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December 15. 2011 10:17PM

Iraq war veterans praise Obama as U.S. withdraws

MANCHESTER — A day after the war in Iraq officially ended, two New Hampshire veterans praised President Barack Obama for bringing the troops home with “dignity and honor.”

Portsmouth native Michael Breen and Michael Rodriguez of Hanover spoke on a conference call organized by the Truman National Security Project, described by spokesman David Solimini as “the country's only progressive national security leadership institute.

“We recruit, train and position progressives from around the country to be leaders on issues of national security,” Solomini said,

U.S. Marine Corps and Iraq war veteran Rodriguez said, “Looking back and having come back from there, this is an honorable ending to this.

“The President has done a pretty amazing job in taking down the majority of al-Qaida's leadership and weakening its network.

“Thousands have lost their lives for this and this is certainly a worthy end,” Rodriguez said.

Former U.S. Army Capt. Breen, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he crossed the border into Kuwait leaving Iraq at 3 a.m. on the morning of July 4, 2004, “so I have a sense of the enormity of that feeling that will come when the convoy crosses that border, when they turn in their ammunition, when they can take their body armor off and they know they've made it.

Breen said Obama “is doing an excellent job of recognizing who we ought to be fighting and who we ought to be going after and who are the real threats to Americans.”

He said Obama correctly “shifted assets” from Iraq to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Yemen and “other places, and we're seeing the benefits. It's paid huge dividends and speaks to a smart and tough strategy that's taking the greatest threats to America off the field of battle.”

Breen praised Obama for “ending the war with dignity and honor.”

Meanwhile, Iraq veteran and paratrooper Justin Ford, president of the VETPAC, a pro-Democratic Party political action committee, said, “Everyone has sacrified so much and can be proud to leave Iraq with their heads held high.”

He said the Obama administration “set out clear goals, guidelines and they hit those milestones and achieved them.

“The administration has done great things not only in Iraq, but we've seen what it's done in Libya and with al-Qaida and taking out Osama bin Laden.

“We set out to provide a sense of security and democracy within Iraq and I feel that we achieved that,” Ford said.

He said he was “proud to see this close in an honorable way to leave Iraq with their heads held high.”


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