Obama taps new Afghan commander as security deteriorates

Obama taps new Afghan commander as security deteriorates
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Army Lt. Gen. John “Mick” Nicholson, a veteran of the Afghanistan War, has been nominated to command U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

His nomination comes amid growing concerns about increased violence in the country.

If confirmed by the Senate, Nicholson will succeed Gen. John Campbell, who has served as commander in Afghanistan since 2014 and is expected to complete his tour shortly.

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“For nearly 18 months, Gen. Campbell has given his all to the mission as our top commander in Afghanistan, and his personal sacrifices on behalf of his troops and the Afghan people will be remembered by us all,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook on Wednesday quoted Defense Secretary Ash Carter as saying.

There will be more news about Campbell’s future in the coming days, Cook added.

Nicholson is currently the commander of NATO's Allied Land Command, headquartered at Izmir, Turkey. He has also served as commanding officer for the 82nd Airborne Division and deputy commanding general for operations in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012.

Carter is confident Nicholson can help secure a “bright future” for Afghanistan, Cook said.

The Defense chief also believes Nicholson “knows what it means to lead responsive and nimble force," he added.

The new commander will face an Afghanistan that looks increasingly perilous despite the official end of U.S. combat operations in the country more than a year ago. A Special Forces soldier was killed in a firefight earlier this month, and six airmen were killed by a suicide bomber in December.

A December report from the Pentagon also said security in Afghanistan deteriorated in the latter half of 2015 because of a resurgent Taliban and the growth of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria loyalists.