WORLD IN BRIEF
NATO Extends Mission To All of Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan -- NATO took over eastern Afghanistan from U.S.-led forces, assuming control of 12,000 American troops and extending its military role to the entire country.
The commander of the NATO-led force, British Gen. David Richards, who was promoted to a four-star general Thursday, called the move "historic" in a ceremony also attended by President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry.
The United States is the biggest contributor to the 31,000-strong, 37-nation NATO mission. Britain has 5,200 troops and Germany has 2,750.
Eikenberry will continue to command about 8,000 U.S. troops functioning outside NATO who are tracking al-Qaeda fighters, helping train Afghan security forces and doing reconstruction work.
Eikenberry said consolidating the command under Richards streamlines the mission's effectiveness. It confines direct U.S. control to a single chief enclave: the sprawling base at Bagram. Most air operations in the Afghan theater also remain under U.S. oversight.
U.S.-operated prisons and interrogation centers at Bagram will remain under U.S. command, while NATO will continue to transfer its detainees to Afghan police.
The alliance's troops took command of southern Afghanistan two months ago and have struggled to stem rising violence there. NATO also has troops in the north and west and patrols the capital, Kabul.
The NATO takeover, which came months ahead of schedule, caps an already historic expansion of missions for the alliance.
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