Panetta to discuss Libya, Afghanistan, and defense cuts with NATO allies in Brussels

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, September 30, 2011

From Cheryl Pellerin, the Department of Defense:   In his first visit as defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta will meet with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders and will travel to NATO headquarters this week to reaffirm the Defense Department’s security relationships, he said tonight. . . .

In Brussels, Panetta will deliver remarks on his initial impressions of the NATO alliance and laying out his ideas on the road ahead, including lessons to be drawn from operations in Afghanistan and Libya, and meeting the challenges of maintaining effective capabilities for the alliance in an era of financial austerity.

“The primary areas we will focus on are Libya and the lessons learned from the Libyan experience,” Panetta said. “There’s a lot of good obviously that came out of that operation, but there are also some important lessons to learn for the future.”

At NATO headquarters, the secretary will attend a series of meetings among the 28 NATO allies to discuss Libya and other ongoing operations, and with coalition partners to discuss the International Security Assistance Force and the transition that’s under way in Afghanistan.

Panetta said Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, will join him at NATO and provide a summary of the situation in Afghanistan.

“I look forward to talking with my NATO partners as to how we can best proceed in the future in order to ensure that Afghanistan remains stable,” the secretary said.

Panetta said he and the NATO alliance partners will discuss budget cutbacks that every nation faces.

“It’s very important now as we face those budget constraints to try to develop approaches that allow us to share capabilities, allow us to share technologies and allow us to work together closely in order to ensure that NATO can fulfill its role of providing security,” he added.  (photo: Getty)

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