40th Afghan KIA named

40 th KIA casualty of the war in Afghanistan named as CORPORAL Cameron Stewart Baird from the 2nd Commando Regiment.

The Commando was one of the army’s highly experienced special forces patrol commanders with a fierce tradition of leading from the front, was the 40th Australian soldier killed in the 11-year conflict.

“His mates describe him as one of the most iconic figures in the regiment,” Defence Force chief David Hurley said.

“In combat, and as a team commander, he was the man to watch, and never happier than when the situation demanded decisive action and courage.”

The veteran soldier from the Sydney-based 2nd Commando Regiment was on his fifth tour of Afghanistan, after service in Iraq and East Timor.

Rest in Peace.


7RAR coming home

New Task Group takes the lead in Afghanistan

Members from 2nd Cavalry Regiment Task Group.

The 7th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment Task Group (7 RAR Task Group) handed over the role of advising the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) 4th Brigade to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Task Group (2 CAV Task Group) during a Transfer of Authority Ceremony in Tarin Kot on 15 June 2013.

The lowering of the 7 RAR Task Group flag and the raising of the 2 CAV Task Group flag at Multi National Base–Tarin Kot represented the formal change of command authority for one of Australia’s largest force contributions to Afghanistan.

Commanding Officer 7 RAR Task Group Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Wells said the soldiers under his command performed to an exceptional level during their deployment from November 2012 to June 2013.

“The 7 RAR Task Group represented the ADF as a professional and adaptive force at a crucial stage of the transition to Afghan security responsibility,” Lieutenant Colonel Wells said.

Through the Afghan winter and into the traditional summer fighting season, 7 RAR Task Group advised the 4th Brigade in its conduct of more than 13 independent brigade-level operations to maintain relentless pressure on the insurgency.

Afghan forces conducted clearances of Langar, Shahid-e-Hasas, Char Chineh, Dizak, Khaz Uruzgan, Charmestan, Chora and Kajran to protect and secure the local population.

Lieutenant Colonel Wells said the success of the 4th Brigade, 205 Corps was not so much measured in the deeds done by Australian soldiers, but by what the 4th Brigade had achieved during the period of advising.

“The 4th Brigade, 205 Corps has achieved significant milestones during the deployment of the 7 RAR Task Group,” Lieutenant Colonel Wells said.

“Successful advising ensured the Afghan National Army enhanced their skills in the key enablers of modern warfare, including counter IED, aero-medical evacuation, offensive support, leadership, literacy and logistics.”

The Transition of Authority Ceremony was attended by Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General Michael Crane, ANA 4th Brigade Commander Colonel Kandahari and acting Commander Combined Team Uruzgan Colonel Douglas Cardinale.

2 CAV Task Group will shift its mission focus gradually reducing advisory support as the ANA moves to independence in their Brigade Headquarters, the Combat Service Support Kandak (Battalion) and the Garrison Support Unit.

Commanding Officer 2 CAV Task Group Lieutenant Colonel Michael Bye said the change in the Task Group’s mission focus reflected the enormous progress made by the ANA’s 4th Brigade, 205 Corps.

“The success of the 4th Brigade is a source of pride, not only in the 205 Corps, but to the people of Uruzgan,” Lieutenant Colonel Bye said.

“The 2 CAV Task Group’s mission reflects the high level of competency within the brigade, with advisory support being given to the headquarters and in the areas of combat service support and garrison support.”

The deployment of the 2 CAV Task Group marks the culmination of an extraordinary military and whole-of-government journey in Uruzgan Province, which has seen great progress from the deployment of the Special Operations Task Group in 2005 and the Reconstruction Task Force in 2006.

“The soldiers of the 2 CAV Task Group are extremely proud to be part of the operation in Afghanistan,” Lieutenant Colonel Bye said.

“We recognise the efforts and sacrifices of our comrades who have gone before us, and will display the same tenacity, focus and courage required to conclude the long mission in Uruzgan.”

