In what amounted to a valedictory speech, Vice President Mike Pence touted the Trump administration's defense achievements and thanked sailors at Lemoore Naval Air Station, California, for their service.
Pence urged the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden to keep a watchful eye on China to ensure a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
"Today, the People's Republic of China is determined to expand Beijing's influence across the region through military provocations and debt diplomacy," Pence said during a speech on the air station's flight line. "And so I urge the incoming administration to stay the course, do what we've done, stand up to Chinese aggression, and trade abuses, stand strong for a free and open Indo-Pacific and put America and our freedom loving allies first."
Pence spoke about how the administration helped the military recover from the damage caused by sequestration and budget shortfall. He emphasized budget increases that provided pay raises for personnel, new military capabilities, improved maintenance and spare parts and the uptick in readiness.
"History teaches that weakness arouses evil," Pence said. "And our history has proven that a strong America deters. Our administration has always understood that if you want peace, prepare for war. With that renewed American strength, we've defended this nation and America's vital national interests around the world. I'm proud to say with just a few days left in this administration, that this is the first administration in decades, not to get America into a new war."
Pence touted efforts in the Middle East, including the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights — captured from Syria in the 1967 war. He also spoke of the four Arab nations — Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco — that recognized Israel.
The vice president also pointed to the success of the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In 2017, the terror group controlled an area in Iraq and Syria the size of Pennsylvania. U.S. forces working with Iraqi and Syrian allies devastated the group taking back all the territory lost. "I'm proud to report now [that] more than a year ago, we crushed their caliphate, captured the last inch of territory under the black flag of ISIS and took down their leader without one American casualty," he said.
"As my time in office draws to a close, allow me to thank you for the privilege of serving as your vice president these past four years," he said. "It's been the greatest honor of my life. And it's been a special privilege to serve men and women like all of you, the members of the armed forces of the United States.
"I truly believe as long as we have men and women like you with the courage and the selflessness to step forward and serve, as long as we have heroes willing to put your lives on the line, as long as we have patriots willing to defend our nation, I know our country will be safe. Our freedom will be secure. And the best days for the greatest nation on Earth are yet to come."
Pence will travel to Fort Drum, New York, today before returning to Washington for the inauguration.