Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan could stay beyond 2014.

Special Operations Task Groups Long Range Patrol Vehicles drive in…

Special Operations Task Groups Long Range Patrol Vehicles drive in convoy across one of Afghanistan’s desert, or ‘dasht’ regions. Photo by LS Paul Berry Australian Government Department of Defence.

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have supported keeping special forces troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 if required to suppress a resurgence of terrorism, while other troops could be home earlier than anticipated.

”It is time for Pakistan to do more to counter terrorism and extremism,” Ms Gillard said. ”That is in the interests of Afghanistan, Australia, our coalition partners. It is in the interests of Pakistan itself.”

She said the decision to withdraw special forces troops would be made following an assessment of the security situation and following discussions with the US and other allies.

”The government will keep under consideration a continued Australian special forces presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014,” she said.

Presently, Australia’s main military role is to train and mentor the Afghan 4th Brigade. Ms Gillard said yesterday the brigade was on track to take the lead security role in Oruzgan province by 2014 or earlier.

Source: Phillip Coorey for Western Advocate.

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