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My decision on our mission in Afghanistan (7.7.16)

More than 14 years ago, after al Qaida attacked our nation on 9/11, the United States went to war in Afghanistan to combat these terrorists and the Taliban that harbored them.

Over the years, thanks to the heroic efforts of our military, intelligence officials, diplomats and development professionals, we pushed al Qaida out of its camps, helped the Afghan people topple the Taliban and establish a democratic government, dealt crippling blows to the al Qaida leadership, delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, and trained Afghan forces to take responsibility for their own security.

Given that progress, America's combat mission in Afghanistan came to a responsible end in December of 2014.

Compared to the 100,000 troops we once had there, today, fewer than 10,000 remain. And compared to their previous mission -- helping to lead the fight -- our forces are now focused on two narrow missions: training and advising Afghan forces and supporting counterterrorist operations against the remnants of al Qaida as well as other terrorists, including ISIL. Even as we remain relentless against those who threaten us, we are no longer engaged in a major ground war in Afghanistan.

Still, even these narrow missions continue to be dangerous. Over the past year and a half, 38 Americans -- military and civilian -- have given their lives in Afghanistan for our security. We honor their sacrifice. We stand with their families in their grief and their pride. And we resolve to carry on the mission for which they gave their last full measure of devotion.

Today, our mission in Afghanistan is not ours alone. For the second year now, Afghan forces are fully responsible for their own security. Every day, nearly 320,000 Afghan soldiers and police are serving and fighting -- and many are giving their lives -- to defend their country. Meanwhile, in another milestone, we recently removed the leader of the Taliban, Akhtar Mohammad Mansur.