Australian Middle East forces receive new Commander
3 October 2012
Australian Defence personnel serving in the Middle East Area of Operations welcomed their new commander, Major General Michael Crane DSC, AM, at Al Minhad Air Base on Monday 1 October 2012.
Major General Stuart Smith AM handed over command of Australian Defence Force Joint Task Force 633 to Major General Crane in a formal ceremony attended by all ADF members based at Al Minhad in the United Arab Emirates.
Commander Joint Task Force 633 commands all ADF units assigned to Operation SLIPPER - Australia's military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, maritime security in the Middle East Area of Operations and countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
Major General Smith said leading Australian personnel in the Middle East and Afghanistan was a memorable period of his career and commended the efforts of the service men and women during his time as Commander.
“I have been fortunate to witness the courage, compassion and commitment of our troops in the Middle East,” Major General Smith said.
“Their actions in Afghanistan have allowed us to begin the transition of security responsibilities to Afghan national forces and the assumption of Australian leadership of the Combined Team Uruzgan.
“Sadly, these decisive events have occurred at a cost and my deepest sympathies remain with the families of our six soldiers killed in action this year.”
Major General Smith said the new commander will witness the change in roles and was in no doubt the troops would continue their important work to an admirable standard.
“I welcome Major General Crane, and I know he will lead Australian troops with distinction,” Major General Smith said.
Major General Crane congratulated the outgoing commander on a successful tour and thanked him for his hard work and dedication.
“It is a great privilege that I am able to assume command of this task force that has served Australia and its interests with distinction for many years,” Major General Crane said.
“I look forward to the continuing transition of our role in Afghanistan, including training the Afghan National Security Forces to ready them to assume security responsibility for Uruzgan Province by 2014.
“During my time as commander, we will develop our redeployment plan to ensure the Australian forces leave the Middle East in a responsible, ethical and environmentally-friendly manner.
“We want to help ensure Afghanistan is a safer place for everyone when we leave and for years to come.”
On return to Australia, Major General Smith will take a short leave break before he assumes command of the Headquarters 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters in Brisbane.
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