Hi, everybody. This week, I welcomed President Hamid Karzai to the White House to discuss the way ahead in Afghanistan. And today, I want to update you on how we will end this war, bring our troops home, and continue the work of rebuilding America.
Over the past four years, thanks to our brave men and women in uniform, we’ve dealt devastating blows to al Qaeda. We’ve pushed the Taliban out of their strongholds. And our core objective – the reason we went to war in the first place – is now within reach: ensuring that al Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America.
The 33,000 additional forces that I ordered to Afghanistan served with honor, completed their mission, and – as promised – returned home last fall. This week, we agreed that this spring, Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the entire country, and our troops will shift to a support role. In the coming months, I’ll announce the next phase of our drawdown. And by the end of next year, America’s war in Afghanistan will be over.
This progress has only been possible because of the heroic sacrifices of our troops and diplomats, alongside forces from many other nations. More than a half million Americans – military and civilian – have served in Afghanistan. Thousands have been wounded. More than 2,000 have given their lives.
This remains a very difficult mission. The work ahead will not be easy. Our forces are still in harm’s way. But make no mistake – our path is clear, and we are moving forward. Because after more than a decade of war, the nation we need to rebuild is our own.
As we do, we have to care for our troops and veterans who fought in our name. We have to grow our economy and shrink our deficits. Create new jobs and boost family incomes. We have to fix our infrastructure and our immigration system. We have to protect our planet from the destructive effects of climate change – and protect our children from the horrors of gun violence.
These, too, will be difficult missions for America. But they must be met. And if we can summon just a fraction of the determination of our men and women in uniform, I know we can meet them. And I intend to work as hard as I know how to make sure we do.