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Rudd and his Defence Minister now openly at odds over Afganistan.



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Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia Media Release RUDD AND HIS DEFENCE MINISTER NOW OPENLY AT ODDS OVER AFGHANISTAN It is not particularly helpful for the Minister of Defence to say that a military victory in Afghanistan is ‘neither feasible nor supportable.’ Such inflammatory comments by the Minister show that the Prime Minister and his Defence Minister are now openly at odds with each other on whether the war in Afghanistan is winnable. Today Mr Rudd rapidly backed away from the Defence Minister when he said: “There’s no point being engaged in a military action unless you have a view within government that that action is winnable”. Shadow Defence Minister Senator David Johnston said the Prime Minister had to pull his Defence Minister into line and remind him that Australian forces are putting their lives at risk everyday in their quest to help win the war against terrorism in Afghanistan. “It is not particularly helpful for the morale of our troops in Afghanistan to have the Minister making comments that are not supportive of our troop’s efforts,” Senator Johnston said. The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, when asked in September if the war in Afghanistan was winnable said, “I’m convinced we can”. His comments were backed up by the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband who said, “The key variable (to victory) is building up the Afghan National Army.” “I think that the British Foreign Secretary is right. The war is certainly winnable; however, the key will be to train the Afghan National Army to be an effective fighting force.” “I was particularly heartened to hear just this week that Afghan national security forces will receive a huge capability and mobility boost throughout the next year with more than 6,000 up-armoured vehicles and more than 75,000 M-16 rifles from Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.”

16/10/2008

Media Contact: Rebecca Horton 0427 449 120

Rebecca Horton Media Adviser I Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia

Office (Perth) (08) 9478 2088 I Mobile: 0427 449 120