Panetta seeks to remind Americans the war isn't over
Published: August 14, 2012
Surge troops may be starting to return from Afghanistan, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants to make sure Americans remember the war’s not over yet.
“I realize that there are a lot of other things going on in this country that can draw our attention,” Panetta said Tuesday in a Pentagon press briefing, “but I thought it was important to remind the American people that there is a war going on in Afghanistan, and that young men and women are dying in order to try to protect this country.”
Panetta, who writes letters to the families of all servicemembers killed in action, said it seems like he has been writing more letters lately.
“I just want the American people to take the time and reflect on these sacrifices,” he said. “At a time when I am sure there is an awful lot to be mad about, there’s a lot to be proud of when it comes to our men and women in uniform.”
Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. and Afghan forces are making significant progress toward stability in Afghanistan, but acknowledged that green-on-blue attacks have the potential to damage those efforts. "Insider attacks,” as Panetta and Dempsey called them Tuesday, are incidents in which a member of the Afghan national security forces attacks coalition troops.
The U.S. is working to increase intelligence to identify threats, to improve the vetting process for Afghan security forces recruits, to implement a threat notification process, and to update training requirements for U.S. forces, Panetta said.
“The reason the Taliban is targeting in this manner, we believe, is the success that our Afghan forces are having on the battlefield,” Panetta said.