Afghanistan, an uncertain world, and regional instability will make 2011 a challenging year for the Australian Defence Force.
The campaign in Afghanistan will dominate the military landscape this year as Australia and the other 44 nations involved in the International Assistance Force (ISAF) struggle to develop a workable exit strategy for the eight-year conflict.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has flagged a further decade-long involvement for Australian troops, but such a commitment will become increasingly difficult to justify as casualties mount during the coming fighting season. Pressure will build for a complete withdrawal once the training role is complete in Oruzgan Province (about 2014) where most of the 1550 Australians are working.
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It’s quite sad the questions people ask when they hear you’ve just been in Afghanistan performing comedy shows for our troops.
“Were you scared?”
“Did you get shot at?”
“Was it hot?”
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I have listened with great interest to this week’s parliamentary debate about Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, just as I have listened with great interest to this debate for the past nine years, since October 7th, 2001, when Operation Enduring Freedom was launched by the United States and its allies, including Australia, so that freedom so bravely won by the people of Afghanistan from communist oppression, and so cruelly lost over the following decade to civil war and Taliban misrule, may indeed return, and this time endure.
I have listened to this debate and heard many arguments that we should abandon our mission in Afghanistan.
Some of these arguments are passionate, others cold and rational; some seem sincere, while others callous. And all of them are wrong.
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