Australia at war in Afghanistan: revised facts and figures

12 September 2012

PDF version [881KB]

Nicole Brangwin, Marty Harris and David Watt
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Section 

Contents

Introduction

Table 1: NATO: Afghanistan transition map

Australian military casualties

Table 2: Operation Slipper: ADF combat deaths

Military working dogs

First Australian civilian casualty

Afghan civilian casualties

Table 3: Civilian deaths in Afghanistan

Table 4: Civilian deaths and injuries by perpetrator

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)—Troop contributing countries

Table 5: Coalition deaths by year

Table 6: ISAF country contributions, combat deaths and prospective exit dates

‘Green-on-blue’ attacks

Table 7: Green-on-blue attacks: Afghanistan: 2008–August 2012

The continued prevalence of IEDs

Table 8: IED attacks: Afghanistan: January 2008–July 2012

Australian aid to Afghanistan

Table 9: Australia’s ODA to Afghanistan FY 2001–02 to FY 2011–12 (A$ million; current prices)

Key Government statements on Australia’s military commitment to Afghanistan, September 2001–October 2011

Table 10: Key Australian Government statements

 

Abbreviations

ACC

Australian Civilian Corps

ADF

Australian Defence Force

AGE

Anti-Government Elements

ANA

Afghan National Army

ANSF

Afghan National Security Force

ANZUS Treaty

Australia, New Zealand, United States (Security Treaty)

AUSAID

Australian Agency for International Development

CT-U

Combined Team – Uruzgan

EDD

Explosive Detection Dogs

IED

Improvised Explosive Device

ISAF

International Security Assistance Force

MoU

Memorandum of Understanding

NATO

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NTM-A

NATO Training Mission Afghanistan

ODA

Official Development Assistance

OMLT

Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team

PGF

Pro-Government Forces

PRT

Provincial Reconstruction Team

RTF

Reconstruction Task Force

SASR

Special Air Service Regiment

UNAMA

United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan

UNHCR

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

 

Introduction

This Background Note revises material previously released by the Parliamentary Library on Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan (see Background Note Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan: revised facts and figures, 22 November 2011; FlagPost entry Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan—update, 10 June 2011; FlagPost entry Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan – frequently asked questions, 15 October 2010; and Background Note Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan since 2001: a chronology, 16 July 2010).[1]

In November 2010, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Government of Afghanistan agreed to a formal transition process that would transfer full security responsibility to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of 2014.[2]  This process commenced in early 2011.

At the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012, NATO member states, the Government of Afghanistan and states contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed their commitment to transitioning full security responsibility to ANSF by the end of 2014.[3] At this time, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan is expected to transition from a combat role to a new mission with a training focus, which is expected to be supported by the United Nations Security Council.[4] The delegation also agreed to gradually reducing the number of ANSF personnel (military and police) from a peak of 352 000 in October 2012 to 228 500 by 2014.[5]

At the NATO Summit in Chicago, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that Australia’s main role of training and mentoring the ANSF in Uruzgan province would be completed by mid to late 2013.[6]

During the Chicago Summit, Australia signed a long-term partnership agreement with the Government of Afghanistan that deals with combating terrorism, narcotics and people smuggling; post-2014 security support; development support and increased aid; business and investment; migration cooperation; and fostering cultural links.[7]

In July 2012, formal transition to Afghan-led security responsibility commenced in Uruzgan province with the Prime Minister confirming that Australia’s role should be complete by mid to late 2013.[8]  Uruzgan was included in the third tranche of provinces to commence transition to Afghan control (The first tranche occurred on 22 March 2011 and the second on 27 November 2011).[9]

Table 1: NATO: Afghanistan transition map[10]

NATO: Afghanistan transition map 

It is expected that by mid-2013 all areas in Afghanistan will have entered the transition process. The transition period is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014 when ANSF will take full responsibility for Afghanistan’s security. The Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)[11] will transition in the same timeframe as the military forces by handing ‘over their functions to the Afghan Government, traditional development actors, non-governmental organisations and the private sector’, at which time the PRTs will dissolve.[12] Australia is the lead nation in the Uruzgan PRT.[13]

Australian military casualties

Since 2001, Australian forces have suffered 38 combat deaths as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan. As at 6 September 2012, 240 ADF members have been wounded in action in Afghanistan.

Table 2: Operation Slipper: ADF combat deaths[14]

Name

Unit

Incident

Biography

Sergeant Andrew Russell

Special Air Service Regiment

Killed on 16 February 2002 when his patrol vehicle hit a land mine.

Biography

Condolence motion
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour

Trooper David Pearce

2nd/14th Light
Horse Regiment

Killed on 8 October 2007 as a result of a roadside improvised explosive
device attack on the vehicle in which he was travelling.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Sergeant Matthew Locke

Special Air Service Regiment

Killed by Taliban insurgent small arms fire on 25 October 2007.

Biography Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Private Luke Worsley

4th Battalion, Royal
Australian Regiment (Commando)

Killed during an attack on a Taliban bomb-making factory on 23 November 2007.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Lance Corporal Jason Marks

4th Battalion, Royal
Australian Regiment (Commando)

Killed by insurgent small arms fire on 27 April 2008.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Signaller Sean McCarthy

Special Air Service Regiment

Killed when the vehicle in which he was travelling in was struck by an improvised explosive device on 8 July 2008.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Lieutenant Michael Fussell

4th Battalion, Royal
Australian Regiment (Commando)

Killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting a dismounted patrol on 27 November 2008.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Private Gregory Michael Sher

1st Commando Regiment

Killed during a rocket attack on a military compound on 4 January 2009.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Corporal Mathew Ricky Andrew Hopkins

7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed during an engagement with Taliban insurgents near Tarin Kowt on 16 March 2009.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Sergeant Brett Till

Incidents Response Regiment

Killed while attempting to diffuse a bomb on 19 March 2009.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Private Benjamin Ranaudo

1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 18 July 2009.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Sapper Jacob Daniel Moerland

2nd Combat Engineer Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 7 June 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry report not publically available
Roll of Honour

Sapper Darren James Smith

2nd Combat Engineer Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 7 June 2010.

Biography         

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry report not publically available
Roll of Honour

Private Timothy James Aplin

2nd Commando Regiment

Killed in a helicopter crash on 21 June 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Private Benjamin Chuck

2nd Commando Regiment

Killed in a helicopter crash on 21 June 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Private Scott Travis Palmer

2nd Commando Regiment

Killed in a helicopter crash on 21 June 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Private Nathan Bewes

6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 9 July 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Trooper Jason Thomas Brown

Special Air Service Regiment

Killed by Taliban insurgent small arms fire on 13 August 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Private Tomas Dale

6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 20 August 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate

Inquiry report not publically available

Roll of Honour

Private Grant Walter Kirby

6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 20 August 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions House Of Representatives and Senate

Inquiry report not publically available
Roll of Honour

Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney

6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed in action during a fire-fight against Taliban insurgents on 24 August 2010.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate

Inquiry findings
Roll of Honour

Corporal Richard Atkinson

1st Combat Engineer Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 2 February 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate

Inquiry report not publically available
Roll of Honour

Sapper Jamie Ronald Larcombe

1st Combat Engineer Regiment

Killed in action during a fire-fight against insurgents on    19 February 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry report not publically available
Roll of Honour

