Trump emphasizes need for military strength in Air Force commencement speech

Trump emphasizes need for military strength in Air Force commencement speech
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE on Thursday touted the need for American military strength as he delivered a commencement address celebrating the Air Force Academy's graduating class of 2019.

Trump gave a roughly 30-minute speech in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he spoke of innovation in the military, including the development of his long-desired Space Force, and expressed confidence the cadets in attendance would uphold the Air Force's legacy as a premiere fighting force.

"To dominate the future, America must rule the skies," Trump said. "And that is what your time at this great academy has been all about: Preparing you to do whatever it takes to learn to adapt and to win, win, win. 

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"You’re going win so much you’re going to get so tired of winning — but not really," he added to laughter.

The president has made increased investment in the armed services a key part of his administration's agenda. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of American military might in maintaining order.

Trump, who also campaigned against U.S. entanglement in foreign conflicts, added that he was hopeful the strength of the Air Force would help act as a deterrent against adversaries. His remarks come amid heightened tensions with Iran, though Trump has said he does not want a war with the Middle Eastern nation.

"Nothing will ever strike fear in the hearts of our enemies, or inspire more confidence in our friends than the roaring engines of American fighter jets, flown by the greatest pilots on the planet earth by far: You," Trump said Thursday.

Amid the tough talk of military readiness were a few more light-hearted moments.

Trump cited his role as commander in chief to absolve cadets on restriction for bad behavior, and called multiple graduates up to the stage to recognize their achievements.

The president acknowledged one student who had been diagnosed with cancer, and another who won last year's college baseball home run derby.

"I wanna feel this guy’s muscles," Trump said as baseball player Nic Ready made his way to the front.

As Ready approached Trump, the president reached out to grab his biceps before shaking his hand.

"It’s real," Trump said to laughter. "That’s real."

Thursday marked the first time Trump addressed Air Force Academy graduates as president. He delivered the commencement address at the Naval Academy last year, and spoke at Liberty University's graduation ceremony in 2017.

Trump was introduced by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who is stepping down at the end of the month to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso. Trump plans to nominate Barbara Barrett as Wilson's successor.

The president stuck around following his speech to shake the hands of each of the nearly 1,000 graduates.