The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command (IJC) has formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan.
During a ceremony at its headquarters at Kabul International Airport, the command lowered the alliance’s flag, symbolising the formal end of NATO‘s 13-year mission in the country.
ISAF commander US Army lieutenant general John Campbell said: "Today, IJC will be subsumed into a coalition that is soon downsizing to about 13,000 personnel.
"This is a historic transformation and reflects the progress that our coalition has made with our Afghan partners.
"As the Afghan National Security Forces have become increasingly capable, we shift our focus from combat operations to building [Afghan] systems and processes to ensure long-term sustainability."
Working in collaboration with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and Nato member countries, the ISAF Joint Command has handled day-to-day operations in Afghanistan since 2009.
The command was responsible for conducting population-centric comprehensive operations to neutralise the insurgency and support improved governance to protect Afghan citizens and provide a secure environment for sustainable peace.
Beginning on 1 January 2015, the ISAF is set to transition to the Nato-led Resolute Support mission, which will focus on training, advising and assisting Afghan security institutions and ANSF at the ministerial, institutional and operational levels.
The 330,000-strong ANSF assumed lead responsibility for security across Afghanistan in June 2013 and since then has been responsible for 99% of operations, including the security for the successful presidential elections in April.
However, the Afghan Army has suffered heavy losses in recent months, prompting the US to announce the provision of limited combat enabler support to Afghan soldiers.
In addition, the US has delayed the withdrawal of up to 1,000 soldiers, in a bid to make up for a temporary shortfall in Nato forces in the country.
Image: IJC commander US Army lieutenant general John Campbell and ISAF chief of staff Royal Army major general Richard Nugee lower the ISAF Joint Command flag at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force, photo by Staff Sgt Perry Aston.