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Army March 17, 2011
Afghan mission on track
By Cpl Zenith King
THE momentum in Afghanistan is
shifting in favour of Coalition forc-
es, according to CDF ACM Angus
ACM Houston said the ADF's
training and mentoring of the Afghan
National Army's (ANA) 4th Brigade was
delivering results, but progress remained
fragile and required consolidation.
The Commander of Australian forc-
es in the Middle East, Maj-Gen Angus
Campbell, said the ANA and Afghan
National Police (ANP) were active across
the populated areas of Uruzgan province.
"The bulk of our capabilities are in
Uruzgan province where the Mentoring
Task Force is training the ANA 4th
Brigade and Special Operations Task
Group is conducting disruption opera-
tions deeper in the province to undermine
the capability of the insurgency," Maj-
Gen Campbell said.
He said training the 4th Brigade was
the pathway to Afghan soldiers protect-
ing Afghan communities and the govern-
ment of Afghanistan taking responsibility
for the country's security.
"The 4th Brigade is where our atten-
tion is focused," he said.
"We now have over 3000 Afghan sol-
diers in the 4th Brigade operating across
the province, being mentored and part-
nered by Australian and Coalition forces.
"Most recently we have seen, at the
platoon and company level, Afghans
operating or demonstrating the emerging
capacity to operate independently.
"It's good news and although there
is work to be done, they are capable sol-
diers who, if well led, can match it with
the insurgency and they do."
Despite progress being made, Maj-
Gen Campbell said it was important to
remember that the ANA was a new army.
"Like every new institution, the ANA
doesn't yet have the depth of profession-
al background, organisational culture and
cohesion apparent in more established
armies," he said.
"The gains are fragile and need to be
consolidated and sustained.
"We still have work to do with 4th
Brigade and this is being done in the
midst of an active, complex insurgency."
Maj-Gen Campbell said 2011 would
be a difficult year, particularly moving
into the warmer months.
"We can expect, through the spring
and summer, a more intense effort by the
insurgency to try to regain control over
areas now characterised by a strong ANA
and ANP presence. The gains Afghan
and Coalition troops made in Uruzgan
throughout the course of last year need to
be sustained." he said.
"I see the ANA patrolling, conducting
re-supply tasks, participating in training,
learning how to call for fire support, and
protecting its own bases.
"The nature of war is such that we
still face many challenges, there will be
setbacks, but the ANA is developing.
"If you were to consider our circum-
stances a few years ago, operations in
and around Tarin Kot were quite contest-
ed. Now they are not. Operations deep
into valleys, which were once areas that
would have seen stiff insurgent resist-
ance, now do not. Today, the ANA and
the ANP are a routine presence through-
out the populated areas of Uruzgan.
"They are moving in the right direc-
tion and at the rate that we had expected.
"With good leadership and solid basic
soldier skills, I see great potential, and
that is what we have to attend to now."
Defence has about 2400 personnel
deployed in the MEAO. The deployment
includes about 1550 personnel assigned
to the International Security Assistance
Force in Afghanistan, with the balance
supporting this commitment, securing
the Australian embassy in Iraq, and con-
tributing to coalition maritime security
in the Gulf.
IT HAS been a difficult start to the
year for the ADF with the loss of two
Mentoring Task Force 2 (MTF 2) sol-
diers in Afghanistan.
Commander JTF 633 Maj-Gen
Angus Campbell said the deaths of
colleagues were hard felt, but would
not deter soldiers, sailors, airmen
and airwomen from getting the job
"There is no one who is unaffect-
ed by this kind of event -- the deaths
of Cpl Atkinson and Spr Larcombe.
But as a unit, the Mentoring Task
Force is a robust, strong team deter-
mined to pursue their mission.
"The mission is not made valu-
able because of those lives that are
lost," he said.
"It's intrinsically valuable
because we are building a secure
environment in which international
terrorism cannot find a safe haven.
The soldiers of MTF 2 know this,
believe it and are clearly committed
to fulfilling their part.
"But within that mission, where
losses are taken, they are sorely
felt. There is renewed determination
to get on with the job and do it well.
"That is what our soldiers are
doing and what their fallen mates
expect them to do."
Leading from the front: Commander JTF 633 Maj-Gen Angus Campbell speaks to soldiers stationed at
FOB Hadrian on his first visit to Afghanistan since taking command of Australian forces in the Middle East.
Photo by Sgt Neil Ruskin
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