POLITICS
12/05/2017 11:39 AM AEST | Updated 15/05/2017 7:25 AM AEST

The Government Is Considering Sending More Troops To Afghanistan

NATO has asked Australia for additional resources.

The Australian Government is considering a request from NATO to send more troops to Afghanistan, Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed.

"We have been asked to consider additional resources, and we are actively considering that. We're open to that" Turnbull said on Friday.

The West Australian reported on Friday morning that NATO had requested "a small number" of new troops from Australia, as concerns mount about a Taliban resurgence as well as ISIS gaining a foothold in the region.

Fairfax Media / Andrew Meares
Malcolm Turnbull on a recent visit to Afghanistan, where he met the U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and General John Nicholson, the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan.

The news comes ahead of a major conference of Allied leaders and growing speculation that President Donald Trump will commit thousands of additional U.S. troops to the troubled nation.

Top Trump administration advisers are pushing for an ambitious new military strategy in Afghanistan, which would add 3,000 troops to the current 8,400-strong military presence, including special forces, and effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban, according to the Washington Post.

Australia currently has around 270 personnel in the country, most of whom are in the capital Kabul in support and training roles.

The Prime Minister paid an ANZAC Day visit to Afghanistan last month, during which he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and General John Nicholson, the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan.

General Nicholson told a congressional hearing last week he needed "a few thousand" additional troops to help train and advise Afghan forces and avoid a stalemate in the fight against the Taliban.

There appears to be no end in sight for the sixteen-year conflict, with the Taliban having gained since the steady withdrawal of American forces under the Obama administration.

The Taliban hold more ground now than ever, according to a member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, while a US Government watchdog reported "shockingly high" casualties amongst Afghanistan's security forces and record numbers of displaced civilians.

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