This week during my first overseas trip as Minister for Defence I visited Australian troops in Afghanistan to gain a better understanding of conditions on the ground.
I was accompanied by Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston and the Defence Secretary, Dr Ian Watt.
I visited the Multi National Base in Tarin Kot. I had the pleasure of meeting with Australian personnel who are serving in Afghanistan and thanked them for their great work.
I feel great pride for the men and women who are working hard every day to help bring about the peace and stability of a country that needs our assistance.
I met with Australian personnel based at Tarin Kot and later had the opportunity to travel by helicopter to meet with our people at Patrol Base Razaq in the Deh Rawud district.
These visits proved invaluable as I was able to gain a good appreciation of the conditions that our people are facing on the ground.
During these visits I received briefs from military personnel who are on the front line every day. They were able to tell me first-hand and frankly about the challenges they confront and share their thoughts on how the mission is progressing at the operational level.
I came away with the impression that, to effectively develop the security forces of Afghanistan, Australians must continue to live, train, plan, fight and learn alongside the Afghan National Security Forces. This approach is proving much more successful than previous methods employed.
On the whole, all of the briefs I received from the troops on the front line have been consistent with the advice I have been provided through senior official channels.
I remain confident that our mission to mentor and partner the Afghan National Security Forces is making a difference and, that to successfully achieve a full transition of security responsibilities in the two-to-four year time frame, we need to stay the course.
The UN-mandated International Stabilisation Assistance Force (ISAF) has clearly set upon a strategy that we, collectively, believe we can achieve. It is imperative that we maintain our resolve in implementing that strategy.
Australians can be proud of what their fellow citizens are achieving in Afghanistan and the way in which they are carrying out their mission. Australian personnel are faced with difficult circumstances on a daily basis and they continue to display expertise, professionalism and courage through these challenges.
Printer Friendly Version