President Barack Obama has made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan this Memorial Day weekend, arriving under the cover of darkness Sunday night to visit U.S. troops serving in the final months of their country\’s longest war.
Spirited out of Washington aboard Air Force One Saturday night, Obama flew for more than 13 hours for the brief visit of several hours to Bagram Air Base, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, where he was to receive a military briefing, speak to the troops, and visit wounded soldiers in a hospital.
The president landed at Bagram air base late Sunday.
Obama, making his fourth trip to Afghanistan, brought country music star Brad Paisley with him to provide entertainment for the troops.
Obama planned to meet top US military commanders and civilian leaders in Afghanistan during a short visit, but there were no plans to see Afghan President Hamid Karzai or either of the candidates in Afghanistan\’s runoff presidential election.
Reuters news agency is reporting that a senior official said Obama will announce a decision soon on how many U.S. troops will stay behind in Afghanistan after 2014.
International combat troops are set to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Some forces could remain in the country after December 2014 in a training and advisory role if Afghan leaders approve a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.
At least 2,181 members of the U.S. military have died during the nearly 13-year Afghan war and thousands more have been wounded. There are still about 32,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a high of 100,000 in mid-2010, when as Obama sent in additional soldiers to quell escalating violence.
U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban-led government in 2001.
The Taliban have stepped up attacks ahead of the withdrawal by NATO and US troops.