News / Asia

Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

President Barack Obama speaks to troops at a rally during an unannounced visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2010
President Barack Obama speaks to troops at a rally during an unannounced visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2010
Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama has made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, to thank U.S. troops for their service. Bad weather forced Mr. Obama to cancel a planned meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Because of the dangerous situation in Afghanistan, the president's trip was kept secret until shortly before he arrived.

Mr. Obama, wearing a leather jacket, spoke to more than 3,800 troops in a hangar at Bagram Air Base and thanked them for their service, especially during the holidays. "So on behalf of me, on behalf of Michelle, on behalf of Malia and Sasha, on behalf of more than 300 million Americans, we are here to say thank you," he said. We are here to say thank you for everything that you do."

Watch Dan Robinson's Companion TV Report

The president told the troops they have succeeded in breaking the Taliban's momentum. "You are going on the offense - tired of playing defense - targeting their leaders, pushing them out of their strongholds. Today we can be proud that there are fewer areas under Taliban control, and more Afghans have a chance to build a more hopeful future."

Mr. Obama said the troops' mission is important in ensuring that terrorists will never again be able to use Afghanistan as a base for attacking the United States. "And that is why you are here. That is why your mission matters so much. That is why you must succeed. Because this effort is about the safety of our communities back home and the dignity of the Afghan people, who do not want to live in tyranny," he said.

Before speaking to the troops, the president met with the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General David Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry.

Mr. Obama also visited wounded soldiers at a military hospital and awarded five Purple Hearts, the medal given to U.S. troops wounded in battle.

The president also held a 15-minute telephone call with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The two leaders had been scheduled to meet over dinner, but strong wind, dust and cloud cover forced the cancellation of Mr. Obama's helicopter ride to Kabul. A planned secure videoconference was also scrapped.

White House officials say the president's talk with Mr. Karzai built on their meeting in Lisbon less than two weeks ago, in which they discussed plans to gradually prepare Afghan forces to take over their country's security.

The phone call came at a difficult time in U.S.-Afghan relations. Leaked cables from U.S. diplomats describe rampant corruption at the top levels of the Afghan government. They also portray Mr. Karzai as weak and paranoid but shrewd.

The president's trip also comes days before a full review of his plan for the war in Afghanistan. On the flight to Bagram, White House officials said the review will not include any major policy changes.

This was Mr. Obama's second visit to Afghanistan as commander-in-chief.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More