Like the 7 RAR Task Group, the 2 CAV Task Group will continue to provide force protection support to Australian and International Security Assistance Force elements in Uruzgan and support the process of security transition in the province which will see governance and security firmly in the hands of the Afghan people.

Imagery is available from the Defence Image Gallery.

7RAR soldiers helping out locals


Soldiers from the 7th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment Task Group and AusAID advisers inspecting a new boys school in Uruzgan province were on a special mission, April 27 2013. As well as inspecting the new AusAID funded Salambaba school in the Mirabad valley, the team aimed to make a dream come true for nine year-old Brisbane boy Mac Millar. Mac Millar’s goal was to donate soccer balls to kids in Afghanistan so they could share his love of football. With the support of Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Australian Defence Force logisticians he despatched 100 soccer balls for diggers to hand out in Uruzgan province.

Care For Soldiers

Individuals and businesses coming together to recognise the sacrifice our soldiers make for our country. Care For Soldiers is not a forum for political debate, it is a place to show your support for our troops.

From the SA Branch;

This is being run by the wife of one of the 7RAR diggers presently in Afghanistan.

I think it is a great idea, and SA is going to be behind it wholeheartedly.


Check out their Facebook page and help

6RAR Cpl awarded VC

Corporal Daniel Keighran from 6RAR wins Victoria Cross for Afghanistan courage

Cpl Keighran, VC picture with the Governor General today in Canberra

AUSTRALIA’S newest Victoria Cross recipient is now a part-time soldier working in the mines of Western Australia.

6RAR Corporal Daniel Keighran received the nation’s highest military honour today for repeatedly drawing enemy fire during a 2010 battle in which one of his mates was killed.

He said his company faced at least 100 insurgents during the battle at Derapet, in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan.

“Training took over,” Corporal Keighran said. “There was a situation and that’s the way I reacted.”

The VC citation says Corporal Keighran’s actions were instrumental in ensuring Australian and Afghan troops involved were able to withdraw without further casualties.

“Corporal Keighran, with complete disregard for his own safety, broke cover on multiple occasions to draw intense and accurate enemy fire to identify enemy locations and direct return fire from Australian and Afghan fire support elements.

“During one of these occasions, when his patrol sustained a casualty, he again, on his own initiative and in an act of exceptional courage moved from his position of cover to deliberately draw fire away from the team who were treating the casualty.

“Corporal Keighran remained exposed and under heavy fire in order to direct suppressing fire and then assist in the clearance of the landing zone to enable evacuation of the casualty.

“These deliberate acts of exceptional courage to repeatedly expose himself to accurate and intense enemy fire, thereby placing himself in grave danger, ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions.”

Well done that man.


Digger KIA named

THE Digger killed by a makeshift bomb in Oruzgan on Sunday has been named as 24-year-old Corporal Scott James Smith, who was on his second tour of Afghanistan.

Defence today released the details of Australia’s 39th casualty during the conflict, with Corporal Smith described as “an exceptional soldier who possessed all the qualities and charisma of a great junior leader”.


Another digger killed

AN Australian soldier has been killed in Afghanistan.

The Australian Defence Force has confirmed that an Australian solder was involved in an incident in Southern Afghanistan.

While not confirmed by Australian authorities, coalition forces have announced the unidentified allied soldier was killed by an improvised bomb.

Defence has notified the soldier’s next of kin.

The soldier’s death brings to 39 the number of Diggers killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

UPDATE:  More details

7RAR bound for Afghanistan

450 Adelaide-based soldiers from the 7th Battalion RAR Task Group prepare to leave for Afghanistan at the Edinburgh RAAF Base. Picture: Chris Mangan Source: Sunday Mail (SA)

THE largest group of Australian soldiers have been farewelled at Edinburgh RAAF base, bound for what is described as a place of sand, snow and violence

Four hundred and fifty troops, from the 7th Battalion, are bound for Afghanistan to work as advisors to the Afghan National Army 4th Bridgade.

