KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) -- President Barack Obama says Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild thanks to the extraordinary service of U.S. troops.

Obama is honoring troops on Christmas at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. It's an annual tradition for Obama during his family vacation on the island.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii after President Obama's visit during the First Family's Christmas vacation. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Obama says the world is more prosperous and the American homeland is protected because of the sacrifices made by U.S. military members and their families.

Obama points out that the U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan for more than 13 years. He says this year is an important one because the U.S. combat mission there will end next week. Obama says the U.S. is safer and that Afghanistan will never again be the source of terrorist attacks.

The president celebrated Christmas in Hawaii by singing carols at home before spending the afternoon on the beach.

Obama, his wife and two daughters pulled up midday in their motorcade to Bellows Air Force Station in Oahu, where they were joining family and friends under a clear blue sky. The secluded beach on the air base near Kailua Bay has picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and Hawaii's lush green mountains.

Earlier Thursday, the first family opened gifts at their rented vacation home in Kailua, the White House said.

Obama started the holiday on Christmas Eve by having dinner with friends, his wife, Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha. Obama also telephoned troops from each branch of the military who are stationed overseas for the holidays. Obama thanked the troops for their service and the sacrifice they and their families make, the White House said.

In an annual Christmas Day tradition, Obama and the first lady also were to visit with troops and their families at a Marine Corps base in Hawaii.

The visit comes as the U.S. marks the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.

Back in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to visit with patients and their families and express gratitude for their service.

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