Afghanistan/Australia — Paper presented by the Minister for Defence on casualties, procedural issues etc.

We must remem­ber that tran­si­tion will be a process rather than a sin­gle event. It will take place at dif­fer­ent times in dis­tricts and in provinces only as secu­ri­ty cir­cum­stances per­mit. The pace of this tran­si­tion will depend on con­di­tions on the ground, in par­tic­u­lar the oper­a­tional readi­ness of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces. 

On 22 March Pres­i­dent Karzai announced the first provinces and dis­tricts to tran­si­tion to Afghan authority. 

These include the provinces of Bamyan (all dis­tricts), Pan­jshir (all dis­tricts), and Kab­ul (all dis­tricts except Suro­bi) and the dis­tricts of Mazar-e-Sharif (Balkh province), Her­at (Her­at province), Lashkar Gah (Hel­mand province) and Mehtar Lam (Lagh­man province). 

This first tranche of provinces and dis­tricts iden­ti­fied for tran­si­tion has been select­ed on the basis of an assess­ment that their secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment con­di­tions are suf­fi­cient to com­mence tran­si­tion. The deci­sion to com­mence tran­si­tion was made by the Afghan Gov­ern­ment based on the assess­ment and rec­om­men­da­tion of the Joint Afghan NATO Inte­qal Board. 

In these areas the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces have been assessed as capa­ble of tak­ing on addi­tion­al secu­ri­ty tasks with less assis­tance from ISAF

Progress in Uruz­gan

Tran­si­tion is what Aus­tralia is work­ing towards in Uruz­gan province with the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces and our part­ners in Com­bined Team-Uruz­gan, the Unit­ed States, New Zealand, Sin­ga­pore and Slovakia. 

There was nev­er an expec­ta­tion that Uruz­gan would be in the first tranche of dis­tricts and provinces to begin tran­si­tion. We believe the Uruz­gan tran­si­tion process can occur over the next three years, between 2012 and 2014. 

Over the past six months, the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces and Com­bined Team-Uruz­gan have expand­ed secu­ri­ty over areas pre­vi­ous­ly con­trolled by the Taliban. 

This has been made pos­si­ble in part through the trans­fer of sev­er­al patrol bases from ISAF or Afghan Nation­al Army con­trol to the Afghan Nation­al Police, which has in turn allowed the Afghan Nation­al Army to move into con­test­ed areas. The increas­ing­ly com­pe­tent Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces, with the sup­port of Com­bined Team-Uruz­gan, are cov­er­ing more and more ground, extend­ing the reach of the Afghan Gov­ern­ment through­out the province. 

Aus­tralian-men­tored Afghan forces are expand­ing the secu­ri­ty foot­print from the Tarin Kot bowl to the Mirabad Val­ley in the east, Deh Rawud in the west, and north through the Baluchi Val­ley into Chora. 

Com­bined Team-Uruzgan’s suc­cess has been broad­er than the mil­i­tary side. 

The civil­ian-led Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team, the con­duit for the major­i­ty of Australia’s con­tri­bu­tion to the civil­ian sta­bil­i­sa­tion efforts in Uruz­gan Province, is show­ing pos­i­tive signs. 

Aus­tralian Defence Force engi­neers, work­ing as part of the Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team, are assist­ing in the deliv­ery of vital infra­struc­ture projects, includ­ing Gov­ern­ment build­ings, hos­pi­tals, roads, bridges, schools and places of wor­ship. Our task now is to ensure that this progress in secu­ri­ty, devel­op­ment and gov­er­nance and the gains we have made are con­sol­i­dat­ed and not reversed. 

Team GlobDef

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