With the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan coming to a close, President Barack Obama saluted returning U.S. troops Monday, saying the country cannot thank them enough.
The president was at Fort Dix, New Jersey, the departure and arrival point for military members of all branches serving in Afghanistan.
Obama told the troops Americans are free, safe and secure at home because they are willing to serve overseas.
He noted that Americans may disagree and debate, but are united and proud when it comes to their armed forces.
Obama said the U.S. war in Afghanistan is coming to what he calls a "responsible end," but that Afghanistan is still a very dangerous place.
Some U.S. forces will remain to keep the pressure on the Taliban and al-Qaida. Fifteen thousand U.S. troops will be in Afghanistan and Iraq by the start of the new year, down from 180,000 when Obama took office in 2009.
He called this a turning point for the U.S. military, saying the days of deploying large numbers of ground forces to engage in nation building are coming to an end.
U.S. forces heading to West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak also depart from Fort Dix. Obama said this effort will ultimately save thousands of lives.
During his appearance at Fort Dix, the president also said he will sign the $1.1 trillion spending bill Congress passed earlier this week. The measure includes a pay raise for U.S. troops.
Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.