Gen Petraeus hands over command in Afghanistan

Petraeus steps down after one-year stint in charge of 140,000 international troops in the country.

Kabul: Gen David Petraeus on Monday handed
over command of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan
to Gen John Allen, transferring responsibility for the nearly
10-year war as Kabul`s international allies draw up exit plans
from the conflict.

Petraeus steps down after a mixed one-year stint in
charge of the more than 140,000 international troops in the
country. He was the architect of the counterinsurgency
strategy that aimed to bring peace through an emphasis on
decisive strikes against known insurgents and protecting the
local population.

But as he leaves, it is unclear if either strategy has
made Afghanistan safer. Violent attacks have continued, though
international military officials argue they are not as
widespread or as intense as they would have been otherwise.

Allen, who officially took command at a ceremony in
Kabul today morning, said the drawdown of US forces that
started earlier this month and the transition of some areas to
Afghan control this week does not mean that international
forces are easing up in their campaign to defeat the Taliban

"It is my intention to maintain the momentum of the
campaign," Allen said at the handover ceremony in the Afghan
capital. He said however, that he does not expect the fight to
be easy.

"There will be tough days ahead. I have no illusions
about the challenges ahead," said Allen, who was promoted to a
four-star general shortly before the handover ceremony.


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