KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan to take stock of progress in the war and discuss plans for the troop drawdown, even as violence spikes in the south.
Panetta acknowledges the increase in attacks and that the insurgents appear to be better organized. But he insists that the level of violence is still down and that commanders had expected the uptick in fighting.
Panetta says he wants to get an assessment from the top U.S. commander, Marine Gen. John Allen, and how confident he is in NATO's ability to confront the threats both from the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
Panetta arrived just a day after three suicide attackers blew themselves up in a marketplace in southern Afghanistan, killing 22 people and wounding at least 50 others.