The United States announced the appointment of the US Army commander of NATO land forces to replace Gen John F Campbell as the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Nicholson will succeed Army Gen. John Campbell who has led allied forces there since the middle of 2014. There are 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan who advise Afghan forces and also conduct counter-terrorism missions. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook announced the change in command at a briefing for reporters.
“I am confident that Gen Nicholson will build upon Gen Campbell’s hard work to secure a bright future for the Afghan people, and help the government of Afghanistan strengthen a professional and capable security partner to the American people,” Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said in a statement on Wednesday.
“He knows what it means to lead a responsive and nimble force, and how to build the capacity of our partners to respond to immediate and long-term threats and remain adaptable to confront evolving challenges,” Carter said.
“He understands the importance and complexity of our mission in Afghanistan,” the Defence Secretary said.
Nicholson comes into the role at a sensitive time for the US effort in Afghanistan, with questions arising about the US plan to draw down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year.
Nicholson has served in multiple capacities including chief of staff of operations for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US Forces – Afghanistan, director of the Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell for the Joint Staff, and deputy commander – Stability of ISAF Regional Command South.
Just over one year ago, the US and NATO-led mission in Afghanistan transitioned into an Afghan operation, with allied nations assisting in training and equipping local forces to tackle Taliban and other groups.