TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – President Barack Obama spoke in Tampa Tuesday afternoon in what was likely one of his last trips as Commander-in-Chief.
Air Force One touched down around 1:45 p.m. The president traveled to MacDill Air Force Base where he spoke to servicemen and women and remarked on his administration’s counter-terrorism efforts.
He said the fight he’s led against the Islamic State group has been relentless, sustainable and multilateral. He says it demonstrates a shift in how the U.S. takes on terrorists around the world.
Obama defended a counterterrorism strategy that has relied on U.S. special forces and local groups rather than large-scale U.S. ground forces. He said the U.S. built a “network of partners” to help fight extremists. Obama said the U.S. is “breaking the back” of ISIL.
Obama also noted he is poised to become the first president to serve two full terms at war.
In addition, the president talked about ISIL’s use of technology for propaganda.
“Today’s terrorists can kill innocent people, but they don’t pose an existential threat to our nation and we must not make the mistake of elevating them as if they do. That does their job for them,” he said.
“We are fighting terrorists who claim to fight on behalf of Islam. They do not speak for over a billion Muslims around the world, including American Muslims who wear the uniform of the United States American military.”
Obama criticized Congress for passing a new war powers resolution for terrorists, saying, “democracies should not operate in a state of permanently authorized war. It’s not good for our military.”
MacDill is home to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.
The president left Tampa around 5:30 p.m.
The president’s trip came as President-Elect Donald Trump is expected to officially name James Mattis as the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.
Mattis oversaw Central Command at MacDill from 2010 to 2013.