Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Australia to withdraw troops from Afghanistan earlier than expected

(CNN) -- Australian troops could begin pulling out of Afghanistan in the coming months and may leave the country almost entirely by the end of next year, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday.

It's the latest announcement of international troop drawdowns in Afghanistan, a trend that signals the coalition's confidence in the country's fighting forces, the transition to Afghan security control, and the war's growing unpopularity in the countries that contribute troops.

Australia's move would mean that most of the more than 1,500 Australian soldiers in Afghanistan could leave a year earlier than the government had previously suggested.

"We continue to see steady gains in the fight against the Afghan insurgency," Gillard said in a speech in Canberra, suggesting that the strategy of international forces in the country had led to "security gains over the past year and a half." Read More