Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta hosted the Afghan Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak and Afghan Minister of Interior Bismellah Mohammadi in the third session of the U.S. - Afghanistan Security Consultations Forum (SCF) at the Pentagon. The ministers met with Panetta, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior defense officials to discuss long-term cooperation between the two countries, reaffirm the importance of a strategic partnership, and address issues of immediate importance.
The meetings included a review of security gains across Afghanistan and progress made towards transition of lead security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Panetta and the ministers welcomed the accomplishments in areas included in the first two of five tranches of provinces and municipalities where approximately 50 percent of the Afghan population now lives in areas where Afghan forces are assuming the lead for security. The ANSF are successfully providing effective security in these transitioning areas, and demonstrating their readiness for additional responsibility to assume a third tranche of transition.
The talks also focused on the progress made in the ANSF training and development over the past six months and the future of the force. The ministers agreed that continuing to build Afghan National Security Forces is a key priority for Afghanistan and the international community. Panetta looks forward to continuing to discuss plans to support a sufficient and sustainable post-transition Afghan force with fellow ISAF ministers at the upcoming Jumbo Ministerial in Brussels next week, and with leaders at the NATO Summit in Chicago this May.