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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