Campbell Takes Command of US, Coalition Troops in Afghanistan

Army Gen. John Campbell assumed command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US Forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday, relieving Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who has held the joint command for 18 months. Campbell will be the last ISAF commander as NATO will shift to an advise and assist mission with a sharply reduced force next year. In a statement from Washington, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he and President Barack Obama “have the highest confidence” in Campbell, who is starting his third tour in Afghanistan. Hagel also praised Dunford for his “extraordinary ability and judgment.” Dunford will become the next Marine Corps Commandant in October, relieving Gen. James Amos. However, the ceremony in Kabul was clouded by the continuing dispute over the outcome of the June runoff election for president. If the two presidential rivals fail to accept the results of the NATO-monitored audit it could trigger a civil war and prevent the Afghan government from signing an agreement that would allow US and NATO forces to remain. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he would leave office Sept. 2, which could leave the country leaderless if the recount dispute continues. (DOD report) (Read Campbell’s message to troops.)