U.S. Central Command to Lead Pakistan Investigation

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2011 — U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand will take the lead in inves­ti­gat­ing the Nov. 26 cross-bor­der attack that killed 24 sol­diers in Pak­istan, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said today.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, com­man­der of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force and of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, request­ed that Cent­com lead this review, the press sec­re­tary said.

ISAF did as you would expect — assign an ini­tial assess­ment team to look into the inci­dent,” Lit­tle said, adding that more infor­ma­tion from Cent­com “will prob­a­bly be forth­com­ing lat­er today.”

While Cent­com has not yet offi­cial­ly announced its role in the inves­ti­ga­tion, the press sec­re­tary said, “I think you can expect the inves­ti­ga­tion to look at the full range of fac­tors that con­tributed to this tragedy and it will be broad, expan­sive and thor­ough.”

Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton and Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta offered their deep­est con­do­lences for the loss of life in a joint state­ment issued over the week­end and said they are close­ly mon­i­tor­ing reports of the inci­dent.

“The sec­re­tary has been mon­i­tor­ing these events very close­ly with mil­i­tary lead­er­ship in Afghanistan and here in the Unit­ed States,” Lit­tle said, but has not yet reached out the Pak­istani offi­cials.

Clin­ton, Allen and Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, each called their Pak­istani coun­ter­parts, Lit­tle added, not­ing that Dempsey and Allen each spoke with Pak­istan army chief Gen. Ash­faq Parvez Kayani.

Cameron P. Munter, U.S. ambas­sador to Pak­istan, also met with Pak­istani gov­ern­ment offi­cials in Islam­abad.

“The Pak­istani gov­ern­ment knows our posi­tion,” Lit­tle said, “and that is that we do regret the loss of life in this inci­dent and we are inves­ti­gat­ing it.”

Despite increas­ing con­flicts between the Unit­ed States and Pak­istan, includ­ing one that fol­lowed the U.S. raid on Abbot­tabad in May that killed Osama bin Laden, Lit­tle said, “the focus now is on con­tin­u­ing to engage with our Pak­istani coun­ter­parts over time, even dur­ing dif­fi­cult peri­ods.”

The Defense Depart­ment, he added, has “been work­ing very hard for some time to address areas of dis­agree­ment with the Pak­ista­nis. We under­stand there are deep con­cerns over the inci­dent this week­end and we’ll con­tin­ue to try to engage close­ly with our Pak­istani coun­ter­parts.”

The rela­tion­ship is impor­tant for the Unit­ed States, the press sec­re­tary added, “and we intend to con­tin­ue to make that clear to the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan.”

A strong mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan is in both coun­tries’ inter­ests and in the inter­ests of peace and sta­bil­i­ty of the region, he added.

“That’s where we hope to go in the future,” Lit­tle said.

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