Obama: Afghan transition complete by 2014

Sept. 1, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama thanked military service members Saturday as he observed the second anniversary of the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president spoke of his visit Friday with troops at Fort Bliss, Texas.

"Fort Bliss is home to soldiers who took part in every major phase of the Iraq War -- from the initial assault on Baghdad; to the years of fighting block by block; to the partnership with the Iraqi people that helped give them a chance to forge their own destiny. ...

"And now, with no Americans fighting in Iraq, it's my privilege on behalf of a grateful nation to once again congratulate these men and women on a job well done," Obama said.

"This anniversary is a chance to appreciate how far we've come. But it's also a reminder that there is still difficult work ahead of us in Afghanistan.

"We've broken the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, and begun the transition to an Afghan lead. Next month, the last of the troops I ordered as part of the surge against the Taliban will come home, and by 2014, the transition to Afghan lead will be complete. ...

"As we turn the page on a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home," the president said.

"We need to rebuild our roads and runways and ports. We need to lay broadband lines across this country and put our veterans back to work as cops and firefighters in communities that need them. And we need to come together to make America a place where hard work is rewarded and anyone willing to put in the effort can make it if they try.

"That's how we can honor our troops. That's the welcome home they've earned," Obama said.

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