Obama Pledges to Give Troops Support Needed in Battle

22 May 2009

Pres. Barack Obama speaks at the US Naval Academy graduation ceremony in Annapolis, Md.,22 May 2009
Pres. Barack Obama speaks at the US Naval Academy graduation ceremony in Annapolis, Md., 22 May 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama is promising new Navy and Marine Corps officers that he will only send young Americans into battle "when it is absolutely necessary." The president spoke Friday to the graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

President Obama made a promise to the newly graduated Navy and Marine officers.

"It is a promise that as long as I am your Commander in Chief, I will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy, the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support you need to get the job done," he said.

The president said that includes bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end and pursuing a new, comprehensive strategy to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Obama and other Democrats have, in the past, accused the previous administration of President George Bush of sending U.S. troops to Iraq without adequate planning, equipment or protection.

In Annapolis, the president once again contrasted his views on the treatment of terror suspects with those of the Bush administration. Without mentioning the issue specifically, he restated the philosophy he had laid out in Thursday's speech on national security.

"Because when American strays from our values, it not only undermines the rule of law, it alienates us from our allies, it energizes our adversaries and it endangers our national security and the lives of our troops," he said.

Mr. Obama also told the Naval Academy graduates the U.S. must overcome the full spectrum of threats, both conventional and unconventional.

"The nation-state and the terrorist network. The spread of deadly technologies and of hateful ideologies. Eighteenth-century-style piracy and 21st century cyberthreats," he said.

The president said he has stopped budget reductions in the Navy, and is building up the Marine Corps. He also promised service members higher pay, better child care and other benefits.

Mr. Obama said he intends to "maintain America's military dominance."

One of Friday's graduates is the son of John McCain, Mr. Obama's opponent in last year's presidential election.

This is the last of the president's three commencement addresses this year, and his first at a military academy.