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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President Before ISAF Meeting -- Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

Joint Operating Center
Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan 

9:25 P.M. AFT

THE PRESIDENT:  I just want to take a few minutes to say thank you to all of you.  The main reason I took this trip -- in addition to bringing Brad Paisley -- is to make sure that everybody here knows, as we’re spending Memorial Day Weekend, we’re aware of the sacrifices that so many have made on behalf of our freedom here in Afghanistan, and also to make sure that we’re reminded of the sacrifices you and your families make every single day.

This is a tough job.  But as I came down the stairs, I had a chance to see the Twin Towers on a poster.  Some of you know that I had a chance to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum that has just gone up in New York.  And it’s a reminder of why we’re here.  We are now in the process of transition, and I’ve been getting constant updates from General Dunford and Jim about the progress that we’ve made.  We’ve seen an election in Afghanistan -- we've seen the first go successfully.  And I’m going to have to make some decisions in conjunction with the folks on the ground about how we manage the transition not just through the end of this year but post-2014.  And we’ll probably be announcing some decisions fairly shortly.  But it’s important for me to make sure that I check in directly with folks face-to-face before those decisions were finally made.

I’m impressed with not just the progress that’s been made, but the dedication and the can-do spirit that is continually exhibited throughout this war group, and I just want to say thank you for that.  And Joe has given me I think a fairly detailed briefing about what the current plans are and the progress we’ve made to train Afghan forces.  I think it has gone -- I’ll be honest with you -- better than I might have expected just a year ago, and that’s a testament to the great work that all of you have done, as well as the pride the Afghan people have taken in the possibility of being able to secure their own country and install a government that’s accountable to them. 

So I very much appreciate all the great work that you do.  And I think the American people thank you as well.

Thank you, guys.

9:28 P.M. AFT