As Gen. David Petraeus arrived in Kabul today to take control of the long Afghanistan war, a pre-dawn attack on an American aid organization and dramatic video from the front lines underscored the difficult job that lies ahead.
Petraeus arrived in Kabul late on Friday, conducting an intentionally low-key arrival with little fanfare following the dramatic ouster of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in June.
Watch "World News" tonight on ABC for Martha Raddatz' reporting from Afghanistan.
Traveling with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, possibly to project a sense of unity between the military and civilian command, Petraeus debarked his plane, walked across the tarmac and boarded a helicopter to travel to his new headquarters.
A formal change of command ceremony will happen in Afghanistan on Sunday, when authority officially will be transferred to Petraeus and he will assume command of the 120,000-member NATO-led force.
The general traveled to Kabul from Brussels, where he told NATO allies that the Afghan war is on track despite rising casualties and unrest in parts of the country.
June was the deadliest month on record for coalition forces in the nearly-9-year-old war, with 103 troop deaths. With 59 U.S. casualties, the month also tied the record for American deaths set in October 2009.
Violence is on the rise on the whole in Afghanistan, with roadside bombings doubling and suicide bombings tripling compared to a year ago, according to a U.N. report.
Intense video released today by the British newspaper The Sun shows a firefight between English soldiers and Taliban fighters in the Helmand province region, a frequent occurrence for patrols in the area.
A tiny, helmet-mounted video camera rolled as Lance Cpl. Adam Smith, 23, was struck in the face by a Taliban bullet and his fellow soldiers rushed to his aid.
"Man down! Man down! Medic! Get a medic!" shouted a soldier, as another asked Smith, "Where are you f***ing hit?"
After they gave him a dressing for his wound, clouds of dirt were seen exploding as bullets landed in the embankment where Smith was lying. The patrol helped Smith crawl to safety, and the lucky soldier escaped from the incident with a flesh wound that required just three stitches, The Sun reported.
The video was released on the same day as a deadly attack in the northern Afghanistan town of Kunduz, where Taliban suicide attackers struck an American contractor building inhabited by international workers, including some Americans working for USAID.
A Taliban car bomber drove his SUV into a wall surrounding the building at 3:30am local time, blasting a hole in the perimeter to allow insurgents to rush in with weapons.
In a five-hour gun battle with Afghan security forces, the Taliban fighters killed one British, one German and two Afghan nationals before they, themselves, were killed in the battle, the facility's owner told the Associated Press.
ABC's Martha Raddatz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.