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30 September 2009
Army September 3, 2009
By Capt Matt Moran
MRTF 2 members maintained their
high operational tempo during the
August 20 Afghan Election, providing
security support to the Afghan National
Security Forces (ANSF).
With a persistent coalition presence
in Oruzgan province, insurgents failed to
significantly disrupt election day activi-
ties in the province.
Planning for the election was the pri-
ority for the Townsville-based soldiers,
ensuring the Afghan army and police
could take the lead in security.
Soldiers with the OMLT supported
and guided their Afghan colleagues in
the months before the election and, in the
final days of the campaign, Army engi-
neers searched polling centres for IEDs.
The soldiers, along with the Afghan
troops, conducted security patrols to help
build local confidence that the Taliban
insurgents would not carry out attacks.
On the day, the MRTF positioned its
forces to dominate the terrain and acted
to deter insurgent activity.
MRTF 2 CO Lt-Col Peter Connolly
said the police concentrated on the poll-
ing centres themselves, while the Afghan
soldiers, with the help of their Australian
mentors, created "a bubble of security"
around the centres.
"Then some Australian Army ele-
ments provided reinforcement and sup-
port to that area," he said.
Soon after the booths opened at 7am,
insurgents attempted to disrupt the day
by firing rockets against a few centres in
There were no reports of casualties or
damage since most rockets were fired at
maximum distance or were off target.
Australian forces engaged one of the
firing points with 25mm canon fire after
a rocket landed near a patrol base.
Defence Minister John Faulkner was
pleased the election was conducted with
"Despite the reported 16 incidents
involving rocket, mortar and small-arms
fire in six areas across the province dur-
ing the day, only one polling centre had
to close for less than 30 minutes dur-
ing the day before resuming operations,"
Senator Faulkner said.
Soldiers supporting the ANSF in that
area did not believe the incident had a
significant impact on the election.
Rather, they said it appeared to gal-
vanise locals, who continued to vote at
MRTF 2 XO Maj Anthony Swinsburg
said the attacks were random and inaccu-
rate and had failed to prevent the ANSF
and coalition forces from providing secu-
rity to the election.
"The insurgents acted in a very
cowardly and indiscriminate manner;
they were targeting innocent civilians,
including women and children," he said.
Lt-Col Connolly said at least 2000
people voted at the 12 polling stations
Australian troops helped to secure.
"The people of the province were
courageous and gutsy by participating in
the election," he said.
Ten days earlier, Australian forces
killed another insurgent commander in
Chief of Joint Operations Lt-
Gen Mark Evans confirmed the death
of Mullah Abdul Karim, a tactical-
level commander he said had targetted
Australian and Afghan forces and terror-
ised locals before the election.
Security forces pave
way for Afghan vote
Heads up: The job of securing Afghan polling booths extends to first aid for Spr Glenn Addicoat, who
attends to the national police chief's son after he fell off his donkey.
Photo by Cpl Rachel Ingram
Minimum of fuss
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