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

It has already been a dif­fi­cult year for the ADF. This year, Aus­tralia has lost two more brave soldiers. 

Cor­po­ral Richard Atkin­son was killed in an impro­vised explo­sive device strike on 2 Feb­ru­ary 2011. 

Sap­per Jamie Lar­combe died as a result of gun­shot wounds sus­tained dur­ing an engage­ment with insur­gents on 19 February. 

Our thoughts are with the fam­i­lies, friends and col­leagues of Cor­po­ral Atkin­son and Sap­per Lar­combe, as they to come to terms with their great loss. These sol­diers served their coun­try well and will always be remembered. 

We have lost 23 fine Aus­tralian sol­diers in Afghanistan. 

As well, four Aus­tralian sol­diers have been wound­ed in Afghanistan this year, with 168 ADF per­son­nel wound­ed in action since 2002. Our thoughts are also with our wound­ed and their families. 

The sac­ri­fice our men and women are mak­ing is great, as is the appre­ci­a­tion of our nation and our people. 

Our forces face a resilient insur­gency, who, in com­ing months, will seek to re-take ground. 

In this envi­ron­ment, we must steel our­selves for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of fur­ther casualties. 

Despite these trag­ic loss­es and the chal­lenges ahead, Aus­tralia remains resolute. 


We are see­ing progress in Afghanistan. 

This progress is frag­ile. The Tal­iban know they need to regain momen­tum, so we can expect them to fight back. 

The com­ing fight­ing sea­son will be tough. As we pre­pare for it we are also mind­ful of the civil­ian toll of the war. 

We can expect high-pro­file attacks by Afghan insur­gents to con­tin­ue and to increase, like the 21 Feb­ru­ary sui­cide attack in Kun­duz province that killed around 30 Afghans and wound­ed 36 others. 

An increas­ing num­ber of civil­ian casu­al­ties are caused by insur­gent attacks and the delib­er­ate tar­get­ing of civil­ians or tac­tics which result in civil­ian casualties. 

These attacks are aimed at under­min­ing Afghan and inter­na­tion­al con­fi­dence in the progress that is being made on secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment and on transition. 

Tran­si­tion has com­menced with Pres­i­dent Karzai’s announce­ment on 22 March of the first provinces and dis­tricts to tran­si­tion to Afghan authority. 

Tran­si­tion must be con­di­tions based and irre­versible. Tran­si­tion must not be a sig­nal to pre­ma­ture withdrawal. 

The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty must con­tin­ue to pro­vide a long term com­mit­ment to Afghanistan. 

That is why Aus­tralia has made clear it expects to main­tain a pres­ence in Afghanistan after our cur­rent train­ing mis­sion has con­clud­ed, either in fur­ther spe­cialised train­ing, over­watch or through civil­ian capac­i­ty build­ing and devel­op­ment assistance. 

Aus­tralia is con­fi­dent that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has the right strat­e­gy for putting Afghanistan in a posi­tion to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty mat­ters and pre­vent it from again being a haven for inter­na­tion­al terrorists. 

This mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal strat­e­gy and the required resources are now, at long last, in place and deliv­er­ing hard won progress. We see this in Uruz­gan as we see it else­where in Afghanistan. 

Aus­tralia stands firm in its com­mit­ment to Afghanistan. 

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

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