Kandahar's Camp Baker’s evolving mission
3 March 2014
Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Uruzgan at the end of 2013, Australia has shifted to a nationally-oriented mission in Afghanistan, providing ongoing training and advisory support to the Afghan National Security Forces.
Australia’s Camp Baker Kandahar Air Field plays a key role in sustaining Australian embeds and detachments still operating inside Southern Afghanistan.
New Camp Baker Commandant Major Micheal Black says his mission is twofold as International Security Assistance Force’s combat mission finishes at the end of 2014 and NATO plans for the anticipated Afghan train, advise and assist mission.
“My focus is a little different from my predecessor in terms of managing the sustainment mission, which as a logistician is a major priority for me but then there is the overseeing of the remediation of Camp Baker,” Major Black said.
“Expect some major changes in the physical appearance of the camp - anything that isn’t a permanent structure will be remediated or gifted.”
The senior Australian officer overseeing all ADF remediation and redeployment operations is Air Commodore Hayden Marshall. He says the work underway at Camp Baker is in line with what other coalition nations are doing at their own facilities inside Kandahar Air Field.
“We are definitely not alone in this work. The Commander of Kandahar Air Field issued an order which provides very clear guidance for all the ‘tenants’ here at the air field regarding the removal of temporary structures and the clearing up of all sites and compounds to the maximum extent possible,” Air Commodore Marshall said.
Australia’s experience in Uruzgan and the success of the Multi National Base – Tarin Kot drawdown there has placed the ADF in an enviable position in regards to the remediation.
“We spent a lot of time working out how to get ahead of the game, given there will soon be considerable demand on contractors,” Air Commodore Marshall said.
“We have people who have the contacts and the experience, and the process is now tried and tested, so we can leverage off that quite extensively.”
It remains a balancing act for Force Support Unit-9, which constitutes the bulk of personnel at Camp Baker, who are involved in remediation operations, whilst maintaining the required level of security and force protection.
“Major General Craig Orme (Commander Joint Task Force 633) places a high priority on force protection and so do I. My first job after I arrived at Camp Baker was to examine our physical security. I want to be in a position to look after my team and without doubt the next Commandant at Baker will do exactly the same,” Major Black said.