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Final salute: Petraeus hangs up Army uniform after 37 years of service

As he prepares to take over the helm of America's top intelligence agency, Gen. David Petraeus used his farewell speech Wednesday to reflect on his 37 accomplished years of service in the U.S. Army and to warn the politicians in Washington against impairing the military with onerous budget cuts.

The Pentagon is currently preparing to reduce defense spending by upward of $400 billion over the next decade, and Congress may demand even more cuts.

“As our nation contemplates difficult budget decisions, I know that our leaders will remember that our people, our men and women in uniform, are our military,” he told an audience of his peers, friends and colleagues. “And that taking care of them and their families must be our paramount objective. Beyond that it will be imperative to maintain a force that not only capitalizes on the extraordinary experience and expertise in our ranks today but also maintains the versatility and flexibility that have been developed over the past decade.”

Petraeus also took time to acknowledge a number of figures who called on him to serve in larger capacities, including Presidents Bush and Obama:

For more on Petraeus' retirement, click here

See Petraeus' full military farewell address after the jump

Full remarks:

One last thing…
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