Sergeant Brett Wood

2nd Commando Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 23 May 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives only
Inquiry report not publically available
Roll of Honour

Lance Corporal Andrew Jones

9th Force Support Battalion

Killed during an incident at a Combat Outpost in the Chora Valley on 30 May 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives only

Inquiry details
Roll of Honour

Lieutenant Marcus Sean Case

6th Aviation Regiment

Killed when an Australian Chinook helicopter crashed on 30 May 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives only

No inquiry details
Roll of Honour

Sapper Rowan Robinson

Incident Response Regiment

Killed during an engagement against insurgents on 6 June 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives only No inquiry details
Roll of Honour

Sergeant Todd Matthew Langley

2nd Commando Regiment

Killed during an engagement against insurgents on 4 July 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
Inquiry report not publically available
Roll of Honour

Private Matthew Lambert

2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed by an improvised explosive device on 22 August 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour

Captain Bryce Duffy

4th Field regiment

Killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 October 2011.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour (11 November 2012)

Corporal Ashley Birt

1st Topographic Survey Squadron

Killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 October 2011

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour        (11 November 2012)

Lance Corporal Luke Gavin

2nd battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 October 2011

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour (11 November 2012)

Sergeant Blaine Diddams

Special Air Service Regiment

Killed during small arms engagement 2 July 2012

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour        (11 November 2012)

Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic

2nd/14th  Light Horse Regiment, Queensland Mounted Infantry

Insider attack at patrol base Wahab, Baluchi Valley, on 29 August 2012.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour (11 November 2012)

Sapper James Martin

3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Insider attack at patrol base Wahab, Baluchi Valley, on 29 August 2012.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour        (11 November 2012)

Private Robert Poate

3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Insider attack at patrol base Wahab, Baluchi Valley, on 29 August 2012.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour (11 November 2012)

Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald

2nd Commando Regiment

Killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand province on 30 August 2012.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour (11 November 2012)

Private Nathanael Galagher

2nd Commando Regiment

Killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand province on 30 August 2012.

Biography

Condolence motions: House of Representatives and Senate
No inquiry details
Roll of Honour (11 November 2012)

 

Military working dogs

As at 21 August 2012, the ADF had 13 working dogs in Afghanistan. Explosive Detection Dogs (EDDs) share the dangers of the ADF personnel they work with and eight EDDs have been killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or small arms fire.[15]  There is a memorial commemorating the dogs that have died during operations in Afghanistan at Poppys, the Australian forces recreation area in the Multi-National Base Tarin Kot.[16] The memorial also includes the name of Sapper Darren Smith, who was killed along with his dog Herbie by an IED in June 2010.

More information about the role of dogs in Afghanistan, and in Australian military history generally, can be found on the website of the Australian Defence Force Trackers and War Dogs Association and its sister site Aussiewardogs.org.

First Australian civilian casualty

In addition to the ADF casualties noted above, a member of the Australian Civilian Corps (ACC), David Savage, was seriously injured in a suicide bomb blast in Uruzgan province on 26 March 2012. Mr Savage is the first Australian civilian to be wounded in Afghanistan.[17]

Afghan civilian casualties

There are no reliable figures for Afghan civilian casualties, and ‘serious definitional problems in deciding what to report’.[18] Systematic collection of data about civilian casualties in Afghanistan only began in 2007.

The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) publishes a twice yearly report Afghanistan Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The mid-2012 edition of this publication states that:

…[i]n the first six months of 2012, the armed conflict in Afghanistan continued to take a devastating toll on civilians. Between 1 January and 30 June 2012, conflict-related violence resulted in 3,099 civilian casualties or 1,145 civilians killed and 1,954 others injured, a 15 percent decrease in overall civilian casualties compared with the same period in 2011 when UNAMA documented 3,654 civilian casualties (1,510 killed and 2,144 injured).[19]

UNAMA stated that there were a total of 3021 civilian deaths in Afghanistan in the year 2011 alone. As the table below shows, this number has steadily increased since UNAMA began reporting in 2007.

Table 3: Civilian deaths in Afghanistan[20]

2007

1523

2008

2118

2009

2412

2010

2790

2011

3021

 

As detailed in the graph below, the majority of casualties (deaths and injuries) are caused by what UNAMA calls Anti-Government Elements (AGE) with a smaller number attributed to Pro-Government Forces (PGF) with the balance not able to be attributed. UNAMA reports cover this issue in considerable detail.[21]

Table 4: Civilian deaths and injuries by perpetrator

Civilian deaths and injuries by perpetrator 

UNAMA acknowledges the difficulties in arriving at satisfactory numbers and commentators have been critical of the lack of detailed reporting in this and other related areas by the UN and ISAF. Writing about the broader impact of the war on Afghan civilians, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes:

The focus on civilians killed may favor ISAF, but is disguises critical problems in official reporting on the impact of the war, and the trends in the insurgency. For example, the UN report of August 8, 2012 states that, “As of 30 June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that conflict-related violence had displaced approximately 114,900 people in Afghanistan of which 17,079 were newly displaced in the first half of 2012. Conflict-induced displacement in the first six months of 2012 is 14 percent higher than in the same period last year.” This means that the human impact of the fighting displaced some 15 times as many Afghans – most living at or below the poverty level – as it killed.

There is an almost total lack of detailed public US or ISAF methodology for making such estimates, and their consistent failure to provide any meaningful public estimates of insurgent attacks and intimidation by area or trend, and recent efforts to map the shifts in insurgent influence in useful detail.[22]

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)—Troop contributing countries

Around October last year, the total authorised strength of ISAF troop contributing countries totalled 130 638 military personnel. Of that number, 2813 personnel had been killed.[23] By May 2012, ISAF military personnel had been reduced to around 129 469 from 50 troop contributing nations.[24] Of that number, there were 3171 combat related deaths.[25]  

According to the iCasualties website, 2010 remains the most deadly year for coalition forces in Afghanistan. The ‘fighting season’ in the Afghan summer of that year witnessed one of the worst months with 103 ISAF military personnel killed in June (five of whom were Australian).[26]

Table 5: Coalition deaths by year[27]

Coalition deaths by year 

In 2010 the US deployed a surge force of 33 000 additional troops to Afghanistan for a period of 18 months.[28] The US withdrew 10 000 military personnel from Afghanistan in 2011 and a further 23 000 were expected to be withdrawn by the end of September 2012. Further personnel reductions are continuing at a regular pace.[29] The US troop withdrawal is not reflected in the most recent ISAF figures listed below. 

The majority of ISAF troop contributing countries have commenced phased withdrawals of military forces in preparation for the 2014 deadline when full security responsibility is expected to be transferred to ANSF.

Table 6: ISAF country contributions, combat deaths and prospective exit dates

Contributing country

Current authorised
strength

Fatalities

Exit date (where available)

Albania

333

1

-

Armenia

126

0

-

Australia

1550

38

At the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that Australia’s main role in Uruzgan province would be completed by mid to late 2013. In July 2012, formal transition to Afghan-led security responsibility commenced in Uruzgan province with the Prime Minister confirming that the process is expected to be completed by mid to late 2013.  

