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Afghanistan's national security forces took the lead in all security missions on June 18 as US and coalition forces continue the transition from a combat to a support role. The announcement kickstarts the final phase of the transition process, states a June 18 Pentagon release. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of all US and International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan, called the move a "monumental step forward." Speaking to the Afghan people, Dunford said the milestone is "cause for celebration, not apprehension." He emphasized that the international community's commitment to Afghanistan remains "resolute and enduring." During a June 18 joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen praised both Afghan and coalition troops. "We have worked hard, and fought hard, to make this possible. And, we can be proud of what we have achieved together," said Rasmussen. "Your forces are showing great courage, great skill, and making great sacrifices." Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement, "This achievement keeps us and our coalition partners on track to bring our combat mission to a close next year and transition to a non-combat, train, advise, and assist mission that will help ensure Afghans can sustain security into the future."  (Rasmussen transcript)(See also Mission Transition)