KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) — President Barack Obama marked the end of more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan by paying tribute to America’s military, telling troops on Christmas Day that their sacrifices have allowed for a more peaceful, prosperous world to emerge out of the ashes of 9/11.

At an oceanfront Marine Corps base in Hawaii, Obama told troops that while tough challenges remain for the U.S. military in hotspots like Iraq and West Africa, the world as a whole is better off because American troops put country first and served with distinction. He said Americans and their president could not be more thankful.

“Because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the American armed forces, Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country,” Obama said to applause from Marines and their families. “We are safer. It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again.”

Thirteen years and $1 trillion later, the U.S. is preparing to pull the vast majority of its combat troops out of Afghanistan by year’s end, as the U.S. and its partners seek to turn the page on a bloody chapter that started the day that al-Qaida militants struck American soil on Sept. 11, 2011. From a peak 140,000 troops in 2010, the U.S. and NATO plan to leave just 13,500 behind for training and battlefield support… see more

source: usatoday