Troops could be out of Afghanistan in 2012: Australia

Politics Materials 13 January 2009 13:50 (UTC +04:00)

Afghanistan, Kabul, January. 13/ Trend , A. Hakimi/   The Australian Defense Force has devised a plan to suppress the Taliban and bring about reconstruction and development in Uruzgan province so that Afghan government forces can take full security responsibility by 2012.

Called Operations Plan 2012, this for the first time sets a target for Australian withdrawal.

However, the commander of Australian forces in the Middle East, Major General Michael Hindmarsh, who launched development of this plan early last year, acknowledges the 2012 target is probably too ambitious. Significant progress has already been achieved, with Uruzgan recording a 25 per cent reduction in violent insurgent acts in the past year.

The plan advocates an ink spot strategy, actively suppressing Taliban insurgents while gradually extending Afghan government influence into contested areas to allow development and reconstruction to proceed. At the same time, training of the Afghan National Army aims to lift its capability so it can eventually take over from Australian and Dutch forces.

A key tactic has been construction of patrol bases in remote regions, from which Afghan security forces can operate.

"We are after mission success in Uruzgan province," Maj-Gen Hindmarsh said.

"It's a plan which hopefully brings together all the pieces we have got there in a coherent and synchronized way and allows us to essentially win at the end of the day."

He added that Australia started operations in Uruzgan province in 2005, beginning with special forces at a time when the US was the only other nation with troops in that area. Now Australia operates in conjunction with the Netherlands in training the Afghan military and reconstruction, plus ongoing Special Forces action targeting Taliban insurgents (outlook).

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