American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said he is “very pleased” to see that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai identified the areas that have been selected for the next phase of security transition in Afghanistan.
The next phase, which is the third stage of transition of security responsibility, is “another tangible sign of progress in our strategy and in the further development of Afghan leadership and responsibility for their own security,” Panetta said in a statement issued today.
Panetta joined President Barack Obama and senior NATO International Security Assistance Force officials in welcoming Karzai’s announcement today of his government’s list of areas intended for the continuing transition of security responsibility from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force to Afghan security forces.
The Afghan government will now enter the third of five tranches or stages, as they continue to move forward in the process of taking the responsibility of national security, ISAF officials said in a news release issued today.
“With more than 100 districts identified, this third phase will be the largest yet,” Panetta said in his statement. “When implemented, roughly three-fourths of the Afghan people will live in areas undergoing transition to Afghan security lead. It means that transition will be occurring in every province in the country, and in every provincial capital.”
In his statement, Panetta also praised the growing strength of the Afghan National Security Forces, which, he said, are “essential to our shared goal of an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself.”
Panetta commended U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan for their determination and commitment. The secretary also praised Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, ISAF commander, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker for their “extraordinary” leadership.
“Thanks to their efforts, the transition to Afghan security lead is on track to be completed by the end of 2014,” Panetta said in his statement. “We will continue working toward our shared goal of an Afghanistan that provides security and greater prosperity for its people. Today's announcement marks another significant step on the path to a brighter future for Afghanistan.”