He reiterated on Sunday that Australians had to “steel themselves” for more casualties because it remained in the national interest to complete the mission in Afghanistan to reduce the risk of the Afghan-Pakistan border area becoming a haven for terrorism.


Australian forces in Afghanistan halted joint patrols last week amid concerns an anti-Islamic film made in the US could spark more “green on blue” attacks by local soldiers.

The decision came after International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander General John Allen directed allied forces to suspend joint activities below kandak, or battalion, level.

Mr Smith said Australia late last week approached regional command south seeking permission to resume work again at below kandak level.

“We don’t expect that will see us return to business as usual … it will be a gradual return to the full partnering operation at less than kandak level,” Mr Smith told Network Ten on Sunday.

He denied suggestions Australia had blinked since the latest of the green on blue attacks that killed three Australian soldiers on August 29.

“No, we have not blinked because our core strategy remains in place and that has been made clear,” Mr Smith said.

“So that core commitment and key timetables for transition remain in place.”

He again warned the Taliban would resort to high-profile, propaganda-based attacks, including child suicide bombings and taking credit for green on blue attacks.

“Yes, that runs the risk of undermining trust, which is why we are taking it so carefully,” he said.