US defense chief praises Afghan security move

US defense chief praises Afghan security move

Credit: Getty Images

FOB SHUKVANI, AFGHANISTAN - MARCH 14: U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) visits with troops March 14, 2012 at Forward Operating Base Shukvani, Afghanistan. Panetta is also scheduled to meet with President Karzai during his two-day visit to Afghanistan. The trip comes as the Taliban has vowed revenge following this past weekend's killing spree by a U.S. soldier who is accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan. Most of those killed were children and women. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on December 31, 2012 at 2:18 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. defense secretary says the Afghan government's announcement of a new step in putting Afghan forces in charge of that nation's security is evidence that Afghanistan is on the path to self-governance.
 
Leon Panetta commented on Kabul's announcement Monday that the next phase of transferring security responsibilities from NATO to Afghan forces will begin in two months. It's the fourth step in a five-step process that began in 2011 and is scheduled to finish with Afghan forces fully in charge of security by the end of 2014.
 
By then, the U.S.-led NATO combat mission is to end. The Obama administration is currently considering how many U.S. troops it would keep there for a follow-on mission, which likely would include counterterrorism.
 
There are now 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
 

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