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U.S. general assumes command of NATO forces in Afghanistan

A U.S. general on Sunday assumed the command of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the NATO-led coalition forces said.

"U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen at a change of command ceremony today," the ISAF said in a press release issued here.

"Today is not about change, it's about continuity," said Gen. Dunford, addressing the audience on his vision for Afghanistan and the coalition. "I'll endeavor to continue the momentum of the campaign and support the people of Afghanistan as they seize the opportunity for a brighter future."

"Gen. Dunford takes over from his fellow Marine and friend of 35 years. Gen. Allen's 19 months at the helm, beginning in July 2011, make him the longest-serving ISAF commander in the 11-year- old campaign," the ISAF release added.

Under Allen's leadership, the Afghan National Security Forces, what Gen. Allen has called the "defeat mechanism of the insurgency, " reached their target strength of 352,000 and are now leading the vast majority of operations across the country, it noted.

The ceremony was attended by senior Afghan, NATO and U.S. officials, including German Army Gen. Hans-Lothar Domrose, Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum; U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, Commander, U.S. Central Command, the release said.

The Taliban has been waging an insurgency since its regime was toppled by a U.S-led invasion in late 2001.

Currently about 100,000 NATO-led forces, with nearly 66,000 of them Americans, are stationed in the country to stop the Taliban from returning to power.

[Source: Xinhua, Kabul, 10Feb13]

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