White House

Obama tells troops, 'We are safer'

President Barack Obama, with first lady Michelle Obama, points toward a child in the audience as he greets troops and their families on Christmas Day, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii during the Obama family vacation.
President Barack Obama, with first lady Michelle Obama, points toward a child in the audience as he greets troops and their families on Christmas Day, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii during the Obama family vacation. AP

“We are safer.”

President Barack Obama told Americans troops on Christmas that their efforts have made the world a safer, more peaceful place.

At a Marine Corps base in Hawaii, the president explained “We’ve been in continuous war now for over 13 years. Next week we will be ending our combat mission in Afghanistan.”

According to a White House pool report, a service member shouted “hurrah” and the audience applauded.

Obama praised the troops. “Because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the Armed Forces. Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country. We are safer.

“It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again. And we still have some very difficult missions around the world, including in Iraq. We still have folks in Afghanistan helping the Afghan security forces. We have people helping to deal with Ebola in Africa and obviously we have folks stationed all around the world.”

Still, the president said, “the world is better, it’s safer, it’s more peaceful, it’s more prosperous and our homeland is protected because of you and the sacrifices each and every day. So on a day when we celebrate the Prince of Peace and many of us count or blessings one of the greatest blessings we have is the extraordinary dedication and sacrifices you all make. We could not be more thankful. I know I speak for everyone in the entire country when I say, we salute you.”

The U.S. and NATO plan to leave about 13,500 troops in Afghanistan for training and combat support, down from 140,000 in 2010. About 2,200 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan over the past 13 years.

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