Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Friday made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, thanking troops and meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his last visit to the country while in office. Carter spoke with airmen and troops stationed at Bagram Airfield after landing as part of a farewell trip around the world before he leaves office in January. The US and NATO allies will keep their commitment to fight the Taliban and ISIS in the country and “will remain committed to a sovereign and secure Afghanistan,” Carter said during a joint appearance with Ghani, according to The Los Angeles Times. About 10,000 US troops will remain in country as the Obama Administration leaves office, including an Air Force contingent that has been busy conducting counter terrorism airstrikes.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.