Sunday, September 02, 2018

U.S. military command changes hands in Afghanistan - washingtonpost

 The outgoing U.S. military commander in Afghanistan issued an impassioned call to Taliban insurgents Sunday, asking them to “stop killing your fellow Afghans” and come to the peace table but warning them to “make no mistake: Until you are willing to start talking, we will keep fighting.”

Gen. John W. Nicholson, 61, spoke at a formal military ceremony that marked his departure after 36 months leading the advisory mission of up to 14,000 U.S. troops in a NATO coalition here, and the arrival of his replacement, Lt. Gen. Austin Scott Miller. The handover came at an uncertain time of both aggressive insurgent threats and nascent hopes for reconciliation after 17 costly years of war.

Miller, speaking after color guard troops passed him the green flag of the U.S. Resolute Support mission, echoed Nicholson’s resolve. He noted that with 41 nations in the coalition, “the world recognizes that Afghanistan can’t be a safe haven for terrorists. The world recognizes that we cannot fail.” He said the conflict is still “a tough fight” but that “what we do here will be vital to both Afghanistan and the world.”

Miller, 57, has spent much of his career overseeing Special Operations forces, and his most recent position was as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command. He was among the first U.S. soldiers to enter Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, and since 2013 he has commanded various Special Operations units in which U.S. and Afghan forces work together in counterterrorism teams fighting the Islamic State and other groups.

The change of command is traditionally a time of reflection and scrutiny for the U.S. military role here. Miller is arriving at a moment of fresh questions in Washington about the role and duration of the U.S. military commitment, confusion about the intentions of the Taliban, and growing doubts about the Afghan government’s leadership and internal cohesiveness, in relation to both security policies and political dealings. - More


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