PM Vows To Pull Out Troops By 2013
Prime Minister Julia Gillard vows to pull out Australian troops from war-torn Afghanistan by 2013. The announcement came in Gillard’s speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Gillard has also outlined a timetable for the withdrawal of troops. This will also be presented to the NATO Summit to be held in Chicago, United States in May.
The Prime Minister said she is confident that participants of the NATO Summit will recognize that middle of 2013 is the best time for a pull-out. The original date for military withdrawal was originally scheduled for end of 2014.
Gillard furthered that a gradual withdrawal of troops will be enforced once Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai declares that the Afghan people can be responsible for their own security. The pull-out will include 1,550 Australian special forces troops, who are detailed in the Oruzgan province.
Observers expect President Karzai to make the announcement before the end of April.
Troops withdrawal may take from 12 to 18 months.
Gillard said Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan will be much different in the next few months. The training and mentoring of the Afghan 4th Brigade have been completed, which meant Australian troops will no longer perform frontline operations.
She added that the Australia’s reconstruction team is also expected to complete its work soon.
Despite the withdrawal, Australia will continue to monitor the peace and order situation in Afghanistan. She added that special forces will remain to help in counterinsurgency operations and training.
Australian troops have been present in the war-torn country since 2001. As a result of this, more than 200 personnel have been wounded with 32 soldiers killed.