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Welcome to this special report from Iraq. We're at Tajik, just the north of Baghdad, and this is the main training base where the Australian and New Zealand troops are training and mentoring their Iraqi counterparts. The first thing you notice when you come here is the heat - it is 50 degrees today right now. And you can feel every one of those degrees. It's like literally being in a sauna. Despite that, the work goes on, the Australians, the Kiwis, and the Iraqis are out there doing the training here, day in, day out, and they are seeing some success as well. The Iraqi army and Iraqi police are pushing back against Islamic State, and the biggest sign and greatest evidence of that has been the victory in Mosul. Islamic State no longer claim to hold a caliphate, yes, they hold a bit of territory in Syria, but Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city has been regained by Iraqi forces. This has been a long and bloody battle - eight months of fighting. Some of the most intense urban fighting since World War Two, in fact. This is a big sign that the Iraqi army does have the capability and, more importantly, the will to take on the enemy to fight against Islamic State. It raises a number of questions now because we are at a pit of a -- bit of a pivotal moment. IS are on the back foot. Can the groups remain united to fight Islamic State. The sheias, The Sunny, the Kurds, can they work together in peace time. Do the allies keep doing what we are doing? Do we keep up the air-strikes and the training or are the Iraqi forces capable enough? We will have be having a good look at that and focus on whether we need to focus on aid now to keep the peace among the various factions and groups in Iraq? Whether we need to change what we are doing here in Iraq or need to change exactly what we are doing. We will be going to Afghanistan as well. It is a slightly different situation there, our longest running war 16 years on, and it is still something of a stalemate in the fight against the Taliban. We will be talking to the Commander of the forces in the Middle East. We've travelled with the Minister for Defence personnel, Dan Tian, looking at what troops are doing, talking to them, checking on their welfare, acknowledge being the extraordinary work the men and women of the Australian Defence Force are doing, and getting a much better sense too where Iraq and Afghanistan, these two very complex battles, are at. Ing the extraordinary work the men and women of

Contact! Give up!Task group Tadi has 300 Australians and 100 New Zealand personnel in the task group. Our job is to train the Iraqi security forces to enable them to defeat Daesh.How is that going? Successfully. To date, we've got 100-odd -- 1,000-odd Iraqi personnel. They are in Mosul and other areas. They haven't lost since 2015 or so. We have had some contribution to that by training them.The success is there to see, Mosul, some of the other areas that have been regained from Islamic State. I suppose that raises the question now, IS on the back foot, do we need to change what we are doing here or need to keep doing what we are doing here?Keep going with what we are doing. There's more fighting unfortunately to be had for the Iraqis. It is important that we retrain the of them so they can reset themselves for the future fights and they can learn from what they've experienced on the battlefield because it is a highly adaptable enemy and a brutal enemy as well. Our role is to take them through that process, prepare them for future operations.Can I ask you about the training element, how you find it culturally with the Iraqis? How welcoming are they of the advice and the mentoring that Australasia and New Zealand has had to offer?A great deal of respect. We treat them as veterans which the vast majority of them are. They appreciate that, what we can impart to them. We've built up an excellent rapport over a number of rotations which has continued on. They're greatly appreciative of the sacrifice we make to come here and do that job and we are greatly appreciative of the efforts that they do, and they take that burden upon themselves. Some of them are young but a lot of fight in various forms over the years as well. How do they handle being taught new tricks?I think they understand that we bring things to the training that they may not have experienced in their prior experience, and as long as it is helping them, it is supporting them to do their job, that's where we hit that sweet spot.I can't get used to this heat. It is like opening up the oven door, or you do get used to it? You do acclimatise. For the first two weeks here, we really felt the hit. Sitting at the mid-fifties every day. So we try.And it's dusty.Yes, we head out to the training areas in the morning to try to beat the heat.When do you wrap up?Around midday. Come back in or do classroom-based activities. You do find improvement in the training, that's for sure. Initially, it took a little bit of time. There are a few barriers that you get through, and at the moment, we're in the assessment phase, and you just see them moving forward in leaps and bounds, so it's pretty rewarding. The barriers are what, cultural barriers? What are they?They are cultural. The biggest barrier could be the language at the start. We have interpreters who come out and use them quite a bit, but as we progress, we get to know the -You probably picked up a bit of language yourself?I can speak the basic Arabic.But they're all okay with someone teaching them often the basics when it comes to infantry skills, I suppose, even those guys who might have been around battles for a while? E-yes, absolutely. We respect that they've done a lot, and they do know a lot. We're giving them more tools to their tool box. A female trainer beforeYes.Is that an issue at all?No, not an issue at all. Before coming here, I really didn't know what to expect, but being here, I find they're really receptive, they do listen and that I can on board.Any women that you train?No, all male.Is that a bit weird or is what it is?It is what it is.So I will take a team out or a collection of people depending on what kinds of skills we are training them in and run them through a training program based on diagnostic.That depends on the particular Iraqi group that you train. You're telling me you can train both special forces and police, so does that affect largely what you're going to teach them? Correct, yes. They will have different roles to play in the stability of Iraq and that fight against ISIS, so there can be a conventional warfare or stability operations, for example, conducting checkpoints.How do you find the skill level?That will vary considerably based on the audience. We usually conduct the diagnostic early and assess that. There will be some good at certain things and others lacking based on their experience.They spend a ten-week block here intensive training for them. How do you see the change over the ten weeks?We've seen significant improvements in their skills, and especially the sold soldiers are enthusiastic, dramatic improvement in their general skills. And they're hungry to learn? Some of these guys have had plenty of battle experience themselves, I suppose. Are they keen to learn what they can from you.That's true. The ones with the more battle experience are more enthusiastic. They see this as an opportunity to increase their skills further and increase their survivability.It's little wonder the Iraqis are hungry to learn what they can, up against a determined, ruthless enemy. The fight against Islamic State is it proving costly. The eight-month battle for Mosul was one of the worst the world has seen for decades. The final death toll for all involved is disputed. Some say it's as high as 40,000. The real number may never be known. It was a hugely important victory, though. Now more details of Australian's role can be revealed. Australia FA-18s carried out strikes in Mosul. Australian special forces worked from the edge of the city, mentoring the elite counterterrorism unit in the thick of the fighting. Australian trainers helped premium the Iraqi army brigade and police who have moved into the city. John Fruin is the commander of the forces in the Middle East.The recapture of Mosul is a significant thing in removing any credibility that the Islamic State have to their so-called caliphate. There is still work to be done in Mosul clearing up final elements, but ISIL no longer control that city of Mosul. Operations have started over in Raqqah in Syria which was the key piece of that caliphate. Those operations are progressing well. 20 per cent of city or more have been taken and there is a lot of tough fighting to go on there, but ISIL as we have known it was a quasi state with these significant capitals is gone. The writing is on the wall, but that's not to say they're a formidable foe still, both in Iraq and Syria there are many operations yet to come. There are a number of centres in Iraq where there will be more of these pitched conventional battles, but what Iraqis have achieved in Mosul, and what they've learned from Mosul should not be underestimated, and I think they are well capable of dealing with the next one of those challenges. What comes after that, ISIL is clearly an organisation in Iraq and Syria now under great pressure. They are still showing resilience, though. So don't, we won'tian estimate them as we go here, continuing forward advising the Iraqis and supporting the Iraqis in that fight, but there will be a shift in what that organisation does and how that organisation approaches operations into the future, I have no doubt. How confident are you about the ability of the various forces involved in Mosul and elsewhere, Shia, Sunni, Kurd, other external players as well. Now together peacefully. How much of a challenge is that going to be?It is an enormous challenge for the state of Iraq going into the future, but we have seen again positive signs in the right direction in the operations that have been conducted in the recent time.There's been reports of revenge killings, videos of ISIL fighters captured being thrown off walls and so on. Is it important for Iraqis to ensure there's due process around all of this so you don't inflame the tensions.Absolutely. All of those allegations are taken seriously both by the Coalition and the Iraqis and they will all be investigated fully, and wherever there is credibility of those sorts of accusations, then I'm sure appropriate actions will be taken. There are forces within the Iraq security forces that describe those elements that you have described and put those differences aside to achieve the military objectives they have had ahead of them. Of course Iraqi society will have all manner of faultlines going forward, but in the operations in Mosul, the Australians are playing a fairly key role in providing both air support to the fight in Mosul, providing close mentorship to the counterterrorism service which has one one of the key assault forces into east Mosul and west Mosul. We've also been training Iraqi army and Iraqi police. When east Mosul was captured, we had helped to train 1,400 Niniwa police, police from the Mosul city itself and those police were able to go straight into the streets of East Mosul in the surrounding area and started to develop a remarkable degree of normal Al-sy quickly. That is encouraging. It's not perfect by means, but there are signs that there is a future there.What happens now with the Australian element there in Iraq? Firstly on the air-strikes, do we need to keep those up in Iraq and Syria?As I said, there are a number of significant battles yet to play out with ISIL and air power remains really important to those sorts of operations. Mentorship of counterterrorism services remains an enduring requirement in Iraq, even beyond the major battles for the population centres at ISIL control. The sort of mentoring and training support we are providing to the Iraqi army and the police forces, that also continues for some time yet because we want then to build forces that can help feed into broader security operations past the more significant combat operations we are supporting now.Even though ISIL is clearly on the back foot in Iraq, our role is going to continue for some time?Our role will continue as long as the Iraqis want us there to help them and at the moment, the indications are that they greatly value their support, and they have asked that our support continues for the foreseeable future, so our government has given commitments that we will do that. There's no doubt the Iraqi army and police are much stronger now than they were three years ago, when many fled as Islamic fighters advanced. Most importantly, they now have the will to take on the enemy, and there's no doubt that Australasia and other US allies have played a role through the training here at Taji and further to the north where our special forces are working as well. Defence personnel minister Dan Tien has been on the ground observing the work, and met the Iraq minister and generals as well. After the break, we will hear from him.

Welcome back to this special report at the Taji training base in Iraq. These are tough working conditions here, hot, isolated, and for Australian soldiers, don't forget they are trained to fight. They've taken on a training role here in Taji and other places in Iraq, particularly where our special force s are further to the north. They enjoy what they're doing and seeing the results mocks the Iraqis they are training. Their message is we want to do this, we want the work to continue and we have more work to do. What about the defence personnel minister? He has been observing what the Australians are doing. He has been meeting with Iraq's Defence Minister, and some of its generals as well at a really pivotal time in Iraq where we are seeing this momentum shift and Islamic State put on the back foot.What I've learned is that the battle against global terrorism, international terrorism, and Daesh in particular continues. We are seeing some success on the ground, but obviously that must continue. We must continue to drive the advantage. It's not something that's going to occur over the short-term, it is going to occur overt To medium term short-.Does that mean keeping doing what we are doing, doubling down, or doing -I think the way forward is to continue what we are doing, aiding and assists being the Iraqis on standing on their own two feet, building their capacity to be able to defeat this terrorist threat, and that's what our defence personnel, that's what our men and women are doing here in Iraq, and I must say, it's been incredibly impressed with the personnel here, the range of activities they are undertaking, all in that aid-and-assist mission, something which is relatively new to our defence personnel, but something which they're doing in exemplary fashion.This is a really interesting moment to be here. As you say, Islamic State is on the back foot. Mosul in particular, the long-running fierce battle went for eight months. It's something of a turning point in many ways. What have you learned about the role Australia has played in this particular battle?Australians played a key role in their aid-and-assist mission. They were able to help the Iraqi special force. They shall able to give them a lot of the expertise that they've built up over many years, and by guiding, men touring but also making sure it was in the end the Iraqis who were making the decisions and doing the fighting on the ground, building up their capacity because there will be more battles to follow.When you talk about the special forces there in Mosul in particular, while they weren't in a street-by-street fight in the city itself, they have played a very important role in co-ordinating a lot of what was going on?They have, they've played a key role. This is one of the messages of feedback that I have received while I've been here, that this has been struggle, it has been influential and our experience is key in training them, in mentoring them and giving them the guidance, giving them the confidence, and also making sure that they are using all the hardware that's available, and all the techniques that are available to defeat an enemy like Daesh, and they are the most despicable enemy that anyone could face, so they do need all that help and assistance.And the role being trade where we are now in Taji, the 300 Australians, 100 Kiwis here in training, many in the Iraqi not just army but police force as well, clearly that's having an impact when you look at the quality now of the Iraqis, and their