JULY 11, 2016, ROTA, Spain (NNS) – President Barack Obama spoke to more than 2,000 American and Spanish service members and their families during a visit to Naval Station Rota, Spain, July 10.
During his visit, Obama visited USS Ross (DDG 71) as well as held an all-hands call to thank service members. Obama’s trip to the naval station marked the first time a U.S. president has visited the installation in 15 years.
Spain Minister of Defense Pedro Morenes introduced Obama and thanked both American and Spanish service members for their continued cooperation and support onboard Naval Station Rota.
As Obama took the podium for his speech, he recognized Vice Adm. James Foggo III, 6th Fleet commander; Capt. Michael MacNicholl, Naval Station Rota commanding officer; and Command Master Chief Michelle Brooks.
“What I really want to do is come down and shake some hands,” Obama said to a round of applause from the audience. “Look, I’ll be honest, it’s been a tough week back home … but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to come and thank all of you for your outstanding service.”
Prior to his visit in Spain, Obama attended meetings at the NATO summits in Warsaw, Poland.
“So on my visit to Europe, what I have been trying to communicate, what I have been wanting to focus on, is America’s relation to Europe and the fact that our commitment will not change,” Obama said. “We have an enduring commitment to the transatlantic alliance and to our allies in Europe because you are central to our security and we could not have a more important alliance or a better set of friends than those of you here in Europe. That includes a strong and unified Spain, one of our closest allies. The alliance between our countries is rooted in shared values, of democracy, and pluralism and open markets and our shared commitment to freedom.”
Obama went on to mention that American forces have been stationed in Spain for more than 60 years and today there are more than 3,000 service members stationed in Rota.
He continued to add that the American and Spanish alliance is well-founded on shared values, and strong bonds.
“Day in and day out, Americans and Spaniards like you serve together, shoulder to shoulder. Not only here but in missions for our common security in the coalition to destroy ISIL, combating piracy, supporting peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. That’s because we believe that people around the world, and here in Europe, have the right to live in security and prosperity and dignity. That’s what America stands for, that’s what Spain stands for and that’s what NATO stands for,” said Obama.
Bringing his speech to a close, Obama spoke with emotion and emphasis, “We have the finest fighting force the world has ever known, we have great partners around the world and I am absolutely confident that the people of good will ultimately overcome those forces that seek to divide and destroy us. ”
“You give me confidence! You give me hope! God bless you. God bless the United States of America. God Bless Spain. Thank you very much!”
At the conclusion of the event, Obama shook as many hands as possible before departing Naval Station Rota.
Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter, and family for Commander, Navy Installations Command in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia.