I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in expressing condolence to the family of Sergeant Todd Langley.
Sergeant Langley was a devoted family man. He was an exceptionally experienced and decorated soldier. He was 35 years of age and a member of the Sydney based 2nd Commando Regiment. He was on his fifth tour of Afghanistan, following two deployments to East Timor. He had been awarded two Commendations for Distinguished Service and a Unit Citation for Gallantry. He was an exemplary soldier and is described by his mates as 'a true and inspirational leader'.
In a separate incident during the same operation, a second member of the Special Operations Task Group sustained a serious gunshot wound. He is in a serious but stable condition now in a medical facility in Kandahar.
This has been a tough period for the 2nd Commando Regiment, a tough period for our Army, a tough period for the Australian Defence Force and a tough period for our nation. For the Commando Regiment, of course, it comes very soon after the tragic death of Sergeant Brett Wood.
As the Leader of the Opposition has referred to, we must be clear-sighted about our objective in Afghanistan. Our objective is to prevent Afghanistan, in particular the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
We will not be in Afghanistan forever, and we are on track to transition to Afghan-led responsibility by the end of 2014. We are making progress, and that progress has been reflected by the very early movement towards political discussions as recently made public by the then US Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates.
On a day like today, it is tragic blow and a terrible blow for the Langley family. It is a tragic blow and a terrible blow for our nation. Our condolences are with Sergeant Langley’s family, his friends and his mates. His contribution and his sacrifice will always be remembered with our age old phrase: Lest we forget.