Saturday, April 23, 2011


Lets remember why we are in Afghanistan. The United States was attacked by Islamist terrorists in 2001 leading to the death of thousands of people, including 11 Australians. Afghanistan was the terrorist base of operation. The government of Afghanistan and the terrorists were effectively one. If the Taliban are not defeated or at least brought under control, it would again become a source terrorist attacks against the West including Australia.

Diggers must prepare for Taliban offensive, suicide bombers: Stephen Smith

Operation Hold

ource: The Australian

AUSTRALIAN commanders in Afghanistan are steeling themselves for major Taliban attacks to recapture areas previously held by insurgents.

And they expect a bombing campaign in Afghan cities to try to break the will of coalition nations to continue the decade-long war.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith told The Weekend Australian that in the past 12 months, considerable ground had been won from the insurgents in Oruzgan province, where the main Australian force is concentrated, and in Afghanistan overall.

"We are expecting strong efforts to reclaim that ground, so we're steeling ourselves for a difficult fighting season," Mr Smith said. "We know the Taliban is under pressure and will fight back."

He warned that the insurgents would mount more high-profile attacks, including suicide bombings, in an attempt to influence public opinion. The Taliban fighters have stepped up suicide attacks on police and army targets in the past month.

Since the Afghanistan campaign began in 2001, 23 Australian soldiers have been killed and 160 wounded. Ten of the fatalities have occurred since Anzac Day last year, a toll that Mr Smith said reflected the intensity of the fighting.

Australia is the 10th-biggest contributor to the Afghan coalition, and the largest outside NATO, with 1550 army, RAAF and navy personnel out of about 140,000 coalition personnel.

At a recent NATO meeting in Berlin, foreign ministers including Kevin Rudd were warned that as the summer fighting season in Afghanistan began, they should expect a big Taliban push to recapture territory. The commander of Australia's forces in the Middle East, Major General Angus Campbell, told The Weekend Australian the coalition had made substantial gains through the northern winter as Afghan troops and police, backed by mentors from Australia and allied forces, pushed into key areas of Afghanistan such as the Deh Rawood Valley, the Baluchi-Chora Valley and the Mirabad Valley.

But he warned that the insurgents were expected to fight back hard, and said those gains could be lost if care were not taken to consolidate the areas.
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