The arrival of Force Protection Element 14 (FPE-14) in Kabul last month came at an interesting juncture in Afghanistan’s more recent war-torn history.

After delays because of COVID-19 restrictions, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened the Intra-Afghan Negotiations in Doha, Qatar, on September 12.

Officer Commanding FPE-14 Major Christopher Hall said the negotiations brought Afghans together in an effort to chart a new course of enduring peace for their country.

“The negotiations will hopefully change the environment we work in and the soldiers of 1 RAR are adaptable and ready for that,” Major Hall said.

FPE-14 comprises soldiers from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR)  which takes over from 5 RAR’s FPE-13.

Their mission is to protect Australian and Coalition forces as they train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces.

“Major James Byers and his FPE-13 team gave us an excellent handover,” Major Hall said. 

Members of FPE-14 were eager to start their deployment after their mandatory two-week COVID-19 quarantine period.

“We also had to carefully manage COVID-19 restrictions during our training which would normally involve physical contact, such as first aid,” Major Hall said. 

FPE-14 will operate from the Hamid Karzai International Airport during its six-month deployment. 

Task Group Afghanistan is a part of the ADF’s Operation Highroad supporting the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support.