KABUL): The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has announced an end to its military mission in central Uruzgan province with closure of the combined team and departure of last soldiers leaving Tirinkot.
Defense Minister David Johnston told reporters in Sydney on Monday that the pullout of the last combat troops ended Australia’s military involvement in the 12-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.
But 400 Australian military experts will remain in the war-torn country until the end of 2014 to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers in Kabul and Kandahar.
The last remaining Australian troops have exited Uruzgan province, leaving a group of 400 personnel to preside over ongoing training and support for Afghan soldiers and police.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised Australia’s contribution to the conflict. “Uruzgan today is a very significantly different and better place than it was a decade ago.” He suggested the Australian withdrawal was coming at the appropriate time.
A statement from ADF chief said: “Our work, in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), has degraded the insurgency, our training and mentoring mission has allowed the Afghan National Army (ANA) 4th Brigade to develop into a capable force.”
The Provincial Reconstruction Team and Managed Works Team have successfully built and restored basic infrastructure and essential services throughout the province.
At least 40 ADF personnel were killed and another 261 wounded during the mission. “We have honoured our fallen by completing the transition of security lead in Uruzgan to the ANSF,” the ADF chief said.
“I remain immensely proud of the contribution the ADF has made in Afghanistan, and greatly appreciate the work of all the supporting personnel and the sacrifices made by families here in Australia.”