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    Security transition on track: Hammond

    KABUL (PAN): British defence secretary Philip Hammond met with senior military commanders from both ISAF and Afghan forces during an announced trip to southern Helmand province, his ministry said.

    Accompanied by Lt. Gen. Nick Carter, Deputy Commander ISAF, Hammond met with Brig. Gen. Sherin Shah, Commander of 3rd Brigade of 215 Corps during the two-day visit.

    Before returning home on Thursday, Hammond arrived in Kabul where he met with his Afghan counterpart Bismillah Mohammadi.

    In Helmand, Hammond held talks with British personnel, the second-largest NATO contingent, at an observation post and patrol base, where he was briefed by Lt. Col. Matt Jackson, Commanding Officer of the Transition Support Unit in Nahr-i-Saraj district before flying to Patrol Base Wahid where he met with members of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles.

    "Transition is proceeding very well - it is on track, the Afghans are taking more and more responsibility for planning and executing operations and British forces are more and more in an advising and assisting role," the ministry quoted Hammond as telling officials in Kabul.  .

    He said the Afghans were developing those capabilities faster than they expected and that they had every reason to believe that the Afghan forces would be able to maintain security as the ISAF forces drawdown.