May 05, 2012 02:46 AM IST | Source: Reuters

Panetta warns Afghanistan-bound U.S. soldiers on behavior

USA-AFGHANISTAN-PANETTA:Panetta warns Afghanistan-bound U.S. soldiers on behavior

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged a group of Afghanistan-bound soldiers on Friday to be on their best behavior when they reach the war zone, warning that thoughtless photos and actions can endanger their mission and their lives.

"These days it takes only seconds, seconds, for a picture, a photo, to suddenly become an international headline," Panetta told solders at Fort Benning, Georgia.

"And those headlines can impact the mission that we're engaged in. They can put your fellow service members at risk, they can hurt morale, they can damage our standing in the world and they can cost lives," the defense secretary said.

His remarks follow a series of recent incidents triggered by U.S. troops that have sparked violence and raised tensions with the Afghan government, including images of U.S. service members urinating on slain insurgents and posing with body parts.

(Reporting By David Alexander; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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