Defense Secretary in Afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – After only a few days on the job, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has gone to a war zone, making his first trip to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief.

Carter arrived in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Saturday for meetings with U.S. military commanders and Afghan leaders.

The U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is winding down after more than a decade of fighting. But there’s widespread debate about whether the residual contingent of U.S. military trainers and advisers is enough to protect coalition gains against the Taliban.

Carter told U.S. senators during his confirmation hearings that he would consider recommending a change of plans for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 if security conditions were to worsen.

About 10,600 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.

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