The Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston has concluded a visit to Afghanistan to meet with Australian troops as well as key Afghan and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners.
Senator Johnston met with senior Australian and ISAF commanders, and had an opportunity to address Australian troops serving in national and coalition appointments in Kabul.
Senator Johnston also met with Afghan National Security Advisor Dr Rangin Spanta, and re-affirmed Australia’s commitment to support Afghanistan as it takes on responsibility for its own security following conclusion of the ISAF mission at the end of 2014.
In Kandahar, Senator Johnston met with Major General Michael Bills (US), the Commander of Regional Command South and conducted a roundtable with senior Australian and coalition commanders. He received an update on the situation in the southern provinces of Afghanistan, and met with, and addressed, members of the Australian Defence Force contingent serving in Kandahar
“Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Uruzgan in December 2013, our military contribution has shifted to a regional and national level capacity building mission designed to provide training and advisory support for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)”, Senator Johnston said.
Australia currently has around 400 personnel committed to the ISAF mission. This includes advisors, support staff and force protection elements assigned to the Afghan National Army (ANA) Officer Academy and the Special Operations Advisory Group based in Kabul; ongoing advisory support to the ANA’s 205 Corps Headquarters in Kandahar; and a continuation of embedded staff roles within Headquarters under ISAF.
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 December 2014.
“It’s a critical time in Afghanistan’s security transition as the ISAF mission winds down and planning continues for the post-2014 NATO led train, advise and assist mission”, Senator Johnston said.
“Australia remains committed to Afghanistan in 2014 and to contributing to the post-2014 NATO-led ‘train, advise, assist’ mission”.
“A decision on the size and nature of our commitment is yet to be made and will take into account NATO plans. It is also contingent on an appropriate legal basis. Our current contribution provides a good foundation for a future mission”.
Australia will also contribute to the development and sustainment of the ANSF as part of international efforts to help sustain and support the ANSF beyond the transition process.
“Australia has committed to provide US$300 million over three years from 2015 as part of the international contribution to the sustainment of the ANSF, which will be key to the future stability and security of Afghanistan,” Senator Johnston said.
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston's Office) 0477 389 560