Minister for Defence Materiel – Visit to Afghanistan, the United Kingdom and Spain

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare has visited Afghanistan accompanied by Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs.

The Minister and Chief of Navy met with Australian Defence Force (ADF) and US commanders and troops at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot, Camp Baker in Kandahar and Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

They were briefed by: Major General Angus Campbell, Commander, Joint Task Force 633; Colonel Robert Akam (US Army); Commander, Combined Team Uruzgan; Colonel David Smith, Deputy Commander, Combined Team Uruzgan; Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Smith, Commander Mentoring Task Force 3; and the Commander of the Special Operations Task Group.

They were briefed on ADF operations across the Middle East Area of Operations, focusing on the work in Afghanistan and Navy’s contribution to Taskforce 150 in the Persian Gulf.

They were also briefed on the recent insurgent attacks on the compounds of the Governor of Uruzgan and a local security chief in Uruzgan Province on 28 July 2011.

The Minister also met with the Governor of Uruzgan, Haji Omar Shirzad, at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot.

In Tarin Kot and Kandahar the Minister and Chief of Navy were briefed on the implementation of force protection measures, including: the new TBAS combat body armour; upgrades to Bushmaster vehicles; the Counter Rocket Artillery Mortar (C‑RAM) system; work to harden accommodation and workspaces in Tarin Kot; and the Heron and ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capability.

They were also briefed on the arrival of the next rotation of two Australian Chinook helicopters into Afghanistan. The Chinooks arrived in June and commenced air operations earlier this month.

The Minister and Chief of Navy are now in the United Kingdom for meetings with Defence officials and representatives from Defence industry.

In the United Kingdom they will meet with:

  • Gerald Howarth MP, UK Minister for International Security Strategy;
  • Mr Bernard Gray, UK Chief of Defence Materiel;
  • Rear Admiral Steve Lloyd, UK Chief Strategic Systems Executive, MOD;
  • Mr Richard Paniguian CBE, Head of UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation;
  • Mr Keith Smith, Regional Director Asia Pacific, UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation;
  • Dr John Coles, BMT Defence Services, who will lead the recently announced review of submarine sustainment in Australia;
  • Commodore Paul Cunningham, Head of Disposal Services, MOD;
  • Mr Guy Griffiths, Group Managing Director – International, BAE Systems;
  • Mr Archie Bethel CBE, Chief Executive, Babcock Marine & Technology Division;
  • Mr Craig Lockhart, CEO Babcock Pty Ltd, Australia; and
  • Mr Mike Homer, Managing Director Submarine Operations, Babcock Marine & Technology Division.

They will also inspect the recently acquired Largs Bay amphibious ship and the British submarine sustainment facility at HMNB Devonport in Plymouth.

Following this they will inspect work on the hulls of the two new Landing Helicopter Dock Ships currently under construction in Ferrol, Spain. While in Spain they will also meet with:

  • Constantino Mendez, Spanish State Secretary of Defence;
  • Luis Cacho, CEO Navantia;
  • Mr Paco Baron, Vice President for Commercial and Industrial Cooperation, Navantia;
  • Mr Domingo Urena-Raso, Head of Airbus Military; and
  • Miguel Morell, Senior Vice President, Airbus Military.

Navantia are building the hulls for two Canberra-class LHD amphibious ships and are platform designers for the Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyer.

Airbus Military is the prime contractor for Australia’s multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) refueller aircraft.

Media contact: Tim Quadrio – +61 (0) 401 976 269

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