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AFA graduation: President Trump touts Space Force, 'inconceivable' new developments

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - President Donald Trump had a message of encouragement for the Air Force Academy Class of 2019, referencing achievements of past military leaders and future developments "the likes of which you haven't seen."

Nearly 1,000 cadets will become second lieutenants at the conclusion of the graduation ceremony Thursday at Falcon Stadium. The Commander in Chief said they "could have chosen any school, any career, but chose a higher calling."

"I know it's tougher, but in the end, it's better," Trump said. "You'll see."

(LIVE COVERAGE: Air Force Academy Graduation 2019)

Those cadets are beginning their careers as military officers and will be a part of "the most powerful Air Force in this country and in the history of the world," according to Trump.

"Just being admitted to the Academy is a monumental achievement," Trump said, referencing the fact that only about 10% of applicants are accepted into the AFA. "Only the best survive to the very end, and here under the majestic peaks of the Rockies, you have risen to every challenge, overcome every single obstacle, and proved yourselves worthy of the bars that will soon adorn your uniform."

It wouldn't be a typical speech from President Trump if it stayed that serious throughout -- and it wasn't long before Trump peppered in a few lighthearted jokes. He said officials offered him a choice between shaking a few cadets' hands or shaking everyone's hands, and he opted to meet everyone.

At one point, he said he "absolved" cadets of their restrictions for "pranks" and "bad behavior."

The president also highlighted achievements by cadets in the graduating class, including Nic Ready, who won the College Home Run Derby. Trump even brought Nic on stage because he wanted to "feel those muscles."

Trump also put a spotlight on Parker Hammond, a graduating cadet and Colorado Springs native who battled cancer during his time at the Academy.

He brought it back to military readiness and said current servicemembers need to be trained so they're "ready to go" at all times. He said a majority of the class will be heading to pilot training, and a record number of the graduates will "become space operators."

That led to the question on many minds during the president's speech: will he announce the home of the newly created Space Force?

He didn't, but he did say that "in this stadium today are many of the future leaders who will develop the doctrine, strategy, and technology to lead America in space."

"It is a time for America to reclaim the ultimate high ground and prepare our young warriors for battle today on the battlefield tomorrow," Trump said.

Trump said he asked Congress to invest more in hypersonic weapons, along with the increase in aircraft that have been ordered. But it was a cryptic quip about something in the military-industrial pipeline that piqued the interest of many throughout Falcon Stadium.

"We have things in development the likes of which you haven't seen, that you can't even conceive," Trump said. "Artificial intelligence, modern weapons, and space superiority."

"When you see what's coming, you won't even believe it -- and hopefully we never have to use it," Trump said. "Peace through strength."

Before finishing, Trump gave homage to American generals throughout history and then referenced the Class of 2019's exemplar: Neil Armstrong. He said the cadets are following in the path that he forged 50 years ago, this summer.

"I want to conclude by giving a very special congratulations to a very special group of amazing cadets and people: the class of 2019, on behalf of our nation, God bless you, God bless America, and God bless the Air Force."

Cadets in 40 squadrons walked up to the stage to get their diplomas and shake the hand of our Commander in Chief.


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