Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston this week attended the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Defence Ministers’ Meeting, and conducted a series of calls on NATO and ISAF counterparts in Brussels. He was accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
Senator Johnston said that ISAF and NATO counterparts deeply appreciate Australia’s continued commitment to Afghanistan.
“Over the past 11 years, Australia alongside Afghanistan and ISAF partners has demonstrated unstinting resolve to assist Afghanistan build its own security,” Senator Johnston said.
Senator Johnston also said that while significant progress has been made, ISAF contributors were realistic about future challenges.
“To sustain our hard-earned gains, NATO and partner nations are focusing on the transition away from combat operations to training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces after 2014 as they take on responsibility for their country’s security.”
“Australia will continue to support Afghanistan after 2014, with ADF trainers and advisers. However, their deployment is contingent upon an appropriate legal mandate.”
Senator Johnston met with United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to discuss planning for the transition in Afghanistan and priorities for the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), due to be held in late November in the United States.
He also met with Afghan Minister for Defence Mohammadi Khan and commended the Minister on the continuing development of the Afghan National Security Forces in Uruzgan and nationwide. He reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan post-2014.
“The Afghan National Security Forces have developed to a point where they have held their own this fighting season and are on track to take on full security responsibility by the end of 2014.” said Senator Johnston.
Senator Johnston noted that Australia is on track to bring home around 1000 troops by Christmas, and turn its attention to a nationally focused training and advisory support mission, based in Kabul and Kandahar.
Senator Johnston also met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to discuss Australia’s developing relationship with NATO.
Senator Johnston noted that Australia’s relationship with NATO is based on a shared interest in responding to global security challenges.
“NATO is a long-standing example of international Defence cooperation in response to shared security challenges” said Senator Johnston.
“I am pleased at the growth in our relationship with NATO, in particular through our close cooperation in ISAF.”
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0427 449 120
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999