U.S. takes over NATO force in Afghanistan

Feb. 5, 2007 at 1:46 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The British commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has handed over control to an American.

British Gen. David Richards, who has commanded the multinational forces in Afghanistan since May 2006, was replaced by U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill in a ceremony Sunday attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Command of the ISAF rotates among NATO members every six months.

President Karzai thanked outgoing Gen. Richards, saying that the Afghan people admire NATO's assistance, Radio Free Europe reported on Sunday.

Speaking at the ceremony, Richards called 2006 a year of successes. The Taliban "did not achieve a single objective," Richards said.

"NATO and the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] will not be militarily defeated and importantly that reassures the population that their government and the international community will succeed," Richards said.

While he acknowledged the concerns about a spring offensive by the Taliban, Richards indicated that local communities have willing to stand up against the Taliban and support the efforts of the ISAF.

During Richard's tenure the ISAF increased its size from 9,000 to more than 33,000 troops.

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