President Obama on Friday privately thanked some of the special military operators who killed Osama bin Laden. "Job well done," he said of their daring raid.
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — President Obama on Friday privately thanked some of the special military operators who killed Osama bin Laden. “Job well done,” he said of their daring raid.
In a series of closed-door meetings, Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden met with some of the special-operations forces who went on Monday’s raid in Pakistan and with members of the broader assault force that supported the mission.
“I came here for a simple reason: to say thank you on behalf of America,” Obama told soldiers at Fort Campbell, the home of the 101st Airborne Division, after his private meetings.
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“Thanks to the incredible skill and courage of countless individuals, intelligence, military, over many years, the terrorist leader who struck our nation on 9/11 will never threaten America again,” he said.
The president said he had visited New York the day before to pay homage to the victims of bin Laden’s 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as to the firefighters and police who responded to the catastrophe.
“I promised that our nation will never forget those we lost that dark September day,” he told about 2,000 troops in a steamy hangar. “And today, here at Fort Campbell, I had the privilege of meeting the extraordinary special-ops folks who honored that promise,” he said. “It was a chance for me to say, on behalf of all Americans and people around the world, job well done. Job well done.”
The commandos — Army helicopter pilots and Navy SEALs — briefed Obama about the raid, administration aides said, and he gave each of the groups the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest honor he can give a military unit.
The extraordinary sessions were kept private to protect the identities of those involved.
Obama also met Cairo, a dog used to help alert the special-operations teams to hidden threats. Cairo is the only member of the raid team to be identified.
The Belgian Malinois was carried off the helicopter by a SEAL and used to scout the compound. It was unclear how Cairo was used.
Obama, who was making his first visit to Kentucky as president, also met with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the 5th Special Forces Group to thank them for their service.
Al-Qaida will be defeated, he promised the Army post, whose troops have sustained heavy losses in an Afghanistan war.
Fresh warnings emerged, though, underscoring Obama’s caution that the fight against terrorists still rages.
The Afghan Taliban said the death of bin Laden would only boost morale of insurgents battling the U.S. and its NATO allies. Al-Qaida itself vowed revenge, confirming bin Laden’s death for the first time, but saying Americans’ “happiness will turn to sadness.”
Soldiers at Fort Campbell were careful not to celebrate bin Laden’s death, voicing instead a sense of pride for the work of the commandos.
“We’re not done,” said Maj. Luis Ortiz, who was at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan when Obama visited the troops there last December. “We cut off the head of the snake, but the snake is still wiggling around.”
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.