By Carlo Muñoz - 05/26/12 06:02 PM EDT
With the war in Iraq over and combat operations winding down in Afghanistan, the United States can now shift focus to other national security priorities around the world, Vice President Biden said on Saturday.
“Winding down these longs wars has enabled us to replace and rebalance our foreign policy," Biden said during his commencement speech at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.
“Your generation, the 9/11 generation, is more than worthy of the proud legacy that you will inherit today,” he said.
The cadre of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that signed up after 9/11 knew the majority of their time in the military would be spend in combat, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan.
“Those warriors sent a message to the world that if you harm America, we will follow you to the end of the earth,” he told the crowd.
Biden's speech echoed many of the same themes touched upon during President Obama's address to Air Force Academy graduates last Thursday.
During that speech, Obama said the “dark cloud of war” was receding and that this new generation of military officers were entering “a different world.”
“For a decade, we have labored under the dark cloud of war,” Obama said at the time. “And now, we can see a light, the light of a new day on the horizon.”
The end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will also allow the U.S. military reset and build back up after over a decade of combat, Obama said.
"Going forward, you’ll face fewer deployments. You’ll have more time to train and stay ready. That means you’ll be better prepared for the full range of missions you face,” he pledged.
Both speeches come shortly after the United States, NATO and Afghanistan agreed to a deal that sets the stage for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country by 2014.
Putting that plan into action was the main topic discussed during NATO's annual meeting in Chicago earlier this month.
Under the terms of the pact, over 20,000 American troops will begin to rotate out of Afghanistan this summer. The remaining 48,000 U.S. personnel in the country will be withdrawn by the end of 2014.