WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (UPI) — President Obama said Monday despite the deaths of 30 U.S. troops in a downed helicopter in Afghanistan this weekend, “We will press on and we will succeed.”
The deaths marked the worst single-day toll on U.S. forces in the decade-long Afghan war.
Speaking of America’s strengths, the president said, “There is no one who embodies the qualities I mentioned more than the men and women of the United States armed forces, and this weekend we lost 30 of them when their helicopter crashed during a mission in Afghanistan.”
The loss “is a stark reminder of the risks that our men and women in uniform take every single day on behalf of their country,” Obama said. “Day after day, night after night, they carry out missions like this in the face of enemy fire and grave danger. And in this mission, as in so many others, they were also joined by Afghan troops, seven of whom lost their lives as well.”
The president said he had talked “to our generals in the field, as well as (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai, and I know that our troops will continue the hard work of transitioning to a stronger Afghan government and ensuring that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for terrorists.
“We will press on and we will succeed,” he added. “But now is also a time to reflect on those we lost and the sacrifices of all who serve, as well as their families. These men and women put their lives on the line for the values that bind us together as a nation.”
The 30 U.S. troops killed in the crash included 22 elite Navy SEALs. They had been on a mission targeting a Taliban leader. Their helicopter went down early Saturday in eastern Wardak province. The Taliban claimed one of its members brought down the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.