Australia may begin Afghanistan pullout in 2012

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CANBERRA - Australia Wednesday signalled it could start bringing some troops home from Afghanistan in two years.

The government has stressed the mission for Australia’s trainers in Afghanistan, who make up about half of the 1,550-strong contingent, will be completed once troops have fully trained the 4th brigade of the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan province, Xinhua reported.

An assessment of the expected time frame to train the Afghans had been completed recently, Australian defence minister John Faulkner said in a statement.

Defence Force believes that within two to four years Australian troops would be able to hand over the main security responsibility to the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan province.

Faulkner said he expected that when the training mission was completed Australia would “adjust our force levels”. This would be possible as the training mission became more of an over-watch role.

The new timetable for the partial withdrawal of troops came as polls showed the Australian public becoming increasingly frustrated by the war in Afghanistan.

Three Australian commandos died in a helicopter crash this week. The incident came two weeks after two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan.

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