JULIA GILLARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Australia`s commitment in Afghanistan will look very different to that which we have today. We will have completed our training and mentoring mission with the 4th Brigade.
We will no longer be conducting routine front-line operations with the Afghan National Security Forces. The Australian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team will have completed its work, and the majority of our troops will have returned home.
AZUZ: More than 130,000 troops from 50 different countries are currently in Afghanistan. But as you just heard Prime Minister Julia Gillard say, most of Australia`s forces could be leaving Afghanistan soon.
AZUZ (voice-over): Right now, there are around 1,500 Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Gillard`s announcement means they could be leaving a year earlier than she had suggested before. Nick Paton Walsh explains some possible reasons for the shift.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While Australia`s contribution is comparatively small, they were one of the more robust allies throughout America`s presence here, and even when Barack Obama in June 2011 said that he`d be withdrawing his surge of troops, Julia Gillard came out and quite categorically said Australia would be staying until the end of 2014.
So a dramatic reversal in her position over the past nine months, presumably down to electoral mass. We`ve also seen this from the French, where the war is deeply unpopular inside France.
And after French soldiers were killed by Afghan soldiers earlier this year, Sarkozy came out and said that they, too, would be withdrawing by the end of next year, and even the United States has, in fact, indicated that its troops will be in a non-combat role by the middle of next year.
So poor signaling, really, ahead of a vital conference in Chicago, in which NATO members were supposed to get together and reaffirm their commitments of troops cached to the months and years ahead. Australia adding itself to the list of countries who want a quick out than previously imagined.
Now this is all really down to a suggestion from Ms. Gillard that the Afghan security forces are stepping up to the plate much quicker. They`re ready to handle security, or you may be hearing in the distance some gunfire. That is just test firing. But they are ready to take over the job of securing the country when NATO leaves.
Your question: In regards to JULIA GILLARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER’S statement “Australian troops will no longer be conducting routine front-line operations with the Afghan National Security Forces”, she is suggesting that Afghan security forces are stepping up to the plate much quicker, should the United States follow suit and change it’s strategy in Afghanistan? Why or Why not? 3-5, Caps, Spellcheck!