KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived in Afghanistan Thursday to assess the status of military operations in the region, the Department of Defense said.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be in the region for a day and a half for meetings with senior military leaders to "refresh his knowledge and understanding of the progress and challenges to the campaign plan," Marine Corps Col. David Lapan. who serves as Dempsey's spokesman, said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, at an International Security Assistance Force meeting in Brussels this month, said he hoped Afghan national security forces would be able to take the lead in combat operations at some point next year.
"It is neither an acceleration nor stopping of combat operations in 2013," Lapan said Thursday of the drawdown timeline in a Department of Defense news release.
"We remain on track and committed to achieving the Lisbon objectives," he added. "We project that Afghan forces will be in the lead in 2014, but U.S. and other ISAF forces partnered and operating with them will remain in combat."