Afghanistan — Australian mentor killed in action in insurgent fire-fight

An Aus­tralian sol­dier, oper­at­ing as a men­tor to the Afghan Nation­al Army dur­ing a part­nered patrol in the Deh Rawud region, has been killed in action dur­ing an intense fire-fight with Tal­iban insur­gents.

The sol­dier was con­duct­ing a dis­mount­ed patrol yes­ter­day morn­ing (24 August 2010 – Afghanistan time) in the “green zone” when they were fired on by a num­ber of insur­gents. The Aus­tralian sol­dier was killed in the engage­ment.

The soldier’s col­leagues moved him out of dan­ger and pro­vid­ed first aid. How­ev­er, his patrol mates were unable to sus­tain his life.

The patrol remained in con­tact with the Tal­iban insur­gents for almost three hours before with­draw­ing from the area. An ISAF AH-64 Apache heli­copter used its 30mm can­non while addi­tion­al sup­port was called from a pre­ci­sion-guid­ed weapon to pro­vide sup­port dur­ing the engage­ment.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Mar­shal Angus Hous­ton, said the deep­est sym­pa­thies and prayers of the Defence com­mu­ni­ty were with the soldier’s fam­i­ly.

“Their loved one was lost in the ser­vice of our nation, and we will bring him home and lay him to rest with dig­ni­ty and respect. And we will help this fam­i­ly as they grieve,” Air Chief Mar­shal Hous­ton said.

“This past month has been a try­ing time for the sol­diers of the Men­tor­ing Task Force. As they farewelled their col­leagues — Pri­vates Grant Kir­by and Tomas Dale from Tarin Kot yes­ter­day, news of the death of this sol­dier was com­ing through.

“All oper­a­tional deaths are trag­ic events and impact on our sol­diers. But they have a mis­sion and will press on, in hon­our of their fall­en mates and in the knowl­edge that their con­tri­bu­tion was for a wor­thy cause.

“This sol­dier was pro­vid­ing valu­able men­tor­ing and train­ing to sol­diers of the Afghan Nation­al Army’s 4th Brigade when the inci­dent occurred. He was mak­ing a real con­tri­bu­tion to the capa­bil­i­ty of the Afghan sol­diers as well as pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty and pro­tec­tion for the Afghan peo­ple.”

The soldier’s fam­i­ly have been advised and they have specif­i­cal­ly request­ed that his name is not released at this point.

As oper­a­tions in this region are ongo­ing, Defence is not able to dis­close fur­ther infor­ma­tion at this time as it could endan­ger the safe­ty of Aus­tralian and Afghan sol­diers.

21 Aus­tralian sol­diers have been killed in action since oper­a­tions in Afghanistan began. 149 sol­diers have been wound­ed in com­bat dur­ing this peri­od.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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