Defense chief confirms Afghan militia in Australia

Afghan militia fighters were secretly flown to Australia to train with its special forces in a contentious new strategy against the Taliban insurgency.

Updated: Oct 29, 2010, 14:36 PM IST

Canberra: Afghan militia fighters were
secretly flown to Australia to train with its special forces
in a contentious new strategy against the Taliban insurgency,
Australia`s defense chief confirmed on Friday.

Six fighters allied to influential warlord Matiullah
Khan trained last week at Australian bases to strengthen
military operations against the Taliban, said Air Marshall
Angus Houston, the head of the Australian Defense Force. The
training was first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Houston told reporters that the militiamen would be
"fighting side by side with our special forces when we do the
next deployment."

The Australian officers are to be deployed to
Afghanistan, where Australia has 1,550 troops based in the
southern province of Uruzgan.

"If we want to get our act together so that we have an
absolutely seamless operation, it is absolutely imperative
that we train with the people we are going to be fighting side
by side with,` he added.

The newspaper reported that the Afghan fighters were
shown combat training displays at bases in South Australia
state and on Sydney`s outskirts. The Defense Department has
not disclosed further details.

US and NATO troops often pay local warlords in some
areas of Afghanistan to ensure safe passage for their supply
convoys.

PTI