U.S. President Barack Obama has left Afghanistan after a 4-hour surprise visit to see American troops during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Speaking late Sunday at Bagram Airfield, the president told troops he is thankful for their service. He called them "real heroes."
Memorial Day is a time when Americans honor the country's war dead.
Obama said they are completing the U.S. mission in Afghanistan by decimating al-Qaida leaders in the tribal regions, reversing the Taliban's momentum and protecting lives back home by preventing attacks from the region.
He also said he hopes a U.S.-Afghan security agreement will be signed once a new Afghan president is sworn in.
International combat troops are set to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Some forces could remain in the country after December 2014 in a training and advisory role, if Afghan leaders approve the bilateral security agreement.
Country music star Brad Paisley kicked off the president's rally with a performance for some of the 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan. Paisley traveled to Bagram Airfield with the president.