I strongly support the president’s decision to maintain a limited U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after our combat mission ends there later this year. This presence, which is contingent on a signed bilateral security agreement, will help ensure that al Qaeda cannot reconstitute itself in Afghanistan, and it will help us sustain the significant progress we have made in training and equipping the Afghan National Security Forces.
I want to once again commend [Marine] General [Joseph] Dunford for his exceptional leadership of this mission, which he has kept on a path to success in the face of many challenges. The United States also appreciates the continued contributions of our ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) partners, whom I will meet with next week at NATO headquarters in Brussels. And as we bring America’s longest war to a responsible end this year, all Americans are grateful for the sacrifice and service of the men and women who deployed there over the past thirteen years. Everyone who has served in Afghanistan should be proud of what they accomplished, and the Afghan people should be confident of America’s enduring support for them.