Obama nominates Dunford to head NATO forces in Afghanistan

Updated: 2012-10-11 01:59


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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated General Joseph Dunford as the new commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, as General John Allen moves on to be the next Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of US European Command.

In a statement, Obama said he has "full confidence" in Dunford' s extensive experience, strategic leadership and vision to serve as the next commander of US Forces and NATO International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Dunford currently serves as Assistant Commandant of the US Marine Corps.

If confirmed by the Senate, Obama said Dunford "will lead our forces through key milestones in our effort that will allow us to bring the war to a close responsibly as Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its security."

Dunford, a four-star general, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1955. He went into the military straight out of college, and commanded several units before becoming Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was noted for commanding the 5th Marine Regiment during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Obama also spared no praise for Allen, saying Allen has established his credibility with NATO allies and ISAF partners as a strong and effective military leader. He said under Allen's command, NATO forces have made important progress towards the goal of defeating al Qaeda and ensuring they can never return to Afghanistan.

Allen succeeded David Petraeus in July 2011 to become commander of the ISAF and US forces in Afghanistan, overseeing the withdrawal of US troops from that country. He was nominated by Obama as Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of US European Command Wednesday, pending Senate confirmation.

US forces are set to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. But the foreign forces there are facing a growing problem of the so-called insider attacks, in which gunmen in Afghan security forces uniforms attack foreign forces. Dozens have been killed so far this year.