No more troops, Faulkner tells US
By Anne Davies
Sydney Morning Herald
November 6, 2009
WASHINGTON: Australia has made it clear to the US it is not in a position to increase troop or training commitments in Afghanistan if the Obama Administration decides to add to its troop levels in response to General Stanley McChrystal's report, the Defence Minister, John Faulkner, said in Washington.
Australia also will not take over as the lead force in Oruzgan province when the Dutch forces leave in August next year, Senator Faulkner said.
After meetings on Wednesday with the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, the National Security Adviser, Jim Jones, and other officials, Senator Faulkner said that he had made it clear - and the Americans had accepted - that Australia made a significant increase in its commitment when it increased troops by 40 per cent to 1550 in April.
''I think it's very well understood that … we have very considerable commitments in our own region.
''If you look over the past few weeks, we have had a tsunami in Samoa and Tonga; we have had a major earthquake in Sumatra - they are the sort of contingencies we must plan for.''
Asked whether he had in mind an exit timetable for the Australian forces, Senator Faulkner said: ''We have a mission and that is to train and mentor the 4th brigade of the Afghan army in Oruzgan province. It is certainly not an easy task and it will take some time.''