Today I visited Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera, where I met with troops from the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9 RAR) who have recently returned from Afghanistan, where they served in Mentoring Task Force – Four.
I thanked the soldiers for the valuable contribution they have made to the continuing mentoring mission in Afghanistan.
The members of the Mentoring Task Force have done a wonderful job, and I and the Australian nation are proud of and thankful for their commitment and dedication to their important work.
We discussed Australian and ISAF efforts in Southern Afghanistan and Uruzgan, particularly the training and mentoring of the Afghan National Army Fourth Brigade.
Australian and ISAF Commanders are confident that we are on track to formally commence transition in Uruzgan shortly, and will likely have fully transitioned to Afghan National Security Forces responsibility over the subsequent 12 to 18 month period.
I also met with members from the 1st Division and discussed the development of Army’s amphibious capability under Plan Beersheba, which I announced in Perth in December 2011.
Plan Beersheba is a major restructure of the Australian Army. It will ensure that Army continues to contribute forces to operations including Afghanistan and successfully transition to a force that is able to respond effectively to future challenges, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and other operations.
I was also briefed by the 20th Surveillance Target and Acquisition Regiment, on the use of the Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System to conduct intelligence, surveillance, tactical acquisition and reconnaissance on operations, including in Afghanistan.
Minister Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800; 0467 784 528