Obama Commemorates 10 Years of Operation Enduring Freedom

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2011 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma marked the 10th anniver­sary of the war in Afghanistan today by hon­or­ing those who have served there and not­ing their efforts toward bring­ing the war to a respon­si­ble end from a posi­tion of strength.

Oper­a­tion Endur­ing Free­dom, launched in response to the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks, tar­get­ed al-Qai­da and its Tal­iban pro­tec­tors in Afghanistan.

The ini­tial vol­ley began Oct. 7, 2001, with 15 land-based bombers and 25 Navy strike air­craft from car­ri­ers tar­get­ing al-Qai­da Tal­iban-held air­fields, ter­ror­ist train­ing camps, com­mand-and-con­trol nodes and anti-air­craft posi­tions. In addi­tion, U.S. and British ships and sub­marines launched some 50 Tom­a­hawk mis­siles.

The effort com­bined air pow­er, pre­ci­sion-guid­ed muni­tions and state-of-the-art com­mu­ni­ca­tions with thou­sands of Afghan war­riors on horse­back or on foot.

Ini­tial­ly, the oper­a­tion involved a rel­a­tive­ly small force � a few hun­dred spe­cial oper­a­tions forces and thou­sands of Afghan forces in the North­ern Alliance sup­port­ed by pow­er­ful U.S. air sup­port. U.S. Marines and sol­diers joined the force to con­front extrem­ist ele­ments through­out Afghanistan.

Lat­er, Oper­a­tion Endur­ing Free­dom shift­ed to a broad­er-based effort aimed at cre­at­ing con­di­tions in Afghanistan that gave peo­ple hope for the future and an abil­i­ty to reject ter­ror­ists and their activ­i­ties.

Ten years lat­er, Oba­ma not­ed progress in tak­ing the fight against vio­lence extrem­ism to the source.

“In deliv­er­ing jus­tice to Osama bin Laden and many oth­er al-Qai­da lead­ers, we are clos­er than ever to defeat­ing al-Qai­da and its mur­der­ous net­work,” he said.

Despite what he acknowl­edged to be “enor­mous chal­lenges” remain­ing in Afghanistan, he cit­ed progress made. “We’ve pushed the Tal­iban out of its key strong­holds, Afghan secu­ri­ty forces are grow­ing stronger, and the Afghan peo­ple have a new chance to forge their own future,” he said.

In doing so, work­ing with the Afghan peo­ple and a coali­tion of dozens of nations around the world in Afghanistan and beyond, “we have shown that the Unit­ed States is not and nev­er will be at war with Islam and that we are a part­ner with those who seek jus­tice, dig­ni­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty,” Oba­ma said.

Look­ing to the future, Oba­ma said the Unit­ed States is putting “a dif­fi­cult decade” behind it as it works toward “respon­si­bly end­ing today’s wars from a posi­tion of strength.”

“As the rest of our troops come home from Iraq this year, we have begun to draw down our forces in Afghanistan and tran­si­tion secu­ri­ty to the Afghan peo­ple, with whom we will forge an endur­ing part­ner­ship,” he said.

On the 10th anniver­sary of the war’s begin­ning, the pres­i­dent said he and First Lady Michelle Oba­ma “join all Amer­i­cans in salut­ing the more than half a mil­lion men and women who have served brave­ly in Afghanistan to keep our coun­try safe, includ­ing our resilient wound­ed war­riors who car­ry the scars of war, seen and unseen.”

“We hon­or the mem­o­ry of the near­ly 1,800 Amer­i­can patri­ots, and many coali­tion and Afghan part­ners, who have made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice in Afghanistan for our shared secu­ri­ty and free­dom,” he con­tin­ued. “We pay trib­ute to our inspir­ing mil­i­tary fam­i­lies who have per­se­vered at home with a loved one at war.”

Oba­ma also reaf­firmed the U.S. com­mit­ment to pro­vide 9/11 gen­er­a­tion vet­er­ans the “care, ben­e­fits and oppor­tu­ni­ties they deserve.” In addi­tion, he expressed thanks to diplo­mat­ic, intel­li­gence, home­land secu­ri­ty and law enforce­ment pro­fes­sion­als who have worked tire­less­ly over the past decade to pro­tect the Unit­ed States and save Amer­i­can lives.

“Thanks to the extra­or­di­nary ser­vice of these Amer­i­cans, our cit­i­zens are safer and our nation is more secure,” he said. “As we reflect on 10 years of war and look ahead to a future of peace, Michelle and I call upon all Amer­i­cans to show our grat­i­tude and sup­port for our fel­low cit­i­zens who risk their lives so that we can enjoy the bless­ings of free­dom and secu­ri­ty.”

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