Paper presented by Stephen Smith MP Minister for Defence to the Australian Defence Magazine Congress
*CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY*
Thank you Katherine Ziesing, Editor, Australian Defence Magazine, for your warm welcome.
I acknowledge and thank the sponsors of this event, BAE Systems and the State Government of Victoria.
I acknowledge my Ministerial colleague Dr Mike Kelly, the Minister for Defence Materiel.
I also acknowledge the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Dennis Richardson, the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley and the Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation, Warren King.
Representatives of Defence Industry, Australian Defence Force personnel, Defence and Defence Materiel Organisation officials, ladies and gentlemen.
This is my third address to the Australian Defence Magazine Congress.
In my previous two addresses I have remarked on the important role the Australian Defence Magazine plays in fostering commentary and analysis on defence policy, major projects and equipment acquisitions.
The Australian Defence Magazine Congress itself continues to provide an important forum for exchanging information and ideas about Defence and the Australian Defence Force.
Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief
It has once again been a busy period for members of the Australian Defence Force over the holiday or these days so called disaster season, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Australia and overseas.
I again compliment and thank all ADF members for their efforts in this respect.
In Fiji and Samoa, in December 2012 the Australian Defence Force delivered essential emergency supplies after Cyclone Evan destroyed houses and food crops. There was severe flooding and roads, bridges and tourist areas were damaged.
In Fiji, two Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster aircraft delivered approximately 40 tonnes of emergency supplies including tarpaulins, shelter kits, blankets, water containers and hygiene kits to support the shelter and sanitation needs for around 720 families.
In Samoa, Air Force C-17A Globemaster and C-130J Hercules aircraft delivered approximately 70 tonnes of emergency supplies including tarpaulins for 430 families, blankets for 600 people and water containers and purification tablets for 4000 families.
Following its flight to Samoa, the C-130J then relocated to Fiji and flew shuttles between Nadi and the outlying village of Labasa carrying passengers and relief supplies.
Just last week the ADF deployed an Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft to the South West Pacific for Operation Solomon Island Assist. The aircraft conducted aerial reconnaissance to assist with damage assessments of the earthquake and tsunami affected Santa Cruz Island.
In Australia, the Australian Defence Force has again been hard at work supporting local communities in the wake of natural disasters in Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
In Tasmania, Regular and Reserve, Army and Air Force personnel assisted the Tasmanian emergency services during the bushfire events in January.
On 11 January, the Air Force provided C-17A airlift of power generators from RAAF Base Amberley to Hobart.
This equipment supported the restoration of electricity to Tasmanian residents in fire affected areas.
Defence bases also hosted civilian aircraft associated with bushfire events and provided accommodation and meals, including at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, RAAF Base Wagga and Anglesea Barracks, Hobart.
During the recent floods in Queensland, the Australian Defence Force established Joint Task Force 637 Operation Queensland Flood Assist II, under the Command of Brigadier Greg Bilton.
At the core of the Joint Task Force was an Emergency Support Force including specialist construction trades, combat engineers and a preventative health team.
In Bundaberg, scene of significant flooding, the total Defence commitment to the flood relief effort was approximately 350 personnel.
Defence personnel assisted the local authorities in search and rescue, the initial restoration of utilities and essential services, route clearance, initial recovery support and health assessments.
Defence also provided an environmental health team to analyse the condition of local water supplies.
Australian Army engineers constructed a temporary span over a damaged section of the Don Tallon Bridge in Bundaberg. The bridge was significantly damaged during the floods impacting a vital route for community and heavy vehicle movement.
Two Air Force bulk fuel tankers, with 30,000 litres and 15,000 litres capacity, and personnel, worked with an Army Petroleum Operations Platoon to refuel aircraft supporting the flood relief effort at Bundaberg.
The Air Force also deployed C-130J and C-17A aircraft in support of flood assistance activities.
The Air Force flew 19 sorties in support of Operation Queensland Flood Assist II carrying approximately 77 tonnes of support equipment.
The C-130Js and C-17A aircraft transported emergency stores and equipment (including aviation fuel) into Bundaberg to support the wider relief effort.
