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AUSTRALIAN OPERATIONAL UPDATE

08 Dec 11. Australian Defence Force’s Chief of Joint Operations Provides an Operational Update for 2011.

The Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power provided an update on Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations during 2011 at a media conference at Headquarters Joint Operations Command on 8 December 2011.

The conference was the first time journalists had been invited to the headquarters since it commenced operations.

During the conference Lieutenant General Power said Australia remained committed to supporting the Afghan National Security Forces to take the lead for security responsibility in Uruzgan Province.

“What we are doing now is setting up the 4th Brigade to be prepared to start its transition process when ISAF and the Government of Afghanistan make the determination that Uruzgan is ready to go,” Lieutenant General Power said.

“As part of transition we are going to change the shape of our force so, over time, our mentoring efforts will be reduced because the 4th Brigade will be at a stage where it can look after itself independently.”

Transition in Afghanistan is formally implemented by the Afghan Government and supported by ISAF and the international community.

The first tranche of provinces and districts to begin the transition process was announced early in 2011 and started in July this year. The second tranche of areas to being the transition process was announced at the end of November.

Lieutenant General Power said Uruzgan may be identified to begin transition during 2012. Once Uruzgan is formally declared ready for transition, it could take up to 18 months to complete.

“Our plan is to ensure the 4th Brigade is capable of planning, undertaking, and supporting independent operations within the next couple of years,” Lieutenant General Power said.

“It is conditions based, so when the conditions are right we’ll start going through the process.”

The military assessment is that the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan forces in Uruzgan will occur no later than 2014. This is in line with the agreement made by the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, and ISAF Heads of Government at the 2010 Lisbon Conference that all provinces in Afghanistan will transition by the end of 2014. The composition and disposition of the Australian forces will continue to change to meet the evolving security environment in Uruzgan, as it has done since Australia commenced operations in Uruzgan in 2005. Lieutenant General Power also said that Defence is assessing options for the ADF commitment in Afghanistan post-2014. “We’re not withdrawing; we’re transitioning and reinvesting some of the effort,” Lieutenant General Power said.

A copy of the transcript of the media round table and the Question and Answer session are available on the Defence website at http://news.defence.gov.au/category/allmr/

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