KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 13, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived at the International Security Forces Joint Command Headquarters here today for meetings with senior U.S., NATO and Afghan officials to review the progress of the drawdown.
The Afghanistan retrograde is on schedule to meet the December 2014 deadline, a senior defense official said Sept. 10 during a background briefing for Pentagon reporters. The official added that Carter would use the trip as an opportunity to get a boots-on-the-ground perspective of the retrograde process.
About 24,000 vehicles and 20,000 container equivalent sets are still to be shipped back to the United States, the official said, noting that the movement of material is expected to pick up again following a slowdown for the Muslim observances of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.
Today, Carter will meet with Army Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command; U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham; Army Maj. Gen. James Richardson, commander of the U.S. National Support Element Command; and Dutch Ambassador Maurits Jochems, NATO’s senior civilian representative.
The deputy secretary also will hold a meeting with senior leaders from Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan and NATO Training Mission Afghanistan.
The discussions are intended as an affirmation that things are moving and to ensure that the retrograde process continues to work smoothly, the defense official said.