By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, July 10, 2014 – NATO’s international security force has done much to help the people of that beleaguered country, Army Gen. John F. Campbell, President Barack Obama’s choice to become the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
Campbell, the Army’s vice chief of staff, has been nominated to succeed Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. as the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
The general said he is honored to be considered to lead the force in the next phase of its operations.
“In 2003, I deployed to Afghanistan while I commanded the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, when we only had one brigade in the country,” he said. “I returned to Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 when I commanded the 101st Airborne Division and Regional Command-East.”
As the RC-East commander, Campbell led 30,000 U.S. and allied troops in 14 provinces.
“I saw first-hand the incredible sacrifice of our soldiers and of our families,” he said. “And unfortunately, I also had hundreds of heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice under my command.”
The NATO force has had an enormous impact for the good for the people of Afghanistan, the general said.
“They have brought hope to the people of that nation by denying al-Qaida their favorite sanctuary, and I am absolutely committed to finishing this mission,” he said.
Campbell will take command as the NATO combat mission ends and Operation Resolute Support begins. The key to success is Afghan forces taking over security in their own country. NATO and partner nations have already stepped back from direct combat. The troops now are advising and assisting Afghan forces and providing some of the enablers -- aircraft, intelligence and logistics -- that the forces need to succeed.
Campbell believes Afghan forces are up to the task. “I have confidence in the strength of the Afghan security forces,” he said. “They’ve held strong despite significant casualties during the 2013 and 2014 fighting seasons.”
Afghan forces provided security for the 2014 Afghan elections, Campbell said.
“The Afghan forces have continued to progress in all their capabilities,” he said. “As the new plan progresses, we will move off of the tactical train, advise and assist and move up to corps level. I think that shows the campaign has been working.”