BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - (AP) - On a swift, secretive trip to the war zone, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday night that after years of sacrifice, the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is winding down just as it has already ended in Iraq. "We can see the light of a new day," he said on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death and in the midst of his own re-election campaign. "Our goal is to destroy al-Qaida, and we are on a path to do exactly that," Obama said in an unusual speech to America broadcast from an air base halfway around the world.He spoke after signing an agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to cover the decade after the planned final withdrawal of U.S. combat troops in 2014. Obama said American forces will be involved in counterterrorism and training of the Afghan military, "but we will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains." The president landed in Bagram in darkness, and his helicopter roared to Kabul for the meeting with Karzai, under close guard with only the outlines of the nearby mountains visible. Later, back at the base, he was surrounded by U.S. troops, shaking every hand. He ended his lightning visit with the speech delivered straight to the television camera - and the voters he was trying to reach back home. At the air base, Obama said, "This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end. ... With faith in each other, and our eyes fixed on the future, let us finish the work at hand and forge a just and lasting peace." It was Obama's fourth trip to Afghanistan, his third as commander in chief. He was less than seven hours on the ground in all. He also visited troops at a hospital at the Bagram base, awarding 10 Purple Hearts.
To watch the entire address given by President Obama from Afghanistan, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select the 'iO Extra' tab.