Changeover of Command in Uruzgan
9 August 2013
The outgoing Commander of international forces in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, said the journey to transition security responsibilities to Afghan authorities is on track to occur by the end of the year.
Commander of Combined Team Uruzgan, Australian Army, Colonel Simon Stuart said the Afghan National Security Forces have been operating independently in Uruzgan throughout 2013 and have demonstrated their ability to secure the province.
“Our current mission in Uruzgan is to advise and monitor the operations of the Afghan National Security Forces and to establish a platform for provincial self governance,” Colonel Stuart said.
“The Afghan National Army 4th Brigade 205 Hero Corps and the Afghan National Police have surprised the insurgency with their strength and cohesion this year. They have hit the insurgents hard, have built on our gains, and are growing in confidence with each independent operation.”
Colonel Stuart paid tribute to the multi-national effort of Combined Team Uruzgan during a ceremony on August 7 to mark the Transition of Authority to fellow Australian Colonel Wade Stothart.
“You have been tireless in facing each and every challenge,” Colonel Stuart said to a parade of coalition soldiers.
“You have consistently exceeded my expectations every day with courage, teamwork and unity.”
The Multi National Base in Tarin Kot was recently home to some 7000 military and civilian personnel, but these numbers are rapidly contracting as the military mission in Uruzgan nears completion.
“It’s a complex task to reduce the infrastructure and personnel on the base here in Tarin Kot while retaining what is necessary to complete our mission,” Colonel Stuart said.
“We have a deliberate plan to achieve this and we are working closely with our Afghan partners to ensure it is done efficiently and in a way that leaves them able to sustain independent security operations when we leave.”
Reflecting on the achievements of the mission in Uruzgan, Colonel Stuart highlighted the improvements to health care and education.
“Before we came here there was a single, under-resourced hospital that was inaccessible to much of the population, while the school system had all but broken down.
“Now people in every district of the province can access medical treatment and children have a pathway to opportunity because they are better educated and more secure.”
But Colonel Stuart said the job in Uruzgan is not finished and the province will continue to face challenges as it continues to build its governance skills and provide security for the people of the province.
“Our legacy here will be a foundation from which the Afghans can build a future in their own vision. It will not be perfect, but the government is now equipped to tackle the challenges that lay ahead,” Colonel Stuart said.
“We will continue to consolidate our gains for the rest of the year and there will be an enduring international investment in the province once we leave.”
Colonel Stuart commanded Combined Team Uruzgan between October 2012 and August 2013. His successor, Colonel Stothart, will lead the mission until 31 December 2013.
Australia's focus will then shift to national development programs with the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, logistics training and continues mentoring of the 205 Hero Corps in Kandahar.
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999