Australia hopes to end its military operations in Afghanistan earlier than expected, the defence minister has said, despite US and NATO calls for more troops to shore up the faltering campaign. John Faulkner, the defence minister, said he was studying how to complete Australia's mission in Afghanistan in the "shortest time-frame". He said he had been in discussions about possible exit strategies since taking over the defence portfolio earlier this year. Australia has about 1,500 troops in Afghanistan with no date set for their withdrawal. "I've certainly asked the Australian Defence Force for any recommendations they have about ensuring we do complete that important role and responsibility both effectively, but in the shortest time-frame possible," he told an Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio programme. Mr Faulkner admitted Australia's move would affect the push by General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, for an Iraq-style troop "surge" against the increasingly powerful Taliban militia. "I've been discussing these issues with the chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, and obviously it's a critically important matter for me," he said. "I've certainly asked the Australian Defence Force for any recommendations they have about ensuring we do complete that important role and responsibility both effectively, but in the shortest time-frame possible," he told an Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio programme. Mr Faulkner admitted Australia's move would affect the push by General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, for an Iraq-style troop "surge" against the increasingly powerful Taliban militia. "I've been discussing these issues with the chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, and obviously it's a critically important matter for me," he said.