From Sunlen Miller:
After a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Monday, President Obama will mark, for the second time in as many days, the end of the United States’ combat mission in Iraq today by first meeting with troops to thank them for their service, the White House said.
This morning, the President is scheduled to travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, to meet with troops who have served at every stage of the Iraq War.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said one of the themes of the president’s day will be “lifting up” the contributions of those in the military who have served our country during this war.
“Regardless of whether you were opposed to or for going in back in 2003, that does not change his role as commander in chief in — in talking to — and in, I think, lifting up the amazing contributions of those in our — in our military that — that continue to serve our country so well,” Gibbs said Monday. “Obviously, at Walter Reed, talking to those who, as a result of that sacrifice, been harmed and — and I think you'll see, in both tomorrow's events at Fort Bliss and then ultimately during the speech, lifting up all of those who served, many of whom served two, three or four missions in — in a very dangerous area.”
In the evening, the President is scheduled to return to Washington and address the nation for the second time from the Oval Office during a prime-time address on the end of the American combat mission in Iraq. Don’t expect to hear the words “mission accomplished” cross President Obama’s lips during the address, though — even as the White House says today does mark a milestone.
“You won't hear those words coming from us,” Gibbs said adding that it does mark, “a milestone that we have achieved in moving our combat troops out.”
During his address the president is expected to explain to the American people what's involved in the drawdown — the missions that have been changed, the number of troops that have been moved out and where that leaves us in Iraq.
Secondly, the president will honor those who have served there –- a message of thanks to the troops. Additionally the president will put it into a bigger context of what this drawdown means for national security efforts both in Afghanistan and in southeast Asia, and throughout the world as we take the fight directly to al Qaeda.
The Oval Office was chosen as the setting for the speech because, “without any doubt this has been, over the course of the past seven-and-a-half, eight years, this has been one of the biggest, if not the single biggest issue that has dominated the past eight years,” Gibbs said.
– Sunlen Miller