Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today confirmed Australia’s continuing commitment to Afghanistan.
The 2010 Lisbon NATO/ISAF Summit agreed to transition to full Afghan security responsibility in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
In July 2012, transition to Afghan security lead in Uruzgan for the four Infantry Kandaks and the two combat support Kandaks of the 4th Brigade of the 205 Hero Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) commenced.
By November 2012 all four Infantry Kandaks of the Afghan National Army 4th Brigade were operating independently without advisers in Uruzgan Province.
With the commencement of independent operations by the four Infantry Kandaks, Australian troops no longer conduct joint patrols with these ANA units. As well, Australia handed over control of forward operating bases and patrol bases to the 4th Brigade by the end of 2012.
By the end of 2012, Australian troops had consolidated their presence at Multi National Base – Tarin Kot and commenced planning for the complex task of redeploying Australian personnel and equipment and remediating buildings and facilities.
In March 2013 the Government welcomed the decision by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to close Multi National Base – Tarin Kot in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan at the end of this year.
The decision to drawdown and close Multi National Base – Tarin Kot was made after consultation with Australia, which leads Combined Team – Uruzgan, and Afghan authorities and is in line with the timetable to transition to full Afghan led security responsibility in Uruzgan Province by the end of 2013.
With the closure of Multi National Base – Tarin Kot at the end of 2013 at least 1000 ADF personnel will return home. Our civilian Agencies in Uruzgan will also draw down towards the end of 2013, moving to a nationally-focused effort.
The ADF role in Uruzgan will continue as at present until the end of this year:
a) Australian troops will continue to train and advise at the Headquarters 4th Brigade level with the two Combat Support Kandaks and at the Afghan Operational Coordination Centre – Provincial in Uruzgan;
b) The ADF Task Group will remain combat ready to assist Afghan Forces should the need arise; and
c) The Special Operations Task Group will continue to conduct partnered combat operations to disrupt the insurgency.
In 2014, the ADF will focus on a training role at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul with our British and New Zealand colleagues.
In Kandahar, the ADF will continue to provide training assistance to the 205 Corps of the Afghan National Army.
Post-2014, Australia is prepared to contribute to the train, advise and assist mission for the Afghan National Security Forces by continuing to provide embedded Headquarters staff, advisors at the Corps level and trainers at the ANA Officer Academy in Kabul.
Under an appropriate mandate, Australia remains prepared to make a Special Forces contribution, either for training or for counter terrorism purposes.
Reflecting our long-term interests in a stable Afghanistan that can be responsible for its own security, Australia signed a Long-term Comprehensive Partnership with Afghanistan in May 2012.
As part of this responsibility, Australia has committed US$100 million annually for three years from 2015 to support the continued development and sustainment of the Afghan National Security Forces.
3 May 2013
PRESS OFFICE (02) 6277 7744
MINISTER SMITH’S OFFICE (02) 6277 7800