KABUL, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The new commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, U.S. General David H. Petraeus, vowed on Sunday to win the war against Taliban militants and associated al-Qaida insurgents.
|U.S. General David Petraeus, new military commander of U.S. and NATO forces in|
Afghanistan, speaks during a change of commander ceremony in Kabul July 4, 2010.
"We are here to win, that is our clear objective," the four- star U.S. General told an audience of several hundred guests attending the change of command ceremony in the ISAF compound here.
The newly appointed commander of some 130,000 strong-NATO-led forces also said, "We must demonstrate to the Afghan people, and to the world, that al-Qaida and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from where they can launch attacks on the Afghan people and on freedom-loving nations around the world.
"To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and civilians of ISAF and U.S. forces, I pledge to do all that I can to provide the best leadership, direction, and example that I can muster," General Petraeus said.
Petraeus took the command amid increasing Taliban-linked insurgency as over 320 NATO-led soldiers, with a majority of them Americans, have been killed since the beginning of this year in Afghanistan.
Only in June 102 NATO service members had been killed in Taliban-led activities in the post-Taliban nation.
He also admitted that, "Recent months in Afghanistan have seen hard fighting and tough casualties."
Petraeus, who earned good reputation in the Iraq war and was appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama days ago to succeed General Stanley McChrystal, praised his predecessor by saying, " Up front, I also want to recognize the enormous contributions of my predecessor, General Stan McChrystal."
"We have all worked hard together over the past year-and-a- half to get the inputs right in Afghanistan to build the organizations needed to carry out a comprehensive, civil-military counterinsurgency campaign," Petraeus said.
He also vowed to reduce the civilian casualties by saying, "As we press on in our vital mission, we must continue our efforts to reduce the loss of innocent civilians to an absolute minimum."
And with the surge in ISAF forces and the growth of our Afghan partners, we have a new opportunity to do. Meantime, the Taliban outfit in a statement released to media last week said that change of command in NATO-led troops will make no difference and the insurgents would continue to fight against foreign forces until their withdrawal from Afghanistan.