USA — Obama Praises Military Support in Gulf

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2010 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma today praised the role the mil­i­tary is play­ing as part of oil spill response efforts in the Gulf of Mex­i­co, and told mil­i­tary mem­bers at Pen­saco­la Naval Air Sta­tion, Fla., they exem­pli­fy the resolve, deter­mi­na­tion and resilience the nation is demon­strat­ing in the face of the dis­as­ter.

“That’s the same spir­it we see in all of you – the men and women in uni­form – the spir­it we’ll need to meet oth­er chal­lenges of our time,” Oba­ma told an assem­bly of sailors, air­men, sol­diers, Marines and Coast Guards­men.

He applaud­ed their con­tri­bu­tions as part of the nation­al response to an unprece­dent­ed envi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ter in the Gulf.

“This is an assault on our shores, and we’re going to fight back with every­thing that we’ve got,” he said. “And that includes mobi­liz­ing the resources of the great­est mil­i­tary in the world.”

In addi­tion to serv­ing as a major stag­ing area for the response effort, Naval Air Sta­tion Pen­saco­la is con­tribut­ing man­pow­er as part of the broad mil­i­tary response to the dis­as­ter, the pres­i­dent not­ed.

“All along the Gulf Coast, our men and women in uni­form — active, Guard and reserve, from across the coun­try — are step­ping up and help­ing out,” Oba­ma said.

“There are sol­diers on the beach­es putting out sand­bags and build­ing bar­ri­ers and clean­ing up the oil, and help­ing peo­ple process their claims for com­pen­sa­tion from BP,” he said. “There are sailors and Marines offer­ing their ships and their skim­mers and their heli­copters and miles of boom.

“There are air­men over­head, fly­ing in equip­ment and spray­ing dis­per­sant,” he con­tin­ued. “And of course, there are Coast Guards­men and women on the cut­ters, in the air, work­ing around the clock.”

In addi­tion, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates has autho­rized the deploy­ment of 17,500 Nation­al Guards­men to respond to the cri­sis, Oba­ma not­ed.

Although only 1,600 have been acti­vat­ed so far, “that leaves a lot of Guards­men ready to help,” the pres­i­dent said. “And if our gov­er­nors call on them, I know they’ll be ready, because they’re always ready.”

Oba­ma point­ed to the Gulf dis­as­ter as one of many chal­lenges fac­ing the Unit­ed States: the worst eco­nom­ic cri­sis since the depres­sion, high unem­ploy­ment and two wars against adver­saries “who will stop at noth­ing to strike our home­land and would kill inno­cent peo­ple, women and chil­dren, with no com­punc­tion.”

“Any one of these chal­lenges alone would test our coun­try,” he said. “Con­fronting them all at once might over­whelm a less­er nation.”

But the pres­i­dent vowed that the Unit­ed States will weath­er these chal­lenges and pre­vail, point­ing to the exam­ple set through­out his­to­ry by its men and women in uni­form. “All of you rep­re­sent the same spir­it of ser­vice and sac­ri­fice as those who’ve gone before, who defeat­ed fas­cism, defeat­ed tyran­ny, pre­vailed in a long Cold War over com­mu­nism,” he said. “And now, in our time, you’ve top­pled regimes based on ter­ror and dic­ta­tor­ship, and you’ve giv­en new hope to mil­lions of peo­ple. You’ve earned your place among the great­est of gen­er­a­tions.”

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