Australia — Casualty in Afghanistan – Ministerial Statement

Thank you very much CDF.
Com­ing so soon after the deaths of Pri­vate Tomas Dale and Pri­vate Grant Kir­by late last week, this trag­ic news is anoth­er very heavy blow for the Defence com­mu­ni­ty and of course a dev­as­tat­ing one for the soldier’s fam­i­ly.

Our thoughts and our deep­est sym­pa­thies are with the soldier’s loved ones as they face dif­fi­cult days ahead. They have the sup­port of the whole of Defence and they have the sym­pa­thy of all Aus­tralians.

This is the fourth mem­ber of 6 RAR group deployed to Afghanistan in this rota­tion who has been lost in a mat­ter of weeks. Anoth­er much val­ued mem­ber of their bat­tal­ion, anoth­er mate.

As you have heard, as a result of this inci­dent, 21 Aus­tralian sol­diers have been killed in Afghanistan.

I’m sure this loss, com­ing so quick­ly after recent loss­es will cause some to ques­tion why we are in Afghanistan. Let me say, I believe our work there is absolute­ly vital.

This sol­dier and his fel­low sol­diers have been doing the dif­fi­cult but essen­tial work of train­ing and men­tor­ing the Afghan Nation­al Army to build the capac­i­ty of the ANA to take on respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty and safe­ty in Uruz­gan Province in Afghanistan.

After decades of civ­il war and failed gov­er­nance, the peo­ple of Afghanistan need our help, and need the help of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, to devel­op the capa­bil­i­ty to build a secure future.

Although our sol­diers in Afghanistan face dan­ger and bear hard­ship every day they are there to pur­sue their mis­sion, their mis­sion is crit­i­cal to the fight against inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism.

In our mod­ern world, more inter­con­nect­ed than ever before, threats to the secu­ri­ty of Aus­tralia and the safe­ty of Aus­tralians are not defeat­ed by dis­tance, and the work of pro­tect­ing our com­mu­ni­ty must include pre­vent­ing Afghanistan from becom­ing fer­tile ground for ter­ror­ism.

I know that as they come to terms with this soldier’s death, his mates in 6 RAR will con­tin­ue to do this extra­or­di­nar­i­ly tough job with the courage and pro­fes­sion­al­ism that is the hall­mark of the Aus­tralian Army, that is the hall­mark of the ADF.

We have lost a fine and ded­i­cat­ed sol­dier. He was also, and more impor­tant­ly, a much-loved young man whose death is going to leave a ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­ble gap in the lives of those around him.

Much too often I have had to stand here and announce bad news and offer con­do­lences to griev­ing defence fam­i­lies.

But let me assure you — and of course, the fam­i­lies of fall­en sol­diers – our Dig­gers in Afghanistan have told me again and again that they are immense­ly proud of the role they play with the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in ensur­ing a safer future for that coun­try, and of course for Aus­tralia and Aus­tralians.

This young sol­dier was a part of that effort. On behalf of the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment, I offer the very deep­est con­do­lences to those that have been per­son­al­ly touched by today’s loss.

Media con­tacts:
Col­in Camp­bell (John Faulkn­er): 02 6277 7600 or 0407 787 181

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

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