The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Science and Personnel and Indigenous Health
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, today completed a visit to Afghanistan to meet with deployed members of the Australian Defence Force and staff from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).
Mr Snowdon visited Australian Defence Force personnel in Tarin Kot, and toured a Forward Operating Base, where members of the Australian Mentoring Taskforce live and work closely with Afghan National Army forces.
“This visit was an excellent opportunity to meet Australian troops on the ground in Uruzgan, and, on behalf of all Australians, I thanked them for work in training and mentoring the Afghan National Army and providing protection for the people of Uruzgan,” Mr Snowdon said.
“They continue to do an amazing job in difficult and dangerous conditions, and we are immensely proud of their efforts.”
During his visit to Afghanistan, Mr Snowdon visited Darwin-based members of 5RAR who are part of Australia’s Mentoring Taskforce – Two (MTF-2) at a patrol base in the Chora Valley in Uruzgan province.
At the patrol base, he attended a shura with local leaders, who thanked him for the fine work of the Australian soldiers.
The leaders also acknowledged the sacrifice of the Australian soldiers, and conveyed their sympathy at the impact of recent floods in Australia.
"I was most impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the soldiers I met. Their efforts are making a real difference to the local community."
The Minister also commended DSTO staff who are involved in supporting commanders with assessments of the mission in Afghanistan, including advanced work on countering the effects of improvised explosive devices.
Mr Snowdon praised the progress of the Afghan National Security Forces, and was impressed by the close working relationship between the Australian mentors and trainers and their Afghan partners.
“To come here and see the way that Australian and Afghan National Security Forces are working so closely together, it has really reinforced how important our work here is in developing their capabilities as they progress towards full responsibilities for providing security for the people of the province.”
Mr Snowdon also met with the Afghan Defence Chief of Staff, General Shir Mohammad Karimi, and Deputy Commander ISAF, Lieutenant General Bucknell to reaffirm Australia’s commitment to the ISAF mission inAfghanistan.
“The Afghan and ISAF leaders I have met all remain optimistic about progress in Afghanistan, and believe that Afghan and international efforts will continue to build on the steady progress of 2010,” Mr Snowdon said.
“They are also united in their praise for the efforts of the Australian Defence and civilian personnel deployed here.”
Mr Snowdon also met with UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr Staffan de Mistura, who thanked the Australian Government for its contribution to the important work being undertaken in Afghanistan.
"I applaud the excellent work of Australians and the Australian Government in enhancing security and contributing to coalition efforts," Mr Staffan de Mistura said.
Imagery will be available, please contact Defence Public Affairs for further information.
Alice Plate (Minister Snowdon) 0400 045 999
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664
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