President Barack Obama covered several key issues when he spoke to U.S. troops at Camp Pendleton Wednesday including the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, the recent budget cuts and sexual assault in the military.
President Obama visited Camp Pendleton Wednesday for the first time since he's been in office.
“A few years ago, you gave a great Camp Pendleton welcome to my wife Michelle. I know it’s not as exciting when I come to visit, but she says hi,” the president told the crowd.
Marine One landed about 11:50 a.m. Wednesday at the West Coast's biggest Marines training facility.
"Hello, Marines!” exclaimed President Obama to the marines. They responded shouting, “Hoorah!”
The president received loud cheers from the hundreds of Marines and their families when he thanked the so-called "Force Behind the Force" and described the process of the war in Afghanistan entering its final chapter.
Camp Pendleton troops have been on the front line of the war and have seen their share of wounded warriors and those killed in action.
“Today we hold close the memory of all who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Obama said referring to the 326 fallen heroes from Camp Pendleton. “We honor all of them, every single one.”
Obama also spoke of budget cuts, explaining how the U.S. Marine Corps will soon be leaner and budgets will be tighter.
“It’s time to use some of the money we’ve spent on war to do some nation building right here at home,” he said.
But he said he wanted to handle the imminent budget cuts in a manner that will keep the U.S. Marine Corps strong and battle ready.
“I’m going to keep on working to get rid of this sequester,” Obama said. “You get up and do your job every day. Let’s make sure Washington gets up and does their job.”
He received another loud cheer when he referred to the crowd as the 9/11 generation and told them that because of them Osama bin Laden is no more.
Later in his speech, he got serious when he addressed a recent crisis in the military.
"No military unit can success without discipline, without trust and without cohesion. So I want you to hear it directly from me, the Commander-in-Chief," he said. “It undermines what this military stands for and undermines what the Marine Corps stands for when sexual assault happens in our units."
He then vowed to work to stop "these sexual assaults" and uphold the honor of the U.S. military.
"That message is coming all the way from the top," he said.
After his speech, President Obama shook hands and talked with as many members of the military he could along the receiving line. Many Marines used their smart phones to snap a quick image of their Commander-in-Chief.
U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-53rd District) and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49th District) were also on hand.
They both agreed it will be challenging to decrease the deficit, while having a healthy military budget. And while they both agree with Obama's discussion of education allowing for better recruits, Issa explains that should be left as a local issue.
The stop at Camp Pendleton's Hangar 6 was part of his two-day visit to California.
The president is on a summertime economic tour aimed at refocusing his agenda on middle class Americans still struggling to fully recover following the recession.
In the middle of his trip, the president canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month, with the White House citing Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Obama still plans to attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but has no plans to meet with Putin one-on-one.
The president also addressed a serious topic while visiting with comedian Jay Leno Tuesday in Los Angeles.
While on "The Tonight Show," Obama made his first public comments on recent warnings of a possible terrorist attack on U.S. interests in the Middle East.