October 27, 2016

Pentagon announces new US commander for intl forces in Afghan

Just over a year ago the US and NATO-led mission in Afghanistan transitioned into an Afghan operation, with allied nations assisting in training local forces to tackle the Taliban (AFP Photo/Wakil Kohsar)

Washington: The Pentagon has named Lieutenant General John “Mick” Nicholson as the new commander of international forces in Afghanistan, amid concerns about setbacks in the fight against Taliban in the war-torn nation.

Once confirmed by the United States Senate, Gen Nicholson who is currently the US Army commander of NATO land forces, would replace Gen John Campbell, who has been leading the
Afghan operations for nearly 18 months.

“I am confident that Gen Nicholson will build upon Gen Campbell’s hard work to secure a bright future for the Afghan people, and help the government of Afghanistan strengthen a professional and capable security partner to the American people,” Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said in a statement yesterday.

“He knows what it means to lead a responsive and nimble force, and how to build the capacity of our partners to respond to immediate and long term threats and remain adaptable to confront evolving challenges,” Carter said.

“He understands the importance and complexity of our mission in Afghanistan,” the Defence Secretary said.

Nicholson has served in multiple capacities including chief of staff of operations for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US Forces – Afghanistan, director of the Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell for the Joint Staff, and deputy commander – Stability of ISAF Regional Command South.

Carter thanked Campbell for his extraordinary leadership and dedication in his dual role as commander of United States Forces – Afghanistan, and as commander of the NATO Resolute
Support mission.

“While many challenges remain, we have made gains over the past year that will put Afghanistan on a better path, and much of the credit for that progress rests with Gen Campbell,” Carter said.

The transition comes amid growing concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, where Taliban militants have caused large numbers of casualties among Afghan troops and Islamic State affiliates have made some inroads.

President Barack Obama in October announced 9,800 US forces would remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2016 – backtracking on an earlier pledge to pull all but 1,000 US troops from the country.

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