Friends, familiy and loved ones of the Adelaide-based soldiers held back tears as a brass band played Waltzing Matilda at the farewell ceremony, held this morning at the RAAF Base at Edinburgh, just north of Adelaide.

Corporal Daniel Trevena, a father of two, was among the soldiers embarking on the eight-month journey.

“I feel proud to be going back over – it’s my second trip – but what we’re going to be doing over there has changed a lot,” he said.

He said leaving his family was the hardest part of the deployment.



Falling Leaves

In June 2010, Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) was nearing the end of his fifth tour in Afghanistan when his troop left Camp Russell at the multinational base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province to strike Taliban insurgents. Roberts-Smith was second-in-command of an SAS patrol, up to five of which make up an SAS troop. In turn, the troop was part of the 60-strong SAS quadron that, together with a commando company of about 160 men, formed the Special Operations Task Group at Camp Russell. Both the SAS and commandos mentor a provincial response company of Afghan police that operates with them.

In January 2011, Australians learned that Roberts-Smith’s actions on that June day had made him the second Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross for gallantry in Afghanistan. Trooper (now Corporal) Mark Donaldson, also of the SAS, had been awarded the first, two years earlier. Like Donaldson, Roberts-Smith has generously given his Victoria Cross on permanent loan to the Australian War Memorial, where it is displayed in the Hall of Valour. In this interview, he speaks at length publicly for the first time about the circumstances that led to the award.





Fallen soldiers home

Five Australian soldiers killed in two separate incidents in Afghanistan last week were returned home to their families and comrades today, at moving ceremonies at RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney and RAAF Base Amberley in Brisbane.


At RAAF Base Richmond, Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald and Private Nathanael Galagher were received by their families and members of the Australian Army, led by Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, AC, DSC and Special Operations Commander, Major General ‘Gus’ Gilmore, DSC, AM.


An honour guard and bearer party formed by soldiers from Lance Corporal McDonald and Private Galagher’s unit, 2nd Commando Regiment, received and carried the caskets of their fallen mates from a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft to their loved ones.


Thirty-year-old Lance Corporal McDonald and 23-year-old Private Galagher were killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand Province in the early hours of 30 August 2012, while serving with the Special Operations Task Group.


At RAAF Base Amberley, three soldiers killed in an insider attack were received by their families and members of the Australian Army, led by Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO and Commander 7th Brigade, Brigadier Greg Bilton, CSC, ADC.


Lance Corporal Stjepan ‘Rick’ Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate were received by an honour guard and bearer party formed by members of their respective units—2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment—before their caskets were carried from a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft to their loved ones.


Lance Corporal Milosevic (40), Sapper Martin (21) and Private Poate (23) were serving with the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) Task Group on operations in Afghanistan when they were killed in an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan Province on the evening of 29 August 2012.


Speaking at RAAF Base Richmond, General Hurley expressed his condolences to the families of the five fallen soldiers.


“Today we receive home five Australian soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” he said.


“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Defence community are with their families, friends and colleagues on this very difficult day.


“We are indebted to these men for their courage and selflessness in choosing a life of service and for the pride and honour with which they served.”


Speaking at RAAF Base Amberley, Lieutenant General David Morrison also expressed his condolences to the families.


“Today, Army mourns the loss of five fine soldiers, each of whom was outstanding in their own right,” he said.


“These men’s commitment to their chosen career as soldiers and to our mission in Afghanistan was unwavering, as was their loyalty to their mates and their love for their own families and their Army family.


“Their loss has been deeply felt across the Army and I offer my heartfelt condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.”


Media note:

The following arrangements have been made for media to access stills and video, when available, after the ceremonies:


Photos from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Richmond will be published on the Defence Image Gallery  at http://images.defence.gov.au/12130830


There will be a pool feed of video from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Richmond.


Photos from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley will be available on the Defence Image Gallery at http://images.defence.gov.au/12130831.


Video from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley will be fed from Defence digital Media to the Parliament House Press Gallery.

Media contact:

Defence Media Operations – 02 6127 1999