JavaScript Menu, DHTML Menu Powered By Milonic


Join our e-mail mailing
list and receive our
monthly newsletter free
of charge

News and Views

U.S. Secretary of Defense Travels to Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Afghanistan on December 3 on an official visit to evaluate international efforts against the Taliban. The Secretary met with President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, Chief of Staff of the Afghan National Army Gen. Bismillah Khan, as well as the commanders of the US-led coalition and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Defense officials announced that the United States would accelerate shipments of tens of thousands of U.S. M-16 rifles, armored Humvees and other weaponry by the spring and that the Afghan National Army would reach its target strength of 70,000 soldiers by the middle of next year. Additionally, the force will be expanded by up to 12,000 additional soldiers, for a total of 82,000. Over the next six to eight months, the Pentagon will also double the number of the Afghan National Army Air Corps' fixed-wing aircraft with the purchase of four Antonov 32 two-engine planes, and triple the number of its helicopters.

In a joint press conference, President Karzai said that he and Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak spoke with Secretary Gates about the need for more trainers, air assets and equipment. "Al-Qaida is on the run. It is defeated," said President Karzai.

"I feel like I am the salesman around the world for Afghanistan," said Secretary Gates. The Secretary stressed that he was asking the 38 NATO nations to meet their previous pledges of assistance and resources. "I asked the Chinese, the Koreans, Japan for more help," he said.

When asked about rising violence in Afghanistan’s south, Secretary Gates said, "I'm not worried about a backslide as much as I am how we continue the momentum going forward."

Following the press conference, Secretary Gates embarked on a full day of briefings and helicopter travel across the country. He toured Afghanistan's main military training compound outside Kabul and was briefed about the border situation during a visit to Khost province.

In meetings with his Afghan and NATO counterparts, Secretary Gates was briefed on the security situation throughout Afghanistan, with a focus on the continous violence in Afghanistan’s south, and links in attacks in Afghanistan to Taliban groups in Pakistan.

"I want to see if there are any consequences visible in Afghanistan from the trouble in Pakistan," he said.

During the trip Maj. Gen. Robert Cone told journalists that the U.S. plans to provide M-16 rifles to Afghan National Army, as well as make efforts to obtain helicopters for the Afghanistan forces.

Secretary Gates last visit to Afghanistan was in June, 2007.

Home | Contact Us | Sitemap © 2006 Embassy of Afghanistan and GlobeScope Inc. All Rights Reserved.