March 29th, 2010
08:38 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama headed back to U.S. after surprise visit to Afghanistan

Obama is expected to return to the United States on Monday morning after a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

Obama is expected to return to the United States on Monday morning after a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

(CNN) - President Barack Obama is expected to return to the United States on Monday morning after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he met with his Afghan counterpart and reiterated the need to wipe out terror networks.

Obama slipped into Bagram Air Base near Kabul under the cover of darkness on Sunday.

He met with about 2,000 troops at the U.S. base and told them their work is significant to security at home.

"I know it's not easy," he said. "If I thought for a minute that America's vital interests were not served, were not at stake here in Afghanistan, I would order all of you home right away."

The United States has made progress in the fight against al Qaeda and its allies, Obama said.

"All of that makes America safer, and we are going to keep them on the run," he said. "Because that is what is going to be required in order to ensure that our families back home have the security that they need."

Earlier, Obama met with President Hamid Karzai to discuss progress by the Afghan government in strengthening its ability to run the country and provide security for its people. After the 30-minute meeting, Obama said he wanted to send a "strong message" that the partnership between the nations would continue.

Karzai thanked the United States, pointing out that American taxpayers have helped rebuild his country.

During his trip, the president made clear that the visit was to encourage the roughly 80,000 U.S. troops in the country.

"The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. ... We keep at it," he told the troops. "We persevere. And together, with our partners, we will prevail. I am absolutely confident of that."

Before his departure, Obama also met with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of allied troops in Afghanistan.

The trip began in secrecy, with the president leaving his Camp David retreat. He flew to Afghanistan on Air Force One, landing at Bagram Air Base at 7:24 p.m.

Obama then flew on a helicopter to the Presidential Palace to meet with Karzai.

The U.S. president is expected to land at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland at 9 a.m. ET.

Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Although I had hoped the troops would be home by now, I must once again applaud how hands on this President is with the war, unlike his predecessor who just played golf and never visited the troops.

    March 29, 2010 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  2. C-I-C

    Great morale booster Mr. President.

    March 29, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  3. peggy

    God bless our President.

    March 29, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. TK

    Man, this guy never stops. Keep up the good work Mr. President!

    March 29, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  5. Gil

    I have supported Obama on Health Care and domestic issues, but this war in Afghanistan that has raged for 130 + years has got to stop. We called the Taliban Freedom fighters when they were fighting the Soviets. Now they are terrorists.
    For the 15th day this month we had to say, "We are Sorry" for the killing of 6 Afghan civilians. Two days before it was a family of 4 and before that is was students in a school and so on. We can never win when we turn the innocent into our enemies and then their families seek revenge against the real enemy. US<

    March 29, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  6. andagain

    Surprise photo op!! Yee ha! When is he going to stay put?

    March 29, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. verlie

    This was NOT a surprise visit. He had planned to go a week ago but decided to stay and push the new health package through!

    March 29, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. Terry from West Texas

    We have treated our soldiers shamefully. While we sat on our butts in the living room and watched the war on TV, they fought for us. They were National Guardsmen who never signed up for a foreign war and they are volunteers who have served hitch after hitch over there because there were not enough volunteers. We didn't want to be drafted ourselves into the service to fight the war we approved of. We just wanted to be protected.

    Now these veterans deserve excellent health care, assistance finding good jobs, good education benefits, and housing loans. I propose a surtax to be paid by all non-veterans (veterans would be exempt) to pay for the remainder of these wars and to pay for veteran's benefits. This surtax would be in addition to any other taxes we owe.

    It is the least – the very least – we can do.

    March 29, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  9. Desmond in Canada

    The best Commander-in -Chief the USA has ever had.

    March 29, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  10. phoenix86

    Obama should stay there. I would trade Karzai for Obama as POTUS anyday.

    March 29, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. Ellie

    THANK YOU Mr. President!

    March 29, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  12. Bill Exum

    Just what we need: A multi-tasking Commander-N-Chief. Thanks for your leadership Mr. President. We'll kick it up a notch!

    March 29, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Hell yes I'm proud of this American President!

    Did you all hear the wonderful reception he got from our troops? They love and respect him and his leadership.

    Thank you for taking the time out AGAIN to go see our troops in enemy territory at great risk to yourself Mr. President. I am sure that dealing with the Taliban GOP has given you more than enough practice as to how to navigate amongst the enemy.

    We pray for you, your family, our troops and our country. Who can go against the will and the protection of God? NO ONE.

    March 29, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Ridgeway

    Here's a laugher. Obama went there to talk to Karzi about government corruption. Question is which government? Ours or theirs?
    There would be no one more qualified to speak on the subject than the crookedest Chicago politico to hold office.
    Here's a little more. Watch the Celebrity Apprentice. Rod Blogovich is an idiot and can't even use a computer. Proof positive the voters in Illinois are clueless about the intellect of those they vote for. Hence Senator Obama.

    March 29, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  15. Tim

    I wonder how they were able to keep the chuckles down.

    March 29, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  16. Tim

    It's at event like this where it becomes aparent that Obama is out of his sorts.

    March 29, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  17. jacksays

    Thank you for supporting our troops, Mr. President. As the Commander in Chief it's good to see you there, on the ground, with our boys.

    March 29, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. Artie

    Photo op time !!! Propaganda anyone? We all know what he thinks of the military!

    March 29, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. NC

    I'm sure it wasn't a Surprise to the 2,000 troops that were told to line up and smile and make nice with this obama guy.

    March 29, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. Steph

    God bless our troops. God bless President Obama.

    March 29, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |