US Defense Secretary makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter makes surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet military officials

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a joint briefing with British Defence Minister Michael Fallon at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on December 11, 2015

United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Afghanistan on Friday to meet with US troops, military commanders and Afghan officials facing an uprise, which has caused an increase in the numbers of casualties on security forces.

Carter was expected to meet military personnel at the Operating Base Fenty, in eastern Afghanistan, near the city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, where approximately 600 US troops are stationed. The base is a centre for training, logistics and counter-terrorism efforts across eastern Afghanistan.

The Pentagon released a report this week showing the security situation in Afghanistan, which has a 27 percent increase in high-profile attacks in the capital city of Kabul from the beginning of 2015 up to mid-November, compared with the same period last year. There was also a 27 percent increase in the number of casualties within the same period.

Recent setbacks include, the seize of the northern city of Kunduz by Taliban, a months-long struggle in Helmand province and an uprising raid on the airport in the southern city of Kandahar last week that left 50 civilians, police and security officials dead.

Following an emerging threat against Afghan Security Forces this year in Nangarhar, DAESH terrorist group was on Carter’s agenda in his visit to Nangahar.

DAESH has been competing with the Taliban over territory and recruits, US officials assess.

"It is a new dynamic in this insurgency," a senior US Defense official said.

"It's really important to ... stay on top of and monitor and deter any kind of threat that actually could emerge from what is a relatively nascent element in the overall insurgency."

US President Barack Obama cancelled plans in mid-October to reduce the number of US troops to a small protection force in Kabul, saying that he would continue the US military engagement by providing a force of 9,800 through most of 2016.

The US troops have two missions in Afghanistan such as training and advising Afghan Security Forces and carrying out operations against terrorism.

TRTWorld and agencies