KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. military installed a new commander of its forces in Afghanistan (search) on Tuesday, a fresh Army general to head the 18,000-strong coalition still hunting militants more than three years after the fall of the Taliban (search).
Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry (search) took charge from outgoing fellow three-star David Barno at a ceremony at the U.S. military headquarters in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Eikenberry, previously director of strategic planning for the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, takes over following a surge of violence that has killed several civilians as well as dozens of rebels and two coalition soldiers.
Barno departs after 18 months in which the military has shifted its focus from the fruitless search for fugitives such as Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar toward supporting the Afghan government.
U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai won heavily protected elections last year and Afghans are to vote in a new parliament in September.