President Barack Obama is arriving back in Washington Monday morning after a surprise trip to Afghanistan over the weekend.
The president's secret visit to the Afghan war zone was his first as commander-in-chief.
He slipped into the country in secret on Sunday and addressed U.S. troops. He also met with Afganistan's President Hamid Karzi.
"If this region slides backwards," Obama said, "if the Taliban retakes this country, al Qaeda can operate with impunity. Then more American lives will be at stake, the Afghan people will lose their opportunity for progress and prosperity and the world will be significantly less secure. As long as I'm your commander-in-chief, I'm not going to let that happen."
In private talks he drove home that Karzi must do more to battle corruption in his government and reduce the drug trade in the country. But before that transition can take place, Afghan security forces need to improve.
"Progress will continue to be made...but we also want to continue make progress on the civilian front," Obama said, referring to anti-corruption efforts, good governance and adherence to the rule of law. "All of these things end up resulting in an Afghanistan that is more prosperous and more secure."
Karzai promised that his country "would move forward into the future" to eventually restore security, and he thanked Obama for the American assistance in his country.
U.S. troops are expected to fight a large battle for southern Afghanistan in coming weeks.