Australia Denies US Request For More Troops To Fight ISIS

14/01/2016 10:50 AM AEDT | Updated January 14, 2016 10:50
Fairfax Media

Australia has let down its responsibility in the relationship with America by failing to step up and send more troops to fight ISIS, former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has said.

His replacement, Marise Payne, announced on Thursday Australia would not meet an American request to expand troop contributions to the anti-ISIS coalition in the Middle East.

"The US has asked 40 or so other countries, including European countries, to consider expanded contributions to the coalition, following the attacks in Paris," a statement from Payne read.

"Australia has considered the request from US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter in light of the substantial contributions we are already making to train Iraqi security forces and to the air campaign. The Government has advised Secretary Carter that our existing contributions will continue."

Payne said Australia would, however, send a further 10 ADF personnel to coalition headquarters, make aircraft available for additional airlift support for humanitarian efforts, and consider further humanitarian support in Iraq and Syria.

Andrews, dumped as minister in Turnbull's cabinet reshuffle, criticised the decision on ABC Radio on Thursday.

"She has information before her that I obviously don’t in making the decision, but my general in principle view is that if the Americans have made a reasonable request of us, then we should be giving it the most favourable consideration," he said.

"We are a long term, decades-long alliance partner with the U.S. and we should therefore be starting with a favourable consideration of what the U.S. request of us. Because at the end of the day, the U.S. have come to our aid on occasions when we’ve needed them."

"It’s quite clear from the advice I received and that I was aware of, what the American military personnel and defence leaders were suggesting, and that was for months they were suggesting that we need forces on the ground in order to defeat ISIL."

Andrews was a close supporter of ousted PM Tony Abbott and one of several ministers demoted when Turnbull took the top job in September 2015. Andrews has been outspoken in his appraisal of Turnbull's decisions on national security since losing his portfolio, including criticising Turnbull's decision to drop Immigration Minister Peter Dutton from the National Security Council.

Turnbull is due in Washington, D.C., next week for his first visit with American president Barack Obama. He will be in Washington on January 18 and 19, with security, terrorism and the fight against ISIS to be high on the agenda.

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