Sunday, February 10, 2013

Panetta Praises Outgoing, Incoming ISAF Commanders

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2013 – The following statement made by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was read at today’s transfer of command ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan:

To the men and women of ISAF: Thank you for fighting and serving in tough conditions every day. Through your dedication and sacrifice, you are changing the course of history in a volatile and dangerous part of the world – and you’re paving the way for a brighter future.

No one has done more over the last 18 months to help realize that brighter future than General John Allen. He is one of America’s most outstanding, unassuming, and brilliant military thinkers and leaders.

General Allen took command of ISAF and USFOR-A at a crucial moment in the war. He has led U.S. and coalition forces at the height of their combat power, and the men and women under his command have achieved steady progress despite severe challenges.

As a direct result of General Allen’s superb leadership, the ISAF campaign is on track to achieve the goal of ensuring Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for Al Qaeda or its extremist affiliates. ISAF and Afghan forces have put relentless pressure on a resilient enemy and disrupted its ability to derail the campaign. Meanwhile, Afghan National Security Forces have grown in number and capability, and stepped into the lead for security operations – even as the United States has recovered 33,000 surge forces since mid-2011.

A critical part of that success has been General Allen’s tireless and effective efforts to sustain and strengthen coalition unity now and in the future.

General Allen’s forthright advice and wise counsel have been essential to President Obama and to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His selfless dedication to our troops and to our mission is a constant source of inspiration on the battlefield and back at home.

He has earned the thanks of this nation and many others for carrying the heavy burden of leadership with utmost professionalism and courage. Congratulations on a job well done, and Semper Fi!
General Allen will be succeeded by another combat-tested Marine, General Joe Dunford, who will carry forward the momentum and hard-fought progress in the campaign. As General Allen has said so often, this campaign is about winning, and with continued dedication and sacrifice, we will prevail!

Allen Passes NATO Security Assistance Command to Dunford

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2013 – U.S. and NATO leaders today congratulated Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen for a job well done as commander of the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force and praised Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. as the strategic leader needed for the next phase of the command.

At a ceremony here, Allen passed Dunford the flags of the NATO command and of U.S. Forces Afghanistan. There are 66,000 American service members in the country.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey was on hand and praised Allen as a coalition builder. “He is as fine an officer as I’ve ever known,” Dempsey said. “He has led with a quick mind, calloused hands and a servant’s spirit.”

Dunford is perfect to follow Allen as the new commander, Dempsey said, calling him a leader who can draw on more than 35 years of excellence at every level in the military.

Afghan Defense Minister Bismullah Khan thanked Allen for his leadership and told him to “be proud” of all he has done for Afghanistan to build and train Afghan security forces and reduce civilian casualties. “You are leaving behind memories we Afghans will always remember in our hearts,” the defense minister said through a translator.

With 50 nations represented in the coalition to help the country, Allen said he is confident in victory. He remembered the more than 560 ISAF personnel who were killed and the more than 5,500 who were wounded during his 19 months in command.

The new commander kept his remarks short, but promised to keep up the momentum. Dunford will have his work cut out for him as he continues training Afghan forces and the movement of supplies and personnel out of the country ahead of the drawdown. And all this must be done in a way that allows a yet to be determined post NATO force to be ready to begin operations Jan. 1, 2015.

“Today is not about change, it’s about continuity,” Dunford said.