‘Military for US’ protection, not to be used politically’
Washington, Jan 5 (IANS) President Barack Obama warned that the US military should be used to protect the country’s security and not to respond to political motivations, an apparent message directed at his successor, President-elect Donald Trump.
Obama on Wednesday made these remarks during his farewell speech to the Armed Forces at the Myer-Henderson Hall military base in Arlington, Virginia, Efe news reported.
“One of the greatest tasks before our Armed Forces is to retain the high confidence that the American people rightly place in you. This is a responsibility not simply for those of you in uniform, but for those who lead you. It’s the responsibility of our entire nation,” said Obama before dozens of soldiers and members of Congress.
In his speech, the President made reference to the values that must guide the future of the Army, but he did not mention the name of Trump, who on January 20 will become commander-in-chief of the US Armed Forces.
“We must never hesitate to act when necessary to defend our nation, but we must also never rush into war – because sending you into harm’s way should be a last and not first resort. It should be compelled by the needs of our security and not our politics,” the president said.
Upon assuming presidency in 2009, Obama said that he had “made a promise to (the members of the military), which, to the best of my abilities, I’ve tried to uphold every single day since, that I would only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, with the strategy, the well-defined goals, with the equipment and the support that you needed to get the job done.”
“Each of you made a solemn pledge. You committed yourself to a life of service and of sacrifice,” Obama said, adding that “a lot of Americans don’t see the sacrifices you make on our behalf. But as commander-in-chief, I do.”
More than 15 years after the US invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime, the Obama administration has managed to bring some 180,000 US troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan back home, such that currently there are only 15,000 American soldiers stationed in those countries.
Obama said he felt privileged to have been able to direct the Armed Forces in 2011 to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and to spearhead the international coalition that has wrested from the Islamic State “half their territory” in Syria and Iraq.
“You’ve shown that when it comes to fighting terrorism, we can be strong and we can be smart,” Obama added.