Afghanistan/Australien — Statement from the Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner

As the Chief of the Defence Force has informed you, our nation today lost three coura­geous sol­diers when a heli­copter went down in north­ern Kan­da­har. Sev­en of their col­leagues have been wound­ed, some of them very seri­ous­ly. One oth­er sol­dier has been killed and anoth­er is wound­ed.

This is a trag­ic day for Aus­tralia and the Aus­tralian Defence Force, and an absolute­ly dev­as­tat­ing day for the fam­i­lies and friends of these brave young men.

The fif­teen onboard the heli­copter, includ­ing ten Aus­tralians, were en route to an oper­a­tion. Going out, as they do, day after day, putting their lives at risk, putting their lives on the line for their coun­try.

This most dan­ger­ous the­atre of oper­a­tions has claimed five Aus­tralian lives in the past two weeks. It is with very great sad­ness that we are here today to inform you of these lat­est casu­al­ties.

On behalf of the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment, I express the deep­est con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies who have lost their loved ones today.

At this moment of grief and grat­i­tude for the sac­ri­fice made by these brave young men, our thoughts and our pro­found sym­pa­thies are with their fam­i­lies, friends and com­rades. This is a time of unthink­able loss for them. These fine young Aus­tralian sol­diers were also sons, broth­ers, fathers and friends.

Our thoughts are also with the wound­ed sol­diers and their fam­i­lies at this time of very great anx­i­ety and appre­hen­sion for them.

I want those fam­i­lies to know that their loved ones are receiv­ing the best pos­si­ble med­ical care.

I ask all Aus­tralians to today take time to think of these sol­diers, their fam­i­lies and all mem­bers of our Defence Force who are serv­ing over­seas.

Three brave young men died today serv­ing our nation.

Six­teen Aus­tralian sol­diers have now been killed in Afghanistan fight­ing along­side our coali­tion part­ners to improve con­di­tions in that coun­try.

While our mis­sion in Afghanistan is dif­fi­cult, it is vital for inter­na­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty and for the secu­ri­ty of Aus­tralia. Our men and women in uni­form con­tin­ue to do out­stand­ing work in this demand­ing and dan­ger­ous envi­ron­ment. They deserve our very high­est praise. They deserve our grat­i­tude. I ask you to respect the pri­va­cy of the fam­i­lies involved who need time to come to terms with their loss. Oper­a­tions also remain ongo­ing. We will share more infor­ma­tion when we can. I assure you that the com­mit­ment, ded­i­ca­tion and sac­ri­fice of these sol­diers will not be for­got­ten.

Media con­tact:
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