Australien/NATO — Minister for Defence concludes NATO visit

Min­is­ter for Defence, Sen­a­tor John Faulkn­er, has con­clud­ed a vis­it to Brus­sels on June 10–11, after attend­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) Defence Min­is­ters meet­ing at NATO.

Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er reaf­firmed Australia’s con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to train the 4th Brigade of the Afghan Nation­al Army in Oruz­gan province, and help pre­vent Afghanistan from becom­ing a safe haven for ter­ror­ists.

Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er told the meet­ing: “We are encour­aged by the signs that the ISAF cam­paign has blunt­ed the insurgency’s momen­tum in the south of Afghanistan

“But this last week has remind­ed us of the cost of our mis­sion. Too many lives were lost includ­ing two fine young Aus­tralian sol­diers, Sap­pers Moer­land and Smith. Their courage and their sac­ri­fice, must not, and will not, be for­got­ten.”

Defence Min­is­ters received detailed brief­in­gs on progress in Afghanistan from Com­man­der ISAF, Gen­er­al Stan­ley McChrys­tal, and NATO Senior Civil­ian Rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Afghanistan, Mr Mark Sed­will. Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er met with Gen­er­al McChrys­tal and Mr Sed­will sep­a­rate­ly.

Dis­cus­sions dur­ing the NATO/ISAF meet­ing, and at bilat­er­al meet­ings with ISAF part­ners, focused on chal­lenges ahead includ­ing the tran­si­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ties in Oruz­gan province after the Dutch relin­quish lead­er­ship on August 1.

Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er held bilat­er­al meet­ings with Afghanistan’s Defence Min­is­ter, Gen­er­al War­dak; Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of NATO, Anders Fogh Ras­mussen; Supreme Allied Com­man­der Europe, Gen­er­al Stavridis; US Defense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates; Cana­di­an Min­is­ter of Nation­al Defence, Peter Mack­ay; Slo­va­kian Min­is­ter for Defence Jaroslav Bas­ka; Dutch Defence Min­is­ter, Eimert van Mid­dlekoop and French Defence Min­is­ter, Herve Morin.

“I am con­fi­dent that the ISAF lead­er­ship has the right plan, the lead­er­ship, the focus and more resources in place, but we also know there is a dif­fi­cult task ahead to help build the Afghan Government’s capac­i­ty to deliv­er secu­ri­ty, ser­vices and gov­er­nance to the Afghan peo­ple,” Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er said.

Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er was accom­pa­nied by Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Mar­shall Angus Hous­ton, and the Sec­re­tary of the Defence Depart­ment, Dr Ian Watt.

Media Con­tacts
Michael Nguyen (John Faulkn­er): 02 6277 7800 or 0429 571 843
Defence Media Liai­son: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

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