President Barack Obama arrived at Fort Bliss, Tex. Tuesday, offering U.S. troops stationed there ’congratulations on a job well done’ in Iraq while adding that critical work remained to be done to rebuild the country.
’Iraq has an opportunity to create a better future for itself and America is more secure,’ Obama told soldiers during his visit to the Army post.
Hours before delivering an Oval Office address on the drawdown of combat troops in Iraq, Obama told soldiers at Fort Bliss that the U.S. would continue to fight terrorists but made it clear that the combat mission in Iraq has come to an end.
However, U.S. involvement in Iraq will continue as critical work remained for the Iraqi people to rebuild their country, Obama added.
’We’ve worked too hard to neglect the continuing work that has to be done by our civilians,’ Obama said. ’The work that continues is absolutely critical,’ he added.
Obama said that the main message in his prime time speech would be to offer congratulations to the troops.
’There has not been a single mission that you have not performed with gallantry, dignity and courage,’ he said.
Although combat efforts have come to an end in Iraq, the fight will continue in Afghanistan, Obama said, noting he would address the mission there in his speech.
Obama acknowledged that the continued effort in Afghanistan would ’mean some casualties’ and ’some heartbreak,’ but added that the U.S. is willing to make sacrifices for its security.
Although violence has surged ahead of the handover of the mission to Iraqi authorities, a White House official said Tuesday that recent attacks in Iraq have not fundamentally altered or thrust the country into sectarian war, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
While violence has increased, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said, the al Qaeda attacks have failed to "fundamentally alter the security situation, they have not sparked a sectarian war, they have not led to a loss of confidence of the Iraqi people."
Shortly after coming into office in 2009, Obama pledged to end combat operations in Iraq by the end of this month, bringing "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to an end.
The withdrawal of the last U.S. combat brigade this month was hailed as a symbolic moment for the American presence in Iraq, more than seven years after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.