President Barack Obama addresses troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, today.
In a live speech from Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan tonight, President Barack Obama will look ahead to the time when America ends its combat role in Afghanistan after more than a decade of war.
Obama, making a surprise trip to the Central Asian country to sign of a Strategic Partnership Agreement providing U.S. support for the Afghan government through 2024, will restate his commitment to a steady drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. By 2014, Afghan forces will retain complete control over their country.
“We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda,” Obama will say.
Speaking in the pre-dawn hours, Obama will allude to a new day for Afghanistan on the horizon, allowing for the United States to redouble its efforts at home. “[I]t is time to renew America,” the president will say. “This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.”
The excerpts from the speech are below:
“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.”
“My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.
This future is only within reach because of our men and women in uniform. Time and again, they have answered the call to serve in distant and dangerous places. In an age when so many institutions have come up short, these Americans stood tall. They met their responsibilities to one another, and the flag they serve under. I just met with some of them, and told them that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder. In their faces, we see what is best in ourselves and our country.
“As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America. An America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.”
“This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.”