Carter makes surprise Afghan visit

Carter makes surprise Afghan visit
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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Friday to meet with U.S. troops and get an update on the threats faced in the country.


The Friday trip comes amid Carter's admission this week that he used a personal, unsecured email account for some official business during his initial months at the Pentagon, which he has called a "mistake," saying he "should have known better." The White House has signaled that it won't take actions to punish the secretary.

Carter arrived at a base in eastern Afghanistan during his swing through the region that includes stops in Iraq and Turkey, and was slated to meet with his Afghan counterpart Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai and Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, according to reports.

About 600 troops are stationed at the Operating Base Fenty near the city of Jalalabad.

In a report to Congress earlier this week, the Pentagon cast light on the litany of threats in Afghanistan, including from a formidable Taliban and an increasing presence by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It also noted the challenges faced by Afghan forces to secure the country.

The report found that there were 28 high-profile attacks in the capital of Kabul this year through mid-November, a 27 percent increase over the same period last year.

Carter has traveled to Afghanistan once before, in February, days after being sworn into the position. Obama announced in October that the U.S. would keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016.