“The United States is never going to retreat from the world,” Obama said to Marines at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego. “We don’t get terrorized.”
The Obama administration has alluded to a significant threat to Americans abroad, ordering the evacuation of non-essential personnel from a U.S. compound in Yemen — and ramping up drone strikes there.
Obama and his surrogates have repeatedly trumpeted the decimation of terrorist elements in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. On Wednesday, however, the president said that work remains to protect the homeland from threats overseas.
“Even as we decimated the al Qaeda leadership that attacked us on 9/11, al Qaeda affiliates and likeminded extremists still threaten our homeland,” he said.
The president also weighed in on another matter that has attracted a lot of attention on Capitol Hill of late: sexual assaults in the military.
“It undermines what this military stands for and it undermines what the Marine Corps stands for when sexual assault occurs within our units,” he said.
A recent Pentagon report discovered a record number of sexual assaults in the armed forces. There were 3,374 attacks reported last year, up from 3,192 in 2011, the highest number of cases the Defense Department has seen since it began tracking such incidents in 2004. And those were just the reported cases.
“I expect consequences,” Obama vowed in May. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged.”