Two Air Force C130J Hercules aircraft assisted in the evacuation of 91 patients from the Bundaberg Hospital to Brisbane.
King Air aircraft from the Air Force also provided logistics support transporting personnel and equipment in support of the Joint Task Force.
Four Army Black Hawk helicopters from 16th Aviation Brigade in Townsville operated from Bundaberg supporting the flood relief efforts providing evacuation assistance, damage assessment and emergency recovery efforts in the Bundaberg and Maryborough area.
The Blackhawk helicopters conducted 25 winch rescues, extracted around 260 people from flood affected areas, inserted recovery teams and provided logistics support delivering water, food, medical supplies and cooking equipment throughout the flood affected areas.
As the emergency abated the Blackhawks were replaced by four Army Kiowa helicopters.
The Kiowas provided assistance in the resupply of food to isolated rural locations, and conducted reconnaissance missions to assess road conditions and support to the Environmental Protection Agency in its assessment of livestock losses and locations.
As the flood emergency moved from search and rescue and immediate response to a recovery phase, the Joint Task Force continued to support requests for flood assistance in the Bundaberg region and surrounding areas with personnel, specialised equipment and aviation support.
As flood-affected Queensland communities move from emergency relief to the rebuilding phase, Defence has commenced draw down its forces to allow local government and contractors to begin the task of long term recovery.
Naval, Army and Air Force Bases and establishments were also placed on standby to support State and Commonwealth requests for assistance during bushfire emergency.
In Western Australian on the weekend, RAAF Base Pearce provided access to its airfield for civil aircraft to conduct fire operations and supplied water to civilian fixed and rotary wing firebombers.
Over the holiday period, Defence was also ready, willing and able to respond to greater contingencies if necessary.
The heavy amphibious lift ship HMAS Tobruk and the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield were at 48 hours notice to move to be able to respond to emergencies both domestically and regionally.
These efforts demonstrate the Australian Defence Force’s skills and capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
These humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities stand with the great work Defence does in peacekeeping and in combat and warlike operations.
Challenges for Defence in the year ahead
Today I outline some of the challenges that the Australian Defence Force and Defence more generally will face in the year ahead.
- Transition in Afghanistan and the Solomons following the draw down from East Timor – in other words, our troops coming home after more than a decade of overseas operations;
- Caring for our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – looking after our people in the aftermath of these operations;
- Delivering the 2013 Defence White Paper in the second quarter of this year;
- Implementation of our ongoing reform program, including cultural reform and reform in procurement and capability; and
- Progression of a number of major new capabilities, including future submarines, air combat capability and a range of significant shipbuilding projects.
Australia has suffered 39 fatalities in Afghanistan, with seven fatalities during 2012. The last fatality was Corporal Scott Smith on 21 October 2012.
Overall, Australia has suffered 249 wounded in Afghanistan since 2001, with 33 wounded in 2012. Three ADF personnel have been wounded in 2013.
Transition in Afghanistan
There were a number of significant developments in Afghanistan over our summer.
Across Afghanistan, progress on the transition to Afghan-led security responsibility continues.
On 31 December 2012, President Karzai announced the fourth tranche of Districts and Provinces to undergo transition.
This will see Afghan security forces take lead responsibility for security for 87 per cent of the Afghan population and for 23 of the 34 Afghan Provinces.
During President Karzai’s visit to Washington in early January this year, President Obama welcomed President Karzai’s desire to bring forward from mid-2013 to the northern spring the Chicago Summit milestone when the ANSF assume the operational lead across all of Afghanistan and ISAF moves into an advisor-support role.
This milestone will see the announcement of the fifth and final tranche of transition, which would commence implementation in the northern summer, subject to final Afghan and NATO/ISAF approval.
In his Annual Report for 2012 published on 31 January this year, NATO Secretary General Rasmussen made a number of important observations about the continuing development of the capability and capacity of the Afghan security forces.
As transition proceeds, Afghanistan will remain difficult and dangerous.
There will be challenges and setbacks ahead. The Taliban will target Afghan security forces as they take responsibility for the security of their country.
The IED roadside bomb threat will continue.
