BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to spend time with U.S. troops on Thanksgiving.
The president arrived at Bagram Air Field shortly after 8:30 p.m. local time and spent more than two-and-a-half hours on the ground, his first trip to the site of America’s longest war.
His first stop was a dining hall decked out in paper Thanksgiving decorations where he plated turkey for the troops at the largest U.S. base in the country.
He was then greeted by a round of loud cheers as he headed into a main dining area and sat down for a meal, chatted and posed for photos.
The meal included turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and candied yams. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, “Entertainment Tonight” and a Harry Potter movie played on dining hall TVs.
Trump then spoke to a crowd of about 1,500 troops gathered in a hangar on the base. He stood behind a podium surrounded by army green sandbags and flanked by military equipment.
The president thanked the troops, saying he flew 8,331 miles to be there to tell them the U.S. has never been stronger. He said, “There is nowhere I’d rather celebrate Thanksgiving.”
Trump at one point invited Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to join him onstage. Ghani wished the troops a “Happy Thanksgiving” and commended Trump for his leadership.
The visit comes more than two months after Trump abruptly broke off peace talks with the Taliban after a bombing in Kabul killed 12 people, including an American soldier.
And it comes at a pivotal moment in Trump’s presidency, with the impeachment inquiry moving quickly.
The president and first lady made a similar trip last year to Iraq on Christmas night — their first to an active conflict zone.
Vice President Mike Pence also visited troops in Iraq this week.
Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 2,400 American service members have been killed since the war began 18 years ago.