Pentagon’s head: Kyrgyz Manas critical to sustain US efforts in Afghanistan
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 22 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova/
U.S Manas transit centre in Kyrgyzstan is critical in terms of sustaining the NATO's efforts in Afghanistan, the U.S Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in his report on last week's trip to Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and the UAE.
"That transit center is critical to sustaining our efforts in Afghanistan, and provides us with the ability to move personnel in and out of the war zone, to execute aerial refueling sorties, and to transport air cargo in and out of theater," American Forces Press Service quotes Panetta.
He said the Kyrgyzstan and its Central Asian neighbors serve as key links in the logistical supply lines into Afghanistan known as the Northern Distribution Network, which has proven extremely important in recent months.
"For me the visit underscored that the United States shares a number of important interests with our Central Asian partners, chief among them a secure and stable Afghanistan so that the broader region can be peaceful and benefit from expanded trade and development," Panetta added.
The U.S. air base, renamed as the Transit Center, was established at the Manas International Airport in Bishkek in December 2001, and today it involves about 1,200 soldiers. The base is an important part of the NATO Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan. The agreement on deployment of the U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan is valid until 2014.