Defense chief confirms Afghan militia in Australia

Six fighters allied to influential warlord Matiullah Khan trained last week at Australian bases to strengthen military operations against the Taliban, said Air Marshall Angus Houston, the head of the Australian Defense Force. The training was first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Houston told reporters that the militiamen would be "fighting side by side with our special forces when we do the next deployment."

The Australian officers are to be deployed to Afghanistan, where Australia has 1,550 troops based in the southern province of Uruzgan.

"If we want to get our act together so that we have an absolutely seamless operation, it is absolutely imperative that we train with the people we are going to be fighting side by side with,' he added.

The newspaper reported that the Afghan fighters were shown combat training displays at bases in South Australia state and on Sydney's outskirts. The Defense Department has not disclosed further details.

U.S. and NATO troops often pay local warlords in some areas of Afghanistan to ensure safe passage for their supply convoys.

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