Entries in John Allen (17)


Gen. Allen Hands Off Command of Afghanistan to Gen. Dunford

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford is officially the new commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Dunford takes over for Marine Gen. John Allen, who stepped down Sunday during a ceremony in Kabul.  Allen has been nominated by President Obama to become NATO's supreme commander.

Allen's nomination appeared in jeopardy last fall after he was named in a Pentagon probe of possible wrongdoing for email exchanges with Tampa, Fla., socialite Jill Kelley.  However, the general was cleared of any improprieties in January.

In his final statement as the top commander in Afghanistan, a post he assumed 18 months earlier, Allen said he was encouraged by the development of national forces who will assume all security responsibilities from U.S. and NATO troops during the spring.

However, Allen cautioned that it will be up to the Afghan government to break free of its culture of corruption when elections are held next year.  Both the U.S. and the international community have promised to support Afghanistan well after most of their soldiers withdraw in 2014.

Meanwhile, new commander Dunford, whose nickname is "Fighting Joe," is a well-respected military leader who helped lead the U.S. invasion of Iraq nearly 10 years ago.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Nominates New Commander for Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury(WASHINGTON) -- Handling the war in Afghanistan is destined to become Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford's responsibility early next year.

The Obama administration on Wednesday nominated Dunford to replace Gen. John Allen as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.  In turn, the White House wants Allen, who's been on the job in Afghanistan since July 2011, to become the next supreme allied commander in Europe.

Both promotions have to first be approved by the Senate.

President Obama said in a statement that Dunford “will lead our forces through key milestones in our effort that will allow us to bring the war to a close responsibly as Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its security.”

Dunford, who led a Marine regiment in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later took a top spot in commanding troops there, will have his work cut out for him in Afghanistan as he'll primarily oversee the further transfer of security responsibilities to national forces while U.S. and coalition troops prepare to exit the country at some point in 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Commander Calls for Coordinated Effort to Stop 'Insider Attacks'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said on Thursday that the epidemic of "insider attacks" that has cost the lives of 45 coalition soldiers this year, most of them American, is a problem that requires a coordinated response.

These assaults by members of Afghan Security forces against U.S. and NATO troops are also known as "green on blue" attacks.

According to statement released by Allen, "This is not simply a Green on Blue problem; it is a threat to both Green and Blue that requires a Green and Blue solution."

The Pentagon believes that besides personal grievances Afghans might have against foreigners, the Taliban and other insurgents have managed to infiltrate the national army and police.

Afghanistan announced this week that it had detained or kicked out hundreds of troops suspected of enemy allegiances, while the U.S. military said its Special Forces had suspended training for about 1,000 Afghan police recruits to vet existing members.

Allen concluded, "The sum total of our combined efforts will be that we are better protected.  Central to success is maintaining and strengthening our bonds with our Afghan brothers and recognizing this is a threat directed at us all."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US and Afghanistan Differ on Reasons for 'Insider' Attacks

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Pentagon doesn't know what to make of allegations by Afghan officials that foreign intelligence services are primarily responsible for a recent spike in "insider" attacks that left 10 U.S. troops dead at the hands of Afghan security forces over a two-week period.

Overall, there have been 40 NATO troops killed in these assaults this year that were initially blamed on fatigue and stress affecting Afghan soldiers and police.

Gen. John Allen, commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan, acknowledged on Thursday that the Taliban might have more of a role in "insider" attacks than previously believed.

Allen said that in addition to the 10 percent of Taliban infiltrators thought to have committed the killings, another 15 percent could possibly be pinned on Afghan forces influenced by the Taliban either directly or through other people.

In spite of the problem, Allen says it won't waylay plans to hand over all security responsibilities to the Afghans by 2014, saying, "The closer the relationship with them -- indeed the more we can foster a relationship of brotherhood -- the more secure we are."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US: Air Strikes on Civilian Afghan Homes Will Be on Last Resort Basis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- NATO on Monday clarified an earlier report that said Afghan President Hamid Karzai had received assurances that the coalition would no longer conduct air strikes on areas populated by civilians.

Karzai met with Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker after a NATO airstrike that accidentally killed 18 civilians last week in the Baraki Barak district.  The loss of civilian lives in the pursuit of the enemy has long been a bone of contention between the Afghan government and the international coalition.

In response to Karzai's announcement,  Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that while the rules of engagement had not changed, "air-delivered bombs will not be employed while other means are available" in residential areas where the Taliban may be hiding out.

Scaparrotti made it clear that the U.S. and NATO "still have the right of self-defense against hostile acts or intent."  He added that air strikes can be ordered when the lives of troops are in imminent danger and no other recourse is available.

