Biden: US needs Air Force for more than fighting |

Biden: US needs Air Force for more than fighting

Associated Press Writer
Vice President Joe Biden congratulates Bradley Robert Dewees, of Farmington, N.M., the top cadet graduate, Wednesday, May 27, 2009, at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, during graduation ceremonies. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. ” Vice President Joe Biden told Air Force Academy graduates Wednesday their country still needs them, and not just in battle.

“You do it all. You’re going be asked to do more,” Biden told about 1,000 graduating cadets at the school in Colorado Springs. “You are relevant.”

Biden talked about meeting Air Force officers in Iraq and Afghanistan but told the cadets that their challenges will be go beyond enemy states and terrorists.

He urged them to “think beyond the theater of battle” and spoke of other challenges including global warming and improving education and health care.

“A modern military needs great warriors, yes. But it also needs strategic thinking,” Biden said.

After a week of rain and clouds, the weather turned warm and sunny for graduation and the annual fly-over by the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team.

Graduates tossed their caps into the air after taking oaths of office, and young children ran onto the field to gather them up.

By Air Force tradition, graduating cadets tape a $20 bill and their home address in their caps. The children who get their caps are supposed to send them back to graduates in 10 years.

Some cadets wondered aloud where they’d be in 10 years. One shrugged and just wrote her name and the academy’s address.

Biden told the graduates and their families that the administration considers their safety and care upon coming home from war a top priority. President Barack Obama made similar remarks last week at the Naval Academy.

“Without you, we cannot survive,” Biden said.

Biden, whose son Beau is an Army National Guard captain serving in Iraq, called taking care of soldiers an “obligation that exceeds any other.”

When Biden’s teleprompter failed, he poked fun at Obama, who’s known for relying on teleprompters for his speeches.

“What am I going to tell the president? Tell him his teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?” Biden joked.

The Air Force Academy had 1,046 graduates this year ” 874 men and 172 women. The class included six international students. American graduates are 2nd lieutenants who will serve at least five more years in the military.

Read Biden’s speech:

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