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Senator the Hon David Johnston
Minister for Defence
16 December 2013
The Australian Defence Force mission in Uruzgan has concluded and the majority of our people are on their way home.
Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston today paid tribute to Australia's Defence personnel for their outstanding efforts in Uruzgan.
"The achievements we have made in Afghanistan and more specifically Uruzgan can be directly attributed to the professionalism and dedication of more than 26,500 Defence personnel deployed over the years who should all be extremely proud today," Senator Johnston said.
"The drawdown from Uruzgan was in itself an enormous logistical achievement, and I congratulate the ADF for completing this complex task so smoothly and on schedule."
Senator Johnston said that while the drawdown from Uruzgan is complete, Australia remains committed to Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond.
“Next year our deployed numbers will reduce to around 400 Defence personnel to advise and train the Afghan National Security Forces as they develop their command and logistics capabilities.”
Combined Team Uruzgan (CT-U), under the command of Colonel Wade Stothart, transferred the remaining infrastructure at Multi National Base Tarin Kot to the Afghan Government on Wednesday, 11 December with the remaining personnel departing the province four days later (Sunday 15 December 2013).
Australia has maintained a permanent presence in Uruzgan province Afghanistan since 2005 and assumed leadership of CT-U from the US in October 2012, allowing Australia to play a greater role in managing the transition to Afghan security control in Uruzgan.
Major General Paul LaCamera, Commander of ISAF’s Regional Command South said that the Afghans have had the lead for security in Uruzgan for a year now.
“In this time the Afghans have contained the insurgency and built on the gains of recent years.
“Uruzgan is a testament to the transition process in Afghanistan and shows we are on the right track,” Major General LaCamera said.
Home to nearly 10,000 people at the height of the campaign, Multi-National Base -Tarin Kot had developed extensive infrastructure since 2005 including a sealed airfield and new civilian terminal.
The base has been transferred to various Afghan Government ministries in accordance with the determination of the Uruzgan Base Closure Commission held in August this year. All transferred infrastructure has been deemed safe, secure and sustainable.
The Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force in the Middle East, Major General Craig Orme paid tribute to the effort of Australians who have served in the province over the years together with our coalition partners.
“Uruzgan has been a true coalition effort,” Major General Orme said.
“Australian Defence personnel have worked tirelessly alongside forces from the U.S., Netherlands, France, Singapore, Slovak Republic, and New Zealand and have made a positive and enduring contribution to Uruzgan.
“We can be proud of what we have achieved, and have completed our mission in Uruzgan knowing that we have made a difference.”
Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Uruzgan, Australia will shift to a nationally-oriented mission to provide ongoing training and advisory support for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
This contingent will include instructors, advisors, support staff and force protection elements assigned to the Afghan National Army (ANA) Office Academy and the Special Operations Advisory Group based in Kabul; ongoing advisory support to the ANA’s 205 Corps Headquarters in Kandahar; ongoing commitment of advisors to the Logistics Training Advisory Team in Kabul; and a continuation of embed staff within a range of roles in ISAF Headquarters.
The Australian Government has also extended the Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) deployment to Afghanistan providing high resolution Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) support until July 2014.
Australia will continue to support Afghanistan’s security, development and governance beyond 2014. Australia has also pledged to contribute to the post-2014 NATO-led ‘train, advise, assist’ mission.
Imagery is available through the Defence Image Library: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132564
Vision has been fed to the Press Gallery at Parliament House, Canberra.
A series of fact sheets on Australia's military contribution to Afghanistan under Operation SLIPPER are available at http://www.defence.gov.au/op/afghanistan/info/factsheet.htm
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999
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