Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for his first trip abroad as defense secretary, seeking to make his own assessment of America’s longest war as it enters its final stretch.
Hagel said he would meet U.S. commanders and troops, and hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose recent orders to curtail U.S. military activity underscore an often tense relationship with the 66,000 American forces there.
Hagel praised the sacrifices of American troops in Afghanistan.
“As I begin my time as secretary of defense, I look forward to hearing from you, seeing this war from your vantage point and working to make sure you get what you need to finish the fight and come home safe,” he said.
Hagel said it was his first trip to Afghanistan since a mid-2008 visit with then-Senator Barack Obama during Obama’s campaign for the presidency. Obama, a Democrat, forged a close bond with Hagel, a Republican, and remarked later that summer that the two agreed on almost “every item” of foreign policy.
Fingers-crossed that he doesn’t get drunk and try to order bombers to Israel.