Senior Official: Hagel Found Afghanistan Visit ‘Extremely Informative’
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel found his first trip to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief to be extremely informative, a senior defense official said in a statement issued to reporters traveling with Hagel today.
The secretary left Washington on March 7 for his first visit to Afghanistan since he took office Feb. 27.
“He had deep dives with military commanders at all levels and had frank exchanges with Afghan officials,” the official said. “He came away with a deep appreciation of the gains U.S. [forces] and our coalition partners have made, as well as the challenges that lie ahead.”
Hagel is ready to work with other senior policy makers upon his return to seek ways of deepening engagement with the Afghans, the official added, “some of whom clearly have issues they want resolved.”
A top priority will be the bilateral security agreement, which Hagel sees as a linchpin of U.S.-Afghan relations in the years ahead, the official said.