The Taliban will continue to focus on high profile propaganda motivated attacks, together with claiming responsibility for any insider attacks on ISAF forces. It is essential that Defence and Industry continue working together to develop innovative methods to counter this threat both in and after Afghanistan.
I acknowledge the hard work, commitment and achievements of the Commander of ISAF forces, General John Allen.
General Allen has been a steadfast ally and supporter of Australian forces in Afghanistan. Australia looks forward to continuing our close working relationship with him in his proposed new role as Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Australia now looks forward to working closely with General Joseph Dunford as the new Commander of ISAF.
Australia supports an Afghan-led reconciliation process, recognising that conflict in Afghanistan will not be ended by military force alone.
Australia welcomes Afghanistan and Pakistan’s recent efforts to work together to progress reconciliation.
In particular, I welcome the recent trilateral meeting held in the United Kingdom earlier this week between Afghanistan President Karzai, Pakistan President Zardari, and British Prime Minister Cameron to discuss the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. The Chair of the Afghan High Peace Council Rabbani also attended the meeting.
All three leaders committed to take all necessary measures to achieve a peace settlement over the next six months. They affirmed their support for opening an office in Doha for the purpose of negotiations between the Taliban and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan as part of an Afghan-led peace process.
These talks will necessarily be long, complex and inevitably subject to setbacks, but efforts at such talks must continue.
In October last year, I advised that the ADF had officially assumed the leadership of Combined Team – Uruzgan (CT?U) and responsibility for ISAF operations in Uruzgan Province.
CT-U was established, following the withdrawal of the Dutch in August 2010, under United States command and consisting of Australian, Singaporean, Slovakian and US personnel. The United States had the leadership of CT-U from August 2010 to October 2012.
Leadership of the CT-U is part of the transition process through which security responsibility will be transferred from ISAF to the ANSF and will help ensure that transition in Uruzgan is effected in a seamless way.
Australia has been working on transition with our CT-U partners – the United States, Singapore and Slovakia.
The ADF assumed responsibility from former CT-U member Slovakia for the security at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot (MNB-TK) in October last year.
I thank Slovakia for its commitment and cooperation with Australia in Uruzgan.
On 8 February, Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng announced that the Singapore Armed Forces will conclude its deployment in Afghanistan by June this year in line with the transition of security to the ANA 4th Brigade.
Since 2007, Singapore has deployed over 470 servicemen and women to Afghanistan to support the multinational reconstruction and stabilisation efforts in the region as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Singapore was an original member of the CT-U when it assumed command of Uruzgan in 2010.
In CT-U, Singaporean personnel have contributed to the force protection of Australian personnel through their contributions to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, imagery analysis and counter indirect fire.
They have also provided medical and surgical teams and military institutional trainers both in Uruzgan and Kabul.
I thank Singapore for its commitment and for its partnership in Afghanistan.
In November last year, I advised that all four Infantry Kandaks of the Afghan National Army (ANA) 4th Brigade are now operating independently without advisers in Uruzgan Province.
The commencement of independent operations by the 4th Brigade Infantry Kandaks is a significant step in the process of transition to Afghan-led security responsibility in Uruzgan and confirms that transition is on track in Uruzgan Province.
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.
In early October 2012, the 3rd Infantry Kandak of the 4th Brigade commenced operations independently without advisers.
The 1st and 6th Infantry Kandaks commenced independent operations early in November and the final 2nd Infantry Kandak commenced independent operations on 15 November 2012.
With the commencement of independent operations by the four Infantry Kandaks, the ADF transferred control of joint Forward Operating Bases and Patrol Bases in Uruzgan Province to the 4th Brigade.
Australian troops no longer operate from Forward Operating Bases or Patrol Bases in Uruzgan Province and have consolidated their presence at the Multi-National Base Tarin Kot.
The ADF Task Group has shifted emphasis from partnering and mentoring at Kandak level to advising at Headquarters 4th Brigade level and at the Afghan Operational Coordination Centre – Provincial in Uruzgan.
Independent operations for the 4th Brigade Infantry Kandaks do not mean the end of a role for the ADF in Uruzgan.
