Home Indian Muslim Canberra has no plan to boost troop numbers in Afghhanistan – Defence...

Canberra has no plan to boost troop numbers in Afghhanistan – Defence Minister

By NNN-Bernama

Melbourne : The Australian government has no immediate plan to increase the number of troops it has in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Dr Brendan Nelson says.

He has ruled out any immediate plan to increase the size of Australia’s force in Afghanistan although the deployment of two Chinook helicopters to the war zone early next year will see the size of the Australian contingent pass 1,000, according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP) news agency.

Dr Nelson poured cold water on reports that the government would send hundreds more troops to Afghanistan’s southern Oruzgan Province, where the Australian contingent is working with a Dutch-led reconstruction taskforce.

The Dutch government is reportedly considering withdrawing its troops.

Dr Nelson said he had recently deployed a dozen extra soldiers to support the Oruzgan force but had no plan to send more. “Recently, I deployed a dozen soldiers to support mortars for our troops in Oruzgan, but at this stage we certainly have no plans to increase our troop presence in Afghanistan ,” he told reporters.

Dr Nelson said Australia was waiting to see whether the Dutch force would be staying or going.
“We’re waiting for our partners in Afghanistan — that’s the Netherlands — to make a decision as to whether it will continue its deployment or not, and if so, in what numbers,” he said.

“But certainly, the Australian government is not planning to send any more soldiers to Afghanistan.”

Dr Nelson said there was no suggestion that Australia would step in to replace the Dutch force, which was part of a NATO operation. “This is a NATO-led operation,” he said. “The Netherlands is making its own decision as to whether it will continue in Afghanistan.

“We understand that it is likely to do so. It may not continue in the numbers that it is, and if the Netherlands does decide to reduce its numbers then obviously NATO will fill any gap that it has left.”