WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday touted his role in bringing American troops back home after a decade of wars and in killing terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, as he marked the second anniversary of the end of U.S. combat mission in Iraq.
Addressing thousands of U.S. servicemen at the Fort Bliss military base in the state of Texas, Obama stressed that bin Laden will never threaten America again, and that the al-Qaeda terrorist group is now "on the road to defeat."
He said that after ending the past decade of wars, the United States would only become safer, stronger and more respected in the world. The U.S. military will also grow stronger as it now has " more time for training," "more time to improve readiness" and " more time to prepare for the future," he added.
The president also honored the memory of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, and pledged more federal assistance to army servicemen, veterans and their families, in particular mental health services.
Earlier on Friday morning, Obama signed an executive order to expand suicide prevention strategies and to take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.
Although the White House stated that Friday's event was official business and not campaign-related, it was still overshadowed by the increasingly heated blame game between Obama and his Republican challenger in the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney.
In a closing speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention on Thursday night, Romney accused Obama of having made the United States and its military weaker through defense budget cuts and wrong foreign policy.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Friday aboard Air Force One en route to Texas that he was surprised at Romney's failure to mention U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the convention address.
The troops in Afghanistan are executing a mission that is " profoundly important to America's national security in a conflict that was the direct result of an attack on the United States by al- Qaeda," Carney stressed.
Romney's spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg quickly shot back, saying that Obama had "failed in his duty as commander-in-chief."