President Barack Obama asserted the United States is "breaking the back of ISIS" and told members of the military that they must "carry forward what is best in us" in his last national security speech before leaving office.
Throughout the speech, Obama addressed criticisms of his security policies previously made by President-elect Donald Trump but did not mention the new upcoming President by name, The Daily Mail reports.
"Adhering to the rule of law is not a weakness," Obama said during his speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. "In the long term, it is our greatest strength."
Obama stated that terrorist groups want to "scare us into changing the nature of who we are and our democracy," The Hill reports. But the only way the terrorists can "destroy our way of life" is "if we lose track of who we are and the values that this nation was founded upon."
The president claimed his approach of depending on special operators like the U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command, as well as "a network of partners" which feature Western allied countries and local fighters, is successfully defeating ISIS.
The president contended his unique campaign is more to-the-point than initiating a large-scale ground war; his approach "has been relentless, it has been sustainable, it has been multilateral," he said.
Obama called on the President-elect to continue working on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center and uphold the current White House's ban on torture. Trump has strongly indicated he will reverse course on both fronts when he becomes President.
On the ban on torture, Obama commented that no adviser ever "told me that doing so has cost us good intelligence."
The 44th President further warned against re-framing the fight against terrorists as a fight against Islam, as Trump and certain members of his team have done.
"If we act like this is a war between the United States and Islam, we’re not just going to lose more Americans to terrorist attacks," Obama said. "But we’ll also lose sight of the very principles we claim to defend."
White House officials say Obama had been preparing the speech for months and yet lately opted to use his discourse to pressure Trump to give up some of his forceful positions on national security and foreign policy. It is unclear whether Trump will heed the president's words.
The two men have been talking privately with each other since the election. Trump has taken into account Obama's arguments on climate change and healthcare but Trump has signaled he will be considerably more aggressive in his counter-terrorism efforts.
According to his pre-election speeches, Trump wants to step up the torture of terror suspects, continue placing terror suspects in Guantanamo, implement a ban on Muslim immigration and reassess the U.S.'s involvement in NATO. He has somewhat altered his position on these issues since the election.