Gates Visits Afghanistan Bases

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates arrived in Afghanistan today for troop vis­its and meet­ings with key U.S. lead­ers and Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai.
Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said that although the sec­re­tary vis­its Afghanistan quar­ter­ly, this vis­it has par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance because it comes a year after Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma announced the new U.S. strat­e­gy for the war and as the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil assess­es the strategy’s effec­tive­ness.

“So clear­ly, what the sec­re­tary learns here, what he sees here, what he thinks here will inform the dis­cus­sion that is tak­ing place back in Wash­ing­ton,” Mor­rell said. “I think that com­ing into this vis­it, we have a pret­ty good sense that the strat­e­gy is work­ing on the secu­ri­ty side and else­where, but I think this [vis­it] is impor­tant to inform that dis­cus­sion back in Wash­ing­ton.”

Mor­rell added that he thinks the sec­re­tary arrives here “feel­ing very good” about the progress in Afghanistan over the past year.

Gates’ air­craft touched down at Bagram Air­field at about noon local time, and his par­ty imme­di­ate­ly board­ed heli­copters for a flight to For­ward Oper­at­ing Base Joyce for an oper­a­tions brief­ing and a vis­it with sol­diers of the 1st and 2nd Bat­tal­ions, 327th Infantry Reg­i­ment.

From there, the sec­re­tary was sched­uled to fly to For­ward Oper­at­ing Base Con­nol­ly. There, he’ll meet with 18 sol­diers who lost six mem­bers of their pla­toon Nov. 29 when an Afghan bor­der guard opened fire on them. He’ll also meet with sol­diers of the 1st Squadron, 61st Cav­al­ry.

Lat­er, Gates will meet in the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kab­ul with Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force com­man­der; Army Gen. David Rodriguez, com­man­der of ISAF Joint Com­mand; and U.S. Ambas­sador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eiken­ber­ry.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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