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Aus Contribution To The War Against Terrorism

Australian Defence Force Contribution To The War Against Terrorism

Six months since it announced its initial commitment, the Australian Government has renewed its pledge to support the international coalition against terrorism.

The Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, said today the Government had already made a substantial military commitment of naval, land and air assets along with the deployment of Australian Defence personnel in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf on coalition operations.

"While we have achieved considerable success on the ground in Afghanistan, the broader war against terrorism will be a long one," Senator Hill said.

"Australia is in for the long haul. Part of our commitment is ensuring that our defence forces are ready to meet any new challenges that may arise. We need to rest our personnel, maintain our equipment and re-group ready for possible future operations.

"After careful consideration and in close consultation with the coalition forces leadership, we have decided that from mid-year Australia's military commitment to the coalition against terrorism will continue primarily through our Special Forces, deployment of 707 air-to-air refuellers and the Navy's contribution to the Multinational Interception Taskforce."

A new rotation of Special Forces Task Group personnel have deployed to Afghanistan and are preparing for operations.

"There are still significant concentrations of al-Quaida and Taliban in Afghanistan and this means there is more hard work ahead for the Coalition forces in operations aimed at locating and destroying these remaining terrorist groups," Senator Hill said.

One of Australia's 707 air-to-air refuellers is currently deployed to Manas in Kyrgyzstan. The second is expected to depart Australia next week. The Royal Australian Air Force detachment has spent the past week establishing some of the facilities they will need for their operation. The 707s will continue their important work as part of a planned six month deployment.

A Royal Australian Navy Task Group is providing a valuable contribution to the Multinational Interception Force (MIF) in the Persian Gulf and potential support to prosecution of the war in Afghanistan.

Australia will maintain two Navy frigates in the Gulf after the planned mid-year rotation, with HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Canberra being replaced by HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Arunta. The amphibious landing ship HMAS Manoora will return from MIF duties in June to allow for important maintenance work.

The RAAF F/A-18 fighter aircraft currently providing air defence will complete their deployment in the middle of this year having done a great job in assisting the coalition from Diego Garcia.

The Government's initial commitment of RAAF P3C surveillance aircraft have not yet deployed. The P3C fleet is now due for important upgrade work. Australia has signalled its intention to the coalition forces that this capability will again be available for potential deployment at the completion of this upgrade work.

"These changes illustrate our determination to continue fighting the war against terrorism," Senator Hill said.

"Australians can continue to be proud of the efforts of our men and women in the ADF who have successfully demonstrated once again that they are willing to contribute to peace and security throughout the world.

"Their efforts since we announced our military support to the coalition against terrorism have earned them the respect of other coalition partners for professionalism. United State military commanders have warmly praised the quality, preparedness and capabilities of the Australian Defence Force.

"I am confident that our defence forces will continue to contribute to the war against terrorism to the highest professional standards."

Ends


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