The Taliban’s recent attack in the heart of Kabul has killed at least 64 civilians and injured hundreds more.
The militants were reportedly targeting security forces protecting government VIPs, when a suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives just weeks after the group declared their Spring offensive.
Speaking to media at Camp Baird in the Middle East, Air Vice-Marshal Tim Innes said the attack showed the militants were continuing their spate of high profile attacks.
“Unfortunately that’s becoming a, you’d have to say, almost routine occurrence in Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul,” he said.
“But we train our people, they’re well rehearsed, and we are ready for that when it happens.
“We’ve tracked that over the years and it’s a recurring pattern.”
Australia’s most senior Commander in the Middle East region, Air Vice-Marshall Innes said Australian troops based in Kabul on a train and advise mission were helping local forces prepare for such attacks.
However there’s only so much they can do in their Coalition role of mentoring Afghan forces, following the withdrawal of combat duties in 2014.
“It’s going to be a long, slow investment to turn that country around, and it’ll start with things like [mentoring],” Air Vice-Marshal Innes said.
“Whether we should re-enter and change the nature of the operation, that’s a question for the government.”
Afghanistan is not only facing a challenge suppressing the Taliban, but the relatively new threat by the so-called Islamic State, or Daesh.
Despite losing ground in parts of Syria and Iraq, IS is gaining a presence in the east of Afghanistan, attracting disillusioned Taliban defectors.
“Be under no illusion, they are a very smart and agile and adaptive enemy,” Air Vice-Marshal Innes said.
“And that takes a concerted, planned, resourced and patient campaign, to defeat.”