Arriving under cover of darkness on the eve of Memorial Day, the president addressed approximately 3,000 troops at a nearby hangar to thank them for their service.
"I thank you as your Commander-in-Chief because you inspire me. Your willingness to serve, to step forward at a time of war, and say 'send me,' is the reason the United States stays strong and free. Of all the honors that I have serving as President, nothing matches serving as your Commander-in-Chief.
"... Tomorrow is Memorial Day. At bases here in Afghanistan and towns across America, we will pause and we'll pay tribute to all those who've laid down their lives for our freedom. And that includes nearly 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice, that last, full measure of devotion, right here in Afghanistan. I know you've stood in front of those battle crosses. I know many of you carry the memories of your fallen comrades in your heart today. We will honor every single one of them -- not just tomorrow, but forever."
During his speech, Obama also commented on the stalled bilateral security agreement negotiations with Afghanistan.
In March, Obama had warned that absent President Hamid Karzai's signature, "The United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning" that would include the full military withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2014. Now, with Karzai's tenure at an end, Obama conveyed optimism on Sunday that the next president of Afghanistan will sign the BSA.
"Once Afghanistan has sworn in its new president, I'm hopeful we will sign a bilateral security agreement that lets us move forward... We are going to make sure that Afghanistan can never again -- ever -- be used to launch a terrorist attack against our country."