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Transition milestone in Uruzgan Province



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PRIME MINISTER MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

TRANSITION MILESTONE IN URUZGAN PROVINCE

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today welcomed the decision by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to close Multi National Base - Tarin Kot in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan at the end of this year.

The decision to drawdown and close Multi National Base - Tarin Kot was made after consultation with Australia, which leads Combined Team - Uruzgan, and Afghan authorities and is in line with the timetable to transition to full Afghan led security responsibility in Uruzgan Province by the end of 2013.

With the closure of Multi National Base - Tarin Kot, the majority of Australia's troops will come home from Afghanistan.

The 2010 Lisbon NATO/ ISAF Summit agreed to transition to full Afghan security responsibility in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

In July 2012, transition to Afghan security lead in Uruzgan for the four Infantry Kandaks and the two combat support Kandaks of the 4th Brigade of the 205 Hero Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) commenced.

By November 2012 all four Infantry Kandaks of the Afghan National Army 4th Brigade were operating independently without advisers in Uruzgan Province.

With the commencement of independent operations by the four Infantry Kandaks, Australian troops no longer conduct joint patrols with these ANA units. As well, Australia handed over control of forward operating bases and patrol bases to the 4th Brigade by the end of 2012.

By the end of 2012, Australian troops had consolidated their presence at Multi National Base - Tarin Kot and commenced planning for the complex task of redeploying Australian personnel and equipment and remediating buildings and facilities.

Australia will remediate the areas it has used and transfer the remaining infrastructure at Multi National Base - Tarin Kot to Afghanistan at the end of this year as transition occurs in Uruzgan and the Australian training and advisory mission in Uruzgan is completed.

Australian forces operate from two camps within Multi National Base - Tarin Kot, Camp Russell and Camp Holland.

Camp Russell is where Australia’s Special Operations Task Group in Uruzgan is located. Camp Holland is a much larger area where the remainder of Australia’s military and civilian personnel in Uruzgan, including the Headquarters of Combined Team Uruzgan, live and work.

Planning has now commenced to transfer all of Camp Russell and a portion of Camp Holland to the Government of Afghanistan by the end of 2013.

This is in accordance with the ISAF campaign plan and is being undertaken in consultation with ISAF and Afghan authorities.

In addition, Australia has contributed substantial funds toward the construction of permanent barracks for the Afghan 4th Brigade of the 205 Hero Corps adjacent to Multi National Base - Tarin Kot.

The ADF role in Uruzgan will continue as at present until the end of this year:

a) Australian troops will continue to train and advise at the Headquarters 4th Brigade level with the two Combat Support Kandaks and at the Afghan Operational Coordination Centre - Provincial in Uruzgan; b) The ADF Task Group will remain combat ready to assist Afghan Forces

should the need arise; and c) The Special Operations Task Group will continue to conduct partnered combat operations to disrupt the insurgency.

In 2014, the ADF will focus on a training role at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul with our British and New Zealand colleagues.

In Kandahar, the ADF will continue to provide training assistance to the 205 Corps of the Afghan National Army.

Post-2014, Australia is prepared to contribute to the train, advise and assist mission for the Afghan National Security Forces by continuing to provide embedded Headquarters staff, advisors at the Corps level and trainers at the ANA Officer Academy in Kabul.

Under an appropriate mandate, Australia remains prepared to make a Special Forces contribution, either for training or for counter terrorism purposes.

CANBERRA 26 MARCH 2013

PRESS OFFICE: (02) 6277 7744 MINISTER SMITH’S OFFICE: (02) 6277 7800