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BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – 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.