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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, January 18, 2018


General Dunford is new head of foreign troops in Afghanistan

He delivered an emotional speech largely addressed to Afghans

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KABUL - American Marine General Joseph Dunford has taken over as the new commander of US-led international forces in Afghanistan, replacing General John Allen, who had been commanding troops in the war-torn country since July 2011.

Dunford will head the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for the final two years of the war on terror. He would probably be the last commander of international forces before the 2014 withdrawal of the ISAF as Afghan soldiers take over from coalition forces.

"Today is not about change, it's about continuity," Dunford told a gathering of coalition military leaders and Afghan officials as he assumed the charge.

"What's not changed is the growing capability of our Afghan partners, the Afghan national security forces. What's not changed is our commitment, more importantly, what's not changed is the inevitability of our success."

Dunford, a Marine general like Allen, commandeered US forces in Iraq where he had earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" for his leadership skills.

Allen handed over the charge to Dunford Sunday. He said troops had gone "a long way" towards winning counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan.

Allen is set to be nominated as the NATO alliance's supreme commander in Europe.

Last month, he was cleared of misconduct charge by the Pentagon in a scandal that led former CIA director David Petraeus to resign.

Allen directed ISAF's transfer of most security across the country to the Afghan army and police.

He delivered an emotional speech largely addressed to Afghans and stressed their role in taking over security operation by the middle of the year.

"Afghan forces (are) defending Afghan people and enabling the government of this country to serve its citizens. This is victory. This is what winning looks like," Allen said.

In an interview with the BBC, Allen said: "I think we have gone a long way to setting the conditions for what, generally, usually, is the defining factor in winning a counter-insurgency -- to set the conditions for governance, to set the conditions for economic opportunity... I think we are on the road to winning."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not present during the ceremony despite receiving an invitation from ISAF.

A spokesman for Karzai declined to comment on his reason for not attending.

Dunford's nomination was made in November when Obama said he had "full confidence" in the general's extensive experience, strategic leadership and vision.

Dunford earlier served as assistant commandant of the US Marine Corps.

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