CNN has just announced that President Obama has made a surprise Memorial Day visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan today. Candy Crowley broke out of the normal format for her Sunday show to make this breaking announcement. She says the U.S. troops greatly appreciate this kind of special attention, especially at a time of withdrawal when some may feel the nation's attention has moved on.
President Obama is meeting with regional military commanders right now.
I have not found any print media announcements yet and will post links to articles as soon as they become available. (They are up.)
10:18 AM PT: CNN is broadcasting guitarist playing for American soldiers waiting for President Obama to make his remarks which Candy Crowley expects sometime in this hour.
CNN has apparently suspended its planned broadcast and has shifted to live coverage and is "plugging" in its top political pundits and subject matter experts to update us on all topics related to Afghanistan, the June 14 election, controversy of the agreement for keeping U.S. forces there - the U.S. refuses to keep troops there past the end of the year unless President Karzai agrees to give them immunity from prosecution in Afghani courts,s something he has thus far refused to do.
Candy sad even they were surprised. Our President left Saturday night at the Baghram Air force base.
President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday as his administration plans to end the nation's longest war and faces intense criticism over the medical treatment of American veterans.
After a secret overnight trip from Washington, D.C., Obama received an on-site briefing from military commanders at Bagram Air Field, visited wounded troops at the base hospital, and prepared to address a rally of some of the 32,800 American servicemembers serving in Afghanistan.
Country music star Brad Paisley traveled with the president, and performed for troops at Bagram. As the presidential party landed, Paisley tweeted: "About to play a surprise concert for the troops in Afghanistan. God bless our military. Here we go."
10:42 AM PT: Thanks to ericlewis0 for bringing us this link to the White House site which is streaming this live, and seems much better than CNN which has not played any of the actual concert. Thank eric.
10:48 AM PT: The President is on.
"I know it is a little late, but I was in the neighborhood so I thought I'd drop by.
Crowd is cheering.
He is thanking commanders.
"Can everyone please give it up for Brad Paisley"
Prez: "His coming here today was not easy. He is on tour, and his coming here was not easy, he couldn't tell anyone. His wife and kids. Tour managers. etc. Thanks.
Obama says, he will not be singing. crowd is sad. Prez say, "Oh you want me to sing. and laughs.
10:50 AM PT: "We have some folks from the 10th mountain division" Cheers.
Prez calls out a whole bunch of division - cheers.
"I'm here on a single mission, which is to thank you for your service.
Your willingness to step forward at a time of war. (is greatly appreciated)
I want to say thank you.
When you are over here away from family and friends, you may not know how much the people back home appreciate and stand united in supporting you."
10:55 AM PT: "Just the other day I welcomed the champion Seattle Seahawks, (Boos)
President makes joke, talks about one of the Seahawks who is a veteran.
Continues on the theme of "We see our nations of gratitude for the troops in ...."
The President mentions that everyone he bestows the Nations Medal of Honor too, accepts it on behalf of the troops still at war."
"So I want to thank you, and say how proud I am of you." Troops may an odd pitch rising sound in unison of support after several lines.
President says," The war is winding down, and many will be serving their last tour in Afghanistan" troops erupt into applause.
10:57 AM PT: President reminds troops of 9/11 and Twin Towers and why they are here - "you are completing the mission... including the one which delivered justice to Osama bin Laden."
The President lists accomplishments like driving out the Taliban, raising Afghani life expectancy, training Afghan forces, etc.
11:03 AM PT: President - "Think of last months elections... that's a tribute to everything you have done here."
"But it has come at a cost. Mentions the number of Americans who have died. (Sorry I missed the number.) "
One of Afghanistan' leading women, wrote an article, about all the changes for women, such as girls going to school and uotes her saying 'we have made tremendous amounts of progress that would not have been possible without the help of the international community, and most especiially the Americans.'"
Pres. " (after the elections) I am hoping we can sign a Bilateral Security Arrangement that will allow us to maintain a small residual force. "
Pres: Pledges to keep supporting troops and veterans even after they go hope. Mentions Michelle Obama and Jill Biden's special program for families of troops, a program for hiring Vets.
11:08 AM PT: Pres: "Going back to New York and thinking about the Twin Towers, one of those searching was a detective found a torn flag. Today that flag is at the museum at the Twin Towers. Even after all it has been through, 'that flag is still there." It is there because of the troops who served in (lists a long list of Afghan cities."
"So I am here to say thanks you. I'm here to say I'm proud of you, God bless the United States of America."
President comes back to mic and promises to shake the hand of "every single person in here. (enormous warehouse - standing room only.)
President turns on his charm and smile and jokes. "It may take a long time, I may not be able to take a selfie with each one of you, but I will shake every hand."
A great speech and a great format for the President. Great speech Mr. President! Well done.
11:54 AM PT: Obama Pledges 'Responsible End' to Afghanistan War By JULIE PACE AP White House Correspondent
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan May 25, 2014
On a surprise visit to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama pledged Sunday to bring America's longest war to a "responsible end" by the close of the year. He promised a decision soon on keeping a small contingent of troops to help protect gains made over nearly 13 years of combat.
He told troops at this sprawling military base that the war had reached a pivotal point, with Afghan forces assuming primary responsibility for their country's security. By 2015, many of the 32,800 American forces now in Afghanistan will depart.
"For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan," Obama said as hundreds of U.S. troops inside an airplane hangar erupted in applause. "America's war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end."