Dec. 13 - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. will be an ''enduring presence'' in Afghanistan but offered no details about the number of troops that will remain there after the withdrawal. Deborah Gembara reports.
U.S. Defense chief Leon Panetta was in Kabul for meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about what the security picture will look like there after the combat mission ends. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Defense secretary Leon Panetta saying: "With regards to the number on the enduring presence, that will be an issue that will be discussed by the president (Obama) with president Karzai in consultation with him and then ultimately I assume when they feel it is appropriate that will be revealed to not only the American people but the Afghan people as well." One official told Reuters that options under consideration included keeping as few as 6,000 troops in Afghanistan, compared to the current 68,000. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying: "We are going to maintain an enduring presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014. We will be drawing down our forces, obviously the Afghan army, will assume full responsibility for the security of the country, but we will be there to provide support, to provide training, to provide assistance, to provide help on counter-terrorism and to provide the support for the forces that are here. Whether Afghan forces are prepared to take the lead in their own security is another matter. An attack on a base in Kandahar shortly after Panetta's visit to commanders there is a reminder of how fragile security in Afghanistan remains.