Obama Defends RPA Strikes

President Obama on Thursday defended his Administration’s use of remotely piloted aircraft to target terrorists, saying this counterterror method has saved American lives, and is proportional and legal. In remarks at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., Obama said the number of these strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan would come down as the US disengages from combat in Afghanistan, but that vigorous oversight of these operations outside of combat zones has been the norm with Congress. “Not only did Congress authorize the use of force, it is briefed on every strike that America takes,” said Obama. He noted that the use of standoff air strikes is in lieu of the riskier option of putting US troops on the ground in a sovereign nation, which could incur immense backlash. The President also urged Congress to revisit the post-9/11 authorization on the use of military force. After more than 10 years of war, “we must define the nature and scope of this struggle,” he said, since the nation cannot sustain a continual war footing. Today, Obama said, al Qaeda is largely dismantled, but the threat from affiliate organizations still remains. He also renewed his call to discontinue the use of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Obama transcript) (See also Hagel statement.)