Panetta Cites Progress, Warns of Remaining Threats

GROTON, Conn., Nov. 17, 2011 — After 10 years of war, the Unit­ed States is at a turn­ing point in its nation­al defense, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said today while vis­it­ing sailors and ship­yard work­ers here.

“The real­i­ty is that after 10 years of war, we’re begin­ning to see the results of a lot of sac­ri­fice on the part of our men and women in uni­form, [and] on the part of all the peo­ple that are part of our nation­al defense,” Panet­ta said. As the mil­i­tary draws down its remain­ing forces in Iraq, with all out by year’s end, the sec­re­tary said, the Unit­ed States met its goals there.

“The mis­sion there was to estab­lish an Iraq that could gov­ern and defend and secure itself, and we have accom­plished that mis­sion,” he said. “Now it’s up to Iraq to be able to secure and gov­ern itself. We’ll give them assis­tance; we’ll con­tin­ue to work with them. The real­i­ty is that they’re on the right track.”

Progress also is being made in Afghanistan, Panet­ta said.

“In Afghanistan, we’re hop­ing that we can move in the same direc­tion,” he said. “We’ve weak­ened the Tal­iban; we’ve had the low­est vio­lence lev­els in Afghanistan in five years.”

“We’re begin­ning to secure key areas of that coun­try,” he added, not­ing the growth of the Afghan army and police.

“We are mov­ing in the right direc­tion,” Panet­ta said. There remains “a lot of work to be done” before all secu­ri­ty reverts to the Afghans in 2014. Hope­ful­ly, he said, “we’ll be able to, again, have an Afghanistan that can gov­ern and secure itself.”

Address­ing ter­ror­ism, Panet­ta stressed the impor­tance of keep­ing pres­sure on the ene­my.

“The real­i­ty is, we’ve dec­i­mat­ed al-Qaida’s lead­er­ship … [and] we have tak­en down key peo­ple, includ­ing bin Laden and oth­ers,” he said. “The result of that is that this coun­try is safer by virtue of what we’ve been able to do.”

“We need to keep the pres­sure on; we need to make sure that we don’t give up,” Panet­ta said. “These guys are still at it � whether it’s Pak­istan, whether it’s Yemen, whether it’s Soma­lia … we have got to keep the pres­sure up and make damn sure that they nev­er again are able to attack this coun­try, and that’s what we’re doing.”

U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty is mov­ing in the right direc­tion because of the sac­ri­fices of many peo­ple, he said, but still faces threats.

“We face threats from Iran; we face threats from North Korea,” the sec­re­tary said. “We face threats from cyber. This is a whole new world in which cyber war­fare is a real­i­ty. It’s the bat­tle­field of the future.”

Panet­ta also not­ed the “ris­ing pow­ers” of Chi­na and India. He said his and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s recent vis­its to the Pacif­ic region were to ensure “we always have suf­fi­cient force pro­tec­tion out there in the Pacif­ic to make sure they know we’re nev­er going any­where.”

“So when you look at the world that we’re deal­ing with, we still have a lot of threats,” he said. “And add to that, the chal­lenge of now hav­ing to reduce the defense bud­get � we’ve got a huge deficit in this coun­try.”

Despite fis­cal chal­lenges, Panet­ta vowed to “not break faith” with the mil­i­tary and pre­vent a hal­low­ing out of the force.

“We have the strongest mil­i­tary in the world today, and we’re going to remain the best mil­i­tary in the world,” he said.

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

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →