Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has arrived in southern Afghanistan on an unannounced visit, amid continuing efforts to try to limit the fallout from the shooting rampage Sunday by a U.S. staff sergeant who killed 16 Afghans.
"It is important that all of us—the United States, Afghanistan, the ISAF forces—all stick to the strategy that we've laid out," Panetta told reporters traveling with him to Helmand Province in southwest Afghanistan, Bloomberg Business Week's Viola Gienger reported. "All those involved need to 'bring this war to a responsible end and achieve the mission that all of us are embarked on.'"
Panetta is due to visit troops and meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on his two-day visit.
The Pentagon chief's trip to Afghanistan comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron, en route to a three-day visit with President Obama, said he believes the public wants to see things wrapped up in Afghanistan.
"I think people want an endgame," Cameron told reporters on his plane en route to Washington Tuesday, the Daily Telegraph reported. "They want to know that our troops are going to come home, they have been there a very long time. What I define as doing the job is leaving Afghanistan looking after its own security, not being a haven for terror, without the involvement of foreign troops. That should be our goal."
The United Kingdom currently has some 10,000 troops in Afghanistan.
There are currently some 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported. Some 23,000 are supposed to exit the region by September of this year, leaving some 68,000 U.S. troops. Remaining international forces are due to leave Afghanistan at a steady pace after that, with an end date of 2014.
The top commander of international forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Corps General John Allen, is due to testify on the drawdown plans at a hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
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