The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith MP today announced that the Australian Defence Force is ready to assume command responsibilities of Combined Team Uruzgan following a final mission rehearsal activity at Robertson Barracks in Darwin.
Over the past two weeks soldiers from the Army’s 1st Brigade have finalised extensive training, together with United States Army counter-parts from the 2nd ‘Spartan’ Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, forming the joint headquarters of Combined Team Uruzgan (CTU).
The training marked the end of preparations for the transfer of command responsibilities for CTU from the United States to Australia in October.
As well as the deploying Australian and US contingent, Australian Government personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID and Australian Federal Police also took part in the training activity.
The training involved scenarios replicating the contemporary operational environment in Uruzgan and reflecting the responsibilities of the combined headquarters, including advising Afghan National Security Forces.
Personnel from the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Task Group, also took part in the training in preparation for their replacing the currently deployed 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Task Group later this year.
CTU was established in August 2010 under United States command following the withdrawal of the Dutch, with the role of commanding International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Uruzgan Province. The United States has had the leadership of CTU since that time.
Australia sees leadership of the CTU as part of the transition process through which security responsibility will be transferred from ISAF to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
Uruzgan commenced transition to Afghan-led security responsibility on 17 July this year. Australia sees this as the appropriate time to take the leadership role in Uruzgan Province, to help ensure that transition in Uruzgan over the coming 12 to 18 month period is effected in a seamless way.
The United States has committed to continuing to provide enabling support in the Province, which it has done since August 2010. Assuming leadership of CTU will not require an increase in the overall average size of Australia’s presence in Uruzgan.
Australia looks forward to continuing to work with our CTU partners – the United States, Singapore and Slovakia – to progress transition in Uruzgan to the Afghan authorities.
Vision of the exercise will be fed to the press gallery at: 11 September 2012 at 4.00pm
Imagery of the exercise is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/12130908
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999