(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan Thursday to assess the situation on the ground as the U.S. and its allies inch closer to withdrawing all of their troops by 2014.
During his visit, Panetta will meet with U.S. and NATO military commanders, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, and Afghan leaders to discuss the recent uptick in violence and plans for a drawdown of troops.
“The key in the end is not going to be the U.N. or ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), it’s going to be Afghans and their capability to be able to secure their country,” the defense secretary said Thursday referring to the transfer of security control to Afghan forces once coalition forces leave.
Panetta will also visit American troops during his stay in Afghanistan. This is his fourth trip to the country as defense secretary.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Schams Elwazer, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Tim Hume, CNN
Angela Dewan, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Barbara Starr, CNN