Five Australian Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Three Australian soldiers have been killed by a rogue Afghan soldier in Afghanistan and two members of the SAS have died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash.

Details of the incidents have been announced by the Acting Chief of the ADF, Air Marshal Mark Binskin. The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has described this as “the darkest of days for Australia”.

Mark Binskin

The “green-on-blue” incident occurred at a base in southern Oruzgan province yesterday. Two other soldiers were injured in the attack.

The helicopter crash occurred during an “insertion” in Helmand province. The aircraft rolled over on landing.

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About 1500 Australian Defence Force troops are in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The casualties announced today bring Australia’s death toll to 38. Seven soldiers have now been killed in green-on-blue incidents.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that she has “made the judgement call” to come home early from the Pacific Islands forum in the Cook Islands. She said this is the nation’s worst day in Afghanistan and the worst loss of life since Vietnam.

Julia Gillard

Gillard insisted that the commitment in Afghanistan has a purpose and that “progress is being made”. She said: “We cannot allow even the most grievous of circumstances to alter our strategy… We went there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through.”

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Statement released by Department of Defence.

Three Australian soldiers killed, two wounded in insider attack

Three Australian soldiers have been killed and two wounded following an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan.

The attack occurred during the evening of 29 August, 2012 (Afghan time) inside the confines of the Patrol Base. [Read more…]

Gillard: Afghanistan Troops Will Be Brought Home During 2013-14

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has indicated an exit strategy for Australian troops in Afghanistan which could see most of them brought home during 2013-14.

Julia GillardIn a speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Gillard said a summit in Chicago next month would see progress on a withdrawal timetable.

“It’s likely that by the middle of next year, mid-2013, the fifth and final tranche of districts and provinces will have commenced transition,” she said.

Gillard continued to assert that the Afghanistan mission is in Australia’s national interest. She claimed “transition” is already happening.

Gillard said: “This is the vital business of the Chicago summit in May. To review our progress in transition – to map out how we intend to complete the handover of security responsibility to the Afghan Government. To ensure sustainment – to build the international commitment necessary to fund, train and support the Afghan National Security Forces after transition is complete. And to highlight our long-term support – to recommit to and define our continued contribution in the years after 2014.

“Today, around half of the population lives in areas where the Afghan National Security Forces have begun taking lead security responsibility. The next stage of transition – tranche three – will be announced soon. And it’s likely that by the middle of next year, mid-2013, the fifth and final tranche of districts and provinces will have commenced transition.”

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Transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech to ASPI

Some of you here will remember that the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute met for the first time in late winter 2001 – less than a fortnight before the September 11 attacks on the United States.

One thing that did not change after September 11 was Australia’s need for the work of an Institute such as this. [Read more…]

Rudd Offers Condolences On Death Of Australian Soldier

Kevin Rudd has offered his condolences following the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan.

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This is the transcript of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s press conference:

PRIME MINISTER:

I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan. This brave soldier, wearing the uniform of Australia died the field of duty wearing his nation’s uniform and wearing it with pride.

On behalf of the Government, I extend my condolences to his family and to his friends and to his loved ones. Our prayers and those of the entire nation are with his family and his friends and his loved ones on this most tragic of days. [Read more…]

Eighth Australian Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

An Australian soldier has been killed in a rocket attack in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan. He is the eighth Australian casualty in Afghanistan since 2001.

The announcement was made in Canberra by the Chief of the Defence Foce, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

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This is the text of a media release from the Defence Department:

An Australian soldier in Afghanistan has been killed in a rocket attack whilst conducting operations in Oruzgan Province.

Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Angus Houston, said the soldier was killed early yesterday evening, Australian time. [Read more…]

Howard Announces Additional Troops To Afghanistan

The Federal Government has announced that it will deploy an extra 300 personnel to Oruzgan province in Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, speaking at a press conference with Defence Minister Brendan Nelson and Defence Force Chief Angus Houston, said the troop boost was designed to contribute “to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

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This is the text of a media statement from the Prime Minister, John Howard.

More troops for Afghanistan

As Australians will know, the Government has in recent weeks been considering providing more troops for Afghanistan. After careful examination and proper consultation, the Government has decided to boost significantly Australia’s military contribution to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. [Read more…]

Howard Admits Mistakes But Defends Iraq Commitment

John Howard has defended his government’s commitment to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute tonight, the Prime Minister admitted mistakes had been made but said that Australia’s presence was essential to bringing stability to the region.

The speech was carefully calibrated to challenge the foreign policy stance of the Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd. At one point, Howard said it was difficult to know whether Rudd was “auditioning for the editorial board of The Weekly Standard or as a successor to Michael Moore”. [Read more…]

President George W. Bush’s 2007 State of the Union Address

President George W. Bush has delivered his sixth State of the Union address to a joint session of the United States Congress.

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This is the prepared text of President Bush’s State of the Union Address.

President Bush Delivers the State of the Union AddressMadam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

This rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour – when decisions are hard and courage is tested. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors underway, and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies – and the wisdom to face them together.

Some in this Chamber are new to the House and Senate – and I congratulate the Democratic majority. Congress has changed, but our responsibilities have not. Each of us is guided by our own convictions – and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we are all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this Nation’s prosperity … to spend the people’s money wisely … to solve problems, not leave them to future generations … to guard America against all evil, and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us. [Read more…]

Governor-General Visits Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan And Persian Gulf

The Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, has spent the Christmas period visiting Australian troops in the Middle East.

He joined troops of the Al Muthanna Task Group for Christmas lunch in southern Iraq, as well as visiting the Special Forces Task Group in Afghanistan, the AP-3 Orion crews, and HMAS Parramatta in the northern Persian Gulf.

The Australian forces are part of Operation Catalyst, described by the Department of Defence as “Australia’s contribution to the safety, reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq”. [Read more…]

John Howard’s New York Press Conference

This is the transcript of the press conference given by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at the Pierre Hotel, New York.

PRIME MINISTER:

I thought I’d say a couple of things about my meeting with the Chairman of the Interim Council in Afghanistan – Mr Karzai. We had a good meeting. We discussed the challenges that faced Afghanistan. He expressed his thanks for the $40 million of government assistance. He said that Afghanistan continued to need a lot of assistance in a lot of areas, in particular many technical areas and we discussed some of them and arising out of that I’ve offered government technical advice via the Treasury and the Reserve Bank, particularly the latter, to help Afghanistan in relation to strengthening and rebuilding her central banking system. Australia has quite a lot of expertise in that area and he was very pleased to accept that offer. [Read more…]

Australian Troops Deployed To Afghanistan

This is the text of the statement released by the Prime Minister, John Howard, announcing the deployment of Australian troops to the ground war in Afghanistan.

Force Deployment

The Governments of Australia and the United States have consulted further about our commitment to support the international coalition against terrorism. Last night President Bush and I discussed these matters. After that discussion the Minister for Defence, Mr Reith, the Chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Barrie, and the US Ambassador, Mr Thomas Schieffer, held further discussions on the details of Australia’s military contribution. Mr Reith and Admiral Barrie have briefed me this morning. [Read more…]