Australia — Mission overview about Afghanistan

Our mil­i­tary strat­e­gy and effort alone will not achieve our mis­sion in Afghanistan. We must con­tin­ue to sup­port the polit­i­cal strategy. 

Aus­tralia strong­ly sup­ports Afghan-led rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and rein­te­gra­tion efforts where insur­gents are encour­aged to lay down their weapons, renounce ter­ror­ism and abide by the Afghan constitution. 

We are see­ing pos­i­tive signs in Uruzgan. 

On 27 March, Gov­er­nor Shirzad host­ed del­e­gates of the Afghan Peace and Rein­te­gra­tion Shu­ra, draw­ing cit­i­zens from the dis­tricts of Tarin Kot, Cho­ra, Deh Rawud, Shahid‑e Has­sas, Khas Uruz­gan and Giz­ab, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Kabul. 

At the con­clu­sion of the Shu­ra, 45 for­mer insur­gents pre­sent­ed them­selves to Gov­er­nor Shirzad as rein­te­gra­tion can­di­dates. They are now work­ing with gov­ern­ment and ISAF agen­cies to rein­te­grate back into their com­mu­ni­ties and par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­ni­ty recov­ery programs. 

We have also seen some progress at the nation­al level. 

On 16 April a high lev­el del­e­ga­tion from Pak­istan, includ­ing Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Gilani, Chief of Army Staff Kayani and the Head of the Intel­li­gence Ser­vice Pasha , vis­it­ed Kab­ul to meet their Afghan counterparts. 

For the first time the com­bined civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship of Pak­istan sat down with their Afghan col­leagues to dis­cuss polit­i­cal set­tle­ment in Afghanistan and the role of Afghanistan’s neigh­bours in sup­port­ing this process. 

While I do not over­state the progress that has been made, this is an impor­tant step forward. 

The solu­tion in Afghanistan can not be pure­ly a mil­i­tary one, it must involve a polit­i­cal set­tle­ment with the sup­port of Afghanistan’s neighbours. 

Sup­port for our troops

This week’s Bud­get showed that total fund­ing of $1.2 bil­lion is com­mit­ted to oper­a­tions in Afghanistan and the wider Mid­dle East for the Finan­cial Year 2011-12. 

As well, the Gov­ern­ment is con­tin­u­ing its invest­ment in the pack­age of enhanced force pro­tec­tion capa­bil­i­ties for our troops in Afghanistan. 

Over the peri­od 2009-10 to 2012–13, $1.6 bil­lion will be invest­ed for these enhanced mea­sures for force protection. 

This includes $480 mil­lion of expen­di­ture in 2011-12. 

Our forces in Afghanistan are per­form­ing extreme­ly well in dan­ger­ous cir­cum­stances on a dai­ly basis and their sup­port and pro­tec­tion is, right­ly, our high­est priority. 

Dur­ing my recent vis­it, ADF Com­man­ders in Uruz­gan report­ed that the Counter Rock­et Artillery and Mor­tar (C‑RAM) Sense and Warn sys­tem is work­ing well. The C‑RAM pro­vides vital warn­ing of impend­ing rock­et attacks and mor­tar attacks, pro­vid­ing pre­cious sec­onds for our peo­ple to take cov­er, rather than being exposed in the open. 

This fol­lows on from the Force Pro­tec­tion Review effect­ed by my pre­de­ces­sor Min­is­ter Faulkn­er and under­lines the com­mit­ment to pro­vide our troops with the best avail­able equipment. 

Of the 48 rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Review, 41 are now com­plete or on track. They include enhanced counter IED mea­sures, bet­ter armour and heav­ier cal­i­bre weapons for our Bush­mas­ters, the place­ment of medics with each pla­toon oper­at­ing in Afghanistan and the intro­duc­tion of 1000 sets of lighter com­bat armour. 

The new C‑RAM capa­bil­i­ty fol­lows the deliv­ery of the first batch of the new, lighter Tiered Body Armour Sys­tem now rolling off the pro­duc­tion line in Bendigo. 

The ADF plans to have the next Men­tor­ing Task Force equipped with this armour when it deploys to Afghanistan lat­er this year. 

The new Mul­ti­cam com­bat uni­form will also be avail­able to all troops oper­at­ing out­side the wire in the first half of this year. 