The ADF will continue to advise the two combat support and combat service support (logistics) Kandaks of the 4th Brigade.The ADF task group will remain combat ready to assist Afghan Forces should the need arise and the Special Operations Task Group continues to conduct partnered combat operations to disrupt the insurgency.
Only weeks after the end of joint patrols, the 4th Brigade launched a major three-week operation in Uruzgan Province targeting insurgents and capturing weapons caches.
This operation was the final 205 Corp operation designed to prepare Afghan security forces to operate independently before the 2012 winter.
Based on the most recent advice and assessment, Uruzgan is now expected to fully transition to Afghan-led security responsibility by the end of this year.
I also take this opportunity to note the appointment of Colonel Rasoul Khan Kandahari as the new 4/205th Brigade Commander and Sher Bahadur Shah (known as ‘Sher Padshah’) as the new Deputy Governor of Uruzgan.
Transition - Redeployment
As transition proceeds, there will be changes in the composition of the ADF commitment in Afghanistan.
Over the past few years, Australia has had approximately 1550 personnel in Afghanistan.
With the shift in focus from training and mentoring to advising and supporting, the 680 strong 3RAR Task Group was replaced by the 330 strong 7RAR Task Group in November last year.
Similarly, with the commencement of independent operations by the Infantry Kandaks of the ANA 4th Brigade, the 16 ASLAV vehicles which were used to provide firepower and fire support to patrols conducted by ADF personnel are no longer required. These vehicles are now in the process of being returned to Australia.
The overall number of ADF personnel will not substantially decrease until towards the end of 2013, as additional personnel are deployed temporarily to support the transition and redeployment effort.
In October last year, 65 ADF personnel deployed to Uruzgan to assume responsibility for security at Multinational Base – Tarin Kot (MNB-TK) following the departure of the Slovak Force Protection Platoon which had provided security at MNB-TK since the formation of CT-U in August 2010.
An initial ADF Transition Redeployment Planning Team (TRPT) of around 20 personnel deployed to the Middle East last year to assist with planning for the redeployment of ADF troops and equipment, and the disposal of ADF infrastructure.
Additional redeployment personnel were deployed in December 2012 to support the task with the bulk of the redeployment personnel scheduled to be deployed in March and June of this year.
Transition - Infrastructure
The ADF has developed an extensive infrastructure footprint within Afghanistan to support its mission over the last 10 years ranging from accommodation buildings to utilities such as water treatment plants.
Much of the ADF’s infrastructure is relocatable and work is underway to assess the options for return to Australia or remaining within Afghanistan to support the ANSF or Australia’s post 2014 posture.
All ADF sites are to be remediated to ensure the safety of the site for future Afghan use and its environmental cleanliness. A specialist environmental officer will be deployed to ensure all disposal and infrastructure remediation work does not create an environmental hazard for Afghanistan.
As required by formal ISAF directions, any infrastructure gifted to the ANSF must be sustainable by the ANSF. Australia is ensuring in its case that this direction is followed.
There have been a number of Patrol Bases gifted to the ANA, most recently Patrol Base Wali and Patrol Base Sorkh Bed. In achieving this, the ADF followed the ISAF requirements for sustainable equipment and environmental standards as well as Australian Government and ADF guidelines for the gifting of public property.
Where the ANSF determine they do not require a Patrol Base or Combat Outpost and it is closed, the site is remediated and all infrastructure and equipment removed. The robust environmental plan is being used to ensure all sites are remediated to a high standard and that all demolished infrastructure is removed and disposed of appropriately.
One Forward Operating Base – FOB Hadrian – is being dismantled. Australian Mentoring Teams worked out of FOB Hadrian from 2010 training and patrolling with the 1st Kandak of the 4th Brigade, until it achieved operational independence in November 2012. As Afghan forces already operate from nearby Patrol Base Tycz, FOB Hadrian is no longer required.
The task of dismantling the base is the responsibility of CT-U, which includes Australian engineers from the 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Task Group (7 RAR TG). Deconstruction commenced in December 2012 and is expected to be complete by mid 2013.
