Defense

October 12, 2012

NATO chief welcomes new military leaders, discusses Afghanistan

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Oct. 10 welcomed the selection of Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen to be the new alliance commander in Europe and the selection of Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to succeed Allen as coalition commander in Afghanistan.

Speaking at a news conference marking the end of a NATO defense ministers conference in Brussels, Rasmussen noted that the U.S. Senate still must confirm both men for their new positions.

If confirmed, Allen will succeed Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command. Dunford is currently the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced President Barack Obama’s nominations of Allen and Dunford earlier today during the conference.

Rasmussen also spoke about the discussions on Afghanistan and other issues at the conference. NATO will remain involved in Afghanistan, he said, and all defense ministers agree the strategy in the country is working, and the alliance is in the operation for the long haul.

“Our strategy is working, and our timeline remains unchanged,” he said. “All allies and [International Security Assistance Force] partners are fully committed to them. We are committed to seeing this mission through to the end of 2014.”

The alliance is committed and is working on planning for the new operation that will succeed today’s mission, the secretary general said. The new mission – to train, advise and assist Afghan forces – will ensure the country never becomes a safe haven for terrorists, he added.

The defense ministers approved initial guidance for military leaders for the new mission. “I expect us to agree on a detailed outline early next year, and to complete the plan well before the end of 2013,” Rasmussen said. The secretary general could not say how large the NATO mission will be in Afghanistan post-2014. He stressed the NATO combat mission will end on Dec. 31, 2014, and that the new mission will be to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.

Much of this is already under way in Afghanistan. “There are challenges, but we remain on course,” Rasmussen said. “The handover to Afghan security responsibility is unfolding as planned. And as that transition takes hold, you will see some of our forces redeploying or drawing down as part of the strategy we have all agreed [to]. This is not a rush for the exit, but the logical result of transition.”

Afghanistan now has more than 337,000 trained soldiers and police. Some 67,000 American service members and 40,000 coalition service members are serving there. The coalition forces will withdraw as Afghan forces take the lead, and NATO leaders repeatedly have expressed confidence that the Afghans will be prepared to provide security throughout the country at the end of 2014.

Afghan forces already are in the lead for the protection of three-quarters of the population, Rasmussen said. “And in those areas, violence has not gone up. On the contrary, it has gone down,” he said. “That is a testament to the growing capability of the Afghan security forces.”

The defense ministers also discussed insider attacks, and Rasmussen said all take the threat very seriously. “The enemies of Afghanistan are using insider attacks to try to undermine trust and public confidence,” he said. “But this will not work. We will not allow the enemy to change our strategy and undermine the trust and confidence we have built.”

He noted that Afghan security forces also have been victims of insider attacks, and the coalition and Afghans are working together closely to confront the threat. “We and the Afghan government have together undertaken numerous measures to reduce the risk of insider attacks, including improved vetting and screening, counterintelligence, cultural awareness — and are constantly refining our approach,” he said.

Rasmussen stressed that the enemy is seeking to drive a wedge between the coalition and Afghan partners. “The insider attacks will not change our strategy,” he said. “We will continue our training, advising and partnering strategy. We will continue to hand over security responsibility to the Afghan security forces. We will continue the planning for a training, advisory and assistance mission to take over when the Afghan combat mission ends by the end of 2014. Our goal, our strategy, our timeline remain unchanged.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 27, 2015

News: U.S.-Turkey deal aims to create de facto ‘safe zone’ in northwest Syria – Turkey and the United States have agreed on the outlines of a de facto “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border under the terms of a deal that is expected to significantly increase the scope and pace of the U.S.-led air war against...
 
 

News Briefs July 27, 2015

Putin OKs maritime code calling for strong Atlantic presence Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a new version of the country’s maritime doctrine that calls for maintaining a strong Russian presence in the Atlantic Ocean amid concerns about NATO expansion. The doctrine, which covers naval, merchant marine and scientific maritime issues, also adds the Antarctic...
 
 
Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten

U.S., Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria train together at Rapid Trident 2015

Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten U.S. soldiers, of the 3rd Platoon, 615th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, react as they conduct reacting to contact training as part of their situational trai...
 

 
nasa-astronaut

Astronaut Stephen Frick retires from NASA

Astronaut Stephen Frick has retired from NASA to accept a position in the private sector. Frick, who flew as both a shuttle pilot and commander, left the Agency July 13. Steve has been a great asset to the astronaut office and ...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt

Estonian, US forces receive new jump wings

Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt Pvt. Kalmer Simohov, of Parnu, a volunteer with the Estonian Defense League, receives his U.S. Army Airborne wings following the joint airborne operations exercise at a drop zone in Nurm...
 
 

Lockheed Martin, StemRad studying first-responder radiation shield for potential deep-space application

StemRad, Ltd. and Lockheed Martin have initiated a joint research and development effort to determine if StemRad’s radiation shielding technology ñ originally designed for first-responders ñ could help to keep astronauts safe on deep-space exploration missions. This collaboration is part of Lockheed Martin’s ongoing effort to establish international partnerships for human explorat...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>