Continue reading the main story Video Obama Thanks Returning Troops

President Obama thanked troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on Monday, and welcomed home those who had recently returned from Afghanistan.

Photo by Jabin Botsford/The New York Times.

JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — President Obama on Monday said that after several months of fighting, the United States and its partners had undercut the momentum of Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, making clear to them that Americans will not back down and in the end, “we will get you.”

Mr. Obama flew to a New Jersey military base to thank troops for their service heading into the holiday season and to defend his handling of national security at a time of multiple challenges. While critics have said the campaign against the Islamic State has not succeeded, the president argued that it had made a difference.

“Because of you, we have blunted their momentum and we have put them on the defensive,” Mr. Obama told 3,000 troops in camouflage uniforms and civilian defense personnel gathered in a hangar here. “And these terrorists are learning the same thing that the leaders of Al Qaeda have learned the hard way. They may think that they can chalk up some quick victories, but our reach is long. We do not give up. You threaten America, you will have no safe haven. We will find you.”

Continue reading the main story Graphic: Areas Under ISIS Control

With a C-130 Hercules parked to his left, Mr. Obama said American airstrikes coupled with local forces on the ground had inflicted heavy losses on the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. The American-led coalition, he said, has taken out Islamic State commanders, fighters, checkpoints, buildings, barracks, hundreds of vehicles and tanks and nearly 200 oil and gas facilities that were financing its efforts, while also damaging its command and control structure and fracturing its supply lines. “America led the way,” he said. “That’s what we do.”

Continue reading the main story Video Obama Says Coalition is ‘Hammering’ ISIS

President Obama spoke to troops at a military base in New Jersey on Monday, praising them for their part in blunting the Islamic State’s momentum.

Photo by Jabin Botsford/The New York Times.
The president acknowledged that victory was still a long way off even as he framed his goal in more definitive terms than when he initially talked of “degrading” the Islamic State. “This campaign in Iraq will take time,” he said. “But make no mistake, our coalition isn’t just going to degrade this barbarous terrorist organization, we’re going to destroy it.”

Joining Mr. Obama for his brief visit was Gov. Chris Christie, a possible Republican candidate to replace him in 2016. On the tarmac, after Air Force One landed, Mr. Obama and Mr. Christie greeted each other like old friends, chatting amiably, shaking hands and patting arms.

Mr. Christie did not stop to talk with reporters following the president, nor did he have a speaking role at the event in the base hangar.