Austria

3

0

-

Azerbaijan

94

0

-

Belgium

524

1

Belgium will withdraw half its troops by the end of 2012—a detachment from Kabul Airport will be replaced by Hungarian forces by 30 September 2012 and a further 230 personnel will withdraw between September and November 2012. Approximately 360 personnel will remain until the end of 2014.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

59

0

-

Bulgaria

561

0

-

Canada

950

158

Canada withdrew its forces from combat operations in December 2011. A non-combat presence remains as part of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan until the end of 2014.

Croatia

278

0

-

Czech Republic

529

5

-

Denmark

676

42

In February 2011, the Danish Government put in place an agreement on Afghanistan known as The Danish Helmand Plan 2011–2012. The Plan involves ‘adjustments of the Danish military engagement towards an increased focus on training of the Afghan security forces’ out to 2014.

El Salvador

24

0

-

Estonia

153

9

-

Finland

177

2

The Finish drawdown commenced in September 2012 with the latest rotation of military personnel involving a smaller contingent—around 50 fewer personnel. In March 2012, the Finish Parliament voted to maintain a presence in Afghanistan post-2014 to continue crisis management training.

France

3279

86

Originally President Sarkozy announced a phased withdrawal plan in June 2011 with personnel to be withdrawn gradually by the end of 2013. France withdrew 200 personnel in October 2011 leaving around 3800 personnel in country. Following a ‘green-on-blue’ incident in January 2012, in which four French personnel were killed, President Sarkozy announced his Government’s intention to withdraw all combat forces by the end of 2013. The new French President, Francoise Hollande, has since escalated the French withdrawal with all combat forces to be removed by the end of 2012.

Georgia

800

11

-

Germany

4701

53

German military forces have progressively drawn down since the end of 2011. The German Parliament voted in January 2012 to extend the mission mandate and continue lowering the number of troops in Afghanistan to 4400 by January 2013 when Parliament will vote again on Germany’s contribution to Afghanistan. All German forces will be withdrawn by 2014.

Greece

112

0

-

Hungary

339

7

In July 2011, the Hungarian Government said it expected only a small change by mid-2013. In September 2012, around 300 Hungarian military personnel deployed to Afghanistan to take over the lead role in protecting the Kabul Airport for a six month period starting 1 October 2012. Starting next Spring, Hungarian forces will begin to draw down in line with the 2014 deadline.

Iceland

6

0

-

Ireland

7

0

-

Italy

3986

47

The Italian Government is progressively reducing military personnel numbers ‘in line with other Allies’ with a view to withdrawing combat troops by 2014. Transition of the Italian operating area to Afghan responsibility commenced in May 2012.

Jordan

0

2

-

Republic of Korea

350

1

-

Latvia

175

3

-

Lithuania

237

1

-

Luxembourg

10

0

-

Malaysia

46

0

-

Mongolia

102

0

-

Montenegro

39

0

-

Netherlands

500

25

The Netherlands withdrew its 1600 strong combat forces from Uruzgan province, as the lead nation, in August 2010.  Since May 2011, the Netherlands Defence Force has assisted with the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan and is expected to continue doing so until 2014.

New Zealand

152

11

Shortly after the death of three New Zealand defence members in August 2012, the New Zealand Government announced that its Provincial Reconstruction Team would withdraw early from Afghanistan, by the end of April 2013.

Norway

515

10

Norway is expected to retain an operational military presence in Afghanistan until the end of 2014.

Poland

2420

35

At the May NATO summit in Chicago, Polish President, Bronislaw Komorowski, affirmed his country’s commitment to winding up the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan by 2014. Poland is progressively reducing troop numbers.

Portugal

155

2

-

Romania

1800

19

Romania intends to commence troop withdrawals in the second half of 2013.

Singapore

39

0

-

Slovakia

330

0

-

Slovenia

79

0

-

Spain

1596

34

Spain originally intended to commence troop withdrawal in January 2012 but the new government delayed the withdrawal by six months.

Sweden

500

5

Sweden started reducing its military presence in Afghanistan in 2012 and is working towards the 2014 deadline.

FYRO Macedonia

177

0

-

Tonga

55

0

-

Turkey

1272

14

Despite losing 12 soldiers in one incident in March 2012, the  Turkish Government has not made any significant withdrawal announcements. In fact, the Turkish Government intends to remain in Afghanistan post-2014.

Ukraine

23

0

-

United Arab Emirates

35

0

-

United Kingdom

9500

425

The UK Government announced in November 2010 that British troops will be withdrawn by 2015. Up to 500 military personnel are expected to be withdrawn by the end of 2012. British forces will be withdrawn from combat roles by 2014. The Government has yet to announce the numbers that will remain in country at that time but it will be a much reduced number.

United States

90 000

2114

In June 2011, President Obama confirmed the withdrawal of 10,000 troops by the end of 2011 with a further 23 000 to be withdrawn by the end of September 2012. Further troop reductions will take place at a continual pace until 2014 when the ANSF assumes full responsibility for security (note the 90 000 figure listed in this table is the most recent figure provided by ISAF at the time of publication).

Total

129 469

3171

The total number of fatalities includes 10 deaths that are yet to be attributed to a country.

‘Green-on-blue’ attacks

The incidence of ‘green-on-blue’ or ‘insider’ attacks—where members wearing ANSF uniforms attack ISAF personnel—has increased significantly since 2008.[30]  Since September 2008 there have been about 55 ‘green-on-blue’ incidents, which have resulted in the deaths of approximately 104 ISAF personnel and the wounding of 87 more.[31]  It has been estimated that green-on-blue attacks have caused 14 per cent of ISAF casualties in 2012 (up from six per cent in 2011).[32]

Table 7: Green-on-blue attacks: Afghanistan: 2008–August 2012[33]
Green-on-blue attacks: Afghanistan: 2008–August 2012 

A total of seven Australians have been killed by rogue Afghan personnel, and a further 12 have been wounded. This is from a total of four publicly reported incidents:

  • 30 May 2011: Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was shot by an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier while at Combat Outpost Mashal in the Chora Valley, Uruzgan Province.  According to the Department of Defence’s inquiry into Lance Corporal Jones’ death, the Afghan man shot the Australian for ‘reasons that were not able to be gleaned’.[34]
  • 29 October 2011: three Australian soldiers—Captain Bryce Duff, Corporal Ashley Birt and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin—were killed and a further seven were wounded when an ANA soldier opened fire on them at Forward Operating Base Pacemaker in Kandahar Province’s Zamto Valley.[35]
  • 9 November 2011: three Australian soldiers were wounded in eastern Uruzgan Province when an ANA soldier opened fire from an overwatch position.  Two ANA personnel were also wounded in this incident.[36]  As at 31 August 2012 the ANA soldier who allegedly perpetrated this attack was still at large.[37]
  • 28 August 2012: three Australian soldiers—Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate—were killed and a further two were wounded when an ‘individual wearing an ANA uniform fired a weapon into a group of Australian soldiers’ within the confines of Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan Province.[38]

The significance of these attacks has prompted much commentary on their possible impact on morale and strategy.  For example, retired Australian Major-General Jim Molan commented recently that:

The withdrawal strategy for the West depends on the Afghan army being competent enough to allow the West to at least maintain the fiction that the Afghans can stand on their own feet, at least until the withdrawal is complete and political embarrassment is avoided.

