Obama During Memorial Day Visit to Troops: The War Will End By the End of the Year
During a surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan to coincide with Memorial Day, President Obama pledged to bring America’s longest war to a ‘responsible end’ by the close of the year.
“For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan,” Obama said as the troops erupted into applause. “America’s war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end.”
The lengthy troop presence in Afghanistan has been costly. The Congressional Research Services tallies the financial cost of the war between 2001 and 2011 alone at $443 billion.
Yet, the greatest toll has been on human life. Over 3247 coalition troops have died since the war started well over a decade ago and at least 19,772 troops have been wounded, many by roadside bombs.
Now, Obama told the troops, thirteen years after it all started, it is time for both American and coalition forces to go back home to their families and allow the people of Afghanistan to assume primary responsibility for security in their country.
In the wake of the Veterans Affair scandal, he also promised those serving in Afghanistan that the country’s obligation to the troops would not end when they hit American soil and stressed the government and the American people realized the tough sacrifices they have made and those they have lost.
“The main reason I took this trip is to make sure that everybody knows as we come into Memorial Day weekend that … we are aware of the sacrifices that so many have made,” he told the troops gathered in an airplane hangar to see the President.
The President also vowed to make certain that the efforts taken by the troops would not be forgotten when American troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
“After all of the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains you have made,” Obama told the men and women stationed in the war zone. “America’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan will endure.”
Photo Credit: AP/Politico