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Address to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Brussels

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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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