The Washington Post

2012 State of the Union analysis: Obama on defense issues

President Obama celebrated the military’s accomplishments under his watch, not just to bolster his credentials as commander in chief but as a moral example for the country.

View Photo Gallery: Tuesday’s speech was President Obama’s third State of Union address and his sixth address to Congress overall.

He led off his address with vivid reminders of how he brought home all U.S. troops from Iraq, began a drawdown from Afghanistan and approved the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Obama cited those achievements as “a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s armed forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.”

He didn’t say so explicitly, but the comparison with the gridlock in Congress as well as Washington’s partisanship was obvious.

“One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter.”

Obama acknowledged that he wants to cut $480 billion in defense spending over the next decade but pledged to “maintain the finest military in the world.” He gave no details of how he intends to manage both.

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Craig Whitlock covers the Pentagon and national security. He has reported for The Washington Post since 1998.


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