Gen. Joseph F. Dunford takes command of NATO in Afghanistan
By Sadaf Shinwari - Sun Feb 10 2013, 2:20 pm
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force from U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen at a change of command ceremony today attended by senior Afghan, NATO and U.S. officials, including German Army Gen. Hans-Lothar Domröse, 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.
Dunford is expected to be the force’s last commander, with the US committed to removing its combat troops from the country by the end of 2014. He will assume command of 68,000 US troops who make up the bulk of the coalition force of about 100,000, and will be the fifth top allied commander in Afghanistan in a five-year period.
“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.”
According to a statement released by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 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 source further added, Under his 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.
The statement also added, Gen. Allen also played a critical role in stabilizing relations with neighboring Pakistan after a series of crises in 2011 had threatened to fracture the partnership.
Gen. Dunford previously served as Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. He has also served as the Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division; Director, Operations Division, Plans, Policies and Operations, HQMC; and Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations; and Commanding General, I MEF and Commander, Marine Forces Central Command.
Among other distinguished highlights of his career, Gen. Dunford served as the Marine Officer Instructor, College of the Holy Cross; as a member of the Commandant’s Staff Group; and as the senior aide to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Joint assignments include service as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Chief, Global and Multilateral Affairs Division; and Vice Director for Operations.