Posts Tagged ‘bin Laden’

President Obama Touts His Accomplishments For Veterans, Military In Reno Visit

By Sean Whaley | 4:27 pm July 23rd, 2012

RENO – President Obama told members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars today that he has fulfilled the promises he made four years ago to make America safer, strengthen jobs programs for returning military personnel and fight homelessness, suicide and posttraumatic stress disorder among the nation’s veterans.

Obama, appearing at the 113th convention of the group, acknowledged in a 30-minute speech that more needs to be done to help returning military personnel find jobs. He took the opportunity to announce a major overhaul of the transition assistance program.

President Obama speaks to the VFW in Reno today.

“We’re going to set up a kind of reverse boot camp for our departing service members,” he said. “Starting this year, they will get more personalized assistance as they plan their careers. We’ll provide the training they need to find that job, or pursue that education or start that business. And just as they have maintained their military readiness, we’ll have new standards of career readiness.”

He also urged Congress to find a solution to the nation’s deficit spending to protect the military budget from automatic cuts set to take effect next year without an agreement.

“Because people in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong,” Obama said. “It should be done.

“If the choice is between tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don’t need and funding (for) our troops that they definitely need to keep our country strong, I will stand with our troops every single time,” he said. “So let’s stop playing politics with our military.”

Obama said he promised four years ago, to “take the fight to our enemies and renew our leadership in the world.”

“As president, that’s what I’ve done,” he said.

Not only did his administration kill Osama bin Laden, but it has also taken out more top al-Qaeda leaders than at any time since 9-11, Obama said.

Obama also highlighted his decision to withdraw troops from Iraq in what he said was a responsible manner, and the administration plan now under way to withdraw all U.S. military from Afghanistan, completing a transition to Afghan military control by 2014.

Obama received a number of cheers and applause from the crowd of men and women, some young and others veterans of World War II, Vietnam and Korea, among other conflicts.

He took a few minutes at the beginning of his remarks to talk about those with military connections who were victims of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting rampage Friday, including Jonathan Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Hug High and a Navy veteran.

His appearance, the second visit to Reno this year, will be followed tomorrow by remarks from Mitt Romney, his presumed GOP rival in the November general election.

Romney has attacked Obama’s record on the military. On his website, he says: “President Obama came into office with a military in serious need of modernization. However, instead of rebuilding our strength, President Obama has put us on course toward a ‘hollow’ force. President Obama has repeatedly sought to slash funds for our fighting men and women, and over the next ten years nearly $1 trillion will be cut from the core defense budget. This budget cutting enterprise is proceeding while American troops are in combat in Afghanistan, returning from their mission in Iraq, and fighting the remnants of al-Qaeda worldwide.”

In a response to Obama’s remarks, Romney campaign spokesman Mason Harrison said: “In no region of the world is our country’s influence any stronger than it was four years ago. President Obama has failed to restore our economy, is weakening our military with devastating defense cuts, and has diminished our moral authority. Governor Romney will restore the pillars of American strength to secure our interests and defend our values.”

Obama’s Nevada visit focused on his record of accomplishments in the military and Veterans arenas, but still brought him to a battleground state viewed as critical by political observers for victory by the candidates in November.

He won Nevada in 2008, but with the highest unemployment rate and one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation, the state is considered to be a toss up. Washoe County in particular is viewed as critical to which candidate will win the state’s six electoral votes.


Audio clips:

President Obama urges Congress to come up with a deficit reduction plan to avoid mandatory cuts to the military budget next year:

072312Obama1 :14 should be done.”

Obama says he will fight for military funding rather than lower taxes for the wealthiest Americans:

072312Obama2 :14 every single time.”

Obama announces a “reverse boot camp” to help returning military personnel find work:

072312Obama3 :24 of career readiness.”


Former Commanding General Of U.S. Central Command Says Al Qaeda Not Gone With Death Of Bin Laden

By Sean Whaley | 6:19 am June 9th, 2011

RENO – The former commanding general of the U.S. Central Command told a group of Nevadans Wednesday that the death of Osama bin Laden does not mean the U.S. can become complacent and assume that Al Qaeda is no longer a threat.

Retired Gen. John Abizaid, whose hometown is the tiny hamlet of Coleville in northeast California, said the terrorist organization remains a threat to American interests here and around the world.

“We got rid of the head of the snake – don’t think the snake is dead,” he said. “There’s a lot more fighting ahead, there’s a lot more trouble ahead.”

Retired Gen. John Abizaid discusses the death of Osama bin Laden and the future of Al Qaeda at an event in Reno./Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

But Abizaid, who served as commander of the United States Central Command from July 2003 until March 2007, sounded an optimistic note, saying none of the troubles we will face from terrorism or uncertainty in the Middle East threaten the county in any fundamental way.

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM), oversees American military operations in a 27-country region including much of the Middle East.

“There’s no trouble that’s so big ahead that is going to take down our country,” he said. “Our forces are strong, and despite our economic difficulties and troubles, when I go around this country and look and see how thing are, I believe that there is greater strength here than anywhere else on earth.”

Abizaid made his comments at the National Security Forum, a group organized by Reno resident Ty Cobb, who served as special assistant to President Ronald Reagan for National Security Affairs from 1983 to 1989.

Abizaid was joined in the presentation by Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer, head of the “Combating Terrorism Center” at West Point, where Abizaid serves as the distinguished chair. The topic of the presentation was “Global Terrorism after Osama bin Laden: The Road Ahead for Al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups.”

Abizaid said he believes the U.S. must reduce its presence in the Middle East, in part because of this nation’s economic problems, but that completely walking away is not an option no matter how attractive it sounds.

“If you think you can walk away from the Middle East without Al Qaeda following us you are mistaken,” he said. “It is an organization that is determined to attack American power where ever it may be. Whether we’re in the Middle East, whether we’re in Africa, whether we’re here at home. They have an intention to do that and they will do that.”

The U.S. military presence in the region is a big part of why the U.S. has not been subjected to a major attack within its borders since 9-11, Abizaid said.

The key is to use these reduced American forces to fight terrorist cells in the region using intelligence provided by a vastly more coordinated CIA and Defense Department, he said.

Sawyer said Americans can expect further attempts to attack the country, in part because of those motivated to do so by bin Laden’s death. Experts also believe that any operations that were in the planning stages by Al Qaeda before his death are continuing, he said.

“There is little disagreement in the long run that Al Qaeda remains at operational capacity to attack the United States or certainly our economic interests abroad,” Sawyer said.

Audio clips:

Gen. John Abizaid says Al Qaeda remains a threat even with death of bin Laden:

060811Abizaid3 :07 more trouble ahead.”

But Abizaid says the U.S. will survive any attack:

060811Abizaid4 :17 else on earth.”

Abizaid says the U.S. military cannot afford to completely depart from the Middle East:

060811Abizaid1 :18 will do that.”

Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer says Al Qaeda is expected to remain a threat to the U.S.:

060811Sawyer :09 economic interests abroad.”