Afghanistan/Australia – Statement from the Minister for Defence

As the Acting CDF has just said, yesterday we lost two fine Australian soldiers.

They are the nineteenth and the twentieth of our people killed in Afghanistan.

Two other Australian soldiers were wounded in this incident.

Our thoughts and our sympathy are with the family, the friends, and the loved ones of Private Dale and Private Kirby at this terrible time. And our thoughts are with the wounded soldiers and their comrades, as they deal with the aftermath of this incident and with their families as they support them through this difficult period.

I want to assure the families, friends and colleagues of our wounded soldiers that they are receiving the very best of care and they will receive the very best of care through their recovery and their rehabilitation.

These soldiers are part of the First Mentoring Taskforce. The work they were doing, in the Baluchi Valley, building the capacity of the Afghan National Army to establish and maintain a secure and stable environment, is crucial for the future of Afghanistan and crucial in ensuring Afghanistan will not again become a safe-haven and training ground for terrorists.

This work is vital for Australia’s security and for the safety and security of all Australians. It is tough, very tough, and it is dangerous. Improvised Explosive Devices such as the one that took the lives of Privates Dale and Kirby and wounded our two other soldiers are awful weapons that kill indiscriminately, soldiers and civilians alike.

Our soldiers are very well trained and they have the very best protection we can provide, but the weapons and the tactics of the Taliban insurgency are vicious and they are insidious.

Our men and women in uniform willingly assume the risks, and face the hardships, involved in protecting their country and their community. For that they have our respect and our sincere thanks. Like all those who have given their lives in defence of their country, both these soldiers will always be remembered with gratitude and with honour.

I ask today that Australians remember that as well as fine soldiers, Private Dale and Private Kirby were also much¬-loved members of families that are dealing today with the very worst news any family can have. It is hard for the rest of us to comprehend the depth of grief that they will feel.

They do of course have the support of the Defence community at this very difficult time, and the sympathy of all of us in the Australian community. On behalf of the Government, I offer our very deepest condolences and sympathy to all those personally touched by today’s devastating news.

Media contacts:
Colin Campbell (John Faulkner): 02 6277 7800 or 0407 787 181
Defence Media Liaison: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

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

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