(NBC News) President Obama used his Naval Academy commencement speech Friday to address several controversies threatening the nation's trust.
Standing under cloudy, drizzly skies in Annapolis, Maryland the president called for "honor"
from the Naval Academy's graduating class.
"More than physical courage, we need your moral courage to do what's unpopular," he told them.
Mr. Obama challenged America's future leaders to help restore the public's trust.
It's been tarnished by a Defense Department report estimating a 37-percent increase in military sexual assaults last year.
President Obama also drew a parallel between military misconduct and the actions of other institutions, alluding to the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
"It takes only takes the misconduct of a few to further erode the people's trust in their government," he warned.
Many of these graduates are expected to be named officers during a time of transition for the military
President Obama says he plans to move toward closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison.
He's also defending his decision to limit but not stop the use of lethal military drones in the face of a weakened Al Qaeda.
"As we move beyond deploying large ground armies abroad, we still need to conduct precise, targeted strikes against terrorists before they kill our citizens," he explained.
Still, even as the president scales back the war on terror he admits he's worried about military readiness.
He called the budget cuts known as the sequester "foolish" and promised he'll keep fighting to end them.
-- Danielle Leigh, NBC News, reports