In Speech from Bagram, Obama Vows to End War but Not Abandon Afghanistan

The Pentagon cited "shocks" like the slaughter of 17 Afghan civilians, allegedly by an American soldier, but reported that insurgent attacks had decreased 9 percent in 2011 from 2010, the first ebb in five years. It also reported that Afghan security forces, while improving, still face challenges from rampant corruption and troops who quit.

The trip had a strongly political flavor: Obama has been using the May 1, 2011, Bin Laden raid as a political cudgel to pummel Romney. A senior Obama aide, briefing reporters on condition that he not be named, said that the president had always intended to mark the anniversary with American troops. The aide also said that both Obama and Karzai had hoped to sign the partnership deal on Afghan soil.

Obama avoided any direct criticisms of Romney during the trip.

"I think them taking credit for the right decision is entirely appropriate. I think trying to attack me on that basis is disappointing and the wrong course," Romney said in an interview with "CBS This Morning."

"Of course the right course was to assassinate, execute Osama bin Laden and that is precisely what happened, and I congratulate the president for doing so. And I am confident and that of course I would have taken exactly the same decision," Romney said. "Any thinking American would have ordered exactly the same thing."

The Obama campaign released  a brutal ad calling into question whether Romney would have ordered the raid. After Republicans complained that the president was overdoing it, Obama denied  any "excessive celebration" and took a veiled shot at his all-but-certain rival.

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