WASHINGTON (Jan. 27, 2016) — The U.S. Army commander of NATO land forces has been
selected to succeed Army Gen. John F. Campbell as the commander of U.S. and
NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Pentagon press secretary said today.
Army Lt. Gen. John W.
"Mick" Nicholson Jr. is an accomplished soldier with extensive
command experience in Afghanistan and around the world, Peter Cook said at a
news briefing, reading a statement from Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Carter is "absolutely
confident" in the man President Barack Obama intends to nominate to
succeed Campbell, Cook said. The nomination and Nicholson’s accompanying
promotion to four-star rank require Senate confirmation.
The defense secretary believes
Nicholson will build upon 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," Cook
said, adding that the secretary thanks Campbell for his extraordinary
leadership and dedication to the mission in Afghanistan.
Carter credits Campbell with taking
the fight to al-Qaida and making clear the resolve to deny it safe haven, and
with consistently identifying ways to increase the capability and capacity of
the Afghan forces, Cook said.
"While many challenges remain,
we have made gains over the past year that will put Afghanistan on a better
path, and much of the credit for that progress rests with General
Campbell," he said.
Extraordinary Career, Personal
For nearly 18 months, Campbell has
given his all to the mission as the top commander in Afghanistan, Cook said.
"His personal sacrifices on behalf of his troops and the Afghan people
will be remembered by us all," he added.
Carter personally thanks Campbell as
his tour comes to a close for "everything he has done to bring us to this
moment in Afghanistan and for all that he has done throughout his extraordinary
career," Cook said.
Understands Complexity of Mission
Nicholson has led soldiers at all
levels, the press secretary said, from platoon to division in Airborne, Ranger,
mechanized, Stryker and light infantry units in five infantry divisions and the
75th Ranger Regiment.
He commanded the 82nd Airborne
Division, re-establishing Global Response Force capabilities, and commands
NATO’s Allied Land Command in his current assignment, the spokesman added.
"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," Cook said.
Carter believes Nicholson understands the
importance and complexity of the mission in Afghanistan, Cook said. He noted
that the general has served in multiple related capacities, including as chief
of staff of operations for the International Security Assistance Force and U.S.
Forces Afghanistan, as director of the Pakistan/Afghanistan coordination cell
for the Joint Staff, and as deputy commander for stability in ISAF Regional