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Australia's PM Howard Visits Afghanistan

Visit To Afghanistan

Following my visit to Iraq, I have made a brief stopover in Afghanistan to visit Australian Defence Force personnel deployed on Operation Slipper.

Our forces in Afghanistan are a key part of our contribution to the international coalition fighting terrorism. In 2001, they were instrumental in helping remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.

Our aim now is to assist Coalition forces eliminate residual Taliban and Al Qaeda resistance to Afghanistan’s democratically elected government and help rebuild the country.

The role of the current Special Forces Task Group (SFTG) is to conduct special missions in support of security and reconstruction efforts.

Our personnel are highly regarded by their Coalition colleagues. Australia can be very proud of their achievements fighting anti-coalition militia.

Approximately 200 highly trained troops work closely with Coalition forces and the Afghan National Army, operating in difficult conditions, against a fanatical adversary.

Their efforts are vital for Afghanistan’s stability and are at the forefront of our contribution to military operations against terrorism.

The SFTG comprises elements from the Special Air Service Regiment, Commandos, Incident Response Regiment, logistic personnel and the lead elements of a 110 person aviation element of two Chinook helicopters which is due to arrive in Afghanistan soon and be operational by late March.

Later this year, Australia will deploy a reconstruction task force as part of the Netherlands-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

Final details about the timing and composition of the PRT deployment are yet to be determined.

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