President Obama to defend counterterrorism strategy in final foreign policy speech

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will make the case on Tuesday that his counterterrorism policies have helped protect Americans from evolving international threats as he prepares to hand over the White House to a successor who has been critical of his approach.

Obama will deliver his final major speech on national security as president at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

He will argue that his administration has been successful in building coalitions and working with local governments to take out militant leaders and disrupt Islamic State and other groups without overextending the U.S. military, the White House said.

RELATED: Photos from Barack Obama's 2015 primetime address on terrorism

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Barack Obama primetime address on terrorism 12/6
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Barack Obama primetime address on terrorism 12/6
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the country from the Oval Office on December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama is addressing the terrorism threat to the United States and the recent attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the country from the Oval Office on December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama is addressing the terrorism threat to the United States and the recent attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 6, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the country from the Oval Office on December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama is addressing the terrorism threat to the United States and the recent attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
IRVING, TEXAS - DECEMBER 06: Bar patrons watch as President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office on December 6, 2015 at the DFW Airport in Irving, Texas. President Obama spoke about the government's campaign against the terrorist threat, following last week's attack in California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 06: Jonathan Tovar sits with his grandmother Helen Medina in her house, which was hit by bullets as police engaged in a gun battle with terror suspects on the street in front, as they watch President Barack Obama give a nationally-televised address from the White House about terrorism following the attack on the Inland Regional Center on December 6, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Medina hid in her home as the police killed the terror suspects that attacked the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead and another 21 injured on December 2. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the country from the Oval Office on December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama is addressing the terrorism threat to the United States and the recent attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the country from the Oval Office on December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama is addressing the terrorism threat to the United States and the recent attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 6, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a national address from the Oval Office of the White House December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC Obama was expected to speak on his plans to battle the threat of terror attacks and defeating ISIL in the wake of last week's attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A bartender at a hotel near the Inland Regional Center watches President Obama speak on TV during the aftermath of a mass shooting that killed 14 people on Sunday, December 6, 2015 in San Bernardino, California, USA. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP / Patrick T. Fallon (Photo credit should read PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers an address to the nation in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. Obama sought to soothe a nation shaken by the terrorist attack in a California town with assurances that the U.S. is hardening its defenses that were tempered by an acknowledgment that the threat to the country is ever-evolving. Photographer: Saul Loeb/Pool via Bloomberg
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a national address from the Oval Office of the White House December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC Obama was expected to speak on his plans to battle the threat of terror attacks and defeating ISIL in the wake of last week's attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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"This represents a more sustainable approach ... one where we had a limited number of U.S. forces on the ground," White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said on a call with reporters.

Some counterterrorism experts have pointed to the rise of Islamic State as an example of Obama being too slow to respond to an emerging threat.

While the United States has been successful in killing some key militant leaders, Obama's "legacy has been tarnished by the way terrorist groups have regenerated and strengthened in the latter parts of his presidency," said Robin Simcox, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump referred to Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as the "co-founders" of Islamic State during the presidential campaign, blaming them for the initial spread of the militant group.

Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has chided Obama for not speaking out more bluntly against "radical Islam." He has also voiced support for waterboarding captives.

Obama signed an executive order after taking office in January 2009 that banned waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" or EITs. Such executive orders can be rescinded by a president's successors.

Many lawmakers and human rights groups have denounced waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning, as torture.

Some former officials from President George W. Bush's administration and the CIA officials have defended waterboarding and other EITs, denying they are torture and saying they elicited valuable intelligence.

Rhodes said Obama's national security speech had been planned long before the Nov. 8 election and was not aimed specifically at the incoming Trump administration.

Rhodes said, however, that Obama would argue the administration's decision not to use waterboarding had actually improved national security.

"We've actually been strengthened because it's easier to get other nations to cooperate with us," Rhodes said.

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Destroyed homes with views of war after air strikes in Syria
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People inspect a damaged building after strikes yesterday on the rebel held besieged city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Children play near a damaged building in the rebel-held besieged city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
An injured girl reacts at a site hit by an airstrike in the rebel-held Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Boys play near rubble of damaged buildings in the rebel held besieged town of Douma, eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A man stands next to a cow seen through a hole in the wall prior to Eid al-Adha celebrations in the rebel held Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A man reacts at a site hit by an airstrike in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Civil defence members rest amidst rubble in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A solar panel is placed on rubble along a street in the Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A boy inspects a damaged house in the rebel-held besieged city of Douma, a suburb of Damascus, Syria February 27, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A youth inspects a damaged kitchen after strikes yesterday on the rebel held besieged city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Residents inspect damage in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A girl runs past a damaged site after an airstrike in the besieged rebel-held town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A girl inspects damage in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A man salvages belongings at a site hit yesterday by airstrikes in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A man transports on a bicycle tree branches to be be placed on the graves of his relatives, on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A picture is hung on a wall inside a damaged house in the rebel-controlled area of Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, Syria April 11, 2016. Picture taken April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
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