(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
Don Melvin, Joshua Berlinger and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire
Tiffany Ap, CNN Newswire