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Address to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Brussels
Minister for Defence - Address to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
23 October 2013
Defence Ministers’ meeting
Mr Secretary General, colleagues, I welcome this opportunity to attend my first ISAF Defence
Ministers’ meeting. I would like to reassure colleagues around this table that the new
Australian Government remains fully committed to supporting Afghanistan.
I would like to start by recognising the progress that ISAF, alongside the Afghan
Government, has made. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are now on track to
assume full security responsibility, and have demonstrated their capacity to deliver security
and stability for the Afghan people. SACEUR, COMISAF and the SCR are to be congratulated
and we should all quite rightly acknowledge the work and sacrifice of all our people involved.
I would like to pass on through you, General Mohammadi, our congratulations to the Afghan
Government and to the Afghan National Security Forces on your successes through this last
fighting season. It has not been without sacrifices but vast areas of the country, including
Uruzgan province where Australian forces are based, now have access to Government
services not previously available. There is much progress of which Afghanistan and the
international community can be proud. Importantly, now it is the Government and people of
Afghanistan who can take charge of their own destiny, assisted by the international
Australia is on track to draw down its forces from Uruzgan province by the end of this year.
However, this does not mark an end to our commitment. I believe that following all of our
commitments at Chicago and Tokyo it is now up to us collectively to follow through. We need
to continue close monitoring of the use and effectiveness of our support, including through
our physical presence in country.
In 2014, Australia will turn its attention to national-level support. We will be making a
significant Australian Defence Force commitment of instructors, advisors and support staff to
the ANA Officer Academy in Kabul, and ongoing advisory support to the ANA’s 205 Corps
Headquarters in Kandahar. We will continue to support logistics training and we have
committed Special Forces to supporting the General Directorate of Police Special Units.
Beyond 2014, subject to an invitation from the Government of Afghanistan and the signing of
a satisfactory SOFA, Australia will remain committed to support security in Afghanistan. We
welcome the positive developments on the important Bilateral Security Agreement
negotiations. We encourage the Afghan government to move forward resolutely to agree the
BSA with the US and the SOFA with NATO and issue invitations in good time to secure further
As NATO and partner nations transition towards a post-2014 mission, our close relationships
on the ground must be sustained. Australia resolves to continue to work closely with NATO
allies and partners on planning for the post-2014 mission and through full and timely
engagement in the planning process.
As a newly appointed Defence Minister I look forward to visiting Afghanistan. I welcome the
many positive recent developments made by the ISAF campaign and look forward to
continuing to work with NATO in the future, as we lay the ground work for the full transition
of responsibility to Afghan authorities.
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