14 October 2011 defence.gov.au
Australian soldiers Private Matthew Skowron (front) and Corporal Todd Young walk through the streets of Shahidi-E-Hasas district centre during a security patrol near Patrol Base Tinsley, Uruzgan province, with Afghan National Army soldiers.
Australia’s largest unit in Afghanistan, Mentoring Task Force – Three (MTF-3), continues to build on the achievements of its predecessors.
Commanding Officer of MTF-3, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Smith, said that since the Australian Defence Force commenced its mentoring mission, the 4th Brigade of the Afghan National Army (ANA) has shown promising development.
“Over the duration of our program, the ANA’s 4th Brigade has demonstrated an increased ability to take control of local security,” Lieutenant Colonel Smith said.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Smith, there has been a marked improvement in the the ANA 4th Brigade's ability to plan, lead, execute and sustain operations.
“The ANA is conducting more operations of extended duration and distance to inhibit insurgent movement and influence,” he said.
MTF-3 assumed responsibility for mentoring operations in Uruzgan Province on June 25 and will be deployed to Afghanistan until around March 2012.
During the first four months of the unit’s mentoring operations, Australian and Afghan forces have made notable achievements of which they should be proud.
“MTF-3 and our Afghan partners have discovered more than 95 insurgent caches containing quantities of explosives, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) components and weapons since we began operations here four months ago,” Lieutenant Colonel Smith said.
“We have found and removed around 45 IEDs, been involved in 40 small arms fire engagements and detained a suspected insurgent who was allegedly responsible for the facilitation of IEDs.
“Most notably, we have supported numerous ANA-planned and led operations across the province, forcing insurgents to flee the region and abandon previously unchallenged supply routes.”
While the Task Force suffered the tragic loss of one of their comrades, Private Matthew Lambert, who was killed when an IED detonated on 22 August 2011, the MTF-3 soldiers have been encouraged by their successes and are keenly focused on the mission at hand as the so-called fighting season moves towards the harsh Afghan winter.
Lieutenant Colonel Smith said that recent successes demonstrated the ANA was well on the way to taking complete charge of their own security in Uruzgan by 2014.