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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid