Union address, Jan. 25, 2011. He said the nation can repay ser­vice mem­bers “by giv­ing them the equip­ment they need; by pro­vid­ing them with the care and ben­e­fits they have earned; and by enlist­ing our vet­er­ans in the great task of build­ing our own nation.”
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“Look to Iraq, where near­ly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; Amer­i­can com­bat patrols have end­ed; vio­lence is down; and a new gov­ern­ment has been formed,” the com­man­der in chief said. 

In Afghanistan, U.S. troops have tak­en Tal­iban strong­holds and trained Afghan Secu­ri­ty Forces, and will con­tin­ue to deny al Qae­da the safe-haven that served as a launch­ing pad for 9/11, he said. 

“Thanks to our hero­ic troops and civil­ians, few­er Afghans are under the con­trol of the insur­gency,” Oba­ma said. “There will be tough fight­ing ahead, and the Afghan gov­ern­ment will need to deliv­er bet­ter governance.” 

But U.S. and coali­tion efforts are strength­en­ing Afghan capac­i­ty and build­ing an endur­ing part­ner­ship with the Afghan peo­ple, he said. 

“This year, we will work with near­ly 50 coun­tries to begin a tran­si­tion to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home,” the pres­i­dent said. 

The nation has sent a mes­sage to all parts of the globe, Oba­ma said: “We will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.” 

Oba­ma cred­it­ed Amer­i­can lead­er­ship, espe­cial­ly in the New Strate­gic Arms Lim­i­ta­tion Treaty, for curb­ing the glob­al nuclear threat. 

Thanks to the treaty, he said, far few­er nuclear weapons and launch­ers will be deployed. 

“Because we ral­lied the world, nuclear mate­ri­als are being locked down on every con­ti­nent so they nev­er fall into the hands of ter­ror­ists,” he said.

Amer­i­ca leads the world in the quest for free­dom and secu­ri­ty, the pres­i­dent said, and the nation must always remem­ber “that the Amer­i­cans who have borne the great­est bur­den in this strug­gle are the men and women who serve our country.” 

The nation can repay that ser­vice, he said, “by giv­ing them the equip­ment they need; by pro­vid­ing them with the care and ben­e­fits that they have earned; and by enlist­ing our vet­er­ans in the great task of build­ing our own nation.” 

Amer­i­can troops rep­re­sent every creed, col­or, cul­ture and geo­graph­i­cal region in the nation, Oba­ma said. And, he added, some are gay, and may now serve open­ly for the first time since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law was over­turned late last year. 

“Start­ing this year, no Amer­i­can will be for­bid­den from serv­ing the coun­try they love because of who they love,” he said. “And with that change, I call on all our col­lege cam­pus­es to open their doors to our mil­i­tary recruiters and ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divi­sive bat­tles of the past. It is time to move for­ward as one nation.” 

First Lady Michelle Oba­ma includ­ed among her guests for the address cur­rent and for­mer mil­i­tary mem­bers, includ­ing Army Staff Sgt. Sal­va­tore Giun­ta, who received the Medal of Hon­or in Novem­ber; Army Staff Sgt. Bri­an Mast, who lost both legs below the knee and suf­fered sev­er­al oth­er injuries in a road­side bomb blast while serv­ing in Afghanistan; Marine Corps Gun­nery Sgt. Nicole Mohab­ir, who has deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan; and Dr. Peter Rhee, a Navy vet­er­an and for­mer mil­i­tary sur­geon, now direc­tor of med­ical trau­ma at the Uni­ver­si­ty Med­ical Cen­ter in Tuc­son, Ariz. Rhee over­saw the treat­ment of vic­tims injured in the Jan. 8 Tuc­son shoot­ings, includ­ing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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