Transition - Equipment
Within Afghanistan, the ADF has equipment located in Uruzgan, Kandahar and Kabul. It also has equipment at its logistics hub in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In Uruzgan, ADF equipment includes: 1,300 armoured accommodation modules, 600 shipping containers, and 275 vehicles.
A variety of options for the redeployment of equipment, including return to Australia, are being considered. Equipment may also be disposed of through a number of methods such as gifting, sale or destruction.
Significant work is being undertaken to ensure that the disposal options meet all Australian Government and ISAF requirements. Gifting to the ANSF will occur only for items that the ANSF has the capability and the funding to sustain into the future.
Regard for environmental concerns is high in planning considerations. The ADF will work closely with Biosecurity Australia to ensure all quarantine requirements are met before material is returned to Australia.
Equipment will be returned to Australia as it becomes available within theatre and opportunities for transportation arise. Material that is damaged, cannot be cleaned satisfactorily or has reached its life of type, will be appropriately disposed of.
Most equipment will be returned to Australia using a combination of air and sea assets. Brisbane is the agreed point of re-entry to Australia and from there equipment will either be sent to contractors for maintenance and reconstitution or returned directly to Defence inventory.
Post-2014 Transition Period
In his farewell call to me on Friday 8 February, outgoing US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that he looked forward to Australia and the United States continuing to work closely together in Afghanistan during transition and in the post-2014 period.
Secretary Panetta also looked forward to the ongoing strength of the Australia-United States Alliance and our continued enhanced close practical cooperation particularly in the context of the new fiscal reality of tight budgets and fiscal constraints.
Secretary Panetta is retiring after a distinguished public service career spanning almost 50 years.
He particularly thanked Australia for our contribution in Afghanistan.
As transition and redeployment proceeds, we will need in conjunction with our NATO/IASF colleagues to give careful thought to our role in 2014 and the post 2014 period.
We are about to start the conversation with NATO, with ISAF, and importantly with the United States about our role in 2014 and the post transition 2014 period.
It is no secret, as NATO Secretary General Rasmussen has himself said, in the first instance, we need to get precision from the United States about what the United States sees as the scale of its transition draw down, and its post-2014 transition proposals.
What the United States and Afghanistan agree about the United States presence in Afghanistan post 2014 transition, and what role any United States forces left behind will play, is the starting point.
Once that is clearer, then Australia and other NATO/ISAF countries will be able to make a judgement about what role, if any, others, including Australia, might play.
President Obama may well make some remarks about the proposed United States post 2014 transition role in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, Washington time, Wednesday afternoon Canberra time.
Australia’s Post-2014 mission
Australia is committed to support Afghanistan through to transition in December 2014 and beyond.
Australia demonstrated this commitment to the people of Afghanistan and the international community at the Chicago Summit, with the signing of the Long-Term Comprehensive Partnership between Australia and Afghanistan.
The Comprehensive Long-Term Partnership demonstrates that Australia is committed to supporting Afghanistan beyond 2014, through cooperation in the areas of security, trade and development, and building the capacity of Afghanistan’s national institutions.
Australia is not alone in its long-term commitment to Afghanistan.
The United States has signed a long term Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan. A number of our ISAF partners, including the United Kingdom, France and Italy, as well as India and NATO itself have also signed similar Agreements.
Beyond the completion of Afghanistan-wide transition at the end of 2014, Australia is prepared to maintain an ADF presence in Afghanistan, in recognition that Australia has a vital national interest in supporting Afghanistan’s stability and security after transition.
In the post-2014 transition period, Australia is prepared to see the ADF continue to support the development of the ANSF through the provision of training and advisory support, including at the Afghan National Army (ANA) Officer Academy in Kabul with our British and New Zealand colleagues.
We will also consider a Special Forces contribution, under an appropriate mandate.
As well, Australia will contribute US$100 million annually for three years from 2015 as part of international efforts to sustain and support the ANSF beyond transition. Our commitment to ANSF funding reflects our enduring interest in Afghanistan’s long term security and stability.
These commitments send a strong signal to the people of Afghanistan, the Taliban and the region that the international community will not walk away from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
Post Transition: our troops coming home
The 2013 White Paper will address the strategic and practical implications of the Australian Defence Force’s operational drawdown from Afghanistan, East Timor and Solomon Islands.
