After Afghanistan Visit, Carter Flies to Pakistan, India
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
NEW DELHI, Sept. 16, 2013 Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter wrapped up his trip to Afghanistan this morning and traveled on to India after spending the day in Pakistan.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks to troops after presenting awards to soldiers on Forward Base Ghazni, Afghanistan, Sept. 15, 2013. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
On his final full day in Afghanistan yesterday, Carter recognized 10 soldiers for their actions during a suicide attack on Task Force White Eagle, a joint U.S. and Polish base in eastern Afghanistan’s Ghazni province.
Seven Afghans were killed and 10 Polish soldiers were injured during the Aug. 28 attack, which involved both a truck bomb and a dismounted assault.
During a ceremony at the base, also home to Provincial Reconstruction Team Ghazni, Carter presented awards for valor to service members from the United States, Poland and Afghanistan.
Members of “three exceptional armies” repelled the attack n a display of extraordinary partnership, professionalism, and bravery, Carter told the troops. The victory was just one small example of the success occurring throughout Afghanistan, he added.
The deputy defense secretary also met yesterday with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commander of the International Security Assistance Force, to discuss the progress made toward the bilateral security agreement, support for the Afghan national security forces and conditions needed to ensure Afghanistan’s safety and security through 2015 and beyond.
Dunford then joined Carter on a visit with Afghan National Army Maj. Gen. Sharif Yaftali, the 203rd Corps commander, at the corps’ headquarters in Gardez. The 203rd Corps is responsible for 83,000 square kilometers in eastern Afghanistan, including seven provinces, 86 districts and a 564-kilometer-long border with Pakistan.
Carter said he was pleased with the progress made by the corps. In five years with the Defense Department, “I’ve seen all the changes here. … It’s an amazing accomplishment,” he told the general.
“I know it hasn’t come easily,” Carter added. “The losses to the Afghan forces this summer have been great, [and] the fighting has been intense.”
The deputy defense secretary noted that the Afghan security forces have made remarkable advances this fighting season, the first in which they’ve assumed full lead. The priority now is to ensure they have the capability they need to continue their success, he said.
Carter also met with Afghan parliamentarians in Kabul yesterday to stress the importance of a timely conclusion to the bilateral security agreement and timely, free and fair elections in 2014.