Following the U.S. killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that Australia will continue its military operations in Afghanistan.
Gillard expressed relief for the news that bin Laden was killed in a raid in Pakistan, but warned that the threat of terrorism is not at a standstill because al Qaeda still poses global dangers.
“Whilst al Qaeda has been hurt today, al Qaeda is not finished,” Gillard said during a press conference Monday. “That is why, here in Australia, we will continue to do what we need to do to keep the nation as safe as we can from threats of terrorism. We will continue the mission in Afghanistan.”
Australia has maintained presence in the War on Terrorism since 2001. After the bin Laden-orchestrated attack on the United States on September 11, Australia was one of the first countries to offer troops to the war effort.
Currently, Australia has approximately 2,400 troops in Afghanistan, making the country the largest non-NATO military contributor to Afghanistan.
Since 2001, there have been 2,340 coalition deaths in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, including 23 Australian casualties.