President Obama Makes Surprise Trip to Afghanistan to Thank Troops

President Obama speaking to troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on Sunday. (Photo: Evan Vucci AP)
President Obama speaking to troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on Sunday.
(Photo: Evan Vucci AP)

President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday as his administration plans to end the nation’s longest war at the end of this year, and faces intense criticism over the medical treatment of American veterans.

“I’m here on a single mission, and that is to thank you for your extraordinary service,” Obama told a rally of some of the 32,800 American servicemembers serving in Afghanistan, many of them making their last tour of duty.

Obama also announced that he will decide soon on possible troop levels for a post-2014 residual force to be left in Afghanistan to keep training local security forces and conduct counterterrorism missions.

In discussing this “limited military presence,” Obama told U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field that, “after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you have helped to win.”

The residual force — perhaps up to 10,000 troops — may be a topic when Obama delivers a foreign policy speech Wednesday during a commencement address at West Point.

Obama said, “I want everybody to know, in this country and across the region: America’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan will endure.”

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SOURCE: David Jackson
USA TODAY

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