Australian troops set to play role in Kandahar offensive

17:19, May 17, 2010      

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Australian forces were set to play a significant role in an offensive to eject Taliban insurgents from the city of Kandahar, regarded as the insurgent fighters' spiritual heartland, Defense said on Monday.

Defense head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the operation would involve Australian special forces, Chinook transport helicopters and, possibly, Afghan National Army kandaks mentored by Australian forces.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said the SOTG (Special Operations Task Group) would be involved in what were termed "shaping operations" ahead of the main event.

"If there is a particular area where there's a lot of Taliban, you might go in and disrupt that Taliban sanctuary," Houston said.

"Shaping is quite a demanding form of operation and precedes more conventional forces going in and doing clearing operations."

Air Chief Marshal Houston said kandaks from the Afghan national 's Army's forth Brigade from Oruzgan province, now undergoing training by Australian troops, could be involved.

If so, Australian mentors would certainly participate alongside the Afghan troops.

"I would see the kandaks used on the approaches. They would probably be used in a blocking capacity or something like that," Houston said.

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