Australian troops have halted any joint patrols with Afghan security forces. They believe that more “green on blue” attacks could be made in the wake of the US made anti-Islamic film ‘Innocence of Muslims’.
General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had earlier directed all allied forces to end joint activities below battalion level. This comes after an upsurge in insider attacks on allied troops and widespread protests across the Middle East directed at western and in particular US diplomatic missions and businesses.
Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said some partnered activities in Afghanistan would still go ahead. The kind that could continue would involve 500 troops or more. Any smaller operations would be looked at by regional commanders who would decide on an operation by operation basis if they should go ahead.
Smith told the Australian government that no joint patrols involving Australian troops below battalion (kandek) level had taken place so far this week. Mr Smith said that Australia was not “putting a timetable” on when other types of joint activities might resume but that talks were underway.
Smith said: "That will be an operational matter. In the meantime all commanders have been asked to review forces protection measures and to minimise risk against these so-called insider incidents."
Seven Australian soldiers have died in three attacks by rogue ANA soldiers, and on August 29 three were shot and killed in a single incident.
Christine Milne, the Australian Green Party leader, said Australian troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan completely. She claimed that there is no justification for them being there. She said that Australia had justified its troops being in Afhghanistan to ‘mentor’ Afghan troops until 2014 when they would take over the running of security in their own country themselves. Now she said it seems the Australian government says that it cannot trust the Afghan forces. Speaking to the press she said:
"It makes no sense - we need to bring our troops home as quickly and as safely as possible".
Chris Evans, Australian Senate leader, said the ISAF directive was temporary and didn't undermine the mission.