Successful rotation for the Special Operations Task Group comes to an end
6 March 2013
The most recent rotation for the Special Operations Task Group has come to an end, with a number of major successes over the last seven months.
The SOTG Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel I, praised the outcomes achieved by Australian Special Forces, working alongside their Afghan partnered units.
“I am very proud of the men and women who served with me on this latest rotation; their professionalism, commitment and mission focus was a credit to themselves, their units and the wider Australian efforts in Uruzgan,” he said.
“It was very pleasing to see Afghan National Security Force elements increasingly plan, lead and successfully carry out missions, with the SOTG providing specialised assistance as required.
“The average ratio of Afghan personnel on all partnered missions increased to 65 per cent, well above the ISAF mandated level of 50 per cent for the transition process, and reflects on the efforts of all those who supported this rotation, as well as building on the significant achievements of the rotations that have gone before us.
“Alongside this we saw Afghan authorities issue 67 warrants for arrests and compound searches, with Afghan prosecutors accompanying the carrying-out of most of these warrants to ensure successful prosecution in the Afghan legal system.
“This increasing ability of the Afghan legal system to utilise evidence based processes is highly significant as it supports the transition from counter insurgency operations to civilian policing operations.”
The rotation’s personnel conducted numerous training courses for the ANSF during their time in Afghanistan.
Aside from military skills training, courses also included leadership and management, rule of law, basic evidence handling, human rights, marksmanship training, first aid teaching and basic cordon and searching skills.
LTCOL I said this training was a vital part of what the SOTG did.
“This is a major focus of our efforts here in Tarin Kot, preparing the Afghan security forces to enable them to be capable of providing security for the people of Uruzgan,” he said.
“We are instructing our ANSF partners in a broad range of courses, all aimed at developing their competencies and capacity to undertake security operations and it is really pleasing for all of us to witness the growing confidence and the important strides that have been made over the last few months”.
Operationally the SOTG proved its effectiveness on missions with Afghan partner units to disrupt insurgent networks.
“Together we have removed 31 insurgent commanders, and several hundred insurgent fighters, from the battlespace over the last seven months, a great result,” LTCOL I said.
“The loss of so many commanders has limited the insurgents’ ability to plan and coordinate large attacks aimed at destabilising the province, and has brought about greater security for the local population.”
Sadly, during the rotation, Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald, Private Nathanael Galagher and Corporal Scott Smith were killed in action.
LTCOL I said their sacrifices would not be forgotten.
“We have continued to honour the sacrifice of these three great guys we lost through our professionalism and commitment to the mission, and they will remain in our thoughts and in our hearts as we return to Australia,” he said.
The Task Group continued to have a significant impact on insurgent narcotic production and distribution.
Since July 2012, SOTG members, along with their partner forces of the Afghan National Interdiction Unit and the US Drug Enforcement Administration, destroyed ten major drug processing facilities and over twenty tonnes of narcotics and narcotic manufacturing chemicals, worth over US$24 million at Afghan street value.
This included the destruction of 11.4 tonnes of opium morphine during an operation in October 2012, the largest single cache of this narcotic found and destroyed in Afghanistan.
LTCOL I said that by targeting narcotics production, ANSF and the SOTG directly reduced insurgent attacks
“Narcotics production and trafficking is vital to the insurgency as it is their main source of funding,” he said.
“By severing the link between the insurgency and the narcotics trade we are directly reducing the number of attacks insurgents are able to carry out, because without the money from narcotics they are unable to fund fighting campaigns.”
A total of 1355 weapons were recovered or destroyed, while 761kg of explosives were destroyed during the rotation.
Over 2500 Biometric enrolments were taken over the seven months and entered into the coalition database, which will enable greater successes in prosecuting people involved in anti-government actions, within the Afghan legal system.
A Military Dog, Fax, was also killed during the rotation.