News / Asia

Hagel Makes First Trip to Afghanistan as Pentagon Chief

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel prepares to step aboard a C-17 military aircraft en route to Kabul, Afghanistan, after greeting U.S. troops (R ) stationed at Manas Air Force Base in Kyrgyzstan, March 8, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel prepares to step aboard a C-17 military aircraft en route to Kabul, Afghanistan, after greeting U.S. troops (R ) stationed at Manas Air Force Base in Kyrgyzstan, March 8, 2013.
Luis Ramirez
— Chuck Hagel has made his first visit to Afghanistan as the U.S. secretary of defense.

The unannounced visit to the war zone comes only days after the former senator was sworn in as Pentagon chief, following a bruising battle for confirmation by the U.S. Senate, in which his political adversaries challenged his ability to do the job.

Hagel told reporters traveling with him the purpose of his visit is to thank U.S. troops - and to learn more about the mission ahead in Afghanistan.

"I need to better understand what's going on there. I need to talk to, listen to, get a good sense from our commanders on the ground. I look forward to reacquainting myself with President Karzai."  

Among the difficult subjects on Hagel’s agenda when he meets with President Hamid Karzai is the Afghan leader’s decision to bar U.S. special operations forces from a key province near Kabul - a restriction that U.S. commanders say will make the job of securing the country more difficult ahead of next year’s withdrawal of foreign troops.

The Afghan government’s decision follows an earlier ban on airstrikes in populated areas.

The restrictions came after the Karzai government complained that Afghan forces and the U.S. troops supporting them allegedly have committed atrocities against innocent civilians.

Hagel will manage the massive withdrawal of most of the 66,000 U.S. troops and equipment from Afghanistan following an 11-year presence there. At the same time, he said forces will not lose sight of the fact that the war on insurgents is still ongoing.

"We have 66,000-68,000 troops still at war in - in a combat zone. And so that reality is there, must remain there. We'll stay focused on that," said Hagel.

U.S. troops are shifting their focus from a combat role to advising, training and assisting Afghan forces as they transition security responsibility to the Afghans - a process that is to be completed by the end of 2014.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid