Hurley says military alone can't solve Afghanistan

Defence Force chief David Hurley says military intervention alone cannot solve Afghanistan's problems, arguing it needs to be followed up with long-term development and diplomatic efforts.

Most Australian troops are due to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the year once control for local security in Uruzgan province is handed over to Afghan forces.  However General Hurley says there remains long-term challenges that need to be dealt with if the international community is to have confidence in the Afghan government's ability to sustain the country's transformation.  "What (the military) can do is go in and create space...

(but) eventually it gets pushed back in if you don't come in behind with the diplomatic (efforts)," General Hurley told a Strategic Policy Institute lunch in Canberra.  "The danger in Afghanistan is that the governance and development arrangements are not put in place adequately as the military contracts.  "(As) our effort contracts, the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) will take over and take up that strain.  "But you must come in behind it.

It cannot be sustained purely on military grounds."  Speaking at the same event, the head of British armed forces, General Sir David Richards, indicated that a key priority for the transition process was to make sure Afghan forces were on a "good long-term footing".  "The most important single requirement is to ensure that Afghan people and their army and police retain confidence in the west and that we don't...

do a Russia," General Richards said, referring to the 1989 withdrawal of Soviet troops and the overthrow of the Afghan government three years later.  Many countries have indicated they are likely to have an ongoing military presence in Afghanistan once the official withdrawal process ends, although General Richards says the size of that force is unlikely to be decided until a few more months.  Reset General Hurley says the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, in addition to the end of operations in Timor and the Solomon Islands, will mean the need to "reconfigure" what the Australian Defence Force (ADF) looks like.  He says the Defence white paper process, which is due to be finished in the first half of this year, will focus on "resetting" the ADF.  "Getting the ADF back into a preparedness mode, a training and engagement mode...

that helps us shape our region and makes it a friendly place to work in."  But he says it will also be about building capacity and preparedness so that armed forces can be deployed at short notice, adding there will continue to be a role for the Defence Force in dealing with asylum seeker boats.  "Obviously the border protection task continues which is very consuming for both Navy and Air Force."  On Wednesday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is due to deliver a major security speech in which she will talk about the need to continue and deepen the "atmosphere of relative peace" that currently exists in Asia.  "Indeed, nothing is more important in Australia's security outlook," she is expected to say.  She also plans to raise the issue of cyber security and the need to develop more sophisticated measures to deal with the problem.  "Australia is an attractive target for a range of malicious cyber actors, from politically motivated hackers and criminal networks to nation states," Ms Gillard will say.  "This not only has the potential to impact on governments but businesses and the community alike."  African situation One particular security challenge identified by both defence chiefs is the recent Al Qaeda-linked terrorist attack in northern Africa.  There are reports that dozens of people, including several British residents, have been killed .  The attack prompted British prime minister David Cameron to declare the world needed to work together to deal with the continuing terrorism threat in the region.  "This is a global threat and it will require a global response.

It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months," Mr Cameron said.  General Richards, who has been in Australia for the annual ministerial talks between Australia and the United Kingdom, indicated he would be travelling to Africa next week to consider how to support the international effort in neighbouring Mali.  General Hurley says he is aware of Australia's significant mining interests in Africa and the large number of Australians who work there.  "We are just looking at what Australia's interests are in the region, and we'll have the conversation with government about how that is to be managed," he said. 

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