President Obama hosted an all-star team of former national security officials Friday as he commemorated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the White House Situation Room.

While the event honoring the secretive military operations center was closed to press, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the president "delivered remarks to the Situation Room staff to thank them for their around-the-clock work to keep the president informed and the country safe."

Obama told the staff that "we could not meet the national security challenges that we face without the capabilities of this room and the people who work here," Carney said.

“It’s the president’s eyes and ears," Obama told the staff. "Providing the latest information and alerts, it’s the nerve center for the U.S. government, the place where we come together to make policy and respond to crises from wars abroad to floods at home.”

Carney said that Obama also presided over a ceremony that named a a secure conference room after "the father of the Situation Room, President John F. Kennedy."

Caroline Kennedy, Jack Schlossberg and a host of current and former national security advisers, including Tom Donilon, Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, John Poindexter, Robert McFarlane, Jim Jones, Fran Townsend, Sandy Berger and Richard Allen, were in attendance.