will to fight?Yes, we've got the ANZACs here, the Australians and New Zealanders working together because special forces are important, but equally as important is making sure you've got a land army, especially dealing with size of a country like Iraq, we've got to make sure that at that middle level and more senior level that they've got the commanders that they need to drive their army to defend and secure after special forces have done their work.When it comes to defend and secure, this is going to be a real test, isn't it, the ability of those various forces and factions who have worked together against a common enemy now to work together in piece, be it Shia, Sunni, Kurd, however. How confident have you been from talking of people on the Iraqi side of that?Winning the wall is one element but winning the peace is another one altogether. That's going to take a lot of work as well. I think that's something that we might be able to aid and assist on as well going forward because that's incredibly difficult. As complex political situation here in Iraq. How can we help with that?I think what we need to do is make sure we are giving the assistance to build up for instance the bureaucracy which will support the politicians. That can be a key role we could play over time.In a civilian -In a civilian capacity. We're not yet there yet. First of all, we've got to concentrate on winning the war. We've got to concentrate on the role in ensuring they can build up the bureaucracy they need.Are you saying from what you've seen and where things are going, we are going to need to invest more in aid in particular here?We are investing more in aid, and the Prime Minister made an announcement a few months ago for putting more aid money in, but over time, this is going to be something that we're going to have to see continue because we've got to make sure we've learned the lessons of history that winning the peace is going to be absolutely as important as winning the war.What about our air-strikes? From what I'm told, we were very heavily involved in Mosul, the fighters. That battle is now over. Are we going to wind back what we are doing in terms of air support?No, nearly we've won Mosul. We've obviously got to make sure then it is contained, that we can't see any insurgeents getting back and getting a foot hold again, but there are other battles which need to be fought. The air-strikes need to continue. As we continue especially, there's two main corridors where we've got to drive Daesh out of, and we will need the air strikers there to continue to help and assist the Iraqis as they go about doing that. Just finally on Iraq itself, you don't see any change to the foreseeable future. We are going to be doing this for the next year to three years?From all the advice that I've been given is that we must continue doing what we are doing. This is a To medium-term battle short- that we are involved in that we are fighting in aiding and assisting the Iraqis, and we've got to see that continue. We're not going to see that concluded in the next three months. This is something that is in the the To medium term short-.Afghanistan: what are your impressions having been there of how that battle is going?It's at a different stage to what we are seeing in Iraq. Almost we've got so the stage where there's a little bit of a stalemate, but once again, what the Australians are doing with the Afghanis is helping build key capability which I think gives some hope that we can see progress into the future.With respect, minister, we've heard this for 16 years now, still at a stalemate, what's going to change?What it can change is that we can build the capacity of their Afghany special force. We can build the capacity of the Afghany air force. We can build the capacity of their leadership, and that is what we are doing. That's what our men and women are doing on the ground in those three key areas. If we can build that capacity, we can then give them the ability to be able to defeat Daesh, bring Taliban to the negotiating table, if not, it might be more military intervention against the Taliban which hopefully will bring them to the negotiating table.Can we really do all of that with 300 personnel? Still 270 but it will get up to 300. Is that tokenistic or will it deliver the changes?No, because we are doing it as part of a coalition. When I met with the Afghany Defence Minister, he had a key message for me, and that was thank you for what you're doing, please continue to keep doing it.Did he ask you for more?He said thank you what what you're doing, and please keep doing this.I spoke to a Colonel in the Afghan national army who directly said to me we want more Australian mentors here.I'm sure that they would like more Australians, they would like more New Zealanders, and many more -Why don't we give them to them, seriously?Because what we've got to do is make sure what worry doing is strategic, that what we're doing is getting results and the outcomes we've wanted to. We've started to see that. Let's focus on making sure that we get those results, that the Afghanis continue to do their bit, and play their part because that's absolutely essential. We've got to build capacity, and they've got to have a willingness to play their part. What we want to see from the Afghanis is their willingness to say yes, this is our fight, this is our battle, this is our nation, and we are going to show that we are serious about securing our nation. Back to your point about bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. What are you saying