During a surprise visit to Afghanistan Tuesday night, President Barack Obama spoke to the American people and reaffirmed his commitment to finishing the job while staying on pace for a 2014 withdrawal. Obama also used the trip to sign a key deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that would lay out a long-term partnership between the two nations, The Washington Post reports.
Speaking at Bagram Air Base in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Obama marked the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death and also laid out the mission for the coming months for troops stationed in the country.
"Our goal is not to build a country in America’s image or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban," he told the gathered crowd. "These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars and many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al-Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that."
Around 23,000 troops are slated to leave Afghanistan by the end of the summer, which would bring home the final soldiers from the 2009 surge. After that, military officials expect a steady stream to return home until the U.S. has left completely by the end of 2014.