February 29th, 2012
10:35 AM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) –The war in Iraq ended without much fanfare, but months later President Obama and the first lady are hosting a dinner to pay tribute to the troops who served and the families who supported them.
Two hundred people are expected to attend the Wednesday night gala at the White House, including former Marine Eric Alva who in 2003 became the first service member wounded in the Iraq war. This won't be Alva's first trip to the White House. He also attended the president's signing ceremony of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in December 2010.
Other highly decorated Iraq veterans will also be honored.
Army Col. Peter Newell served two tours and was awarded Silver and Bronze Stars, a Joint Service Achievement Medal and Presidential Unit Citation.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Sebastian Ellis was awarded a Bronze star with Valor and Army Commendation Medal with Valor in his three tours of duty.
And Chief Warrant Officer 4 Nelson Visaya received the Distinguish Flying Cross and Air Medal with Valor awards during his two tours.
February 9th, 2012
04:56 PM ET
By Barbara Starr
The White House is considering nominating a retired general with little recent combat field experience to be the new commander of NATO and U.S. military operations in Europe, a senior administration official has told CNN.
Several officials emphasized that no final decision has been made by President Barack Obama but also confirmed that retired Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, currently a top White House aide, is a leading candidate.
"This is a head scratcher," the senior administration official said of a potential Lute nomination. Several civilian and military officials made similar remarks to CNN but none would allow their names to be used because they were speaking ahead of the actual confirmation. "There is a sense inside the Pentagon that there are highly qualified, currently serving four-star officers with combat experience who would be very strong candidates."
Read the whole story on CNN's Security Clearance page
February 6th, 2012
10:17 AM ET
By Barbara Starr
The White House plans to hold a formal dinner in the coming weeks honoring Iraq war veterans, the fallen and their families, a senior DOD official has confirmed. He declined to be identified pending a formal White House announcement.
The official said the dinner for some 200 people will include military personnel of all ranks, but the focus will be on enlisted personnel who served in Iraq. The dinner comes as the veteran’s advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has been pressing for a ticker tape parade to specifically honor veterans of the Iraq war.
The senior official said top US military officers are opposing holding a parade for the Iraq war, “while there are still troops in harms way,” fighting in Afghanistan. “A New York city style ticker tape parade has come to represent a major national tribute,” the official said.
Read more on CNN's Security Clearance
January 5th, 2012
08:30 AM ET
President Obama will head over to the Pentagon this morning to deliver remarks on the Defense Strategic Review, which as CNN has been reporting, is where the Pentagon will present a review saying the US shouldn't fight in two major ground wars simultaneously in the future. He will be joined by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. According to guidance from the White House, his remarks will "come after a comprehensive review of our defense strategy by the President, America's civilian and uniformed military leadership, and the Administration's national security team."
The only other thing on his schedule is an afternoon meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
For the full guidance from the White House, click below. FULL POST
January 4th, 2012
05:58 PM ET
President Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks on the military's Defense Strategic Review at the Pentagon on Thursday. CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence reports that the review "sets forth potentially big changes in U.S. strategy, including the removing up to 4,000 troops from Europe and downsizing the overall ground forces even further."
Read Chris Lawrence's complete story on CNN's Security Clearance blog.
December 29th, 2011
11:52 AM ET
The U.S. government is selling Saudi Arabia approximately $30 billion worth of F-15 combat jets, according to a statement from the Obama administration.
Here's the announcement from the White House:
The United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have signed a government-to-government agreement under the Foreign Military Sales program to provide advanced F-15SA combat aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force.
Valued at $29.4 billion, this agreement includes production of 84 new aircraft and the modernization of 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics. These F-15SA aircraft, manufactured by The Boeing Company, are among the most sophisticated and capable aircraft in the world.
This agreement will positively impact the U.S. economy and further advances the president's commitment to create jobs by increasing exports. According to industry experts, this agreement will support more than 50,000 American jobs, engaging 600 suppliers in 44 states, and providing $3.5 billion in annual economic impact to theU.S.economy.
This agreement reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and demonstrates theU.S.commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security.
Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest
December 16th, 2011
04:57 PM ET
Washington (CNN) - First Lady Michelle Obama delivered 805 toys donated by the White House Executive Office staff to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Campaign during a visit to the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling on Friday. The donations are part of a national campaign to collect over 17 million toys for children in need across the country.
Mrs. Obama, speaking in a warehouse where gifts were being collected and sorted, thanked members of the military and volunteers for their efforts.
“It is so impressive that given all military families have to do anyway, that on top of what they do, they're doing this as well,” said the First Lady. “It’s a very powerful example of just how valuable and just how constant our military families - how selfless they are.”
The First Lady told the group that her teenage daughter Malia asked about the origin of the Toys for Toys program. Mrs. Obama told her the story of the Marine Corps wife who was looking to donate a toy but couldn’t find a place to contribute. Her search led to the creation of a national organization in 1947 that has collected and distributed toys each holiday season.
Mrs. Obama encouraged Americans to continue donating up until the Christmas Eve deadline. After her remarks the First Lady helped sort gifts which will be distributed from a local hospital to targeted areas around the District of Columbia.
December 14th, 2011
06:34 PM ET
(CNN) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday welcomed home returning troops from Iraq, hailing their service to help a people they didn't know as an example of what makes America great.
"As your commander in chief, and on behalf of a grateful nation, I'm proud to finally say these two words, and I know your families agree - welcome home. Welcome home," Obama told cheering troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"Welcome home," he repeated again, to enthusiastic applause. "Welcome home."
The U.S. military mission that began in 2003 is ending this month, and Obama used the speech to mark the fulfillment of a campaign pledge he made in 2008 to end the war.
Noting the almost 4,500 Americans killed and more than 30,000 injured, Obama spoke of the heavy sacrifice and hard work in the Iraq mission.
"Because of you - because you sacrificed so much for a people that you had never met, Iraqis have a chance to forge their own destiny," Obama said. "That's part of what makes us special as Americans. Unlike the empires of old, we did so not for territory or for resources. We do it because it's right.
"There can be no fuller expression of America's support for self-determination than our leaving Iraq to its people. That says something about who we are."
November 15th, 2011
03:24 PM ET
President Obama is on his way to Australia. During his two day visit to he will announce a new military partnership between the two countries. White House correspondent Brianna Keilar takes a look at the visit and the announcement.