KABUL, Afghanistan —
Well, good evening. Ministers, ambassadors, colleagues, especially General Dunford and General Campbell. I’m going to forego my remarks because I think sometimes these events are as much about images as they are about words. And I’ll share with you the images that I will carry back with me today.
The two flags of the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan being flying side by side, and listening to the national anthems played, the NATO flag behind me, the 48 flags of the coalition surrounding us. The monument to those who have given their lives in this cause.
And last night, flying in from the United States, I landed and took a helicopter across Afghanistan at night over your beautiful capital city for the first time in several months, and I was struck by the life that was evident on the streets of Kabul. And it caused me to believe that Afghanistan is marching toward the light. And I’m confident that with this coalition and with all of you who are at some level responsible for delivering on the promise that Afghanistan holds, and these two military leaders, one who is about to leave and one who is about to take up the task, I’m confident Afghanistan can continue to march toward the light.
Joe Dunford, there is no higher compliment that one military leader can pay to another than the very simple, “well done.” You know what you’ve done and everyone in this audience knows what you’ve done. You’ve served with great courage, great commitment tirelessly, given every ounce of your being to this country as has your family, Ellen back in the states has been wonderfully supportive, and we simply, all of us in uniform and those of our elected officials who have appointed you could not have been more proud of the job you’ve done.
And J.C. Campbell, on your third tour in Afghanistan, another man who is deeply committed to this mission who has a vast amount of experience and who will be a great partner to Afghanistan during his tour as well. And please give our best to Anne who is now at home caring for your family while you’re over here caring for this great family of people who have gathered together for the future of Afghanistan.
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim, and God bless us all.