U.S. President Barack Obama has told U.S. soldiers heading to Afghanistan they still faced a "very tough fight" but vowed to end the war there as "responsibly" as in Iraq.
Obama was speaking August 31 at Fort Bliss in the southern state of Texas.
"You know this. You carry it in your hearts, the memory of comrades who made that ultimate sacrifice, including six heroes from Bliss who gave their lives on that awful day last month."
The six troops killed in an attack in July became the latest of more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers to die in Afghanistan, including more than 200 this year, according to a count published on the icasualties.org website.
Obama was at Fort Bliss to mark the two year anniversary of the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq.
"You left Iraq with honor and a mission completed, your heads held high. After nine years our war in Iraq was over and today Iraq has the chance to forge its own destiny. There are no American troops fighting and dying in Iraq. On this anniversary we honor the memory of all who gave their lives there, nearly 4500 American patriots, including 198 fallen heroes from Fort Bliss," Obama told a gathering of soldiers.
Obama praised the strength and commitment of U.S. allies around the world while ensuring Al-Qaeda's defeat.
"With our allies and partners we've taken out more top Al-Qaeda terrorists than at any time since 9-11. And thanks to the courage of our forces, Al-Qaeda is on the road to defeat and Bin Laden will never again will threaten the United States of America," Obama stated.
Obama defended his four years in offices from allegations of a lack of leadership by the Republican ticket running for the White House, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
"So make no mistake, ending the wars responsibly makes us safer and makes our military even stronger. And ending these wars is letting us do something else, restore American leadership. If you or anyone are trying to say that America is in decline or that our influence is waned, don't you believe it," Obama said.
"Because here is the truth, our alliances have never been stronger, we are leading on behalf of freedom including with the people of Libya who are finally free from Muammar Qaddafi. Around the world there is a new attitude toward America, new confidence in our leadership. When people are asked, which country do you admire most? One nation always comes up on top, the United States of America," the American leader explained.
Aides to Obama, meanwhile, faulted Romney for failing to mention the Afghan war or the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers serving there during his speech on August 30 at the Republican Party's National Convention in Tampa, Florida to formally accept the party's nomination to run in November's presidential election.
Based on AFP and AP reporting