Saturday, May 30, 2015

Obama: First Memorial Day In 14 Years Without Ground Combat

 Memorial Day 2015, Arlington Cemetery.

President Obama used his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery to note that today marks the first observation of the holiday in 14 years without any U.S. involvement in a major ground war.
"For many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful; it is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end," he said. "On this day, we honor the sacrifice of the thousands of servicemembers who gave their lives since 9/11."
Obama remarks made special mention of those who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama briefly mentioned tensions in Afghanistan, saying the country "remains a very dangerous place." He reiterated his commitment to withdrawing American personnel until only an "embassy presence" remains by the end of next year.
"Several years ago, we had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan," he said. "Today, fewer than 10,000 troops remain on a mission to train and assist Afghan forces."

But Obama didn't get into many specifics about violence in the Middle East, which remains a major challenge for his administration as the Taliban advances in Afghanistan and Islamic State fighters grab more territory in Iraq.
Most recently, Islamic militants have seized the town of Ramadi and are fortifying it against Iraqi military and paramilitary troops.
The extent to which the U.S. should be involved in the conflicts continues to divide policymakers and the public. Obama has taken a middle ground in Iraq, where U.S. troops are conducting airstrikes and helping train the country's military but aren't engaged in ground combat.
Before Obama took the podium, he appeared deep in thought as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter thanked U.S. military members for their service.
"We do know what your sacrifice means to us, to this nation and to a world that still depends so much on American men and women in uniform for its security," Carter said.[source]

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