Defeat of al-Qaeda remains top national security priority, says Panetta

To end the continuing threat from al-Qaida will require a modified military footprint, close work with allies and continued U.S. presence in volatile regions, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

President Barack Obama recently conveyed to him that the goal that remains at the top of the Defense Department's priority list is "a responsibility to disrupt, degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat those who attacked America on 9/11 -- al-Qaida," Panetta said Nov. 20 at a Center for a New American Security event in Washington.

Panetta identified other pressing national security challenges as follows:

  • Implementing the new defense strategy.
  • Meeting fiscal responsibilities.
  • Countering nuclear proliferation.
  • Improving cybersecurity.
  • Achieving greater energy security.
  • Putting in place the so-called Asia-Pacific rebalance.
  • Taking care of service members, veterans and military families.

Panetta noted that prolonged military and intelligence operations have significantly weakened al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that the terrorist group has found fertile ground from which to continue its operations in Yemen and Somalia.

In Yemen, the capabilities of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are growing, Panetta said. AQAP has targeted the United States for attack and sowed violence and chaos in Yemen itself, he said.

“We have struck back in an effort to disrupt and dismantle this group through a very close partnership with the government of Yemen … and the Yemenese themselves,” Panetta said.

In Somalia, against the militant group al-Shaabab, progress also has been made, he said. The progress against al-Qaeda in Somalia has been acheived “in large part because of an effective partnership between the United States and the African Union Mission in Somalia," Panetta said.



About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

Reader Comments

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 Matt

You have to look at the demographic of the recruitment of the military, the long term cost when the soldiers return. The US is the most powerful country in the world, but not even the US can keep up such large deployments. The you have the cost of regime change, state building, military operations. Same as regime change and behavior change of state sponsors of terrorism. WMD's and terror was seen as they way to safeguard their regimes. The Arab Spring disproves that. Things have to be done, similar objectives but with a smaller footprint. Without the larger deployments, the small footprint was not possible. Look at Iraq and Afghanistan, look at the Sahara, perhaps at most 8 to 10,000 trained indigenous force on the current number, a small AU force maybe 6,000 and then a few thousand SF and shock troops. Afghanistan 400,000 troops ANSF, 160,000 ISAF, 560,000 in total. After 9/11 such small number were not possible after 12 years it is, if not defeat.

Mon, Dec 3, 2012 Theo Prinse the Netherlands

I thought OBL and Al Qaeda was defeated by BHO which is why Obama wants Rice to take the blame for Benghazigate

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Your Name:(optional)
Your Email:(optional)
Your Location:(optional)
Please type the letters/numbers you see above