MILITARY

Defense Secretary Carter makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

  • FILE - In this June 30, 2016, file photo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon. Carter on Friday, Dec. 9, made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan to consult with military commanders and deliver a pre-holiday pep talk to U.S. troops. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

    FILE - In this June 30, 2016, file photo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon. Carter on Friday, Dec. 9, made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan to consult with military commanders and deliver a pre-holiday pep talk to U.S. troops. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, hugs U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, after a press conference at presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday that the United States will stick with Afghanistan for years to come. (AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini)

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, hugs U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, after a press conference at presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday that the United States will stick with Afghanistan for years to come. (AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini)  (The Associated Press)

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, shakes hands with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, after a press conference at presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday that the United States will stick with Afghanistan for years to come. (AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini)

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, shakes hands with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, after a press conference at presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday that the United States will stick with Afghanistan for years to come. (AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. defense Secretary Ash Carter is making an unannounced visit to Afghanistan to consult with military commanders and deliver a pre-holiday pep talk to U.S. troops.

It is Carter's last planned trip to Afghanistan before handing off his Pentagon responsibilities to his designated successor, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.

Carter is scheduled to meet later Friday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The U.S. has about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan security forces combatting a resilient Taliban insurgency. U.S. special operations forces are hunting down al-Qaida and Islamic State militants.