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Trump Highlights Progress During Thanksgiving Visit to Troops in Afghanistan

Nov. 28, 2019 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

President Donald J. Trump highlighted the sacrifices and grit of U.S. service members fighting against extremism by visiting Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, for Thanksgiving.

A man speaks from behind a podium surrounded by military members.
Trump Speech
President Donald J. Trump addresses service members at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191128-D-PB383-026

The president also met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the U.S. Air Force headquarters on the base. He then spoke to more than a thousand service members at a hangar on the flight line.

Two leaders sit in chairs and talk with flags behind them.
Presidential Meeting
President Donald J. Trump and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meet at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden, DOD
VIRIN: 191128-D-HD608-008

"We've had tremendous success against ISIS in the past three, four months, likewise with al-Qaida we’re down to a very small number," Trump said during a short news conference after his meeting with Ghani. "If the Taliban wants to make a deal, we'll see if they make a deal. If they do, they do; and if they don't, they don't."

He said that U.S. officials are speaking with Taliban officials.

Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Army Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of Resolute Support Mission, accompanied the president to his meeting with Ghani.

Three leaders stand together and talk.
Trump Discussion
President Donald J. Trump speaks with Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, and Army Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of the Resolute Support Mission, during his visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden, DOD
VIRIN: 191128-D-HD608-003A

The president asked Milley to discuss the operations against ISIS in Afghanistan. Milley said Afghan and coalition troops have made tremendous progress against ISIS in Nangarhar Province. 

"They've been hurt bad," Milley said. "Their numbers have been attrited and dwindled significantly. Organizationally, they have not been destroyed, but they have been severely hurt.

Two men shake hands.
Trump Handshake
President Donald J. Trump and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shake hands during their visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191128-D-PB383-017

 As the president mentioned, there have been ongoing talks with the Taliban, and hopefully those will be successful and hopefully, they will lead to Afghan-to-Afghan dialogue in the not too distant future."

The president noted that a large number of ISIS fighters and their families have surrendered in the past month. The constant pressure by Afghan and coalition forces was key to that result.

President Ghani thanked Trump for his efforts on behalf of the Afghan people. He thanked American forces for their courage and determination. Ghani noted that more than 2,000 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan and more than 50,000 have been wounded.

A man speaks from behind a podium  surrounded by military members.
Trump Remarks
President Donald J. Trump addresses service members at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191128-D-PB383-020A

Trump also addressed more than 1,000 service members at a base hangar. He told the troops they represent the best military in the world. He also praised the professionalism of the forces that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

"American warriors hunted him down and executed in a masterful raid, and they punched his ticket to hell," Trump said. He also said the American-led Defeat-ISIS coalition "defeated 100 percent of the ISIS Caliphate."

A man speaks from behind a podium surrounded by military members.
Trump Address
President Donald J. Trump addresses service members at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden
VIRIN: 191128-D-HD608-002A

The president said he is looking at plans to draw down the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He said that with new equipment and new tactics U.S. forces in the region actually can do more with fewer forces in the country.

President Donald J. Trump speaks with service members  while they eat.
Thanksgiving Chat
President Donald J. Trump speaks with service members during their Thanksgiving meal at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden, DOD
VIRIN: 191128-D-HD608-004

The troops were surprised by the visit by the president. Trump followed traditional military protocol and joined MIlley and Miller in helping to serve the Thanksgiving feast to the troops at the Bagram dining facility.

He also sat and spoke with service members, and he had pictures taken with many of them.

President Donald J. Trump poses for a photo with troops.
Presidential Photo Op
President Donald J. Trump poses for a photo with troops during his visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191128-D-PB383-015

"I could think of no place I would rather be on Thanksgiving, than with you," Trump told service members at the dining facility.