This requires that our soldiers work intimately with the Afghans 24/7. They live, train, and fight with them in very small groups. They advise Afghan commanders, bring Western-sourced intelligence to Afghan decision making, coordinate fire support from Western artillery and aircraft, and are very, very vulnerable.[39]

Similarly, Terry Meehan of the Returned Services League commented on the psychological impact of the most recent insider attack on Australian personnel:

Mr Meehan says the insider attack is especially distressing.

"I should imagine that the morale in Afghanistan would be quite low," he said.

"They've put a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of skill into training these people, and to have one turn against them... again... it would be very, very difficult."[40]

The causes of the rise in green-on-blue attacks have been difficult to determine.  A US military commissioned report, released in May 2011, considered some of the possible triggers for ANSF members killing ISAF personnel.  The report suggested that ‘personal clashes’ over cultural and social perceptions, rather than ‘insurgent infiltration’, have been among the key factors prompting such behaviour.  The reported noted that these attacks are becoming a ‘growing systemic threat’ which is ‘provoking a crisis of confidence and trust among Westerners training and working with ANSFs’.[41]  

More recently, some officials have raised the issue of the Taliban’s role in green-on-blue attacks.   For example, General John Allen, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, told journalists in August 2012 that about 25 per cent of green-on-blue attacks resulted from Taliban infiltration of Afghan national security forces:

We think the reasons for these attacks are complex. Some of them we do believe are about infiltration, impersonation, coercion, but some of them … are about disagreements, animosity which may have grown between the individual shooter and our forces in general, or a particular grievance.

We're trying to understand what may have caused in each case, but also in the aggregate why these attacks have occurred, and why they have increased in number in the last several weeks.[42]

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta also commented recently on the causes of the rise in green-on-blue attacks, and suggested that the Taliban was behind at least some of the attacks:

The reality is, the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost, so they’re resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc.[43]

Panetta had previously said, in March 2012, that ‘these still are sporadic incidents and I don’t think they reflect any kind of broad pattern … The Taliban of course takes credit for all of them when in fact the majority are not in fact a direct result of Taliban infiltration’.[44]

The continued prevalence of IEDs

While ‘green-on-blue’ attacks are currently receiving an understandable amount of media attention, IED attacks remain the largest cause of ISAF casualties in Afghanistan.  As with ISAF casualties generally, casualties from IED attacks have declined since 2010—in that year they were responsible for more than 50 per cent of ISAF fatalities.[45]  ISAF’s latest Monthly Trend report noted that ‘insurgents continue to rely on IEDs as a principle means to execute their campaign’ and that ‘more than 60 per cent of civilian casualties caused by insurgents result from IED explosions’.[46]

The number of ‘executed IED attacks’—meaning those where insurgents succeed in setting off the device—was 13 per cent lower for the period January–July 2012 than in January–July 2011.   If the trend for 2012 continues, it might be the first time in many years that the overall number of IED attacks has decreased when compared to the previous year.  This decline in the number of attacks has also manifested itself in a decline in the number of ISAF fatalities from IED blasts.   According to the iCasaulties website, the proportion of ISAF fatalities as a result of IED attacks has fallen to 44 per cent this year, down from 51 per cent in 2011 and 58 per cent in 2010.[47]  The following graph, supplied by ISAF, provides information on the number of ‘executed’ IED attacks between January 2008 and July 2012:

Table 8: IED attacks: Afghanistan: January 2008–July 2012[48]

IED attacks: Afghanistan: January 2008–July 2012 

Australian aid to Afghanistan

According to the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), ‘the goal of Australia's development assistance program is to strengthen the capacity of Afghan institutions to govern effectively’.[49]

Since 2001 Australia has provided about $916 million in official development assistance to Afghanistan.  A further $201.7 million is provided for in the 2012–13 Budget, representing about 4 per cent of Australia’s total official development assistance (ODA) budget.

Table 9: Australia’s ODA to Afghanistan FY 2001–02 to FY 2011–12 (A$ million; current prices)[50]

Year

ODA (A$ millions)

2001–2002

$26.5

2002–2003

$21.5

2003–2004

$23.7

2004–2005

$22.8

2005–2006

$20.7

2006–2007

$77.2

2007–2008

$137.9

2008–2009

$155.9

2009–2010

$113.3

2010–2011

$111.3

2011–2012 (estimated outcome)

$204.8

2012–13 (budget estimate)

$201.7

Total

$1117.3

 

In May 2012 the Australian Government announced that it would increase its ODA to Afghanistan to $250 million per year from 2015–16.  According to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr:

Australia’s aid will help Afghanistan expand basic service delivery in health and education, including for women and girls.

Our assistance will also help improve livelihoods in agriculture, promote rural development and help improve governance and public financial management.

…[It is] important for the international community to provide sustained, reliable support to help Afghanistan meet its development challenges and to protect recent gains in areas like health and education.

International development assistance, together with support for security, will help underpin Afghanistan’s stability.[51]

On 8 July 2012 Foreign Minister Carr signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on development cooperation with Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal.[52]  The MoU sets out mutual ‘partnership priorities’ for Australian ODA to Afghanistan:

  • security: ‘achieve nationwide stabilisation, strengthen law enforcement, and improve personal security for every Afghan’
  • governance, rule of law and human rights: ‘strengthen democratic processes and institutions, human rights, the rule of law, delivery of public services and government accountability’, and
  • economic and social development: ‘reduce poverty, ensure sustainable development through a private-sector-led market economy, improve human development indicators, and make significant progress towards the [Millennium Development Goals]’.[53]

Key Government statements on Australia’s military commitment to Afghanistan, September 2001–October 2011

The table below references some of the significant Australian Government statements made throughout Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan and highlights the key points of each announcement. 

Table 10: Key Australian Government statements

Date

Key points

Sources

14 September 2001

Prime Minister John Howard announced that the Government was invoking Article IV of the ANZUS Treaty in response to the terrorist attacks against the US.

J Howard (Prime Minister), Application of ANZUS Treaty to terrorist attacks on the United States, media release, 14 September 2001.

3 December 2001

Defence Minister Robert Hill stated that the first of Australia’s initial contribution of 150 special forces personnel (the Special Forces Task Group) had arrived in Afghanistan.

R Hill (Minister for Defence), Australian Defence Forces in Afghanistan, media release, 3 December 2001.

19 April 2002

Defence Minister Hill declared that Australia’s military commitment to operations in Afghanistan were for ‘the long haul.'

R Hill (Minister for Defence), Australian Defence Force contribution to the war against terrorism, media release, 19 April 2002.

20 November 2002

Defence Minister Robert Hill announced that the third rotation of Australia’s Special Forces Task Group would ‘complete Australia’s special forces contribution’ in Afghanistan. From 17 December 2002, Australia’s military commitment in Afghanistan would be minimal. 

R Hill (Minister for Defence), Australian Special Forces to return from Afghanistan, media release, 20 November 2002.

13 July 2005

Prime Minister John Howard announced that a 190 member Australian special forces element would return to Afghanistan for a period of twelve months in support of the ‘legitimate Government in Afghanistan [that] has come under increasing attack and pressure from the Taliban in particular and some elements of Al Qaeda.’

J Howard (Prime Minister), Troop deployment to Afghanistan, Telstra, Rau family, press conference transcript, 13 July 2005.

10 January 2006

Defence Minister Robert Hill announced that an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter detachment (two helicopters and 110 personnel) would be deployed to Afghanistan in March 2006. The detachment was expected to remain in Afghanistan for the duration of the Special Forces Task Group deployment (until September 2006).

