BRUSSELS — U.S. Gen. John Allen will take over as NATO supreme commander and be replaced as head of alliance forces in Afghanistan by Joseph Dunford, currently U.S. Marine Corps deputy commander, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Oct. 10.
Allen, who succeeds Admiral James Stavridis to a post traditionally held by a U.S. officer, led the NATO campaign in Afghanistan from July 2011.
Panetta made the announcement after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. Both nominations by U.S. President Barack Obama are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
Allen played a key role in countering the Iraq insurgency during 2006-2008 and took over from Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan. He oversaw a surge in U.S. troop levels to force back the Taliban, who appeared to be making ground.
In Afghanistan, Allen commanded a coalition force from 50 countries, giving him the experience to deal with the often sensitive and conflicting wishes of NATO’s 28 member states and 22 partners.
In Iraq, Allen pushed alliances with local Sunni tribes to tame an insurgency which, at one stage, looked as if it could not be brought under control.
Patraeus, his then commander in Iraq, later expanded the tactic to all of the country.
Dunford will assume command of 68,000 U.S. troops who make up the bulk of the coalition force of some 100,000 as the Afghan army takes on increasing responsibility for security and NATO prepares to end its combat mission in 2014.