South Plains residents react to President Obama's address - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

South Plains residents react to President Obama's address

By Christie Post - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – About Seven years after former President George W. Bush announced the beginning of combat operation in Iraq in the oval office, President Barack Obama announced the end of combat operations by United States Forces with his 19 minutes address in the same desk Tuesday.

"Much has changed since that night. A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency.  Terrorism and sectarian warfare threatened to tear Iraq apart.  Thousands of Americans gave their lives; tens of thousands have been wounded. Our relations abroad were strained. Our unity at home was tested," said President Obama

After announcing the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, President Obama addressed U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for a different mission to advise and assist Iraq's Security Forces.

"Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife.  But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals.  Iraqis are a proud people.  They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction.  They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets.  Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders.  What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner," said President Obama.

Newly promoted General Lloyd Austin took command in a ceremony Wednesday. It marks the start of the so called Operation New Dawn. Here in Lubbock the Velez Family knows all to well the hard ships of the war. Their oldest friend Freddie was killed in Iraq in 2004. Then two years later, Andrew took his own life serving in Afghanistan. Wednesday their father Roy Velez told us he's glad to see the Iraq War coming to an end, but he wants soldiers to be taken care of when they arrive back home. 

"That young man has become one of the greatest fighting machines in the United States, and is President Obama going to stick to his guns and give these men the opportunity to be put back in society where they can be normal," said Roy Velez.

The Velez family was directly affected by the Iraq War, but we wanted to hear from those not connect to the Operation Iraqi Freedom. At a Jerry's Barber Shop, political conversation is the norm. Wednesday Charlie Dunn, a former political talk show host and lawyer, as well as Mourice Stanley, the Jerry's Barber Shop Owner and spends his Mondays talking with Councilman Klein on 580 AM gave their views on President Obama's address.

"Did we win in Iraq? Sure. Well that the question we're not going to answer for a while. Have we accomplished our mission yes we did," said Charlie Dunn.

"I don't know if we can get into nation building even more than we are. We can't afford it. I'm in the opinion now that when somebody attacks us, we go bring them down. We do our deal. Do as much damage as we can and come home," said Mourice Stanley.

They both agree to disagree on a lot of issues. They say they're happy troops can come home, but they say there needs to be an end solution.

"You don't change ideas and anger with military force. You change it with politics and diplomacy. But it starts with cutting off the money," said Dunn.

"I don't think it's ever going to go away. And when the world has shrunk down to the point, when you can get to America and Europe within a few hours, yeah it's a problem," said Stanley.

By the end of President Obama's speech, the President reassures better days lie ahead.

"Those Americans gave their lives for the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries.  Along with nearly 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq, they fought in a faraway place for people they never knew.  They stared into the darkest of human creations -- war -- and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace," said President Obama.

President Obama also said with the trillion dollar budget deficit now it's time to turn the page and focus on our own problem, restoring the economy.

" As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists.  And because of our draw down in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense.  In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders -- and hundreds of al Qaeda's extremist allies -- have been killed or captured around the world," said President Obama.

50,000 troops will stay in Iraq to advise and support Iraq soldiers, but the Afghan war continues. This war is the longest running war in American history.

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