R Hill (Minister for Defence), Chinooks to deploy to Afghanistan, media release, 10 January 2006.

21 February 2006

The Australian Government announced that a 240-personnel ‘reconstruction task force’ would be deployed to Afghanistan in support of the Dutch-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan Province for a ‘period of up to two years.’

J Howard (Prime Minister), Australian contribution to a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan, media release, 21 February 2006.

9 August 2006

In a speech to the House of Representatives, Prime Minister John Howard announced that an extra 150 personnel would be sent to Afghanistan to ‘reinforce the reconstruction task force and to provide enhanced force protection.’

This statement also detailed Australia’s deployment to Afghanistan and defined ISAF’s revised mission in Afghanistan, which was:

[F]irstly, to provide a secure environment to allow Afghans to rebuild their society free from violence and extremism and, secondly, to strengthen Afghanistan’s institutions so that they can provide a stronger framework for democratisation, religious tolerance and economic growth.

J Howard (Prime Minister), ‘Ministerial statements: Afghanistan, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 August 2006, pp. 83–85.

10 April 2007

Prime Minister John Howard revealed that another Special Forces Task Group, this time comprising around 300 personnel, would be deployed to Afghanistan (the second special forces task force returned to Australia in approximately September 2006).  The deployment of this third special forces element was:

[B]ased on the Government’s steadfast commitment to helping Afghanistan’s democratically elected government create a secure and stable environment in that country, and on Defence’s advice that the increasing threat posed by the insurgency requires the deployment of additional force protection and support elements.

Prime Minister John Howard noted that the total expected ADF deployment in Afghanistan was to ‘peak’ at approximately 1000 personnel by mid-2008, including the Reconstruction Task Force (RFT), the RTF Protection Company Group, the Special Operations Task Group, and the RAAF air surveillance radar capability.

J Howard (Prime Minister), More troops for Afghanistan, media release, 10 April 2007.

19 February 2008

Following Labor’s election victory in November 2007, the new Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, announced that the Government would maintain its current commitment in Afghanistan but would place a new emphasis on training Afghan national army members.

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon announced that an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) would soon be embedded within an Afghan army battalion (known as a Kandak).

At that time, the authorised strength of Australian personnel in support of Australian operations in Afghanistan was 1078.

J Fitzgibbon, ‘Ministerial statements: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 February 2008, pp. 692–3.

A Houston (Chief of the Defence Force), evidence to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Additional Budget Estimates, Hansard, 20 February 2008, p. 8.

23 February 2009

In a Ministerial statement to the House of Representatives on Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon noted Australia’s increased involvement in meetings about NATO-led operations in Afghanistan. Following the Defence Ministers meeting in Poland in February 2009, the goal was set for ISAF to train up to 130 000 Afghan National Security Force members ‘in the not-too-distant future’.

J Fitzgibbon (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial statements: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 February 2009, p. 1429.

29 April 2009

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that Australia would increase its troop commitment in Afghanistan to 1 550 personnel. The increased troop level aimed to enhance the ADF’s training mission so that the Afghan National Army could take responsibility for security in Uruzgan Province much sooner.  Prime Minister Rudd defined Australia’s mission in Afghanistan in the following terms:

Strategic denial of Afghanistan as a training ground and operating base for global terrorist organisations; second, stabilisation of the Afghan state through a combination of military, police and civilian effort to the extent necessary to consolidate this primary mission of strategic denial; and third, in Australia’s case, to make this contribution in Uruzgan Province in partnership with our allies, with the objective of training sufficient Afghan National Army and police forces and to enhance the capacity of the Uruzgan provincial administration in order to hand over responsibility for the province in a reasonable time-frame to the Afghans themselves.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd framed the announcement of increased troop numbers as a means—by providing sufficient personnel to effectively train the Afghan National Army’s 4th Brigade—to create the conditions suitable for the withdrawal of Australian combat units.

K Rudd (Prime Minister), Troop deployment in Afghanistan; COAG; welfare; tax bonus payments, press conference transcript, 29 April 2009

Department of Defence, Government announces increase in ADF forces in Afghanistan, media release, 29 April 2009.

 

12 August 2009

In a Ministerial Statement on Afghanistan, the Defence Minister, John Faulkner, stated his intention to provide regular updates to the Parliament on Australia’s role in Afghanistan.  Senator Faulkner stated that he wanted ‘to ensure that the Australian parliament and the Australian people are properly informed and able to make considered judgements about our involvement in’ Afghanistan.

(Since August 2009 regular updates on Afghanistan have been provided to Parliament; the tradition being maintained by the current Defence Minister, Stephen Smith). 

Senator J Faulkner (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan, Senate, Debates, 12 August 2009, pp. 4743–4749.

28 January 2010

At the London Conference on Afghanistan, which, among other things, agreed on the timetable for a phased transition of security responsibility from the ISAF to the Afghan Government by 2014, Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, announced that Australia would provide additional aid to Afghanistan to contribute to the goals laid out at the conference. This would include:

$50 million to the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund run by the World Bank

$25 million to the newly established Peace and Reintegration Fund

$20 million in additional funding for demining initiatives

$4 million to the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture (through the Asia Foundation), and

$1 million to help fund the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission for its operations in Uruzgan province

Foreign Minister Smith emphasised that the international community now had a ‘coherent civil and political strategy, running parallel with the military strategy’.

S Smith (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Transcript: Doorstop at the London Conference on Afghanistan, media release, 28 January 2010.

18 March 2010

In his third parliamentary update on Afghanistan, Defence Minister Faulkner announced that the personnel strength currently deployed to Afghanistan would remain at 1550 for the remainder of the year.

J Faulkner (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan, Senate, Debates, 18 March 2010, pp. 2252–2258.

23 June 2010

In his fourth parliamentary update on Afghanistan, Defence Minister Faulkner announced that with the Dutch withdrawal scheduled for August 2010, ISAF agreed to new arrangements establishing a US-led multi-national command structure in Uruzgan province, which would comprise military and civilian elements. He also revealed the potential for Australia’s military presence in Afghanistan to be drawn down within the next two to four years:

After the Netherlands starts drawing down after August 1, a new multinational International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) structure will take command in Uruzgan. Under the new arrangements, the United States will lead a multi-national “Combined Team – Uruzgan” (CTU) under an ISAF flag... Australia will provide a civilian leader for the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) ... On the basis of solid progress in our training efforts to date, CDF has recently advised me that within two to four years we should be able to transition the main security responsibility for the province to the Afghan National Army. Following a successful transition of this responsibility, I expect consideration would be given for the ADF to move into an overwatch role.

J Faulkner (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan, Senate, Debates, 23 June 2010, pp. 4183–4188.

12 October 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the date for a formal parliamentary debate on Afghanistan.  The Prime Minister’s media release noted:

The Prime Minister said she believed it was important that all Australians understood the critical mission in Afghanistan.

This debate will provide an opportunity to fully explain the Government's ongoing support for the current International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan.

A commitment to hold a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan was contained in the Australian Labor Party-Greens Agreement signed following the August 2010 federal election.

J Gillard (Prime Minister), Parliament to debate Australia's involvement in Afghanistan, media release, 12 October 2010.

