U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his final commencement speech as the leader of the free world Thursday at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Associated Press noted Obama — who pledged to end two wars and to avoid unnecessary conflict when he came into office in 2009 — is set to the address academy graduates at a time when new conflicts are emerging globally. In one of his first commencement addresses, Obama — then just months into the job — told graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the military wouldn’t have to shoulder the entire load of keeping the country safe.
“It’s a promise that as long as I am your commander in chief, I will only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy and the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done,” Obama said.
Obama’s speech Thursday comes amid an increased U.S. presence in Iraq to help fight the Islamic State group and a continued presence in Afghanistan, but the White House told the AP no major policy announcements would be made in the speech. It’ll reportedly take an optimistic tone.
Said White House spokesman Josh Earnest Wednesday:
"This will be the final time that the president will address one of our service academies as the commander-in-chief. And I think you can expect to hear the president reiterate his view that his highest professional honor was being the commander-in-chief of the greatest fighting force that the world has ever known.
So the president is looking forward to the opportunity that he has to address the graduates at the Air Force Academy. It will be an opportunity for him to talk to those graduates about the security challenges that are facing the United States and the important role that the next generation of American servicemen and women will face as they protect the country."
Obama touched down at Peterson Air Force Base Wednesday just after 7 p.m., local time, and is expected to leave Colorado Thursday afternoon following the address, scheduled to begin at about 11:45 a.m. EDT, according to the White House.