Vice President Biden on Wednesday thanked 900 troops based at Ft. Bragg, N.C., for setting Iraq on a different course.

"On behalf of a grateful nation, we thank you. You did more than I suspect you even know," Biden said before 1,200 members of the 18th Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, 900 of whom had returned from Iraq in the past couple of weeks after completing a 15-month deployment. 

He praised their work in supporting last year's provincial elections.

"You sent a message to the entire world that things weren't moving backwards, but they were forward," he said.

But he stressed that success in Iraq will ultimately be in Iraqi hands. 

"You know, it kind of reminds me about a story about Ben Franklin," he said. "He came out on hot day in 1789, and a woman accosted him. 'Mr. Franklin what have you given us?' she asked and he said, 'A Republic madam, if you can keep it'."

The vice president also reminded the troops that Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden are still "alive and well in Pakistan." 

"There is more work to be done ... once again we're calling on you," he said.

Beau Biden, the vice president's son, is currently serving in Iraq.