19 October 2010

Opening the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan, Prime Minister Julia Gillard highlighted Australia’s exit strategy for Afghanistan, stating:

The international community and the Afghan government are agreed on a clear pathway forward. The Kabul conference in July welcomed the Afghan government’s determination that the Afghan National Security Forces should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014.

J Gillard (Prime Minister), ‘Ministerial Statements: Afghanistan, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 October 2010, pp. 692–697.

23 March 2011

In a parliamentary update on the situation in Afghanistan, the Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, focused on the transfer of security responsibility in Afghanistan, emphasising that ‘transition will be a process rather than a single event’ and that ‘we believe the Uruzgan transition process can occur over the next three years, between 2012 and 2014’.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 March 2011, pp. 2698–2971.

13 October 2011

In a parliamentary update on Afghanistan, Defence Minister Smith stated that Afghan forces were ‘on track’ to take over security in Uruzgan Province ‘by 2014’.  Mr Smith also noted that ISAF forces in Uruzgan were ‘progressively transitioning control’ of checkpoints and operating bases to Afghan forces.  Finally, Defence Minister Stephen Smith confirmed that there would continue to be an Australian presence in Afghanistan after 2014:

Australia has made clear it expects to maintain a presence in Afghanistan after our current training and mentoring mission has concluded, potentially through institutional training, a Special Forces presence, military advisers, capacity building and development assistance.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 2011, pp. 11 789–11 792.

21 November 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard updated parliament on the progress of Australia’s whole of government effort in Afghanistan, including contributions from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Agency for International Development and the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The Prime Minister reported that progress in transitioning to Afghan-led security responsibility by 2014 is on track, however:

…the timing to complete transition in Uruzgan is not yet decided. But given the progress we now see, it may well be complete before the end of 2014. And once our mission to train and mentor the 4th Brigade is complete, we will draw down the number of ADF personnel in the country.

The ADF training and transition mission was expected to be completed ‘over the next three years’ but the AFP mission in training the Afghan National Police will continue. Additionally, ‘Government will keep under consideration a continued Australian Special Forces presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014’.

J Gillard (Prime Minister), ‘Prime Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 November 2011, pp. 12 895–12 900.

24 November 2011

In his final parliamentary update on Afghanistan for 2011, Defence Minister Smith provided more information on the ‘transition’ in Uruzgan province:

By the first half of 2012, the Australian Mentoring Task Force should be in a position to reduce its footprint to as few as four main locations in Uruzgan, with mobile mentoring teams able to assist Afghan partners…when required.

On our current advice and projections, the 4th Brigade, as a whole, is expected to be operationally viable and ready for provincial transition by 2014, possibly earlier.

The Defence Minister highlighted that planning for the post-transition period had already begun, including the possibility of Australia being involved in a British-led Afghan National Army Officer Academy.

Mr Smith also commented on the two ‘green-on-blue’ attacks that had resulted in the death of three Australian soldiers and the wounding of a further 10, noting that the ADF was carrying out a review of ‘our force protection measures, our mentoring model and living arrangements in Afghanistan, to ensure the risks of these types of attacks are minimised’.

Finally, the Defence Minister announced that a team of Australian military interrogators would be deployed to Afghanistan in preparation ‘for next year’s northern summer fighting season’.  Smith argued that this would ‘help ensure that Australian forces have a larger, more accurate understanding of the insurgency’.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 November 2011, pp. 13 742–13 747.

28 November 2011

Following Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s announcement of a second tranche of districts to be handed over to Afghan security responsibility, Prime Minister Gillard said that this ‘underlines the progress made this year’.  The Prime Minister reaffirmed that the timing for transition to Afghan responsibility in Uruzgan Province was yet to be decided.

J Gillard (Prime Minister), President Karzai’s transition announcement, media release, 28 November 2011

3 February 2012

During a meeting of NATO/ISAF Defence Ministers in Brussels on 2–3 February 2012, Defence Minister Smith told a journalist that he believed that Afghan national security forces  would be playing the lead role in security in ‘most if not all’ of Afghanistan by mid-2013.  Smith also noted there was a ‘good prospect’ that Uruzgan Province would be in the third tranche of territories to be handed over to Afghan security control.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), Interview with Michael Rowland, ABC News Breakfast, transcript, media release, 3 February 2012.

9 February 2012

In a parliamentary update, Defence Minister Smith emphasised that the international community needed to be making decisions about their post-2014 commitment to Afghanistan.   Smith outlined three key issues that the Government believed needed to be discussed at the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago (20–21 May 2012):

  1. the way forward to 2014/the transition process
  2. the size of the Afghan National Security Forces  ‘that is sufficient to ensure and sustain security for Afghanistan in the longer term beyond 2014’ and how this force will be funded and
  3. the nature of the international community’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan and the Afghan military.

On the last point, the Defence Minister again suggested that part of Australia’s post-2014 commitment could be a Special Forces presence.

Mr Smith also noted that while Uruzgan was likely to be part of the ‘third tranche’ of areas where responsibility for security would be handed over to Afghan forces, the actual transition would occur over 12–18 months.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 February 2012, pp. 531–534.

18 March 2012

Defence Minister Smith again noted that Australia expected that Uruzgan Province would be part of the ‘third tranche’ of areas to be transferred to Afghan security control.  On this occasion he said that ‘this will occur in the middle of this year and we will then be there supporting and assisting but the lead security role will go to the Afghan security forces’.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), Interview with Paul Bongiorno, Meet The Press, transcript, media release, 18 March 2012.

19 April 2012

In their statement to the NATO/ISAF Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers’ Meeting (16–19 April 2012), the Foreign and Defence Ministers outlined what Australia might contribute to Afghanistan beyond 2014:

  • continual training of Afghan forces, through both the Artillery Training School and the UK-led Afghan National Army Officer Academy (Australia has committed to providing 25 personnel for the latter Academy)
  • a Special Forces contribution ‘under the right mandate’ and
  • financial contributions to the Afghan National Security Forces.

S Smith (Minister for Defence) and B Carr (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Joint statement on Afghanistan, media release, 19 April 2012.

10 May 2012

In this parliamentary update, the Defence Minister focused on ‘detainee management’.  Smith detailed the detainee management process, how it is monitored, and how allegations of mistreatment are dealt with.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 May 2012, pp. 4487–4490.

14 May 2012

On 13 May 2012 the Afghan Government announced a third set of geographical areas to enter the transition process—the so-called ‘third tranche’.   This included Uruzgan Province, and Prime Minister Gillard and Defence Minister Smith said in a media release:

With the third tranche of transition, more than 75 percent of Afghanistan’s population will live in areas under Afghan security lead.

Transition is a gradual process, not an event, achieved when the conditions are right on a province-by-province and district-by-district basis.

The inclusion of Uruzgan province in Tranche 3 reflects the progress made by Afghan, Australian and ISAF military and civilian teams in improving security and in the training and mentoring of the Afghan National Security Forces.

As transition gets underway in Uruzgan, Australia’s Mentoring Task Force and Special Operations forces will support Afghan National Security Forces as they progressively take the lead for security.

As ISAF has said, the complete process of transition in an area can take 12-18 months, meaning that Australia’s target of completing transition in Uruzgan by the end of 2014, and possibly earlier, is on track.

J Gillard (Prime Minister) and S Smith (Minister for Defence), Transition in Afghanistan, media release, 14 May 2012.

