At 10:55 am ET (7:25 pm local), Air Force One touched down under the shroud of nightfall at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. President Obama had just made an unannounced 12 hour, 46 minute journey to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He would take a short flight aboard Marine One to Kabul where the two delegations convened. Following their meetings, the President returned to Bagram Air Base where he spoke to a crowd of U.S. and allied troops:
In his remarks, President Obama reiterated the mission before the troops:
Our broad mission is clear: We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies. That is our mission. And to accomplish that goal, our objectives here in Afghanistan are also clear: We’re going to deny al Qaeda safe haven. We’re going to reverse the Taliban’s momentum. We’re going to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces and the Afghan government so that they can begin taking responsibility and gain confidence of the Afghan people.
He also reminded the troops of his unwavering support, noting efforts to improve pay and benefits, improving care for the wounded, moving forward with the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and increasing the VA budget.
And I know that sometimes when you’re watching TV, the politics back home may look a little messy, and people are yelling and hollering, and Democrats this and Republicans that. I want you to understand this: There’s no daylight when it comes to support of all of you. There’s no daylight when it comes to supporting our troops. That brings us together. We are all incredibly proud. We all honor what you do. And all of you show all of America what’s possible when people come together, not based on color or creed, not based on faith or station, but based on a commitment to serve together, to bleed together and to succeed together as one people, as Americans.