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American Forces Press Service

McKiernan Assumes Command of NATO Forces in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 3, 2008 – U.S. Army Gen. David D. McKiernan assumed command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force from U.S. Army Gen. Dan K. McNeill during a ceremony here today.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai; U.S. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe; and German army Gen. Egon Ramms, commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, ISAF’s next-higher headquarters, attended the event.

“I am honored to serve alongside our Afghan hosts and brothers to work toward a common comprehensive set of goals,” McKiernan said. “While today marks a transition in the commanders, the mission must continue without missing a beat.”

Karzai welcomed the new ISAF commander.

“Together with the Afghan officers, Ministry of Defense and the chief of the Afghan army, you will work to promote the standards to the Afghan army, [and] you will equip them better and eventually enable them to serve and defend this country themselves,” he said.

Ramms, who presided over the change of command, expressed optimism about Afghanistan’s continued progress.

“Although I recognize insecurity cannot be overcome by military means alone,” he said, “I believe ISAF is now better placed than ever to facilitate the necessary stability for economic and social development and to cooperate with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the [United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] with an integrated approach.”

McNeill, who served 16 months as ISAF commander, is retiring after a 40-year Army career.

“It has been my privilege to have the honor to serve in this alliance and to serve the people of Afghanistan,” he said. “I offer the people of Afghanistan, many of whom are my friends, my gratitude for the generosity and hospitality that they have shown me. My gratitude also goes to the allied soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians for what they have done and what they will continue to do for the people of Afghanistan.”

McKiernan has served in every capacity from platoon leader to numbered Army commander in a 36-year Army career spent in Europe, the United States, Korea and Southwest Asia. His previous deployment experience includes Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo.

(From a NATO International Security Assistance Force news release.)

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