WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2014 —
President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have offered condolences, assistance and continuing close partnership to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the people of Canada and the family and friends of two soldiers killed in attacks there this week.
In remarks yesterday, Harper praised Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was killed in a hit-and-run attack “by an ISIL-inspired terrorist,” and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who was “murdered in cold blood” as he provided a ceremonial Honor Guard at Canada’s National War Memorial.
Both assailants were killed.
Yesterday, Obama and Hagel both made statements about the attacks.
“I had a chance to talk with Prime Minister Harper this afternoon,” Obama said during a White House press conference on the U.S. response to the West Africa Ebola crisis. “Obviously, the situation there is tragic … and I expressed on behalf of the American people our condolences to the family and to the Canadian people as a whole.”
Statement by Chuck Hagel
In his statement, Hagel said he joined all the men and women of the U.S. Department of Defense in offering his deepest condolences to the family and friends of the soldiers killed in this week's appalling attacks on members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“The United States strongly condemns today's shootings in Ottawa,” the secretary added, “as well as the hit-and-run attack in Quebec earlier this week. The United States has no closer friend and ally than Canada, and the United States military has no closer partner than the Canadian Armed Forces.”
Hagel said the Defense Department, “including through the North American Aerospace Defense Command, will continue to monitor the situation closely and stands ready to assist our Canadian allies in the aftermath of these tragic events.”
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, based in Colorado and also known as NORAD, is a combined organization of the United States and Canada that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty and defense for Northern America.
Vigilance is essential
From the Oval Office, Obama said the attacks emphasize the degree to which nations must remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with acts of senseless violence or terrorism.
“I pledged, as always, to make sure that our national security teams are coordinating very closely, given not only that Canada is one of our closest allies in the world but they’re our neighbors and our friends,” Obama said.
When it comes to dealing with terrorist activity, the president added, Canada and the United States have to be entirely in sync.
Obama said he’s traveled to the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa and recalled how warmly he was received; adding that during his call with Harper, the prime minister appreciated expressions of concern by the American people.
The attacks in Canada will have to be factored into ongoing efforts in the United States to counter terrorist attacks in this country, the president said.
“Every single day we have a whole lot of really smart, really dedicated, really hardworking people … who are monitoring risks and making sure that we’re doing everything we need to do to protect the American people,” he said. “And they don’t get a lot of fanfare; they don’t get a lot of attention.”
Many possible threats are foiled or disrupted that don’t always get reported on, the president said.
“The work of our military, our intelligence teams, the Central Intelligence Agency, the intelligence community more broadly, our local law enforcement and state law enforcement officials who coordinate closely with us,” Obama said, “we owe them all a great deal of thanks.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)