But he insists Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander there, is taking necessary steps to protect the force while still ensuring the U.S. will be able to hand over security to the Afghans and be able to withdraw by the end of 2014.
He says the attacks do not mean the Taliban is succeeding.
Instead, he says the Taliban "are resorting to efforts that try to strike at our force, try to create chaos, but do not in any way result in their regaining territory that has been lost."
Panetta spoke during a press conference Tuesday with China's minister of national defense, Gen. Liang Guanglie, in Beijing.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)