Afghans to handle security by 2014, hopes Panetta
WASHINGTON PAN): US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday hoped that Afghan security forces would be capable enough of handling the security of their country on their own by 2014.
“We have begun to draw down our forces and transition to Afghan-led security responsibility, and we have seen the level of violence go down. Our goal is that by the end of 2014, the Afghans will have the responsibility to govern and secure themselves,” Panetta said.
In his remarks at a university in Kentucky, the secretary said Afghanistan remained an extremely challenging campaign, but 2011 was a turning point in that effort. The US would not be deterred by the recent wave of violence, he added.
“Let me be clear: the brutal attacks on our troops will not change or alter our commitment to get this job done,” he reiterated. “We have successfully weakened Al Qaeda, and decimated its leadership, including Bin Laden. We have demonstrated that we will continue to do everything possible to protect our citizens,” Panetta said.
Earlier in the day, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters the US would stay the course in Afghanistan. “We have confidence in our ability to work closely with the [Afghan National Security Force],” he said.
Little called Afghanistan a war zone and such incidents like the killing of US soldiers were bound to happen. "Don't get me wrong. These are troubling incidents when they occur and we fully recognise that we've seen several of these incidents in recent weeks.”
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