Obama announces new team for Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): Having broken the Taliban momentum over the last two years, the United States is entering into a new phase in Afghanistan, with a drawdown of security forces beginning in July, President Barack Obama has said.
"In Afghanistan, the United States is moving into a new phase, transferring responsibility for security to Afghan forces, starting to reduce American forces this summer and building a long-term partnership with the Afghan people,” Obama told reporters on Thursday when he announced his new team for Afghanistan.
Gen. John Allen, currently deputy commander for CENTCOM, would be the new US commander in Afghanistan, while senior diplomat Ryan Crocker would take over as ambassador to that country, the president said.
The incumbent US commander, Gen. David Petraeus, would be new CIA director, replacing Leon Panetta, who would take over from Robert Gates as the next defense secretary.
"I cannot think of a group of individuals better suited to lead our national security team during this difficult time," Obama said, as he announced his choice for the civilian military team.
"I'm nominating a superb commander, Lt. Gen. John Allen, to succeed Gen. Petraeus as commander of the International Security Assistance Force," he said. As a battle-tested combat leader in Iraq, he helped turn the tide in Anbar province.
As CENTCOM deputy commander, he was s respected in the region and has been deeply involved in planning and executing the US strategy in Afghanistan. "As our troops continue to sacrifice for our security, Gen. Allen is the right commander for this vital mission," Obama said.
With coalition forces transferring responsibility to Afghans, the president said, the US was redoubling its efforts to promote political and economic progress in Afghanistan as well.
"Our tireless ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, has helped us dramatically increase our civilian presence of diplomats and development experts. Never before have our civilians and troops worked together so closely and so successfully," he added.
To build on Karl’s great work, Obama said, Ryan Crocker had agreed to return to public service as US ambassador to Afghanistan. He was the US first envoy to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime.
"He reopened our embassy there. As a former ambassador to Pakistan, he recognises that our strategy has to succeed on both sides of the border. As ambassador to Iraq, his remarkable partnership with Petraeus helped reduce the level of violence and promote reconciliation…"
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