Reasons for the policy
Our military and civilian mission in Afghanistan is vital to our national security.
The Taliban gave safe haven to Al Qaeda, which allowed terrorists to plan and carry out terrorist attacks around the world, including the atrocities of September 11.
That is why the UN authorised a NATO-led military intervention, of which we are a part, alongside troops from 46 other nations and active support from many more.
But getting rid of the brutal Taliban regime and Al Qaeda was only the first part of the job. The second is to make sure they cannot return to power.
Long-term stability depends on the Government of Afghanistan being able to sustain its own security, offering representative government at all levels, improving economic prospects for its people, and playing a constructive role in the region.
So we will have succeeded when the Government of Afghanistan has the capacity to manage its own security and prevent terrorists from using its land as a launch pad. Achieving this success will require a combination of military, economic and political solutions pursued together.