News - Afghanistan
The Pentagon's No 2 official said Tuesday that the US military's withdrawal from Afghanistan will cost billions of dollars and be far more difficult than the departure from Iraq, USA Today reported.
The official emphasised that the pace of withdrawing nearly 20,000 US troops from Afghanistan as well as their gear by October will face challenges.
"It's a very austere logistics environment to transport anything. Combat is still going on. Terrible terrain. Narrow roads. Long way to a seaport.
Afghanistan is orders of magnitude more challenging for...[withdrawal] than was Iraq," Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told USA Today.
The US has around 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, having fought insurgents in the country for more than a decade. The majority of its armed forces are slated to leave by the end of 2014.
His comment comes as the main Nato supply route through neighboring Pakistan reopened last week. It had been closed since November after a Nato airstrike mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border.
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US was designating Afghanistan as a "major non-Nato ally", a status intended as a political statement of support for the country's long-term stability and to solidify close defense cooperation after American combat troops withdraw in 2014.
Pakistan was designated the same in 2004.
Clinton insisted that progress was coming incrementally, but consistently to Afghanistan after decades of conflict.
"The security situation is more stable," she said. Afghan forces "are improving their capacity."