Gen. John Allen, shown in Washington April 27, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo
KABUL, Afghanistan, July 18 (UPI) -- Marine Gen. John R. Allen, who took over Monday as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, vowed to keep "relentlessly pressuring the enemy."
Allen, replacing Army Gen. David Petraeus, said in a letter to troops he will serve alongside them and their Afghan partners.
He said "significant gains" have been made in thwarting "the momentum of a resilient and determined but overconfident enemy."
Allen said there is much still to do.
"We will continue the momentum of our campaign by relentlessly pressuring the enemy. We will accelerate our efforts to protect the population and to attack and degrade insurgent networks," he said.
"As we support the overall effort, we will continue to capture and kill the enemy and remove him from the field of battle through reintegration. We will continue to coordinate and employ our forces in direct attacks that further degrade insurgent networks."
Allen said NATO and Afghan security forces will be the "covering force" for a completion of the transition process already under way.
"When we have completed the work of this campaign, Afghans will be in the lead in security across the country, securing the final phase of transition in 2014."
The formal transfer of authority to Allen in Kabul from Petraeus, who will soon take over as director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, was attended by several senior officials, including Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, CNN reported.
Allen assumes command at a time when violence by insurgents is on the rise. So far this year, 314 coalition soldiers have died in Afghanistan, the report said.