DOD limits Afghanistan visits by high-level officials

By Sebastian Sprenger / April 19, 2016 at 11:13 AM

U.S. government dignitaries have been instructed to stay out of Afghanistan during the summer months.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter informed senior Pentagon leaders about the travel ban, effective between June 1 and Sept. 30, in an April 18 memo.

"This policy is not intended to inhibit the normal operational flow of personnel to Afghanistan," Carter wrote. "Its purpose is to curtail and consolidate senior-level DOD visits to Afghanistan during a critical period for the Coalition and our Afghan partners. Allies, congressional delegations and other U.S. government departments and agencies have also been asked to honor this travel restriction."

The fighting in Afghanistan falls under the purview of U.S. Central Command. Its new commander, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, was sworn in on March 30.

American field commanders in active war zones have previously asked for a reprieve in hosting high-level delegations of lawmakers and other government luminaries. The visits can take up considerable time from deployed personnel. In the case of Afghanistan, the annual fighting season of Taliban forces against government and Western coalition troops typically falls in the spring and summer months.