U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to troops in a hangar at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)
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Flying secretly through the day and night on a standard unmarked US Air Force C-17 transport plane, Pence corkscrewed into Bagram Airfield on the unannounced visit to thank some of the roughly 15,000 US personnel still hoping to turn the tide in the conflict, now in its 17th year.The superpower's vexed campaign against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban -- born from the rubble of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington -- receives ever-less public attention in the United States these days.Pence's visit was designed to shift the spotlight back on personnel and their mission, however briefly, before Americans turn their focus to turkey lunches, festive cheer and contentious domestic politics.His visit also included a helicopter dash from Bagram into the heart of the capital Kabul to meet President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, both of whom the United States is counting on to help rebuild this war-shattered country.Later asked by reporters whether the US would consider raising its military presence in the country, Pence demurred.
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