Tough days are ahead in the offering for Afghanistan as foreign troops are planning to move out of the war torn country soon. A beginning is being made by Australia in this regard. The statement by Defense minister Stephen Smith confirms this fact. The international military base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province is set to be closed by end of this year.
Australia has around 1550 of its troops deployed in Afghanistan and with the closure of this military base, around 1000 of its troops will be returning to Australia. This decision has been hastened due to the fact that Afghan and Australian authorities have agreed over power transition in this province. Much of the security needs in Uruzgan province will be looked after by local forces.
This proposed withdrawal of troops is a part of the policy, wherein complete departure of foreign troops is being advocated by 2014.
However, this policy of handing over power to Afghan troops has been preceived with mixed emotions in this war torn nation. The local security forces are not much prepared to deal with the threats posed by Taliban. This is evident from the increasing number of Afghan casualties that occur whenever any Taliban sponsored attack takes place.
Moreover, there is lack of coordination between Afghan and foreign troops as is evident from the repeated clashes in which foreign troops fall to the bullets of Afghan soldiersa nd vice versa. In such circumstances, it cannot be said with certainty that the departing foreign troops have empowered the Afghan troops adequately to care for their nation.
The contribution of Australian security forces can be judged from the fact that it has the largest deployment in Afghanistan after United States and Britain. The decision to recall over 1000 of its troops will have security implications for the province.
However, Australia has its own limitations and despite its Government and the opposition support for the deployment, anger is brewing among common Australians who see this deployment as an unnecessary endeavor.
The war has lingered for over 12 years and Australia has lost over 39 of its troops over these years. About 249 of its troops have been wounded since the forces first came to Afghanistan.
Though the Australian forces came to Afghanistan with the target of training the Afghan National Forces, they were involved in counter insurgency operations changing the dimension of their involvement in the country. Moveover, the involvement of Austalian troops has been limited off late, as it is no longer involved in conducting joint exercises with the local Afghan forces.
By 2014, only small number of Australian troops will be present in Afghanistan and their role will be limited to training the Afghan forces in the bases at Kandhar and Kabul.
Whatsoever, may be the final inclination of the Australian troops, the fact of the matter is that the local forces will have to be prepared to take over the security challenges in Afghanistan as their future is at stake.