Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is considering sending troops back to Afghanistan.
Turnbull’s comments come in the wake of a US request for more support, which was made during his April 25 visit to Afghanistan.
“While I was in Afghanistan, I had discussions with the commander of the NATO mission there, General Nicholson, I had discussions with the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis,” Turnbull told reporters Friday.
“We have been asked to consider additional resources, and we are actively considering that. We’re open to that.”
However, Turnbull added Australia would have to consider the commitments of their defense forces in the Middle East and other parts of the world before agreeing.
US President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision within the next week on whether or not to deploy more troops to Afghanistan, possibly as many as 5,000.
The Taliban has made gains against Afghan security forces in the past year, and now control about 36% of the country’s districts, according to the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Australia’s long history in Afghanistan
Australia was among the first countries to send troops to Afghanistan following the US invasion in October 2001.
On November 1, 2001, Australia announced it would be sending forces to assist in the operation.
More than 26,000 Australian soldiers served in Afghanistan between the first deployment and the country’s withdrawal in 2014. Of those, 41 were killed action and many others wounded.
A small contingent of about 270 troops is, along with other NATO allies, still assisting Afghanistan’s army with training.
Turnbull said he had visited the Australian troops working with the Afghan defense forces as part of his April visit.
“It is very important that we continue … to work together to build up the capacity of Afghanistan’s own security forces so they can keep that country secure from the threat of terrorism, both ISIL and the Taliban,” Turnbull said Friday.