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Special forces general takes over in Afghanistan

GENERAL Stanley McChrystal, a four-star American general with a long history in elite special operations, took charge of United States and NATO troops in Afghanistan yesterday, a change the Pentagon hopes will turn the tide in an increasingly violent eight-year war.

McChrystal took command during a low-key ceremony at the heavily fortified headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in central Kabul. His predecessor, General David McKiernan, was fired last month by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates one year into a two-year assignment, and McKiernan quietly left the country earlier this month.

McChrystal is expected to take a more unconventional approach to the increasingly violent campaign in Afghanistan, utilizing decades of experience in special operations - elite military units that typically carry out dangerous and secretive missions.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and was later named commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command. He is seen as well-suited to oversee missions in Afghanistan that target insurgent leaders.


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