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Australian Afghan Veterans Welcomed Home

Afghan Veterans Welcomed Home – Soldiers’ Gallantry Honoured

The Governor-General and the Prime Minister have officially welcomed home members of the Afghanistan Special Forces Task Group in a ceremony at Perth’s Campbell Barracks today.

His Excellency Major General Michael Jefferey and Mr Howard joined the Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston and Chief of Army Lieutenant General Peter Leahy in welcoming Western Australia-based members of the Afghanistan Special Forces Task Group (SFTG).

The Western Australia-based soldiers, predominantly from the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), formed part of the 190-strong Special Forces Task Group (SFTG) operating in Southern Afghanistan since late last year to promote security and stability.

During the ceremony the Governor-General and Prime Minister praised the professionalism and courage of the SFTG members who operated in an extremely demanding environment against a resourceful, capable and tenacious adversary.

Their mission was to assist Coalition forces destroy Taliban and Al Qaeda resistance to Afghanistan’s democratically elected government. The SFTG has been engaged in dangerous work that is vital to Afghanistan’s stability and a major contribution to fighting terrorism.

The dangers faced by the SFTG were highlighted by the presentation of two gallantry awards to SFTG members by the Governor General. A Sergeant and a Warrant Officer Class Two were both awarded the Medal for Gallantry for their outstanding actions, leadership and bravery during a long and difficult engagements with anti-coalition militia elements early in the SFTG’s tour.

The Medal for Gallantry is the third highest award for gallantry in the Australian Honours and Awards system.

The SFTG is comprised of soldiers from SASR, 4th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (Commando), Incident Response Regiment, 1 Commando Regiment and the Special Operations Combat Services Support Company. Specialist staff from the wider Australian Defence Force filled other roles within the Task Group. The SFTG conducted a rotation earlier this year and its operations in Afghanistan will conclude in September 2006.

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