President Barack Obama told a crowd of Marines and their families that the war in Afghanistan remains a “hard fight” and that threats to the U.S. will continue after American combat forces have left the country.
“The end of the war in Afghanistan doesn’t mean the end to the threats to our nation,” Obama said today at the Camp Pendleton U.S. Marine Corps base, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) south of Los Angeles. “And we have to take these threats seriously.”
The U.S. this week temporarily closed embassies and other diplomatic outposts in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia due to the threat of attack from a Yemen-based branch of al-Qaeda.
Obama spoke to about 3,000 military personnel and families at his final stop on a two-day trip to western states.
He address also touched on the budget battles in Washington, sexual assaults in the military and the need to expand education.
Obama said Congress must replace the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration that has reduced projected government spending by $85 billion this year and will total $109 billion in 2014. The cuts are already having an impact on the military, he said.
“We can do better than that,” Obama said. “That’s not how a great nation should be treating its military and our military families.”
Before speaking, Obama met privately with wounded service members and families of military personnel who’ve died in service. “They have given a piece of their heart to America and America will always honor their sacrifice,” he said.