Napolitano Visits Afghanistan, Focuses on Border Security
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 2011 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.