US President Barack Obama.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama marked the “responsible conclusion” to the longest war in American history with a statement of praise for the troops who fought it and with a warning that Afghanistan, their theater, remains a very dangerous place.
Thirteen years after American troops invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, a ceremony in Kabul marked the end of the mission on Sunday.
Obama called that ceremony a milestone for the country, made sweet by the successes of American troops in helping the Afghan people “reclaim their communities, take the lead for their own security, hold historic elections and complete the first democratic transfer of power in their country’s history.”
When he took office in 2009, 180,000 US troops were stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. That number is now down to 15,000, the president noted.
The US “will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces” at the invitation of Kabul, Obama said in a prepared statement, “and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda.
“Our personnel will continue to face risks,” he continued, “but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation.”