In a ceremony today, US Army Gen. John Nicholson Jr. took over command of the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, replacing outgoing Gen. John Campbell and becoming the 17th commander of the occupation since the 2001 invasion.
Gen. Campbell talked up the “tough times” ahead for Afghanistan, while Gen. Nicholson, who has served in Afghanistan for 3 and a half years in other posts, vowed to see the continuation of the “enduring relationship” between the US and Afghanistan.
The US invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, with NATO backing, and has been occupying it ever since. With several nations keen to end their military involvement, NATO has repeatedly made plans to withdraw from the country, but has subsequently ditched most of those, meaning an occupation that was scheduled to be over by now still has 13,000 troops, and by Pentagon reckoning will continue for “generations” more.
During his confirmation hearings earlier this year, Gen. Nicholson conceded that the situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating for quite some time, and suggested that he might propose an increase in US ground troops, called a “right-sizing” of the occupation.