Australia could start bringing some troops home from Afghanistan by 2012

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Melbourne, June 23 (ANI): Australian Defence Minister John Faulkner has signalled that Australia could start bringing some troops home from Afghanistan in two years.

Canberra has stressed the mission for Australia's trainers in Afghanistan - who make up about half of the 1550-strong commitment - will be completed once troops have fully trained the 4th brigade of the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan province.

An assessment of the expected timeframe to train the Afghans, so they were capable of taking charge of security, had been completed recently, Senator Faulkner said.

Defence Force chief Angus Houston had provided advice that on the basis of solid progress to date Defence now estimated that within two to four years Australian would be able to transition the main security responsibility to the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan province.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Australia's 1550 troops in Afghanistan have operated under the control of a 1880-strong Dutch taskgroup since 2006.

Australia has specifically rejected taking the lead role, and the new arrangements came after talks with the Dutch defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop, Senator Faulkner said.

Australian force numbers would remain unchanged.

Faulkner is expected to reveal the withdrawal timeline either today or tomorrow. (ANI)

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