This apparently is alright with Karzai, who declared Sunday, "Attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Assures Karzai Airstrikes on Civilian-Populated Areas Will End

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A NATO airstrike that accidentally killed 18 civilians last week was the last straw for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

After meeting with Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Karzai received assurances over the weekend that the coalition would no longer conduct airstrikes on areas populated by civilians.

A statement from Karzai's office read that Allen "once again officially apologized for civilian casualties in Baraki Barak district" and "promised...not to carry out air strikes on public residential areas."

Even after the NATO commander explained that the airstrikes last week were spurred by coalition forces coming under fire by the Taliban, Karzai insisted, "Attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable."

The loss of civilian lives in the pursuit of the enemy has long been a bone of contention between the Afghan government and the international coalition.  This agreement, if it holds, will prove to be a political victory for Karzai at the cost of making warfare more difficult for the U.S. and NATO.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gen. John Allen Apologizes for NATO Airstrike That Killed 18 Afghans

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, flew to Logar province Friday morning, to personally apologize for a NATO airstrike that killed as many as 18 civilians, including women and children, earlier this week.

The incident happened Wednesday in the province's Baraki Barak district during an operation where Afghan and NATO forces thought they were targeting an insurgent, but instead bombed a wedding party.  

After the attack, Afghan President Hamid Karzai canceled his trip to China to return home, saying the strike was unacceptable.  

Earlier this year, Gen. Allen also apologized after U.S. troops inadvertently burned Qurans at a military base near Kabul.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Commander in Afghanistan Calls for Major Firepower in 2013

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan issued a strong recommendation Wednesday that in order for coalition troops to be on schedule for their 2014 withdrawal, "significant firepower" will be needed to combat enemy fighters starting next year.

Gen. John Allen, who is rumored to be leaving his post sometime in 2013, stressed, "We're going to need combat power.  I don't think anyone questions that.  I owe the president some real analysis on this."

Allen will have plenty to analyze as he completes the planned drawdown of surge troops that President Obama ordered two years ago.  By the end of this summer, the goal is to reduce American boots on the ground in Afghanistan by 33,000 to a level of around 68,000.

Once that's finished, Allen will start figuring out how to remove the rest of U.S. soldiers over the following two years without compromising the mission in Afghanistan, which is to train Afghan forces to assume all security responsibilities while keeping the gains made against the Taliban.

Allen asserted, "It is not our intention to cede the ground, ultimately, to the Taliban.  And, in fact, it's not even clear that the Taliban have the capacity to flow in" to regions that coalition and forces now control.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Top US Commander in Afghanistan Reportedly Leaving for Europe

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Gen. John Allen is reportedly leaving his post as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Rumors were swirling around Washington Tuesday that the White House will assign Allen to take over as head of U.S. European Command early next year.

If President Obama makes that decision, it would still have to be confirmed by the Senate.

For now, the Pentagon is downplaying reports about Allen's move, with spokesman Capt. John Kirby telling the Washington Post, "No final decisions have been made regarding a follow-on assignment for Gen. Allen or the future of European Command."

In July 2011, Allen replaced retired Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan, who went on to become director of the CIA.

Allen has been serving a dual role in Afghanistan, overseeing the continued coalition offensive against the Taliban while managing the withdrawal of one-third of U.S. soldiers.  By the end of this summer, troops levels will stand at about 68,000, down from 100,000 last year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US, Pakistani Military Leaders Talking Again After 'Friendly Fire' Incident

Photos [dot] com/George Doyle/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Five months after U.S. war jets killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border, top military commanders from both sides are finally talking again in what could be a big step forward in repairing frayed relations.

Islamabad is still furious over the "friendly fire" incident last November, which it blames completely on the U.S. and NATO.  The Pentagon maintains that the mistakes made must be shared and while President Obama has sent his regrets about the loss of Pakistani lives, he has not offered an unconditional apology.

In response, Pakistan shut off routes through its country into Afghanistan, which NATO used to transport major supplies to coalition forces.

On Wednesday, Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, regional boss Gen. James Mattis and Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met for the first time in Rawalpindi to discuss a possible U.S. apology and ways to improve conditions in the generally lawless border area.

It's expected that besides a mea culpa from the White House, Pakistan will ask for an end to unmanned drone strikes in the northwest region used as a refuge by the Taliban and al Qaeda and more compensation for reopening the supply routes.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Pakistani parliament to set the conditions for rekindled relations with the U.S. and then, a decision by the Obama administration to determine if its ally is asking for too much.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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