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The United States of America is the greatest force for freedom and security but the world has ever not.
And in no small measure that's because we build the best trained best led.
Best equipped military in history.
And as commander in chief -- keep it that way.
Indeed all of us on this stage.
Every single one of us have a profound responsibility to every soldier.
And coast Guardsmen who puts their life on the line for America.
We all of them they strategy -- well defined goals.
To only send them in harm's way when -- -- -- necessary.
To give them the equipment and the support they need to get the job done.
And -- care for them and their families when they come home.
That is our solemn obligation.
-- over the past three years that's what we've done.
We continue to make historic investments in our military.
Our troops and their capabilities.
And our military families.
And our veterans.
And thanks to their extraordinary service.
We've ended -- war in Iraq.
We've decimated Al qaeda's leadership.
We've delivered justice.
To Osama bin Laden.
And we put that terrorist network on the path to defeat.
We've made important progress in Afghanistan we've begun the transition so Afghans can assume more responsibility for their -- security.
We join allies and partners to protect the Libyan people and as they -- the regime.
More mar Gadhafi.
Now we're turning the page on a decade of war.
Three years ago we had some 180000.
Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today we've cut that number in half.
And as the transition in Afghanistan continues more of our troops will continue to come home.
Around the globe we've strengthen alliances.
Fortunate partnerships and served as a force for universal rights and human dignity.
In short we've succeeded in defending our nation.
Taking the fight to our enemies.
Reducing the number of Americans in harm's way and we've restored America's global leadership.
That makes us safer and it makes us stronger.
And that's an achievement of every American.
Those Americans -- -- proud to Wear the uniform of the United States armed forces.
Should take great pride -- the success is brought our nation wants more to a moment of transition.
Even as our troops continue fight.
To fight in Afghanistan.
That the -- of war is receding.
Even as our forces prevail in today's missions we have the opportunity.
And the responsibility to look ahead.
To the force that we are gonna need in the future.
At the same time we have to renew our economic strength you're -- which is the foundation.
All of our strength around the world and that includes putting our fiscal house in order.
-- -- end of the budget control act passed by congress last year with the support of Republicans and Democrats alike.
Mandates reductions in federal spending including defense spending.
I've insisted that we do that responsible.
The security of our nation and lives of our men and women in uniform.
Depend on it.
That's why I called for this conference of defense review.
To clarify our strategic interests in a fast changing world.
And to guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade.
Because the size and the structure of our military and defense budgets have to be driven by a strategy.
Not the other way around.
Moreover we have to remember the lessons of history.
We can't afford to repeat the mistakes that have been made in the past.
After World War II after Vietnam.
What our military was left feel prepared for the future.
As commander in chief I will not let that happen again not on my watch.
You need a start we need a Smart strategic.
Set of priorities.
The new guidance that the Defense Department is releasing today.
Does just that.
Want to thank secretary Panetta and general Dempsey for their extraordinary leadership.
During this process.
I -- thank.
Service secretaries and chiefs the combatant commanders and so many defense leaders military and civilian active guard and reserve.
For their contributions.
Many of us met repeatedly.
Asking tough questions.
Challenging our own assumptions and making hard choices.
And we've come together today around an approach that will keep our nation safe.
And our military.
The finest -- the world has ever known.
This review also benefits from the contributions of leaders from across my national security team from the departments of state.
Homeland security and veterans affairs there as well as the intelligence community.
And this is critical because meeting the challenges of our time.
Cannot be the work of our military along.
Or the United States a law that requires all elements of our national power working together in concert with our allies and our partners.
So I'm gonna let Leon and Marty go into the details but I just want to say that this effort reflects the guidance.
That I personally gave throughout this process.
Yes the title wars receded but the question that this strategy answers is what kind of military.
-- we need.
Long after the wars of the last decade.
And today we're fortunate to be.
Moving forward from a position of strength.
-- -- clear and Australia.
We will be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific.
And budget reductions will not come at the expense of that critical region.
We're gonna continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances including -- Which -- demonstrated time and again most recently in Libya that it's a force multiplier.
We will stay vigilant.
In the Middle East.
As we've looked -- on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And the end up long term nation building -- large military footprints.
Will be able to ensure our security with smaller than conventional ground forces.
-- continue to get rid of outdated Cold War era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities that we needed for the future.
-- weapons of mass destruction.
And the ability to operate environments where adversaries tried to deny us access.
So yes our military will be leaner.
But the world must know.
The United States is -- to maintain our military superiority.
With -- armed forces that are -- Flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies.
We're also gonna keep faith -- those who serve.
My making sure our troops heavy equipment and capabilities they need to succeed.
And by prioritizing efforts that focus on wounded warriors.
Mental health and well being of our military families.
And as our newest veterans rejoin civilian -- will keep working to give our veterans the care the benefit.
The benefits and job opportunities that they deserve and that they have.
Although today is about our defense strategy.
I want -- close -- the word about the defense budget that will flow from the strategy.
The details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Some will no -- say that the spending reductions are too big.
Say that they're too small.
It will be easy to take that issue with.
Any particular change any particular program.
But I'd encourage all of us to remember what president Eisenhower once said.
That each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration.
The need to maintain balance in and -- among national programs.
After a decade of war and as we -- build the source of our strength.
At home and abroad.
It's time to restore that balance.
I think it's important for all Americans -- remember over the past ten years.
Our defense budget grew at an extraordinary pace.
Over the next ten years.
The growth in the defense budget will slow but the fact of the matter is this it will still grow.
Because we have global responsibilities the demand our leadership.
In fact the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush Administration.
And I firmly believe -- think the American people understand.
That we can keep our military strong and our nation secure.
Where -- defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next ten countries combined.
So again I want to thank secretary Panetta.
-- Dempsey all of the defense leaders felt war on this stage and some -- -- for their leadership.
And the partnership throughout this process.
Our men and women in uniform.
Give their very best.
To America every single day.
And return they deserve.
The very best from America.
And I thank all of you for.
To the goal that we all share keeping America strong and secure in the -- for centric.
And keeping our forces the very best in the world.
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