On Tues., May 1, President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden where he signed an agreement with Afghanistan pledging commitment to the country and the eventual withdrawal of troops.
After meeting President Hamid Karzai, President Obama met with U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base, thanking them for their service and sacrifice:
When we see our homeland violated, when we see our fellow citizens killed, then we understand what we have to do. And because of the sacrifices now of a decade, and a new Greatest Generation, not only were we able to blunt the Taliban momentum, not only were we able to drive al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but slowly and systematically we have been able to decimate the ranks of al Qaeda, and a year ago we were able to finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice.
That could have only happened because each and every one of you, in your own way, were doing your jobs. Each and every one of you — without a lot of fanfare, without a lot of fuss — you did your jobs. No matter how small or how big, you were faithful to the oath that you took to protect this nation. And your families did their job — supporting you and loving you and remembering you and being there for you.
The President then addressed the nation from Afghanistan, discussing the future of the NATO mission:
Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.
As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.
President Obama Addresses the Nation from Afghanistan