Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced last week that Australian troops will withdraw from Afghanistan in 2013, a year ahead of schedule. In an email interview, Anthony Bubalo, the West Asia program director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia, discussed Australia's mission in Afghanistan.
WPR: Was participation in the Afghanistan War seen as consistent with Australia's key strategic priorities or in competition with them?
Anthony Bubalo: Australia's participation in the war in Afghanistan has been consistent with the history of Australia's use of its military forces beyond its immediate region, especially in the Middle East. That is, Australia's participation in military operations in these areas has largely been driven by alliance interests. In fact, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, which led to Australia's participation in the war in Afghanistan, saw Australia invoke the ANZUS treaty, its formal security treaty with the United States, for the first time in its history.