Australian Defence Force members of Mentoring Task Force – Two (MTF‑2) are arriving home to Australia this week after making significant gains in improving security and expanding the Afghan National Security Force’s (ANSF) presence in Uruzgan Province during its eight month deployment to Afghanistan.
A handover parade was held in Uruzgan Province on Saturday, 25 June 2011, with official duties for the Darwin-based 1 Brigade personnel, who made up MTF‑2, passing to the Townsville-based Mentoring Task Force – Three (MTF‑3).
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power said it had been a high tempo rotation, with the Task Force conducting numerous successful joint operations with the ANSF.
“Through its partnering with the 4th Afghan National Army (ANA) Brigade, MTF‑2 contributed markedly to improved security in the Uruzgan Province,” Lieutenant General Power said.
“The Task Force conducted more than 2,500 patrols, locating approximately 130 improvised explosive devices (IED) and more than 380 weapons and explosive caches.”
While there were numerous successes the rotation wasn’t without tragedy, with the deaths of three soldiers, two from the Darwin-based 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, and a member of the Force Support Unit working in support of MTF‑2.
Corporal Richard Atkinson was killed in an IED strike on 2 February 2011, and Sapper Jamie Larcombe was killed during an engagement with insurgents in the Mirabad Valley region on 19 February 2011.
On 30 May 2011, Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was killed by a rogue ANA soldier at a Patrol Base in the Chora Valley region.
Nine other soldiers from MTF‑2 were wounded in action during the eight-month rotation.
“Despite these casualties, the Task Force displayed remarkable endurance and courage in its pursuit of mentoring the ANA to build positive relationships with the local Afghans and tribal leaders,” Lieutenant General Power said.
The handover marks the start of the tour for MTF‑3, led by 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, and will see the Australian soldiers moving from partnering Afghan patrols to mentoring Afghan Commanders.
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