KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 12 (UPI) — U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of coalition forces, reaffirmed NATO’s commitment Tuesday in a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The meeting was the first since Dunford took over command of the International Security Assistance Force Sunday, the coalition said in a release.
Besides reaffirming the ISAF commitment, Dunford paid his respects to Karzai and pledged to continue the productive relationship between ISAF and Afghanistan.
“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,” Dunford said Sunday when he took over ISAF command.
Dunford is expected to be the last of more than a dozen NATO and U.S. commanders of coalition forces since the war began in 2001, Khaama Press reported.
Among the challenges Dunford faces is the accelerated final transfer of security responsibility from ISAF troops to Afghan police and army that puts them in control across the country this spring instead of late summer as originally planned.
Khaama Press said the earlier transfer of responsibility will help NATO combat forces leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Officials have said a small number of U.S. troops may stay behind to train Afghanistan’s military and search for suspected al-Qaida members.
Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).