By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2011 – The skill and courage of countless American military and intelligence professionals are why Osama bin Laden can never threaten America again, President Barack Obama told a cheering group of 101st Airborne soldiers today at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Obama told them about meeting yesterday with survivors of 9/11 victims in New York and laying a wreath at ground zero where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
“I met with the first responders … who lost so many of their own when they rushed into those burning towers. I promise our nation we will never forget those we lost that dark September day.”
Earlier today, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell to thank them for their service.
They later met with the full assault force that carried out the operation and awarded them a Presidential Unit Citation, the highest honor that can be given to a unit in recognition of extraordinary service and achievement.
“It was a chance for me to say on behalf of all Americans and people around the world, ‘Job well done,’” Obama told the troops gathered inside an aircraft hangar.
Calling the special operations teams “the quiet professionals,” Obama said they, like the rest of today’s military members, chose to serve in a time of war.
“They trained for years,” he said. “They're battle-hardened. They practiced tirelessly for this mission.
“When I gave the order, they were ready,” he said. “In recent days, the whole world has learned just how ready they were.”
These Americans deserve credit for one of the greatest intelligence and military operations in the nation's history, Obama said, adding “[And] so does every person who wears America's uniform, the finest military the world has ever known.”
“Because of your service, because of your sacrifices, we're making progress in Afghanistan,” the president said.
”We’re making progress in our major goal … [of] disrupting and dismantling -- and we are going to ultimately defeat -- al-Qaida.
“We have cut off their head and we will ultimately defeat them.”
U.S. strategy is working, and there is no greater evidence of that, Obama said, “than justice finally being delivered to Osama bin Laden.”
The fight against extremists is not over, but in its new phase, U.S. troops are transferring power to the Afghans, and will begin to return home this summer.
“We'll build the long-term partnership with the Afghan people so that al-Qaida can never again threaten America from that country,” Obama said.
“As your commander in chief, I am confident that we're going to succeed in this mission … because, in you, I see the strength of America's military, and because in recent days we've all seen the resilience of the American spirit,” he said.
“There's nothing we can't do together, 101st, when we remember who we are -- and that is the United States of America. When we remember that no problem is too hard and no challenge is too great,” the president said.
“That is why,” he added, “I'm so confident that, with your brave service, America's greatest days are still to come.”