1,000 Australian troops to be sent to Afghanistan

Australia plans to nearly double its military deployment to Afghanistan, with 1,000 troops to be sent there by next year, Prime Minister John Howard said Tuesday. Currently, 550 troops from the Australian Defense Force are in Afghanistan. "The total ADF deployment in Afghanistan will reach approximately 950 by mid 2007 and will peak at approximately 1,000 in the middle of 2008," Howard told reporters. He said the troops will be sent to Oruzgan province where a smaller 200-member special forces task group operated for a year, through last September. "Their role will be to enhance provincial security by disrupting Taliban command and control supply routes and they will directly support the Australian reconstruction task force," added Howard.