WASHINGTON - There is need to maintain pressure on Al Qaeda, General David Petraeus, said Wednesday in his farewell speech to the US Army where he served for 37 years.
Petraeus, who till recently was the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is now headed to become the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In his farewell remarks, Petraeus said the military is entering a difficult period. "The future requirements include maintaining pressure on al-Qaida, continuing to draw down in Iraq and commencing reductions in Afghanistan -- all while sustaining our hard-fought, hard-won, but still-fragile progress in those areas," he said.
"This will be done, of course, against a backdrop of ongoing change in the Middle East and difficult budget decisions here at home," Petraeus said at his farewell ceremony which was attended by among others Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"You've run the race well, swifter and surer than the rest, and you now stand among the giants not just in our time but of all time, joining the likes of Grant and Pershing and Marshall and Eisenhower as one of the great battle captains of American history," he said.
"You've expanded our view of the possible, inspiring our military on to historic achievements during some of the most trying times America has ever known. And today you depart our ranks with the sincere thanks of a grateful nation," Mullen said.
"Obama congratulated General Petraeus on an historic career of service in the United States Army, including extraordinary contributions to our national security in Iraq and Afghanistan," the White House said in a statement after Obama telephoned Petraeus.
In his last assignment in Afghanistan, Petraeus was successful in turning on the table against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.