More Bush­mas­ters for Afghanistan

As well, the Gov­ern­ment has approved the pur­chase of 101 Bush­mas­ter pro­tect­ed mobil­i­ty vehi­cles to sup­port oper­a­tions in Afghanistan. 

The Bush­mas­ter has proven to be a most effec­tive com­bat vehi­cle, pro­vid­ing Aus­tralian troops with pro­tec­tion against Impro­vised Explo­sive Devices. 

It has unques­tion­ably saved lives in Afghanistan. 

The pur­chase pro­vides for oper­a­tional attri­tion. 31 Bush­mas­ters have been dam­aged beyond repair in recent years and their replace­ment, togeth­er with a fur­ther 70 vehi­cles, will sup­port cur­rent and future oper­a­tions in Afghanistan. 

Dur­ing my recent vis­it to Uruz­gan, I was also reas­sured by the resources avail­able to assist our forces wound­ed in combat. 

The Unit­ed States’ aero-med­ical evac­u­a­tion sys­tem is great­ly admired by our sol­diers. The prompt response of the US air­crews and their will­ing­ness to take enor­mous per­son­al risk in recov­er­ing our wound­ed is great­ly val­ued by Australia. 

Rule of Law and the pro­tec­tion of civil­ians

The rule of law is an essen­tial basis for inter­na­tion­al rela­tions and for nation­al secu­ri­ty policy. 

The Aus­tralian Defence Force (ADF) has built a rep­u­ta­tion over the years for pro­fes­sion­al­ism and com­pli­ance with the rule of law and rules of engagement. 

We have prid­ed our­selves on our high stan­dards and we have a well regard­ed inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion for doing so. 

When, for exam­ple, there are inci­dents involv­ing civil­ians, they are always investigated. 

On 29 March, Defence advised pub­licly that a young boy had been injured dur­ing a con­tact between insur­gents and a part­nered Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group (SOTG) and Afghan Nation­al Police Provin­cial Response Com­pa­ny-Uruz­gan patrol. 

Mem­bers of the Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group and Provin­cial Response Com­pa­ny-Uruz­gan were engaged with small arms fire by a group of approx­i­mate­ly four insur­gents who fired from a creek-line in the Deh Raf­shan area on Sun­day, 27 March 2011. 

Dur­ing the con­tact, one insur­gent was killed in action. On fol­low-up, the part­nered patrol found a local boy suf­fer­ing from gun-shot injuries to the upper body. 

The child was assessed as being in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion and received imme­di­ate first aid before being aero med­ical­ly evac­u­at­ed to a med­ical facil­i­ty at Tarin Kot. The child was then trans­ferred to a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal in Kan­da­har for ongo­ing treatment. 

The ADF moved the child’s father to be with him while he received treat­ment at ISAF med­ical facil­i­ties. The ADF also moved oth­er mem­bers of the child’s fam­i­ly to be with him while he received treatment. 

On 7 April, Defence fur­ther advised pub­licly that the Afghan boy had passed away as a result of com­pli­ca­tions aris­ing from injuries sus­tained dur­ing the engagement. 

Imme­di­ate med­ical assis­tance was pro­vid­ed to the child before he was aero med­ical­ly evac­u­at­ed to a med­ical facil­i­ty in Tarin Kot and then to Kandahar. 

Sad­ly the child’s con­di­tion con­tin­ued to dete­ri­o­rate and fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tion with med­ical staff, the child’s fam­i­ly made the deci­sion to cease life sup­port. The child’s fam­i­ly remained with him when he passed away on Sat­ur­day 2 April. The boy was 23 months old. 

Aus­tralia deeply regrets any loss of inno­cent life or injuries to civilians. 

The ADF con­tin­u­ous­ly acts to reduce the risk of such inci­dents hap­pen­ing. At this stage, it is not known who caused the child’s injuries. A Defence Inquiry has begun into the incident. 

I am aware of sub­se­quent reports that the Afghan Inde­pen­dent Human Rights Com­mis­sion has found that the adult male killed in the con­tact was a civilian. 

Aus­tralia does not know at this stage whether the death of the child was caused by ADF action or by insur­gent action. 

As soon as the ADF became aware that the death of a child had occurred, a for­mal inves­ti­ga­tion was insti­tut­ed, which always occurs. 

The results of that inquiry will be made pub­lic when the inves­ti­ga­tion is completed. 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

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