Afghanistan Troops Welcomed Home In Darwin

Australian troops who served in Afghanistan have been welcomed home at a ceremony in Darwin attended by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Shorten

In addition to speeches from Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, the troops were addressed by the Northern Territory Chief Minister, Adam Giles, and the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison.

Abbott said Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan had ended “not with victory, not with defeat, but with hope that Afghanistan will be a better country for our presence”.

He said: “We salute all the men and women who have served in a far country for a good cause. We mourn the 40 who did not return. We grieve with the more than 250 with serious injuries and we acknowledge the unseen wounds of thousands. You have done things that no-one should have to do.” [Read more…]


Majority Of Australian Troops In Afghanistan On Their Way Home

The majority of Australian Defence Force personnel in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, are on their way home, the government announced today.

Johnston

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Defence Minister Senator David Johnston held a joint press conference today to mark the departure. They said around 400 Defence personnel remain to advise and train the Afghan National Security Forces.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also paid tribute to the Australian troops: “A grateful nation should thank our service people. There’s been in excess of 20,000 Australian service people who’ve represented Australia’s interests bringing peace to Afghanistan. Tragically some 40 will never come home, and also 250 plus have received significant injuries. Our thoughts should be with them this Christmas.”

  • Listen to Abbott and Johnston (13m)

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Text of media release from the Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston

Afghanistan

Australian Defence Force completes mission in Uruzgan

The Australian Defence Force mission in Uruzgan has concluded and the majority of our people are on their way home. [Read more…]


Gillard Releases National Security Strategy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has released the government’s National Security Strategy.

In a speech at the Australian National University, Gillard said the strategy “highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade”.

Gillard

  • Listen to former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans introduce Gillard (5m)

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  • Download: Strong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia’s National Security (PDF)

Gillard said, “we are transitioning from one decade, the decade of 9/11, to a post 9/11 era where some risks and challenges endure and others are evolving rapidly.”

The National Security document says the key national security risks faced by Australia are:

  • Espionage and foreign interference
  • Instability in developing and fragile states
  • Malicious cyber activity
  • Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Serious and organised crime
  • State-based conflict or coercion significantly affecting Australia’s industries
  • Terrorism and violent extremism

Media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

A Strategy for Australia’s National Security

Australia’s first National Security Strategy highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade.

Complementing the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the National Security Strategy will ensure Australia takes advantage of the opportunities of the Asian Century whilst focussing national security efforts on the risks and challenges that come with change in the region. [Read more…]


Five Australian Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Three Australian soldiers have been killed by a rogue Afghan soldier in Afghanistan and two members of the SAS have died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash.

Details of the incidents have been announced by the Acting Chief of the ADF, Air Marshal Mark Binskin. The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has described this as “the darkest of days for Australia”.

Mark Binskin

The “green-on-blue” incident occurred at a base in southern Oruzgan province yesterday. Two other soldiers were injured in the attack.

The helicopter crash occurred during an “insertion” in Helmand province. The aircraft rolled over on landing.

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About 1500 Australian Defence Force troops are in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The casualties announced today bring Australia’s death toll to 38. Seven soldiers have now been killed in green-on-blue incidents.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that she has “made the judgement call” to come home early from the Pacific Islands forum in the Cook Islands. She said this is the nation’s worst day in Afghanistan and the worst loss of life since Vietnam.

Julia Gillard

Gillard insisted that the commitment in Afghanistan has a purpose and that “progress is being made”. She said: “We cannot allow even the most grievous of circumstances to alter our strategy… We went there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through.”

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Statement released by Department of Defence.

Three Australian soldiers killed, two wounded in insider attack

Three Australian soldiers have been killed and two wounded following an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan.

The attack occurred during the evening of 29 August, 2012 (Afghan time) inside the confines of the Patrol Base. [Read more…]


Gillard: Afghanistan Troops Will Be Brought Home During 2013-14

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has indicated an exit strategy for Australian troops in Afghanistan which could see most of them brought home during 2013-14.

Julia GillardIn a speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Gillard said a summit in Chicago next month would see progress on a withdrawal timetable.

“It’s likely that by the middle of next year, mid-2013, the fifth and final tranche of districts and provinces will have commenced transition,” she said.

Gillard continued to assert that the Afghanistan mission is in Australia’s national interest. She claimed “transition” is already happening.

Gillard said: “This is the vital business of the Chicago summit in May. To review our progress in transition – to map out how we intend to complete the handover of security responsibility to the Afghan Government. To ensure sustainment – to build the international commitment necessary to fund, train and support the Afghan National Security Forces after transition is complete. And to highlight our long-term support – to recommit to and define our continued contribution in the years after 2014.

“Today, around half of the population lives in areas where the Afghan National Security Forces have begun taking lead security responsibility. The next stage of transition – tranche three – will be announced soon. And it’s likely that by the middle of next year, mid-2013, the fifth and final tranche of districts and provinces will have commenced transition.”

  • Listen to Julia Gillard’s ASPI speech (31m)

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  • Listen to Gillard’s responses to questions (15m)

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Transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech to ASPI

Some of you here will remember that the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute met for the first time in late winter 2001 – less than a fortnight before the September 11 attacks on the United States.

One thing that did not change after September 11 was Australia’s need for the work of an Institute such as this. [Read more…]