Speaking today from the White House alongside Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Obama announced
plans for troop levels in Afghanistan for the remainder of his presidency. The following is an excerpt of President Obama’s remarks.
More than 14 years ago, after al Qaida attacked our nation on 9/11, the United States went to war in Afghanistan against these terrorists and the Taliban that harbored them. Over the years — and thanks to heroic efforts by our military, our intelligence community, our diplomats and our development professionals — we pushed al Qaida out of its camps, helped the Afghan people topple the Taliban and helped them establish a democratic government. We dealt crippling blows to the al Qaida leadership. We delivered justice to Osama bin Laden. And we trained Afghan forces to take responsibility for their own security.
And given that progress, a year and a half ago — in December 2014 — America’s combat mission in Afghanistan came to a responsible end. Compared to the 100,000 troops we once had there, today, fewer than 10,000 remain. And compared to their previous mission — helping to lead the fight — our forces are now focused on two narrow missions: training and advising Afghan forces, and supporting counterterrorist operations against the remnants of al Qaida as well as other terrorist groups, including ISIL. In short, even as we’ve maintained a relentless case against those who are threatening us, we are no longer engaged in a major ground war in Afghanistan.
But even these narrow missions continue to be dangerous. Over the past year and a half, 38 Americans — military and civilian — have lost their lives in Afghanistan on behalf of our security. And we honor their sacrifice. We stand with their families in their grief and in their pride. And we resolve to carry on the mission for which they gave their last full measure of devotion.