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Release No: 443-13
June 18, 2013

Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Milestone 2013 in Afghanistan

            Earlier today in Kabul, the Afghan National Security Forces formally assumed the lead for combat operations across the country.  This critical milestone is a tribute to the determination of the people of Afghanistan to take responsibility for their country’s future, and it was made possible by heavy sacrifices on the part of the United States, coalition partners, and the Afghan forces.  I appreciate the leadership of President Karzai in helping oversee this transition and commend NATO Secretary General Rasmussen and Gen. Joe Dunford, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, for their tireless efforts. 

            Today is a day for all Americans to take pride in the hard work our service members and their civilian counterparts are performing every day in Afghanistan.  This achievement keeps us and our coalition partners on track to bring our combat mission to a close next year and transition to a non-combat, train, advise, and assist mission that will help ensure Afghans can sustain security into the future.

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