there, that it is time for some peace talks with the Taliban?What I'm saying is that the best thing that could happen in Afghanistan is that everyone came to the table and said, "Let's throw down our weapons and let's look and see whether we can negotiate a peace." Now, the Taliban haven't shown a willingness to do that. We've now got Daesh entering the picture, so that's complicating things but the Taliban spice Daesh, they want to - the Taliban December pies Daesh, so there is the potential there, but first you've got to see the Taliban, willing to say enough is enough, we're putting down our weapons.Again if they do that, this is an organisation, we've been fighting for 16 years, we've lost 41 Australians, 260-odd wounded in this fight, to think that you could have a country that has some power-sharing with the Taliban, with all of its extreme views with women, girls, and so on, is that acceptable to Australia?That would be up to the negotiated peace, but I think what the world wants to see is an end to the blood shed in afternoon. We've got to see a stop to that otherwise we're looking at again potentially global terrorism getting a foot hold again in that nation and that is a direct threat not only to the Middle East but also to Australia. We've seen the damage that's been done previously globally by terrorist having a foot hold in Afghanistan, and we cannot stand by and let that happen.If that means being willing to accept some level of Taliban engagement in government, so be it, we need to stop the terrorist threat first.It depends on what they come to the table with and how they come to the table. Of course, you have to put limitations on human rights abuses, on all those aspects. We cannot say yes, the Taliban, you can come and once again we see for instance that females will never be educated in Afghanistan. That is completely unacceptable. But, if they are willing to come to the table, and live by basic human rights which we all agree with, then of course we will be stupid to say, no, we are going to fight, fight them to the absolute death beforeSo while here in Iraq there are clear signs of success, in Afghanistan it's a different story, ah, stalemate as the minister puts it. Do we need to be looking at peace talks with the Taliban? Should there be some power-sharing with this group we've fought for 16 years against? After the break, we will take to you the Afghan capital.

How often do you fly into Afghanistan?Into Afghanistan, we fly a couple of times a week, and usually we're just hauling cargo passengers, Australian troops and equipment into Afghanistan.Do you ever get sick of it? How would you describe it? It's a pretty surreal thing.Sick of it - that's one to put it. We usually getting outside of our home location, and out and about, and seeing some stuff. It can get monotonous but it's good to get around with a bunch of mates. Welcome to Afghanistan and Australia's longest-running war. Think back to what you were doing 16 years ago. That's how long we've been engaged here. 41 Australians soldiers have died in Afghanistan, more than 260 have been wounded. They were fighting the Taliban and can we can we during a different phase of this war. Back when we were stationed in the Aruzgan Province, watching the Australian gentleman soldiers carrying out their patrols, weeding out militants and win over the hearts and minds. Today, the Taliban does still have a presence there. It has a presence in many parts this country. Here in cab you will, we've witnessed the worst six months on record for this city as far as civilian deaths go. The Taliban and other groups able to carry out a devastating attacks on high-profile targets according to the UN, more than 1,600 people are killed, civilians have been killed just in cab you will this year alone. Today, the Australian role is very much all about training and mentoring. We have 270 Australian troops here, about to be increased to 300, and they're working at a number of levels to improve the Afghan national army and police. Much of that mentoring takes place at the officer training academy. It is another heavily fortified compound closed to the locals. Around Australians are based here. Only a small number are mentors, most logistics and protection for them. Technically, it is the Afghans who train the Afghans here. The Australians mentor the Afghan trainers. The mentoring itself, you mentor the Afghan trainers?The instructors. Myself and the New Zealand Sergeant, I work alongside, we are responsible for what is essentially a group of instructors that look after 100 cadets. Within that, you've got a Major, so someone who is a senior rank to me, and then three lieutenants, and then three Sergeants.What are you actually teaching? What are the nuts and bolts that you have got to teach them?It is not so much teaching them, it is making sure what they've been taught at this academy and the other academies they've been taught at, they're putting into practice properly. If there are those knowledge gaps, it's our responsibility to assist them and fill those gaps.What are the knowledge gaps you most often see? It is more so a bit of the experience, so we call like the done Tribunal of it, maybe the science, they lack the experience which is the art form, so they know the nuts and bolts and the key considerations for things, but they don't necessarily know how to put them into play or think outside the box, because they don't, or might not know the inside of the box sometimes. It fakes a little bit of coaxing to get them on, and that way get a better result when they actually instruct the cadets.She is mentors are mostly upbeat about the results they are achieving. They admit the progress is slow and some worry they may be plateauing. All want to see the work continuing. There are sharp cultural differences to contend with. Some are uncomfortable with Afghan women being trained and combat and leadership roles.The female cadets are keen to want to be able to serve their country. They've the drive and the passion that you would probably find in any coalition force whether it is Australian, New Zealand, Danish or British forces.So they're keen. Do the Afghan male trainees, do they respect that as well?A lot of them do. They understand the cultural differences. Some of them are concerned about the females being in the A and A and this is isn't because they want to keep them culturally owe processed, it is for the reason they want to keep them safe because the women do put a lot on the line.They worry more about the women?Yes.Do you have to change what you do at all between the men and the women because of cultural sensitivities?Not really. The only small change is anything, any lessons that I taught involve touching, their combat life support lessons, because you need to be able to put hands on to do CPR and that sort of stuff, the female officer cadets are thought by the female men tease because you can't breach that cultural gap -- mentees.

Girls having access to schools never happened under the Taliban. This shows how far the country has come. Back in cab you will, we drive from the Coalition side of the air base to the Afghan side. It is not a long drive but a logistics night behaviour - a five-tonne bullet vehicle and multiple checkpoints. It is a reminder of how seriously how inside attacks are taken. Here on the Afghan-side of the base is the garrison command, only been running two years and co-ordinates the work of 25,000 Afghan police, arm, and intelligence officers, spread across the capital. The city has seen ten major attacks this year. One this week dozens killed killed in a high-profile site. A major hospital and a Defence Minister industry have been hit this year. This is it. This is the joint operations room, and you can tell by the different uniforms that we have army police and all represented here. NDS is the intelligence service?Yes.You will note that whilst they've got about aired's eye picture of cab you will from Google maps, they also have surveillance systems which they have reflected on the screen which allows them to track the current events within cab you will.And those cameras.As part of the cab you will security system. So they are working card make sure that is up. They have a constant monitoring and these guys are liaison officers to the troops to the ground. So that they impart direction from here to the operational forces conducting the security mission, and they receive information from the security forces and bring back. So police intelligence army personnel maybe on the streets of Kabul will feed information back in here, directions given here what to go and what to do?That is correct. It is effectively the command-and-control node of day-to-day operations for the garrison command.When there is a big incident, and we've seen big incidents in Kabul earlier this year, what happens at that time? Okay, so when there is something occurring whether that is an insurgent activity or a major incident, we will dispoll tax an adviser package to hear, and they will be resident in here to assist in a trained adviser and assist role, also maintain a presence back at north where we can actually be a liaison interface between coalition and this facility.The Afghan forces here welcome the Australian help and, in fact, they want more.It is a very good co-ordination between the mentors, and also the A&E side. That's very good.Would you like to see more of the mentors?I need, because our unit is the new, it's established like two years. I need more help through the Coalition, and also the mentors. I have a few officers. I need more.The Afghan national army Colonel tells me the Kabul garrison command, or CGC, is constantly dealing with the many security challenges. The Taliban has resorted to suicide bomb attacks because they're too weak to go on the battle field.Last night, I have an operation in the Mosaid District, I have a lot of suicide vests, and the same like that.This is Taliban or Islamic State?They are the Afghanistan enemy.It doesn't matter?The enemy of Afghanistan. The Afghani people.Are you beating the enemy?Yes.The commander of Australian forces in the Middle East agrees progress is being made. He spent a lot of time living in working and cab you will over the past ten years and has seen growth here but he's also realistic. He describes the 16-year long fight against the Taliban as now being at a stalemate. Here in Afghanistan, we are helping stop Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for terrorism but we are also helping the Afghanistan government become self-sufficient in terms of their own security and setting them up for future peace and prosperity. Are we achieving that objective right now? Absolutely. We've got Australians here involved in a number of different levels of the security endeavour. Some of that is at a hire levels, the more strategic operational levels, right down to help with tactical training, and I think they're making a great difference in all those areas.When you say one of the main objectives is to stop Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for terrorists, we are seeing a lot of terrorist activity, just this year alone, there's been more civilian deaths in Kabul than ever before - more than 1,600 by various groups presumablily, but targeting a lot of government infrastructure. How would you describe the security situation?The security situation in Afghanistan is complex, and it has been complex for a long time, but I've personally served here over the last decade. I was here in Kabul ten years ago. At that time, this city was a city of around about 2.5 million, depending on your estimates. Today, there are estimates in the city of between five and seven million, so, this is a large city green sort of standard, so you can look to numbers, but it doesn't always tell you the same story.

There are key assets in Kabul being targeted by terrorists. Yes, in a city of this size, it is always going to be very difficult to stop any sort of activity going on. You know, what I see is yes, there's been some terrible high-profile attacks over recent months, but what we have seen is Afghan national security forces responding quickly, responding very effectively, and you're seeing responses that are co-ordinated across the army, the police services, the intelligence services in ways that we haven't seen in years past.That's where Australia comes in.Yes.In terms of the role we are playing with others in mentoring and training those.So we've got people providing mentorship in the organisation that helps bring those agencies together, to work together and co-ordinate together, and that's really, really important, and then we've also got people doing training about how you build the air force and grow the air force, how you train young officers to be both effective tactical commanders but also to grow to be more effective senior leaders.You think we're doing a great job in doing that. How will we know when the job is done?The job will be done when the after gap government says, "Thanks, we've got it from here." And there is a very clear road map to get us there at the moment.What does that road map look like?The road map at the moment is for four years getting to 2020, and what that is about is continuing to build the Afghan national security forces. We are seeing really clear and great progress in things like the Afghan air force, things like the Afghan special forces, and that will go on. The plan looks to increase that sort of co-ordination that I'm talking about and it looks to reinforce the institutions, and the institutions going on, and we are involved about institution-building, developing youngsters is one example.You think we're on track for this. In two or three years, we could finish the job?The road map is about bringing threat groups to the table have the reconciliation process. There's already been some important steps on their path. There was a big foreign - this year, doing the early talking about how that might take shape by 2020. There are clear and achievable steps. There is a long way to go as ever. There can be setbacks along the way and unexpected development. I think there's a really clear achievable path at the moment. Next year, there are provincial elections slated for Afghanistan, a year after that, the national presidential elections again. These will be really important milestones as well. There are unknowns, but the road map as you put it to achieve this goal within the next few years is on track.Yes. It is, I think you can for some of the threat groups, Afghan national security forces that are increasingly and independently taking the fight to the enemy, when there are enemy successes on the battle field, all those ones you've spoken about recently, either the enemy games have been quickly taken back or the situation has been stabilised very quickly, the - that sense of - there is a sense of confidence growing amongst the Afghan national security forces, they are posing threat groups here, the challenges independently, that we haven't seen in recent years. There are a lot of contested areas. It's said, "We're not winning this war in" do you agree with that? That's the consistent official view around here is that there is a stalemate, but it is a stalemate in the government's favour, and I would agree with that assessment.That we're not winning?No, that it's a stalemate but it's in our favour, and all signs are within the Afghan national security force as they and their capability grows, I think that advantage continues to shift towards the government.Afghanistan is slowly changing. The security forces here are undoubtedly stronger, and that's thanks to the hard work of Australasia and other coalition partners in training and the mentoring they're doing. There are opportunities here today for girls and women - opportunities that once weren't there. But the Taliban does remain a serious problem. It is able to take some territory, able to carry out high-profile attacks here in Kabul. Islamic State is a growing threat as well. So any drawdown in the Coalition troop presence here would only strengthen the Taliban's hand, but few are arguing for a troop surge here, either. Which means there is slow, incremental progress in Afghanistan and is probably the only way forward. It means this longest running of wars isn't about to end any time soon. There are really positive signs of progress, but you've got to stay with it and keep that. This is slow work. You can't just wave a wand and suddenly the societies will be perfect. I've been involved for a long time out here now, and I'm encouraged about where we are in Iraq and Afghanistan at the moment.

This program is live captioned by Ericsson Access Services. .

From the Sky News Centre, this is Paul Murray Live. Good day, good evening. Welcome to the most fired-up two hours on telly. We've got an awfully big show for you this evening. We're about to make some big news in a moment or two's time as Senator Malcolm Roberts joins us and proves that the man is not a dual citizen. If you want to be part of the show, contact us. We have got Gary Hardgrave, Wacca Williams, but most importantly, I want to hear from you. If you've got a news tip, send me an email. You can jump on to the Facebook page. Before I get to Senator Roberts. Leftie lunacy that is again focused on your kids. Some bright spark in Queensland thinks that the most important thing to get in front of at the moment is evangelical Christians, stopping children spreading the word of Jesus, and the Christian faith inside the playgrounds of state schools. Seriously? This is the number-one priority, the directive that goes from head office to every single school into Queensland? And what are they asking people to crack down on? Have a look at this. It includes:

Seriously. This is where we are in 2017. In Queensland, just like the rest of the country, the results are flat or falling. If you think that wishing Merry Christmas, celebrating the actual historical reason for the season is a way of somehow proseletising or radicalising kids, then there's something wrong with you. This is all about trying to pretend, it's not about no religion in school, it's about no Christianity, despite the fact that Christianity remains the dominant religion of the country, despite that psychiatriure crass are held in most parts of the country before we have this absurdity of suggesting that kids shouldn't be making things like Christmas decorations. Here's the truth. The single biggest issue to do with religion in schools is not Islam, it's radical Islam. It is the examples that in places like halls in New South Wales, when kids try to read a bastardised version of the Koran and twist - did you know that Christmas is about Jesus's birthday is the same as saying here is the holy text that justifies the killing of those that won't believe what we do? Then again, you're part of the problem. Some of days, you look at this stuff, and you go how is this garbage somebody's work day? How was this eight hours of work and five days a week? How is this the priority of the Queensland schools system. If you're a parent, rebel hard. Make sure that your school principle, your P and C says you know what, the kids can wish each other Merry Christmas. The same school system that is drying to crack down on this is the same school system that says yay to harmony day. I don't mind Ramadan or being invited to a Islamic kids' breaking of the fast after the end of Ramadan. I've got a problem with radical Islam and the justification of any sort of radicalisation for violence and crime. That's the problem. A greater awareness of faith, please. Grow up. I'm saying that as an atheist. This stuff is just rubbish. Speaking, and here's where I will lose a few of you. Donald Trump has set off one of his occasionally most political weapons: the distraction bomb. This is where normally at about this time of night he will write something on Twitter, say something in an interview, call into a breakfast show and change the topic. Nine times out of ten this will be considered offensive because it is breaking the conventions of the United States. But today, the distraction bomb that he decided to let off was not just saying that there's no room for transpeople in the army, or in the navy or defence forces, it was going on a three-tweet declaration, that transpeople would not be allowed,