Napolitano Visits Afghanistan, Focuses on Border Security

WASHINGTON — Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Janet Napoli­tano paid a New Year’s vis­it to Afghanistan, where she focused heav­i­ly on efforts to shore up secu­ri­ty along the Afghan-Pak­istan bor­der to dis­rupt the flow of ter­ror­ists and the mate­ri­als to sup­port their oper­a­tions.

Meet­ing yes­ter­day with Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai, Napoli­tano under­scored U.S. com­mit­ment to defeat­ing al Qai­da as progress takes hold. “The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion remains ful­ly com­mit­ted to com­bat­ing threats of ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan,” she said.

Napoli­tano spent New Year’s Eve with U.S. troops and civil­ian per­son­nel, empha­siz­ing that U.S. home­land secu­ri­ty begins with their fight against glob­al ter­ror­ism threats around the world.

“It is an hon­or to meet with our ded­i­cat­ed mil­i­tary and civil­ian men and women who are help­ing to bring peace and sta­bil­i­ty to Afghanistan, and I thank them for their con­tin­ued efforts and sac­ri­fices here to make the Amer­i­can home­land safer and more secure,” she said.

Napoli­tano rec­og­nized secu­ri­ty progress in Afghanistan and the role non-mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tions must play to ensure it sticks. “In many areas progress has been made, but it’s frag­ile, and I think the issue is sta­bil­i­ty and to help build capac­i­ty in Afghanistan on the civil­ian side, as opposed to the mil­i­tary side,” she said.

Dur­ing her meet­ings in Kab­ul and as she toured secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions at Afghanistan’s Torkham Bor­der Cross­ing, Napoli­tano dis­cussed Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty efforts to help the Afghan gov­ern­ment boost cus­toms and bor­der con­trol.

“Build­ing and main­tain­ing a strong bor­der cross­ing sys­tem is crit­i­cal to the sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty of Afghanistan,” she said. “Over the past year, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty has worked close­ly with the Afghan gov­ern­ment to help estab­lish a bor­der secu­ri­ty and cus­toms sys­tem to counter ter­ror­ism while facil­i­tat­ing legit­i­mate trav­el and trade.”

In addi­tion to help­ing the Afghans com­bat the trans-bor­der cross­ing of ter­ror­ists, the department’s agents on the ground also are work­ing to stem the flow of chem­i­cals they use to man­u­fac­ture impro­vised explo­sive devices, depart­ment press offi­cials said. Home­land Secu­ri­ty agents also are help­ing Afghan bor­der police and cus­toms offi­cials estab­lish an Afghan cus­toms acad­e­my.

“In coor­di­na­tion with U.S. and Afghan mil­i­tary forces, the ded­i­cat­ed civil­ian Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty per­son­nel assist­ing the Afghan gov­ern­ment with cus­toms and bor­der con­trol have made sig­nif­i­cant progress in dis­rupt­ing al-Qai­da oper­a­tions in the bor­der area of Afghanistan and Pak­istan,” Napoli­tano said.

Napoli­tano was slat­ed to trav­el today to Qatar to meet with her coun­ter­parts there to dis­cuss efforts to secure glob­al avi­a­tion and sup­ply chain sys­tems against threats of ter­ror­ism and transna­tion­al crime, offi­cials said.

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

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