U.S. general to head NATO forces in Afghanistan

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

General Dan McNeil, the highest-ranking U.S. general, will soon lead NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Following a year of increasing violence in the south of Afghanistan, NATO forces began to attack the heartland of the Taliban. NATO Commander General McNeil is expected to enact a more aggressive policy towards militants than his predecessor, British General David Richards. General Richards supported a peace agreement in the city of Musa Qala, but his plan of action failed when an estimated 200 Taliban fighters overran the town on Thursday. McNeil was appointed two weeks after the Defense Department extended the tour of 3,200 10th Mountain Division soldiers.

Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said that McNeill's arrival and increased troop levels underscored American commitment in Afghanistan. Today there are 26,000 troops in Afghanistan compared to 9,500 troops in 2002. About 14,000 of these troops are under NATO command, 12,000 of whom train Afghan forces in the area. McNeil, who served in Afghanistan in 2002-2003, said "We will quit neither post nor mission until the job is done or we are properly relieved."

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