Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
I visited Brussels on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 March to participate in the NATO/ ISAF Defence Ministers' Meeting.
The Meeting, which followed on from the NATO/ ISAF Leaders’ Summit in Lisbon in November 2010, took forward ISAF’s discussion on transitioning security responsibility to the Afghan authorities by the end of 2014.
NATO and ISAF Defence Ministers discussed the importance of a properly-resourced training effort for the Afghan security forces, critical to a successful transition of security responsibility.
I briefed my Defence Ministerial counterparts on Australia’s progress in mentoring and training the Afghan National Security Forces in Uruzgan Province. This training will enable these forces to take on responsibility for security arrangements in the province over the next one to three years.
In addition to our work in Uruzgan, Australia also leads training at the Afghan National Army Artillery School in Kabul.
Australia’s training efforts are an important contribution to effecting a conditions-based transition to Afghan-led security across Afghanistan.
During the Meeting, NATO and ISAF Defence Ministers also discussed the long-term support that Afghanistan will need beyond the transition of security responsibility.
I also took the opportunity to discuss events in Libya with a number of my Defence Ministerial colleagues, including US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, UK Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Italian Defence Minister La Russa and French Defence Minister Longuet.
As well, on Afghanistan I met with Afghan Defence Minister Wardak and senior NATO and ISAF officials including NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis, ISAF Commander General David Petraeus, and NATO Senior Civilian Representative Ambassador Mark Sedwill.
Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan is in our national security interests. We have a responsibility together with the international community
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