Momentum wrested from militants: Gen. Petraeus
Because of their joint hard work and sacrifice, they had reached an important juncture in the campaign against the insurgency, Gen. David Petraeus told a change-of-command ceremony in Kabul.
US Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, NATO Senior Civilian Representative Gass, UNAMA head Staffan de Mistura, EU Rep Ambassador Ušackas and others attended the ceremony.
Addressing the troops, Gen. Petraeus said: "You have taken away from the insurgents important areas in the former Taliban heartland, in places like Helmand and Kandahar."
Contrary to forecasts of a significant uptick in insurgent violence this year, the number of assaults over the past two-and-a-half months was actually less than the number for the same period last year, he added.
"It is clear that you and our Afghan partners are putting unprecedented pressure on the enemies of a free and peaceful Afghanistan," said the top US general, who has been named as new CIA chief.
Ensuring that Al Qaeda could never again establish a sanctuary in Afghanistan was a hugely important objective, he said, telling the insurgents not to question the determination of Afghans and coalition forces to achieve that goal.
The international commitment to Afghanistan would endure even as foreign troops began the process of transition of tasks to Afghan forces, he assured. "Moreover, the United States and other nations are now exploring long-term strategic partnerships that would extend beyond 2014."
At a time when Afghan forces are steadily assuming greater responsibility for security tasks, Petraeus praised his successor Gen. Allen as the right choice to lead the international military effort in Afghanistan at this critical juncture.
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