More from Afghanistan

Subject: Travel Pool #3 – POTUS with troops

POTUS arrived at a hangar where about 3,000 U.S. troops awaited after an hour of music from Brad Paisley, who called the event “the honor of his life.”

The backdrop to the stage is a huge American flag, maybe the size of a tennis court, hanging vertically, and camouflage tarp horizontally. Troops held iPhones, Androids, and Samsungs aloft to film first Paisley and then POTUS. It’s very stuffy, water distributed to the service members. At one point, Paisley jokingly asked for the AC to be turned on.

POTUS, in leather bomber jacket, receives roar from crowd on introduction.

“I know it’s a little late by I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by,” POTUS began.

-POTUS asks the audience to thank Paisley, who had just begin a tour and had to “juggle a lot of stuff and figure out how to explain it to people without explaining it to people” – alluding to security protocols.
“This was a big sacrifice for him….”

Transcript soon, but here are a few highlights, must be checked against transcript later:

“We support you, we are proud of you, we stand in awe of your service….
-says gratitude shown by the professional sports teams he hosts at the White House, and in the Medal of Honor ceremonies that bring Americans to a stop and fix their attention on heroism
‘I’m here to say I’m proud of you. And I’m proud of your families.”
-said also here at “pivotal moment” in the war
“We’re at a pivotal moment….For many of you this will be your last tour in Afghanistan….”
-and “at the end of the year,” he said, “America’s war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end”
“That progress s because of you and the more than half a million Americans in the military who have served here in Afghanistan….”
“Everybody knows Afghanistan is still a very dangerous place…But just look at the progress you have made possible – Afghans reclaiming their communities, girls going to schools, increases in life expectancy.”
“More Afghans have hope in their future and so much of that is because of you…”

-said if BSA signed “we can begin planning for a limited military presence here” after the end of the year

“Our obligations to you and your families have only just begun…”

POTUS occluded his roughly 20-minute speech by saying he would now “shake hands with everyone in here” and added he’d pose for selfies. That’s going on now….

Scott Wilson
White House Bureau Chief
The Washington Post