US Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford's main challenges are likely to be managing the wind down of the war in Afghanistan. Afghans expect to see few changes on the ground.
When US Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford takes the command of international troops in Afghanistan in the coming months, there are few Afghans who expect it will herald any significant changes in a war that has already begun winding down.
If Washington sticks to its timeline for the Afghan war, Dunford's main challenges are likely to be managing the logistical challenges of withdrawal, ensuring areas handed over to Afghan control do not pass to the Taliban, and preventing weary NATO partners from exiting earlier than scheduled.
But many Afghans say the personnel shift will have little bearing on the daily realities for those outside of international military command rooms, reflecting popular disillusionment with any further potential of foreign forces to transform the country.
“We have seen no positive change when different commanders have been replaced. Gen. John Allen [the current Afghanistan commander] did nothing for this country, just like the other commanders,” says Haji Jan Agha, a member of the Afghan parliament’s defense commission. “I don’t believe this new general can do anything to change the situation in the coming two years. He will be busy with the arrangements for the withdrawal and nothing else.”
President Obama’s nomination of Dunford as the new Afghanistan commander was announced on Wednesday. Incumbent US Marine Gen. John Allen, will move to NATO where he will serve as supreme allied commander.