Obama salutes veterans

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) ? Recalling “those awful attacks,” President Barack Obama saluted the 9/11 generation of veterans Tuesday and publicly relished the prospect of U.S. forces getting out of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“For our troops and military families who have sacrificed so much, this means relief from an unrelenting decade of operations,” Obama said in remarks to the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis.

“Thanks to these Americans,” he said, “we’re moving forward from a position of strength.”

Obama paid tribute to more than 6,200 Americans in uniform who have given their lives during the past decade of war. He enumerated military successes, including advances in Afghanistan, the killing of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and, most recently, assistance to Libyan rebels to help them push out strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

He pledged to honor his responsibility to veterans by spending more on assistance, working more efficiently to process disability claims and addressing higher numbers of brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder cases.

And Obama also said that fewer troops would serve in harm’s way going forward, thanks to his policy of ending combat operations in Iraq and aiming for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014.

Even as Obama spoke, an Associated Press tally showed that August has become the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, where international forces have started to go home and have left Afghan forces take charge of securing their country.

A record 66 U.S. troops have died so far this month, more than the 65 killed in July 2010. This month’s death toll soared when 30 Americans ? most of them elite Navy SEALs ? were killed in a helicopter crash Aug. 6.