The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan marked Christmas by crisscrossing the country to visit the troops.

According to The Associated Press, Gen. David Petraeus began left Kabul in a C-130 cargo plane and went to the northern part of the country where fighting has intensified as the Taliban have stepped up attacks. He spoke to troops and handed out commemorative coins and some medals.

Petraeus continued on to a western province, where he congratulated Italian soldiers there on the "progress that has been achieved in the first few months that this unit has been here."

The general then flew to the southern Helmand province to talk to Marines who continue to battle attacks in what was once a Taliban stronghold.

"You are part of America's new greatest generation. It is not just the courage that you have shown, it is not just the skills that you have shown in arms, although you have had to do that on a near daily basis in tough areas like this," he told the men and women of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Unit. "It is the versatility that you demonstrate going outside the wire every day, being ready for a hand grenade or a handshake and knowing what to do if either of those comes your way."