ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT OVER THE PACIFIC (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Obama administration is nearing a decision in the next few weeks on how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan — and for what purposes — after the U.S.-led combat mission ends in 2014.
Panetta tells reporters aboard his plane en route from Hawaii to Australia on Monday that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, has developed several options on a post-2014 presence.
Reporters asked Panetta about his future at the Pentagon. While Panetta declined to reveal his plans, he suggested that he still has work to do on the job he took in July 2011.
Panetta adds that there are a number of important defense issues awaiting resolution, including a budget impasse and the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.