Kabul: United States (US) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan, for his first visit as Pentagon chief and said that US and its allies are still at war in Afghanistan.
During his flight to Kabul, Hagel said that there were plenty of challenges ahead as NATO hands over the country’s security to the Afghans.
“That transition has to be done right, it has to be done in partnership with the Afghans, with our allies,” said Hagel, who took over the Pentagon job a little more than a week ago.
“Our country as well as Afghanistan, the region, and the allies have a lot at stake here. And our continued focus and energy and attention on Afghanistan is going to be very important.”
He said it was vital to remember why the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the days after the 9/11 attacks, including the need to rid the country of terrorists and a hostile government.
Hagel will also meet U.S. commanders and Afghan leaders and plans to make his first detailed assessment of the increasingly unpopular war.
His unannounced visit comes at a turning point in the conflict, as U.S. and NATO allies set their timetable for the withdrawal of combat troops and pressure mounts on the U.S.-led effort to train the Afghan forces.
“I need to better understand what’s going on there,” Hagel told reporters during the flight to Kabul. He said he wants an assessment on the progress of the Afghan forces as they prepare to take over the security of their own country.