Coalition forces have been transitioning security to Afghan forces in the past year, so that by now they are in the lead for security in areas where 76 percent of the Afghan population lives.
Despite that, most Afghan military units still remain unable to work independently of the logistical and combat support provided by the United States and its allies. Besides the 66,000 U.S. troops, there are 34,000 troops from other NATO countries, serving alongside Afghanistan's 352,000 security forces.
U.S. troops continue to partner with Afghan troops in preparation for withdrawal, although the rapid spike in insider attacks last year has created new challenges.
It is against this backdrop that Karzai assured officials it "will be able to provide security to its people and to protect its borders so Afghanistan will not ever be threatened by terrorists from across our borders."
Obama was equally sanguine today. "Afghanistan still has work to do to accomplish those goals, but there's no doubt that the possibility of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan today is higher than before we went in," he said.
"Have we achieved everything that some might have imagined us achieving in the best of scenarios? Probably not," Obama conceded. "This is a human enterprise and, you know, you fall short of the ideal.
"Did we achieve our central goal, and have we been able, I think, to shape a strong relationship with a responsible Afghan government that is willing to cooperate with us to make sure that it is not a launching pad for future attacks against the United States?
"We have achieved that goal. ... And for that, I think, we have to thank our extraordinary military, intelligence and diplomatic teams as well as the cooperation of the Afghan government and the Afghan people."