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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 378-12
May 13, 2012

Statement by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on Transition in Afghanistan

             “I am very pleased to see that today President Karzai identified the areas that have been selected for the next phase of security transition in Afghanistan.  This is another tangible sign of progress in our strategy and in the further development of Afghan leadership and responsibility for their own security.

             “With more than 100 districts identified, this third phase will be the largest yet.  When implemented, roughly three-fourths of the Afghan people will live in areas undergoing transition to Afghan security lead.  It means that transition will be occurring in every province in the country, and in every provincial capital.

             “None of this would be possible without the growing strength of the Afghan National Security Forces, which remain essential to our shared goal of an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself.  I commend our troops and those of our ISAF partners for their determination and commitment to this vital mission.  And I applaud General Allen and Ambassador Crocker for their extraordinary leadership.

             “Thanks to their efforts, the transition to Afghan security lead is on track to be completed by the end of 2014.  We will continue working toward our shared goal of an Afghanistan that provide security and greater prosperity for its people.  Today's announcement marks another significant step on the path to a brighter future for Afghanistan.”