Australia questions involvement in War in Afghanistan after death of two soldiers

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Monday night, two Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan died in separate incidents. This brings the total death toll to 26 for Australians fighting in the 'war against terrorism'. These events have sparked renewed debates about the role Australians play in this region. Greens leader Bob Brown has called for the return of all troops by the end of this year.

Lieutenant Marcus Case (27) died in a Chinook helicopter crash at the Tarin Kwot base in the Zabul Province. Any connection to the Taliban in this incident has been ruled out by Australian defence force officials.

Lance-Corporal Andrew Gordon Jones (25) was shot down by a man who has been described as a “rogue Afghan officer”. Defence Chief, Angus Houston, has confirmed that this man is now the subject of an extensive man-hunt.

The Australian media have questioned if the soldiers are making any difference, when Lance-Corporal Jones died at the hands of someone he was supposed to be mentoring. Prime Minster Julia Gillard stated that Australian soldiers still play a vital role in training hundreds of members of the Afghan Fourth Brigade and does not believe their job has been completed yet.

Australia joined the ‘war on terrorism’ as part of the US led Operation Enduring Freedom. The US, Australia, and New Zealand pledged their alliance of mutual defence when the ANZUS treaty was enacted in 1952. When the United States invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, it was the first time it was invoked. Australia currently has around 1,500 defence personnel in Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper.