Australia

Australia to send 30 more troops to Afghanistan

The federal government has announced Australia will commit an extra 30 troops to Afghanisation.

Australia will commit an extra 30 troops to Afghanistan, taking its deployment to 300 Australian Defence Force personnel.

The Defence Minister Marise Payne announced the troop boost to politicians at a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra.

“These additional ADF members will allow Australia to commit additional advisers to further develop the long-term capabilities of the Afghan security forces as part of our current train, advise and assist mission,” she said.

The government will confirm where and how the troops will be deployed in the next few weeks.

“The request we received here wasn’t for combat troops on the ground,” Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin told the hearing.

“The request was in areas that we provide very good capability, which is growing the Afghan national defence and security forces.”

A former head of the Australian Army, and the head of the University of Canberra’s National Security Institute, Peter Leahy, predicted the troops would build on the Coalition’s air superiority in the region.

“I suspect this is not special forces, it's more likely to be specialist advisers for air , and for enabling forces, and perhaps a few people supporting the Afghan higher command,” he said.

“Frankly, the job's not finished. Afghanistan is on the edge and they need support and I think the approach at the moment is the Afghan National Army should be fighting for Afghanistan.”

The retired Lieutenant General said the delpoyment of extra troops could see Australia’s longest war, which began in 2001, become a 20-year commitment.

“We see the Taliban and some of the terrorist groups, almost at will, at any time and place of their choosing, can mount an attack, so we do need to advise,” he said.

“We probably left too early. President Obama, he pulled out too early, he got the numbers down too low because this is about hold and build.

"This is about nation building and we need to set the conditions so that Afghanistan can feel as though it has a legitimate government.”

The ADF’s commitment to Afghanistan is due to expire in 2018 but the Defence Minister said it was under constant review.

The Australian commitment to Afghanistan is known as Operation Highroad, which replaced combat operations in 2014.

Since Australian troops were first sent to Afghanistan in 2001, 42 troops have died.

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