Australian Defence Force operations in Afghanistan will enter a significant phase in the New Year. January 1st marks the start of Operation HIGHROAD, Australia’s new train, advise and assist mission.
The change marks the end of Operation SLIPPER, which has been Australia’s commitment to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan for the past 13 years.
The new operation is in line with the NATO-led mission transitioning from a combat role to Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT; a train, advise, assist mission. Importantly, the transition also recognises that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have now taken the lead for all combat operations.
The Commander of Australia’s Joint Task Force 636 in Afghanistan, Major General David Mulhall, said the new mission recognises the improved capacity of the ANSF, largely as a result of Australian and international support.
“Since 2001 Australia, under Operation SLIPPER, has made a substantial contribution to the international mission in Afghanistan at various levels from combat operations to training and advisory roles,” said Major General Mulhall.
“The efforts of over 26,500 men and women of the ADF who have served in Afghanistan since 2002 have made this possible.”
“As we move into this new operation, I also want to pay tribute to the 41 ADF personnel who lost their lives during Operation SLIPPER and those Australians who were wounded or became ill during this mission.”
“Our own combat role finished at the end of 2013, and since then we have been focused on train, advise, assist roles with the ANSF, and we remain strongly committed to this task as we move into Operation HIGHROAD,” Major General Mulhall said.
About 400 Australian personnel are deployed on Operation HIGHROAD, including embed positions with the NATO led mission, mentoring and advisory roles, medical, force protection and logistic support.
The Commander JTF636 also acknowledged there are still risks for Australian troops in Afghanistan.
“Our men and women continue to be exposed to danger and as such the Australian Defence Force is committed to ensuring all activities that our personnel undertake are thoroughly risk managed,” Major General Mulhall said.
The new NATO-led Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT mission will be directed at the ministerial (defence and interior), institutional levels, and at the higher command level of the Afghan security forces.
Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20143908
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