Australian Department of Defence, A Special Forces Task Group made up of approximately 150 personnel will deploy to Afghanistan for up to one year as part of Australia's increased commitment to the fight against terrorism.
The Prime Minister made the announcement today following a decision of the National Security Committee of Cabinet.
Defence Minister Robert Hill said the highly trained soldiers will be employed in a variety of roles similar to those performed during 2001 and will work closely with our Coalition partners.
“It is intended that the Special Forces Task Group will deploy into Afghanistan for up to one year in about eight weeks time,” Senator Hill said.
“These tasks will be targeted against terrorist groups and their supporters and are likely to include combat patrolling of remote regions as well as reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
“The Special Forces Task Group will be made up of SAS soldiers, Commandos and logistic support elements who will work with American Special Forces.”
In addition, the Government has tasked the Australian Defence Force to develop options for deploying a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). Any PRT, if sent, would be deployed next year and would support community rebuilding efforts to improve the quality of life of Afghan people.
“Further liaison and detailed planning will now be undertaken with the Afghanistan Government and Coalition partners to help in the development of options,” Senator Hill said.
Senator Hill said the United Kingdom, United States and Afghanistan Governments have previously expressed support for any new deployment Australia might be willing to make.
“Australia made a commitment to Afghanistan as part of the international effort to remove the Taliban and give the Afghan people a chance of peace and stability.
“The Taliban was successfully overthrown and good progress has been made in building democracy and the economy and in reducing the level of human rights abuses. But the country remains fragile and it is very important that this progress is consolidated to help the new Afghan Government achieves its goals.”
“The wind down of operations in East Timor and the Solomon Islands has also given us the military capacity to make a further contribution to Afghanistan in Australia's national interest.”
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