Dunford to lead NATO in Afghanistan

US Marine Gen Joseph Dunford took over Sunday as the new and probably last commander of all US and international forces in Afghanistan.

The American-led NATO coalition is entering the final stretch of its participation in a war that will have lasted more than 13 years when most foreign combat troops pull out at the end of 2014.

Dunford took over leadership of the International Security Assistance Force, and a smaller but separate detachment of the US troops, from Gen John Allen, who had led them for the past 19 months.

"Today is not about change, it's about continuity,'' Dunford told a gathering of coalition military leaders and Afghan officials. "What's not changed is the growing capability of the Afghan national security forces. What's not changed is our commitment, more importantly, the inevitability of our success.''

"I told him our victory here will never be marked by a parade or a point in time on a calendar when victory is declared,'' Allen said.

Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "much work lies ahead'' for Dunford as he tries to withdraw about 100,000 troops, including 66,000 from the US.

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