Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
The Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today welcomed an important decision to begin the process of transition in the Afghanistan mission in early 2011.
Members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai have agreed to Afghan National Security Forces leading security operations in some districts and provinces by next year.
The decision was endorsed by the leaders of the 48 ISAF members at the NATO-ISAF Summit in Lisbon this weekend.
ISAF partners also gave a clear commitment to provide necessary support and training to help the Afghan Government beyond 2014, when transition to a lead role for Afghan security forces is expected to be complete.
This represents a significant step towards achieving the shared goal of a secure and stable Afghanistan.
The Summit was an important opportunity for Australia to engage with international leaders on the strategy in Afghanistan.
Australia supports a conditions-based transition to Afghan-led security across Afghanistan and is making an important contribution to achieving this objective through our military and civilian efforts in Uruzgan province.
The Australian Defence Force is training and mentoring the Fourth Brigade of the Afghan National Army in Uruzgan Province until it has the capacity to lead.
The transition of security to Afghan authorities will be a gradual process, to be achieved when the conditions are right on a province by province and district by district basis.
Importantly, transition does not mean withdrawal from Afghanistan – Australia and its international partners will continue to provide support to the Afghan Government and its people.
The international community, including Australia, welcomed President Karzai’s commitment to continue to tackle corruption and improve governance and the rule of law.
Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan is directly in our national security interests. We have a responsibility to Afghanistan and our international partners, and especially to the Australian people, to continue to support the Afghan Government’s efforts to fight terrorism and ensure stability in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister’s Press Office: (02) 6277 7744
Minister Smith’s Office: (02) 6277 7800
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