Australian forces in Afghanistan face a risk that insurgents will try to inflict casualties before they depart at the end of the year, Defence Minister Stephen Smith says.

Mr Smith says the Australian task force has now consolidated in their base at Tarin Kowt, ending operations alongside Afghan troops.

Under current plans, the main Australian base at Tarin Kowt will close by the end of the year, with some 1000 of the 1550 troops in Afghanistan heading home.

But until then, there's one more Afghan fighting season, the summer period in which insurgent activity traditionally rises.

Mr Smith said the risks had changed.

"We are behind the wire, we continue to give advice, we are combat ready and our special forces are still out there," he told ABC television on Wednesday.

"But there are still risks, from the IED (improvised explosive device), the roadside bombs, from suicide bomb attacks. There is always a risk that on our way out, the Taliban will try and do some damage to us."

Mr Smith says Afghanistan will need ongoing assistance to ensure its institutions including the Afghan National Security Forces can endure.

He says it is very important to Australia's international reputation that Australia departs Afghanistan in good order, leaving it in the best possible position to flourish.

"What we don't want to see in Afghanistan, after all this time, which has been added to by the Iraq distraction, (is) that after 2014 institutions can't withstand whatever pressure goes onto them," he said.

 

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