By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – In his weekly address today, President Barack Obama discussed his trip to Afghanistan, where he signed a historic agreement setting the stage for a long-term partnership.
“As commander in chief, nothing is more humbling or inspiring than the chance to spend some time with our troops,” Obama said. “At Bagram Air Base, I visited with some of our outstanding men and women in uniform. I thanked them for their extraordinary service. And I let them know that America honors their sacrifice.”
Because of their bravery and dedication, the president said, the Taliban’s momentum has been broken, a strong Afghan security force has been established and al-Qaida’s leadership has been devastated.
“One year ago, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said. “The goal that I set – to defeat al-Qaida and deny it a chance to rebuild – is within reach.
“Because of the progress we have made,” he continued, “I was able to sign an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries: a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states -- a future in which the war ends and a new chapter begins.”
Though the “enormous sacrifices” of U.S. men and women are not over, Obama said, many are already returning home.
“Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” he said. “Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. As our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014, the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.”
Urging the American people to help “secure the care and benefits our veterans have earned, so that we serve them as well as they have served us,” the president praised the courage, commitment, selflessness and teamwork of troops. They have something to teach the rest of the nation, he said.
“If we follow their example,” Obama said, “then I have no doubt we will preserve the promise of this country, protect the freedoms we cherish, and leave for our children an America that’s built to last.”