Significant numbers of Australian leaves Afghanistan this year
By Meena Haseeb - Thu Feb 07 2013, 9:28 am
Australian defense minister Stephen Smith announced to withdraw significant numbers of Australian troops would be home from Afghanistan by the end of the year as the handover of security control to Afghan forces progressed.
As the Australian troops mission focus moves from mentoring and training to advising and supporting Afghan forces, the Australian Defence Force’s 680-strong 3rd Battalion Task Group has already been replaced by the smaller 300-strong 7RAR Task Group.
While briefing Australian lawmakers Mr. Smith said based on latest advice, security responsibility in Oruzgan Province would be fully shifted to the Afghan National Army (ANA) by the end of this year.
Mr. Smith quoted by local news agency The Australian said, “As transition proceeds there will be changes in the composition of the ADF commitment in Afghanistan.”
He said, “The overall number of ADF personnel will not substantially decrease until towards the end of 2013, as additional personnel are deployed temporarily to support the transition and redeployment effort.”
“As transition proceeds, Afghanistan will remain difficult and dangerous,” Mr Smith said adding that “The assessment of the ability of Australian and other ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces to transition out of Afghanistan is based on the ability of Afghan forces to rise to the challenge and maintain the security environment that has been established to date.”