16 May 2012

In the lead-up to the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago (20–21 May 2012), the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence announced that Australia would contribute $100 million annually for three years from 2015 ‘to help sustain and support Afghan National Security Forces beyond the transition process’.

J Gillard (Prime Minister) and S Smith (Minister for Defence), Australia commits to ongoing stability in Afghanistan, media release, 16 May 2012.

20 May 2012

During the NATO Summit in Chicago Prime Minister Gillard and Foreign Minister Carr announced that Australian aid to Afghanistan would grow from $165 million per year—the 2011–12 budget figure—to $250 million per year by 2015–16.  The Prime Minister stated that providing development assistance, along with ‘support for security’, will ‘help underpin Afghanistan’s stability’.

J Gillard (Prime Minister) and B Carr (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Vital aid assistance to Afghanistan, media release, 20 May 2012.

20 May 2012

Also during the NATO Summit, Prime Minister Gillard and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the Comprehensive Long-term Partnership Between Australia and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan agreement.  According to the Prime Minister this represented ‘a clear demonstration of Australia’s long-term commitment to supporting Afghanistan’s security, development and governance following transition’. 

J Gillard (Prime Minister), Australia and Afghanistan sign long-term partnership, media release, 20 May 2012.

24 May 2012

Defence Minister Smith, in a parliamentary update, outlined the outcomes of the NATO Summit, stating that NATO/ISAF countries had agreed:

  • on a ‘clear road map’ of the transition process
  • to fund, train and support the Afghan National Security Forces beyond 2014 and
  • to support Afghanistan’s development in the long-term.

Defence Minister Smith also discussed the transition process in Uruzgan Province, noting that while the ‘Afghan National Army 4th Brigade is progressing towards being able to operate independently’, Australian forces must still be prepared to support Afghan operations.

 

S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 May 2012, pp. 5459–5462.

31 May 2012

The Government announced that Australia was taking on the leadership role of Combined Team Uruzgan (CTU).   Previously, in June 2010, the US had taken command of CTU following the withdrawal of the Netherlands from the conflict; the Minister for Defence argued:

A lot has changed since the two years that have elapsed since [June 2010]. We’re in a much better position in terms of security on the ground, our training and mentoring of the 4th Brigade is going well, we now see the transition of Uruzgan itself, [and] our security arrangements are in a much better position than they were then.

According to the Defence Minister this put Australia ‘in a better position to manage the transition process in Uruzgan’.   There was to be no change in average troop numbers or ‘authorised strength’.  Australia was to take command of CTU in late 2012.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), Press conference: Combined Team Uruzgan, transcript, media release, 31 May 2012.

8 July 2012

On 8 July 2012 Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Afghanistan to facilitate Australia’s development assistance contribution between 2012 and 2017.  Foreign Minister Bob Carr stated at the time that Australia had developed a ‘road map’ for its development assistance program in Afghanistan, to focus on education, rural development and financial and electoral management.

B Carr (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Australia’s roadmap for Afghan aid: education, jobs and governance, media release, 8 July 2012.

17 July 2012

The Australian Government welcomed the formal start of the transition process in Uruzgan, noting that the transition ‘is on track for completion over the next 12 to 18 month period’.

J Gillard (Prime Minister), B Carr (Minister for Foreign Affairs) and S Smith (Minister for Defence), Uruzgan province begins transition, media release, 17 July 2012.

16 August 2012

In the most recent Ministerial Statement on Afghanistan, Defence Minister Smith updated parliament on a number of aspects of Australia’s commitment to that conflict, including:

  • Australian casualties
  • high profile attacks by the Taliban
  • ‘green on blue’ incidents
  • detainee management and interrogation
  • allegations of mistreatment made against Australian personnel and
  • civilian casualties.

S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Ministerial Statement: Afghanistan’, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 August 2012, pp. 1–5.

 



[1].       N Brangwin, M Harris, R Tomar and D Watt, Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan: revised facts and figures, Background Note, 2011–12, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 22 November 2011, viewed 10 September 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/library/prspub/1244230/upload_binary/1244230.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22library/prspub/1244230%22; N Brangwin, Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan—update,  FlagPost, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 10 June 2011, viewed 10 September 2012, http://parliamentflagpost.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/australias-military-involvement-in.html; N Brew, N Brangwin, M Harris, R Tomar, and D Watt, Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan—frequently asked questions, FlagPost, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 15 October 2010, viewed 10 September 2012, http://parliamentflagpost.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/australias-involvement-in-afghanistan.html; and N Brangwin,  Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan since 2001: a chronology, Background Note, 2010–11, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 16 July 2010, viewed 10 September 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/library/prspub/QUBX6/upload_binary/qubx62.pdf;fileType%3Dapplication%2Fpdf#search=%22library/prspub/QUBX6%22

[2].       North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Lisbon summit declaration on Afghanistan, Lisbon, NATO website, 20 November 2010, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_68828.htm?mode=pressrelease 

[3].       North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Chicago summit declaration on Afghanistan, Chicago, NATO website, 21 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-E0C3D740-119C37D9/natolive/official_texts_87595.htm

[4].       Ibid.

[5].       Ibid. 

[6].       J Gillard (Prime Minister), NATO-ISAF summit; Afghanistan; Craig Thomson, Chicago, transcript, press conference, 21 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/transcript-joint-press-conference-chicago

[7].       J Gillard (Prime Minister), Australia and Afghanistan sign long-term partnership, media release, 20 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/australia-and-afghanistan-sign-long-term-partnership

[8].       J Gillard (Prime Minister), Uruzgan province begins transition, media release, 17 July 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/uruzgan-province-begins-transition

[9].       J Gillard (Prime Minister), Transition in Afghanistan, media release, 14 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/transition-afghanistan and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Transition to Afghan lead: Inteqal, ISAF media backgrounder, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.nato.int/nato_static/assets/pdf/pdf_topics/20120516_media_backgrounder_transition_en.pdf

[10].      NATO/ISAF, Transition to Afghan lead: Inteqal, NATO website, updated May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.nato.int/nato_static/assets/pdf/pdf_topics/20120516_media_backgrounder_transition_en.pdf

[11].      ISAF provides Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in support of reconstruction and development (R&D) projects in Afghanistan. PRTs help to secure ‘areas in which reconstruction work is conducted by other national and international actors… and practical support for R&D efforts, as well as support for humanitarian assistance efforts conducted by Afghan Government organizations, international organizations, and non-government organisations’. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), About ISAF, ISAF website, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.isaf.nato.int/mission.html

[12].      Ibid.

