Australian PM Julia Gillard today announced that she will pull home her nation's troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013, reports Australia's ABC News. "This is a war with a purpose, this is a war with an end," Gillard said, citing improved security conditions. "We have a strategy, a mission, and a timeframe for achieving it." The moved-up withdrawal, which would take 12 to 18 months to complete, would put most troops back on home turf before the country's next election—which has some opposition members accusing Gillard of playing politics.
"It would be a shameful thing if after nearly 12 years of deployment in Afghanistan, this mission were foreshortened for reasons of domestic political convenience," says one opposition leader. Some special forces, however, would remain in Afghanistan, and the entire deal is expected to be hammered out at next month's NATO meeting in Chicago. Australia has suffered 33 casualties in the decade-long war.