KABUL, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. on Tuesday handed over the command of U.S. and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan to his successor U.S. Army General James F. Campbell.
A change of command ceremony was held at the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) headquarters in central Kabul on Tuesday evening. Several foreign dignitaries and Afghan officials, including National Security Advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Defense Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi and Interior Minister Mohammad Omar Daudzai, attended the event.
The visiting U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey was also among the attendees.
"Today's change of command represents change of personnel not change of policy or strategy, with the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) which is formally in the lead of security operations, ISAF will continue to play better rule ensuring success, at the same time we will continue the honor of the services of sacrifices of those who came before us," Campbell told the audience.
The new U.S. general took over the responsibility amid increasing militancy as well as security transition from NATO-led troops to Afghan government forces.
Afghan Defense Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi during his short speech said that the ANSF was entirely ready to take over the full responsibilities of country's security from international troops by the end of this year. The ANSF took the full operational lead in the middle of last year from ISAF troops. They had already took security charges of areas where 95 percent of the country's 28 million population lives.
The Taliban insurgent group has intensified attacks over the past couple of months as the NATO and U.S. forces are withdrawing from the country.
More than 44,000 NATO-led ISAF troops, down from the peak of 130,000 in 2010, are stationed in Afghanistan. Some 30,700 of them are Americans and the United States plans to trim its forces to less than 10,000 next year.