It was a secret mission. President Obama flew out of Washington late last night and tonight was in Afghanistan, on a visit the White House says was devoted to American forces. But it comes not just at holiday time. It's also time to re-assess the US war effort.
The president praised US troops for, in his words, breaking the Taliban's momentum but he conceded: progress is slow.
On his second trip to Afghanistan, President Obama was greeted at Bagram Airbase by General David Petraeus who Mr. Obama sent in June to run the Afghan war.
With Petreaus' troops, the Commander-In-Chief was upbeat.
President Obama said �you're going on the offense. Tired of playing defense. Today we can be proud that there are fewer areas under taliban control.�
But Afghans rejecting insurgency and jihad was the Petraeus plan.
Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution says �whenever you are talking about offensive operations as the centerpiece of your success and your mission is counterinsurgency you have not yet turned the corner, in my judgment.�
The weather was bad.
The president did not fly 25 miles to Kabul.
He spoke to Afghan President Karzai by phone . A face to face, like this one in may, might have better soothed this weeks wounds.
From Wikileaks, u-s diplomats caught calling Karzai "indecisive," and Afghan corruption "overwhelming." Mr. Obama seemed a bit overwhelmed, after a visit to Bagram hospital.
President Obama said �I just talked to the platoon that just lost six of their buddies in a senseless act of violence. This is a tough business. Progress comes slow.�
The president thanked the troops and families separated from their soldier-loved-ones for this holiday season.