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Panetta praises Afghan security move

Monday - 12/31/2012, 12:54pm  ET

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Afghan government's announcement of a new step in putting Afghan forces in charge of the nation's security is evidence that the country is on the path to self-governance.

Panetta commented on Kabul's announcement Monday that the next phase of transferring security responsibilities from NATO to Afghan forces will begin in two months. It's the fourth step in a five-step process that began in 2011 and is scheduled to finish with Afghan forces fully in charge of security by the end of 2014.

By then, the U.S.-led NATO combat mission is to end. The Obama administration is currently considering how many U.S. troops it would keep there for a follow-on mission, which likely would include counterterrorism.

There are now 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)