Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 1 2010 Contents 11
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ChIEF OF ThE DEFENCE FOrCE’S COLuMN
I think Trooper Mark Donaldson, VC, is a very
worthy recipient of this great honour, and I am very
pleased that he has received further recognition for
his bravery under fire.
I don’t think Mark would mind that I also
consider his naming as Young Australian of
the Year to be representative of all the wonderful
young people that we have in the Australian
Defence Force (ADF).
In this month’s column, I have chosen to highlight
the progress we are making in Afghanistan. I think
it is important to bear in mind that, to a large
extent, the people that are out there delivering
these excellent outcomes are our young people.
They are very dedicated and courageous in serving
our nation and have a great generosity of spirit.
That’s why I think it is very appropriate that our
nation’s current Young Australian of the Year is a
serving member of the ADF.
Trooper Donaldson is a wonderful ambassador,
not only for the ADF, but more importantly, for our
nation. I am very proud of him, and indeed, I am
very proud of all our young people on operations
doing the hard yards for Australia.
On all of our operations, I have no hesitation
in saying that our people continue to perform
exceedingly well. They are proving flexible,
adaptive and responsive to a wide range of
challenges and are meeting our commitments
diligently and compassionately.
In terms of our largest and most complex
operation, I am of the opinion that the tide
is now turning in Afghanistan. Following the
60-day assessment by Commander International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General
Stanley McChrystal, last year, there is now a
comprehensive civil/military strategy being put in
Turning the tide
As we begin a new year in Defence, we are celebrating a wonderful
individual achievement with the naming of Trooper Mark Donaldson
as Young Australian of the Year 2010.
place that will enable the people of Afghanistan
to build a better future.
Central to this strategy is: an innovative counter
insurgency approach; a focus on protecting the
people of Afghanistan; and the need to train the
Afghan National Security Forces so they can
independently manage their own security.
I also welcome the 37,000 additional Coalition
troops and more than 50,000 Afghan Security
Forces that will join this operation in 2010. This
builds on last year’s almost 30,000 additional
American troops. I think we now have the right
leadership, the right strategy and the right level of
resourcing in order to turn the situation around.
In terms of recent ADF mission progress, I am very
pleased that the Australian contingent in Tarin
Kowt has adapted well to the change in campaign
focus to population support and protection. This
has been very evident during the past few months
with joint Australian and Afghan operations in the
Mirabad Valley region.
A recent operation, called Pelatel Man’a, involved
the Oruzgan-based ANA 4th Brigade, Mentoring
and Reconstruction Task Force-2, Dutch soldiers,
and other ISAF partners. This operation located
more than 30 weapons caches, containing rocket-
propelled grenades and mortars, Improvised
Explosive Device components and thousands
of rounds of small arms ammunition. These
operations are critical to our training mission.
In fact, the Afghan Platoon commander with
the 2nd Infantry Kandak, said the operation has
boosted his soldiers’ confidence, reinforcing
their belief that they can defeat the insurgency.
Additionally, our Special Operations Task Group
(SOTG) recently held shuras with community
leaders to assess their security needs and
requirements for humanitarian assistance.
Also involved in the mission were SOTG medics
who conducted several health clinics, treating
approximately 200 people in three valleys.
These recent operations have highlighted the
benefits of engaging with the local population. In
2010 we will continue to foster positive relations
with locals and bolster their confidence in seeking
assistance from ISAF and the Government of
Afghanistan. This approach is working very well
and we are slowly creating the conditions required
to transition security to Afghan security forces.
This transition will be a key consideration for
our operational planners as we monitor progress
during the coming 12 months.
“On all of our operations,
I have no hesitation in
saying that our people
continue to perform
exceedingly well. They are
proving flexible, adaptive
and responsive to a
wide range of challenges
and are meeting our
Chief of the Defence Force,
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston
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