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Update of the Coalition Against Terrorism

250602 Transcript on the Update of the Coalition Against Terrorism

SUSAN HUNTER: Good morning everyone, and welcome to another update on Australia's commitment to the international Coalition Against Terrorism. This morning's update will be presented by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Tyler. I'd like to introduce you now to Lieutenant Colonel Tyler.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: Thanks, Susan. Good morning, everybody. We'll start, as we do every week, with the maritime operations. Captain Peter Sinclair has arrived to command the Australian task group conducting maritime interception force operations in the Gulf, taking over from Captain James Goldrick. In a busy week HMAS Newcastle and Manoora sailed out of the area of operations heading home to Australia. A public ceremony was also held at Fleet Base West yesterday to farewell HMAS Arunta as she set sail to take over from Canberra. After the changeovers are complete, HMAS Melbourne and Arunta will be the remaining Australian ships in the Gulf. Increasingly, as we indicated last week, small vessels are being used rather than tankers as a way of trying to smuggle goods past the maritime interception force. The use of these dhows has kept our ships pretty busy, with HMAS Canberra in one night conducting three successive non-compliant boardings in quick order. The dhows were each found to be carrying oil and other prohibited goods, and were returned to their last port of call. The United States forces have been conducting similar interceptions, and provided helicopter surveillance support to the Australian Navy boarding parties, as they have in the past. Land operations. Last Wednesday night at about 10.15 Afghanistan time, two armed men approached the Australian Special Forces location at Bagram, and they were acting in a suspicious manner. An Australian reaction force assembled quickly to confront the intruders, who then began to withdraw. As the Australians advanced, one of the intruders raised a rifle and pointed it towards the reaction force. One of our Special Forces soldiers fired shots towards the armed intruder but did not strike him. There were no casualties sustained during the incident at all. The intruders ran away, and the coalition force protection group is currently investigating the incident. At this time there's no information available about the identity of the intruders or their intentions in approaching the location. Air operations. The Air Force air-to-air refuelling element based at Manas in Kyrgyzstan continued operations over Afghanistan, refuelling French Mirage and a United States FA-18 and F-14 aircraft. Since deploying in late March, Australian Boeing 707 tankers have flown over 100 refuelling sorties and have offloaded 2.7 million pounds of fuel in support of coalition operations. That concludes my briefing. Any major events will be briefed as necessary. I can take your questions now. QUESTION: Brigadier, the.... LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: Thanks for the promotion.

QUESTION: I mean, Lieutenant Colonel. The air base at Bagram is quite a secure area, it's patrolled by the US et cetera. How had these intruders managed to make their way in? LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: Well, I'm not sure that they got very far in. It is secure, but it's not necessarily impenetrable. And they were detected in pretty short order after being in an area where they shouldn't have been.

QUESTION: Has security been reviewed as a result of it? LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: Well, that'll be part of the investigation process to ensure that what's in place is adequate. But I guess you'd have to say that they were detected pretty quickly and they disappeared. So security wouldn't appear to be too much of a problem.

QUESTION: So is it just that they got on the base or did they get into a building or... LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: No, they didn't get into a building. They just got into the general area where they shouldn't have been. We're not really sure what their intentions were, but given that it was 10.15 at night and they were armed and it's pretty well known that that area is a coalition area, you'd have to imagine that they didn't just wander in there by mistake.

QUESTION: They haven't discharged their weapons at all? LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: No. No. They may have been - they may have been common thieves perhaps sneaking in to see what they could have picked up. It's very difficult to say. No other questions? Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Do you know what they looked like? LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: No, I don't. No, I don't. Not offhand.

QUESTION: Sorry. So the shots fired, they were just warning shots fired in the usual way? LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: Well, they were fired towards them. I'm not sure of the exact circumstances. And it was two or three shots, not a great number. And they turned tail and disappeared into the night.

QUESTION: Is there any thoughts about how - I know you can't talk about future operations - but are there any thoughts about - as we are looking at rotating through again - about the way our troops are going to be used in Afghanistan in the coming months? Has there been much talk about what sort of uses they might be put to?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID TYLER: Well, bearing in mind that it's - these are coalition issues, I'm sure there is. There's a lot of planning goes on. And if there's a need for a modification to their activities, that will be considered. But the operation, as you know, unfolds and modifications are made as necessary. So it's very difficult to predict what might happen in the future. But given the nature of the forces of our contribution and their expertise, I think it's fair to say they'd probably be used in a similar manner as they have in the past. Thank you very much.


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