U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan believe the United States and its allies have, in his words, “turned the tide” after more than 11 years of war.
Panetta spoke Tuesday in Washington, just days after a trip to Afghanistan, where he met with military commanders and Afghan leaders. He said all parties believe fundamental progress has been made in the push against Taliban insurgents, after years “in which we lacked the right strategy and the necessary resources” to accomplish U.S. goals.
A Pentagon report to Congress earlier this month said insurgent attacks increased slightly this year, and Panetta said he expects more attention-seeking insurgent attacks as coalition forces withdraw ahead of a 2014 deadline.
Panetta also warned U.S. lawmakers to reach a deal with the White House in the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations. He said failure to do so on spending decisions are among the greatest threats facing the U.S. military today.
If negotiators do not reach a deal, automatic spending cuts of nearly 10 percent go into effect January 1.