President Obama Pays a Surprise Visit to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines how the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan will be normalized as we look beyond a responsible end to the war. 

After his meeting with President Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, President Obama headed to Bagram Air Base, where he met with U.S. troops serving in that country. He thanked them for the sacrifices that they have made -- and that their families have made -- over the past decade of war, and paid tribute to their successes:

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. 

 And so, together, you guys represent what is best in America. And you're part of a long line of those who have worn this uniform to make sure that we are free and secure, to make sure that those of us at home have the capacity to live our lives. And when you're missing a birthday or you're missing a soccer game or when you're missing an anniversary, and those of us back home are able to enjoy it, it's because of you.  

And I'm here to tell you, everybody in America knows that.  And everybody in America appreciates it. And everybody in America honors it. And when the final chapter of this war is written, historians will look back and say, not only was this the greatest fighting force in the history of the world, but all of you also represented the values of America in an exemplary way.

You can read the President's full remarks or watch the video: