Fob Sharana: US Defence
Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday told troops during a visit to
Afghanistan that the US-led coalition was winning the
10-year conflict in the war-torn country.
"We`re moving in the right direction and we`re winning
this very tough conflict," he told troops based in Paktika
province, which shares a long, porous border with Pakistan`s
tribal belt troubled by Taliban militancy.
"Are there challenges out there? You`re damn right, there
are challenges. Are we gonna be able to take on those
challenges? You`re damn right we will.
"Ultimately here in Afghanistan, we will able to
establish a country that is able to govern and secure itself,
we will make sure that the Taliban will never be able to find
safe haven here, that al Qaeda will never again be able to
find safe havens here."
Panetta made the comments as he met US troops from 172
Infantry Brigade stationed at Forward Operating Base Sharana,
just over 50 kilometres from the Pakistan border.
His two-day visit to the country comes with the United
States on track to withdraw 10,000 troops this year and NATO
soldiers handing security to Afghan forces before the planned
exit of all NATO combat troops in 2014.
Panetta said 2014 would not mean the end of international
support in Afghanistan.
"We will not simply pick up and get out. We spilled too
much blood here," he said.