This includes the implications for our strategic environment and posture and also for Defence itself.
We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the post Vietnam era, which saw the absence of strategic planning about the impact the withdrawal from Vietnam would have on the ADF, a reduction in military numbers and the shunning of and the failure to care for our returning Vietnam veterans.
As well, in the context of these drawdowns, we will need to pay particular attention to recruitment and retention rates.
There has been a recent claim that the Special Forces and Commandos are currently experiencing high separation rates.
This is not the case.
The Chief of Army and the Commander Special Forces Australia advise that the separation of members from Special Forces and Commandos is at an historical low.
The White Paper will address how the Australian Defence Force adjusts from a high operational posture to a focus on our own force posture and our own backyard.
Support to our Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
With the challenge of transition will come the challenge of making sure we look after our returning service men and women.
The care of wounded, injured and ill veterans should rightly be a high priority for the Government and the Australian community.
Veteran care will become an increasingly important focus of our time in Afghanistan.
As the Prime Minister said in her 31 October Statement to the House on Afghanistan: “The next decade will see more young Australian combat veterans live in our community than since the 1970s.”
At the time the Prime Minister said that this will “demand changes in the way the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs care for service personnel and veterans”.
I am pleased to say that these changes are being made.
On Tuesday last week, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Science and Personnel and I attended the signing by the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs of a Memorandum of Understanding for the Cooperative Delivery of Care and Support to Eligible Persons.
The MOU is aimed at better coordinating the delivery of care and support services between Defence and Veterans’ Affairs.
The MOU sets out the key principles which will govern the cooperative delivery of care and support and establishes governance arrangements designed to ensure that these support arrangements remain effective in an ongoing way.
The MOU also introduces the concept of the ‘Support Continuum’, the structure of systems that extends across both Defence and Veterans’ Affairs to deliver the seamless care and support our servicemen and women, and their dependants, deserve.
Put simply, it is to stop our wounded, injured and ill veterans from falling between the cracks in the system.
All Australian Defence Force personnel will benefit from stronger ties between Defence and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, with services and support tailored to better meet the needs of members at any point during or after their Defence career.
The new MOU builds on the Support for Wounded, Injured or Ill program, also designed to make sure that veterans do not fall through gaps between Defence and Veterans’ Affairs.
The Simpson Assistance Program provides services to support the needs of severely wounded, injured or ill individuals and their families.
The Chief of Army’s Wounded, Injured or Ill Digger Forum provides an important opportunity for Defence and Veterans’ Affairs to understand the needs and requirements of wounded veterans and their families.
Defence’s general health services also support care for our Australian Defence Force personnel.
Today, my colleague the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon and I announce the successful transfer of all Defence health services from Defence to Medibank Health Solutions.
The Government, in conjunction with Defence and Medibank Health Solutions, is committed to providing Australian Defence Force members with a world class and high quality health system.
In June 2012, Defence signed a $1.3 billion contract with Medibank Health Solutions to provide health care services to the Australian Defence Force.
This contract will deliver a comprehensive suite of five health services to Australian Defence Force personnel.
Four of these services were transferred to Medibank Health Solutions late last year:
- On base services, delivered through a national contracted health professional workforce, which was transitioned in November last year;
- Pathology services, via a national provider network, which was transitioned in September last year;
- Imaging and Radiology services, also through a national provider network, which was transitioned in September last year; and
- A Health Hotline Service, delivered through Medibank Health Solutions’ world class tele-health hotline service, which was transitioned in October last year.
Today, the successful transfer of the fifth service, off base services provided through a national network of specialist and allied health care providers, sees the full suite of off-base specialist, allied and diagnostic health services available.
In addition to Government health care, private organisations have an important role to play as well.
Everyone will be familiar with the work of the RSL and Legacy, which have been supporting veterans for almost a century.
New organisations such as “Soldier On” are also playing a role.
“Soldier On” is a private foundation set up by two young former soldiers to provide support to Australian service men and women who have suffered either physical or psychological wounds in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The SAS Trust, Commando Welfare Trust, and the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust are helping provide for the families and children of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
These trusts have a particular f