[13].      International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), RC-South, ISAF website, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.isaf.nato.int/subordinate-commands/rc-south/index.php

[14].      Department of Defence, Battle casualties, Department of Defence website, updated 3 September 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.defence.gov.au/vale/; Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial website, viewed 10 September 2012, https://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/; and Parliament of Australia, House of Representatives and Senate, Debates, various dates, viewed 10 September 2012, http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard

[15].      The story of two of these dogs can be found at Department of Defence, Two brave friends will be missed, Department of Defence website, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.defence.gov.au/defencenews/stories/2012/aug/0828a.htm

[16].      Department of Defence, A memorial for Australia’s Explosive Detection Dogs Killed in Action in Afghanistan, media release, 5 July 2011, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.defence.gov.au/defencenews/stories/2011/jul/0705.htm

[17].      D Ellery, ‘Canberra man hurt in suicide bombing’, Canberra Times, 28 March 2012, p.1, viewed 10 September 2012,

          http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F1528145%22

[18].      A Cordesman, Coalition, ANSF and civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict from 2001 through August 2012, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 4 September 2012, p. 2, viewed 10 September 2012, http://csis.org/files/publication/120904_Afghan_Iraq_Casulaties.pdf

[19].      United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Afghanistan: mid-year report 2012 protection of civilians in armed conflict, United Nations, Kabul, July 2012, p. 1, viewed 10 September 2012, http://unama.unmissions.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=-_vDVBQY1OA%3d&tabid=12254&language=en-US

[20].      United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Afghanistan: Annual report 2011: protection of civilians in armed conflict, United Nations, Kabul, February 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://unama.unmissions.org/Portals/UNAMA/Documents/UNAMA%20POC%202011%20Report_Final_Feb%202012.pdf

[21].      A Cordesman, Coalition, ANSF and civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict from 2001 through August 2012, op. cit., p. 28.

[22].      A Cordesman, Coalition, ANSF and civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict from 2001 through August 2012, op. cit., p. 7.

[23].      N Brangwin, M Harris, R Tomar and D Watt, Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan: revised facts and figures, Background Note, 2011–12, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 22 November 2011, pp. 11–12, viewed 10 September 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22library%2Fprspub%2F1244230%22

[24].      International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF): key facts and figures, ISAF website, 10 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/epub/pdf/placemat.pdf

[25].      iCasualties, Operation Enduring Freedom: Afghanistan, icasualties.org, viewed 4 September 2012, http://icasualties.org/OEF/index.aspx

[26].      Ibid.

[27].      iCasualties, Operation Enduring Freedom: Afghanistan, op. cit.

[28].      B Obama (President of the United States), Remarks by the President in address to the nation on the way forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, United States Military Academy, transcript, West Point New York, 1 December 2009, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan

[29].      B Obama (President of the United States), Remarks by the President on the way forward in Afghanistan, Washington, transcript, 22 June 2011, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/22/remarks-president-way-forward-afghanistan and B Obama (President of the United States), Remarks by Obama in address to the nation from Afghanistan, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, transcript, 1 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/01/remarks-president-address-nation-afghanistan

[30].      ‘Green-on-blue’ refers to the NATO classification of friendly local forces as ‘green’ and NATO/ISAF forces as ‘blue’.

[31].      These figures have been taken from B Roggio and L Lundquist, ‘Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data’, Long War Journal, updated 28 August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/08/green-on-blue_attack.php; other sources, such as the New America Foundation, cited slightly different figures.

[32].      ‘Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data’, op. cit.

[33].      Figures from Ibid.

[34].      Department of Defence, Inquiry Officer Inquiry into the facts and circumstances associated with an incident that related to the death of [redacted] Lance Corporal Andrew Gordon Jones in Afghanistan on 30 May 2011, redacted report released by the Department of Defence, 29 June 2012, p. 4, viewed 5 September 2012, http://www.defence.gov.au/coi/reports/Report-120302-CDF-IOI-into-death-of-LCPL-Jones.pdf

[35].      S Robert (Shadow Minister for Defence, Science, Technology and Personnel), ‘Condolences: Duffy, Captain Bryce, Birt, Corporal Ashley, Gavin, Lance Corporal Luke’, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 November 2011, p. 12 641, viewed 5 September 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;db=CHAMBER;id=chamber%2Fhansardr%2F3641b583-a42e-4045-9472-07db51574a42%2F0297;orderBy=customrank;page=0;query=duffy%20afghanistan%20Date%3A29%2F10%2F2011%20%3E%3E%2029%2F11%2F2011;rec=0;resCount=Default 

[36].      Department of Defence, Three Australian Diggers wounded in shooting attack in Afghanistan, media release, 9 November 2011, viewed 10 September 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressrel/1213828/upload_binary/1213828.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22media/pressrel/1213828%22

[37].      Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith said on 31 August 2012 that the ‘person who wounded three Australian soldiers [on 29 October 2011] is on the run, he's not in our area of operation, we know that, but he continues to be pursued’; ‘Smith says Australia will stay the course in Afghanistan’, ABC News, 31 August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-31/smith-says-australia-will-stay-the-course-in-afghanistan/4235542?WT.svl=news0

[38].      Department of Defence, Three Australian soldiers killed, two wounded in insider attack, media release, 30 August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://news.defence.gov.au/2012/08/30/three-australian-soldiers-killed-two-wounded-in-insider-attack/

[39].      J Molan, ‘Trust is worth the risk for our soldiers’, The Drum, ABC News website, 30 August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4230684.html

[40].      ‘Morale low after death of Queensland soldiers’, ABC News, 31 August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-31/morale-low-after-death-of-queensland-soldiers/4234866

[41].      Bordin (N2KL Red Team Political and Military Behavioral Scientist), A crisis of trust and cultural incompatibility: a Red Team study of mutual perceptions of Afghan National Security Force personnel and US soldiers in understanding and mitigating the phenomena of ANSF-committed fratricide-murders, 12 May 2011, p. 3, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.michaelyon-online.com/images/pdf/trust-incompatibility.pdf

[42].      J Allen (General, Commander, International Security Assistance Force), DOD News Briefing with Gen. Allen from the Pentagon, media release, 23 August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5105

[43].      J Hlad, ‘Panetta acknowledges Taliban role in increased green-on-blue attacks’, Stars and Stripes, 15 August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.stripes.com/news/panetta-acknowledges-taliban-role-in-increased-green-on-blue-attacks-1.185807

[44].      C Carroll, ‘Green-on-blue attacks not linked to Taliban, but experts say that's worse’, Stars and Stripes, 29 March 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.cnas.org/bensahel-starsandstripes

[46].      ISAF, Monthly Trends, August 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.isaf.nato.int/images/media/PDFs/20120820_niu_isaf_monthly_data_release.pdf

[47].      iCasualties, Operation Enduring Freedom: Afghanistan, iCasualties website, viewed 10 September 2012, http://icasualties.org/OEF/Index.aspx

[48].      ISAF, Monthly Trends, op. cit.

[49].      AusAID, Afghanistan, AusAID website, updated 23 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.ausaid.gov.au/countries/southasia/afghanistan/Pages/home.aspx

[50].      AusAID, Statistical Summary, various years, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.ausaid.gov.au/publications/pubout.cfm?ID=9266_4050_7172_5723_8240&Type=PubStatisticalData&FromSection=Publications;  AusAID, Annual Report, various years, viewed 5 September 2012, http://www.ausaid.gov.au/annualreports/Pages/default.aspx; and B Carr (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Budget: Australia’s international development assistance program 2012–13, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 8 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.budget.gov.au/2012-13/content/ministerial_statements/ausaid/download/ausaid.pdf  

[51].      J Gillard (Prime Minister) and B Carr (Minster for Foreign Affairs), Vital aid assistance for Afghanistan, media release, 20 May 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressrel/1650030/upload_binary/1650030.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22media/pressrel/1650030%22

[52].      Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Government of Australia, Memorandum of Understanding: ‘development framework agreement’: 2012–2017, signed in Tokyo on 8 July 2012, viewed 10 September 2012, http://www.ausaid.gov.au/Publications/Documents/australia-afghanistan-mou.pdf

[53].      Ibid., p. 3.

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