Thirteen years after the war in Afghanistan began, on Sunday the United State and NATO held a ceremony in Kabul marking the end of the combat mission. Hours later, Barack Obama acknowledged the conclusion of the deadly war, thanking the troops for their service and sacrifice:
HONOLULU — President Obama marked the end of the U.S. military’s combat mission in Afghanistan on Sunday, saying that 13 years after the war began it is coming to a “responsible conclusion” as American forces draw down to a minimal presence in that country.
Obama acknowledged in a written statement that Afghanistan remains “a dangerous place” and that the 10,800 U.S. personnel who will remain mostly in an advisory and training role will continue to face risks.
But in thanking the troops, intelligence officers and diplomatic officials for their service, Obama said that the United States is safer and more secure and that Afghanistan will take the lead in ensuring its own security.
“We honor the profound sacrifices that have made this progress possible,” said Obama, who delivered a similar message last week on a Christmas visit to speak with troops at a U.S. Marine base on Oahu, where he is on vacation. “We salute every American — military and civilian, including our dedicated diplomats and development workers — who have served in Afghanistan, many on multiple tours, just as their families have sacrificed at home.”
Obama further lauded the conclusion of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying “Some 90 percent of our troops are home.” However, in November he authorized the deployment of more troops to Iraq, and in January up to 1,300 troops will deploy to Baghdad.
To be sure, America’s mission in Iraq and Afghanistan is far from over.