New Chapter in Afghan Mission
23 January 2015
The end of the 13-year International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan was marked during a ceremony in Kabul attended by Afghan officials and international military leaders, including the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force 636, Major General David Mulhall.
The ceremony marked the full transition to the new NATO-led train, advise, assist mission Resolute Support which formally began on 1 January 2015.
Resolute Support recognises that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are now in the lead for all combat operations with international support predominately focusing at the ministerial and institutional levels.
Commander ISAF, General John F. Campbell, paid tribute during the ceremony to the effort of international and Afghan security personnel over the past 13 years.
"Today as we case the ISAF colours and unfurl the Resolute Support colours, we also remember and honour all those coalition and Afghan heroes whom we lost and the loved ones they left behind," GEN Campbell said.
Australia lost 41 servicemen during the ISAF mission and a further 261 were injured.
Commander ISAF identified the establishment of the 350,000 personnel strong Afghan security forces as one of the milestones of the past 13 years.
"In the wake of the Taliban's defeat in 2001, Afghanistan possessed no standing professional security forces."
"For the last two fighting seasons, the ANSF have been in the lead and they have prevailed over a determined enemy.
"The insurgents are losing and they're desperate, the inauguration of the National Unity Government and the ratification of the Bilateral Security Agreement and Status of Forces Agreement represent devastating blows to the enemy's cause and narrative.”
Afghanistan's National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar, also addressed the parade.
"Our sons and daughters of the ANSF are in the lead, fighting to protect security interests, Inshallah, they will prevail," Mr Atmar said.
About 130,000 troops were in Afghanistan at the height of ISAF operations and 12,500 will support the new Resolute Support mission.
The aim of the new train, advise, assist mission will be to ensure the gains made in building the ANSF are enduring and sustainable.
In line with the change to Resolute Support, Australia also changed operations from 1 January 2015, transitioning from Operation SLIPPER to Operation HIGHROAD. The new mission will see a continued commitment to supporting security and stability in Afghanistan through the train, advise, assist role.
Operation SLIPPER was the longest combat operation the Australian military has been involved with more than 26,000 servicemen and women deployed across the Middle East Region including land, air and maritime roles.
Approximately 400 personnel are deployed under Operation HIGHROAD, including in embedded positions with the NATO-led mission, mentoring and advisory roles, force protection and logistical support.