Washington: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Sunday said that the US-led international military campaign in Afghanistan is on track.
"The ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) campaign is on track to achieve the goal of ensuring Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for Al Qaeda or its extremist affiliates," said Panetta in his remarks read out on the occasion of change of US command in Kabul.
"ISAF and Afghan forces have put relentless pressure on a resilient enemy and disrupted its ability to derail the campaign. Meanwhile, Afghan National Security Forces have grown in number and capability, and stepped into the lead for security operations even as the United States has recovered 33,000 surge forces since mid-2011," Panetta said according to the copy of the remarks provided here.
At a ceremony in Kabul, Gen John Allen passed on the command of the US and NATO forces to Gen Joseph Dunford Jr. There are currently 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
Panetta said Allen has led US and coalition forces at the height of their combat power, and the men and women under his command have achieved steady progress despite severe challenges.
"A critical part of that success has been Gen. Allen`s tireless and effective efforts to sustain and strengthen coalition unity now and in the future. Allen`s forthright advice and wise counsel have been essential to President Obama and to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His selfless dedication to our troops and to our mission is a constant source of inspiration on the battlefield and back at home," Panetta said.