Conflict & Justice

US Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford takes over NATO forces in Afghanistan


Former NATO commander US General John Allen (3rd L) hands over a flag to US General Joseph F. Dunford (2nd R) as he takes over as commander of NATO in Afghanistan at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul on February 10, 2013. US General Joseph Dunford assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sunday, taking over from General John Allen as the coalition prepares to withdraw the bulk of its combat troops by next year.


Massoud Hossaini

US Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford took over command of the NATO forces in Afghanistan from Gen. John Allen on Sunday. 

Gen. Dunford will lead the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the final two years of the war, and is expected to be the last commander to serve in Afghanistan, as Afghan soldiers take over from coalition forces in time for a full withdrawal in 2014.

“Today is not about change, it’s about continuity,” Dunford said at a change-of-command ceremony in Kabul, Politico reported. “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 will be the fifth top allied commander to lead in Afghanistan in five years, Al Jazeera English reported

The general, who hails from Boston, is reputed among Marines as "a thoughtful, calm leader with more than 22 months under his belt of commanding troops in Iraq," CNN reported

However, he has not served on the ground in Afghanistan before, and is faced with the difficult tasks of fighting a mounting Afghan insurgency and the continued training of the country's forces. 

"The insurgency will be defeated over time by legitimate and well-trained Afghan forces," Gen. Allen said, according to ABC News

"Afghan forces defending Afghan people and enabling the government of this country to serve its citizens — this is victory, this is what winning looks like."