Afghan transition upheld by NATO
BRUSSELS — Working more closely with national forces in Afghanistan will frustrate insurgent plans to exploit dissent, the U.S. defense secretary said from Brussels.
NATO leaders met in Brussels to discuss the strategy for Afghanistan as a 2014 deadline for withdraw approaches. Before the meeting, some member states expressed frustration with the mission given the rise in the number of attacks by Afghan forces on international troops.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described the attacks as a normal consequence of war, saying enemy fighters were working to exploit insider attacks to undermine trust among friendly forces, including those from Afghanistan.
«I made very clear that what tests the coalition is not so much the problem of insider attacks but rather how effectively we respond to those attacks,» he said. «Partnering even closer will frustrate the enemy’s designs to capitalize on this problem.»
NATO defense officials during the meeting expressed commitment to completing the transition by the end of 2014. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a transition to Afghan security responsibility was a «careful, deliberate and coordinated process.»
«Between now and the end of 2014, as the Afghans continue to step forward, you will see drawdowns and redeployments of (international) forces,» he said. «This is not about speeding up. It is part of the plan.»