“Our core objective — the reason we went to war in the first place — is now within reach: ensuring that al Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America,” Mr. Obama said in his address.

By this spring, “Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the entire country, and our troops will shift to a support role,” the president said. “In the coming months, I’ll announce the next phase of our drawdown. And by the end of next year, America’s war in Afghanistan will be over.”

Mr. Obama made clear he felt it was time for the country to focus its energies inward, citing the need to address such issues as the economy, immigration and gun violence.