Carter, Afghan Defense Minister Meet to Discuss Progress
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 22, 2012 Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter met with Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak here today to discuss progress in the Afghan national security forces and other issues.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, right, receives a gift from Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak following a meeting to discuss Afghan national security force progress and other issues in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 22, 2012. Carter is on his first trip to Afghanistan since assuming the Pentagon’s No. 2 post. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The deputy defense secretary thanked Wardak for building up the Afghan forces, calling his efforts “remarkable” and noting it is “truly inspiring to see where we are.”
Wardak called the security situation in Afghanistan “very promising,” and also touched on areas such as troop retention and budgets.
President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request includes $88.5 billion for Operation Enduring Freedom, Carter said, adding that he believes the request is “entirely appropriate.”
Wardak provided an update on the Afghan-led reintegration process, telling the deputy secretary that 3,000 former insurgents already have reintegrated into Afghan society, 700 more are in the process, and 1,200 others are negotiating their entry into the program. Wardak also expressed his belief that a major breakthrough with reintegration is possible.
Before concluding their meeting with an exchange of gifts, Carter said he is pleased that Wardak’s operational plans are very similar to those that International Security Assistance Force officials are considering.
“I was aware that when we received it, it was very similar to our own thoughts,” he said. “So we are looking at the situation in a similar way.”
While acknowledging that there are “lots of details to work out,” Carter expressed confidence that the transition will succeed. “We’re well on our way,” he added.