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DEFENCE Minister Stephen Smith has announced he is
very confident that transition in Uruzgan will occur by the
end of this year.
Speaking on the eve of the fifth Australia-UK
Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN) in Perth on January
17, Mr Smith said challenges for Defence in 2013 would
be the transition arrangements in Afghanistan and what
role Defence played in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond.
"Our status in Uruzgan has now changed from men-
toring and training to advising and our first advisory task
force arrived in Tarin Kot in the course of November-
December," said Mr Smith.
Afghan National Security Force Kandaks in Uruzgan
have been operating independently since the end of last
year, when Australian Forces returned to Multinational
Base Tarin Kot from forward operating bases.
"The logistical exercise is now the challenge -- how
we continue that advisory role, how we look forward to
what we do in 2014 and then what presence, if any, we
have post-2014 after the formal end of the International
Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan," Mr
on track: Minister
Fighting in the open
Cpl Nick Wiseman
IT WAS and almost midnight when
from out of the shadows eight sol-
diers from MTF 3 slipped into a
corn field within a small village,
concealing themselves and waiting
Two of these soldiers would later
be recognised in the 2013 Australia
Day Honours, both receiving com-
mendations for acts of gallantry in
action on September 7, 2011, when
they attempted to apprehend an insur-
gent commander -- advancing with no
cover and neutralising the insurgent
under intense fire.
With dawn breaking in the dry
desert valley the soldiers checked to
ensure they were properly concealed
while they waited to see if the Taliban
fighters nearby would reveal them-
The corn field they had chosen was
very small, barely big enough to con-
ceal the section in this small village
on a hot and sunny day in a valley sur-
rounded by mountains.
Pte Kyle Wilson said they could
hear dogs barking and locals very
close, as if they were searching for
"A small boy even ran into the
corn field right next to us playing only
two feet from a mate, I still have no
idea how he didn't see us."
The group had received intelli-
gence reports that there were a group
of fighters in the nearby mountains,
but they were not moving down.
A decoy had been set up in an
attempt to flush out the insurgents and
the soldiers lay in wait to see if they
would show themselves.
Pte Wilson was on picket with his
good friend Pte Nathan Bendle when
they saw a man sitting with a child on
his lap and a set of binoculars observ-
ing the decoy that had been set up.
The two called in what they saw
and observed the suspected insurgent
communicating on a radio. With chil-
dren nearby, the decision was made to
wait and continue observing.
After what seemed forever, the sus-
pected insurgent got up and started
walking away, talking on his radio.
With the children out of danger, the
decision was made to apprehend him
and the two soldiers started towards
the man, commanding him to stop.
Once they got closer the man heard
and turned around to face the soldiers,
obviously surprised to see them.
Pte Bendle said he started getting
suspicious when the man ran across
the open area rather than away from
"Others must have hidden a cache
of weapons during the night, as he was
unarmed when we started after him,"
Pte Bendle said.
"Next thing he pops up from the
rocks firing at us."
Within moments additional weap-
on fire from the mountains in front
opened up on the two soldiers, who
were caught in the open almost 100m
away from the insurgent and any cover.
Having no option but to continue,
the pair advanced on the insurgent,
working together as a team to fire and
move towards the enemy.
Pte Wilson said with the adrenalin
pumping through his veins, he really
didn't think about the danger until he
saw rounds falling around his feet.
"I looked over at Nathan and he
was wired -- straight into it and our
training kicked in like muscle memo-
ry," he said.
"With rounds falling around us we
knew we needed to take out the insur-
gent but he was hidden well behind the
The two soldiers were almost 50m
away when the
insurgent must have
been hit by a rico-
cheting round and
stepped back from
"One of my
rounds then nicked
him and he started
to turn," Pte Wilson
"I had a clean shot and engaged
him, continuing to advance until we
found a small wall. [We were] still
receiving enemy fire."
Once the insurgents on the moun-
tain realised their friend was down,
the firing slowed and the rest of the
section, which had been pinned down
behind a wall, was able to make it to
the pair and help secure the area.
Once the area was secure, the sol-
diers searched the dead enemy, dis-
covering drugs, radios and weapons as
well as grenades and IED components
in the cache behind
said they could
hear chatter on
the radio, but their
translator was not
available to trans-
searched the com-
pound where we found a few more
items," he said.
"We were told later that intelli-
gence had confirmed that the insurgent
was in fact a section commander."
With the insurgent dead and the
firefight over, the body was removed
from the immediate area until people
came to claim it.
The section could clearly see they
were Taliban fighters but could not
positively identify any of them. Pte
Bendle said it was frustrating to be
right next to the enemy, even talking to
them, but not able to do anything.
With the week-long patrol not yet
complete, the section finished up in the
area and continued on their mission,
eventually making their way back to
Once back they finally had the time
to think about what had happened.
Pte Wilson said he felt tired after
the adrenalin rush and still couldn't
believe it had happened.
"It just came out of nowhere. One
minute we're hiding in the corn field
then next we're fighting for our lives
-- they caught us by surprise," he said.
"It didn't really hit until we got
back to the FOB that I realised Nathan
almost got blasted away."
Ptes Kyle Wilson and Nathan Bendle recognised for daring fight across open ground in Afghanistan
... I realised
Nathan almost got
-- Pte Kyle Wilson, 2RAR
MTF 3 during
the winter in
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