ADF – Command – Afghanistan

ADF – Command – Afghanistan

Command organisation for ADF activities in the Afghanistan theatre and Operation Slipper.


Command arrangements for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan are complex and opaque, and involve multiple regional and national elements, changing over time. As of August 2010, operations in Afghanistan involved three four command elements in the region:

These regional and national Australian command elements are subordinate to the wider Australian general command structure.

The ADF’s primary regional command is known variously as Australian National Headquarters – Middle East Area of Operations [MEAO], and as Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 (HQ JTF633). The ADF’s Middle East Area of Operations command shifted from Camp Victory in Baghdad to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates in late 2008. By late 2009, Australian air, land and sea operations in support of Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Iraq and Afghanistan operations were based from Al Minhad, following a rationalisation of Gulf bases.

The ADF’s Afghanistan command based in Kabul (previously at Bagram Air Base) is known as Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 – Afghanistan (HQ JTF 633-A) and as National Command Element – Afghanistan.

HQ JTF 633-A  liaises with coalition command in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters and, since the third stage of ISAF expansion of responsibility in July 2006, with the ISAF Regional Command South based in Kandahar.

Since the withdrawal of the Dutch deployment in Uruzgan province in August 2010, precise command arrangements for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan, including the  Australian Mentoring Task Force which the Dutch had previously lead, were unclear. In June ISAF and the Australian government announced that the ISAF-led multinational Combined Team-Uruzgan (CT-U) [aka Combined Taskforce Uruzgan], commanded by Colonel Jim Creighton (US Army) would take over command of all ISAF activities in Uruzgan province.

In the same month, the Netherlands and Australian governments announced that the Netherlands was handing over command for Deh Rawod, Chora and Deh Rafshan West to US and Australian forces. Due to the handover to Combined Taskforce Uruzgan, Base Command Tarin Kowt is now called Multinational Base Command Tarin Kowt.

In July 2010, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence announced that Dutch forces had handed over the command of Base Command (Baseco), the unit in charge of day-to-day operations at Multinational Base Tarin Kowt (MBTK), to Australian forces. They are now responsible for the security, accommodation, infrastructure and communications facilities.

Government sources


Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 (HQ JTF633), Force Elements Currently Deployed as part of JTF633, Australian Operations in Afghanistan Fact Sheet, Department of Defence  [retrieved 14 August 2010]

Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 Provides the in-theatre command and control of all ADF elements deployed throughout the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) on operations SLIPPER and KRUGER. JTF633 is commanded by Major General John Cantwell, AO. HQ JTF 633 (Australian National Headquarters and supporting elements) is located in the United Arab Emirates and provides enabling support and assistance to Australia’s military presence in the Middle East. The UAE’s support in hosting our headquarters contributes to the international campaign against terrorism, as well as countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and providing maritime security in the region.

Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 – Afghanistan (HQ JTF 633-A) – Based in the  Afghan capital Kabul, HQ JTF 633-A provides specific command and control of  all ADF elements deployed within the territorial borders of Afghanistan on  behalf of the Commander Joint Task Force 633 (CJTF 633), as well as coordinating  JTF 633’s interface with the ISAF Headquarters.

?ISAF-led multinational effort in Uruzgan, Afghanistan, Image Gallery 2010, Department of Defence, 2 August 2010

The ISAF-led multinational Combined Team-Uruzgan took command of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in Uruzgan Province on Sunday 1 August, after four years of Dutch command. Combined Team-Uruzgan Commander, Colonel Jim Creighton (US Army), led a ceremony at the Multi-National Base Tarin Kot attended by the Acting Governor for Uruzgan, Khodai Rahim Kahn and Commander of Australia’s Joint Task Force, Major General John Cantwell. During his address to around 250 ISAF and Afghan National Army personnel, Colonel Creighton (US Army), praised the Dutch and Australian efforts under Task Force Uruzgan to improve the living and security conditions for the local people. Colonel Creighton said that the ceremony ushered in an increased presence of American forces in the region, who will build upon the stable foundation the Dutch created over the past four years. “I am looking forward to building on the exceptional work that the Dutch and Australians have undertaken so far in Uruzgan.” he said. Combined Team-Uruzgan includes around 1800 US, Australian, Singaporean, Slovakian, New Zealand, and French personnel.

?Transfer of Authority from Task Force Uruzgan to Combined Team Uruzgan, ADFMedia, YouTube August 02, 2010

Patrol Base Transfer of Authority in Chora Valley, Afghanistan, Image Gallery 2010, Department of Defence, 16 July 2010

Having worked closely with Australian forces during the past four years, the Netherlands’ officially passed command of a patrol base in the Chora Valley, Uruzgan Province, to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Combined Team-Uruzgan (CT-U) last week. The Dutch Government decided in December 2007 that its forces would be progressively withdrawn from Afghanistan throughout 2010, and this handover of command in Chora signals the beginning of transition to a new phase of coalition operations in the region. Under the new multinational construct ‘Combined Team-Uruzgan’, Australia will work closely with US allies, Afghan forces and other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners, including Singapore and Slovakia, to continue to build security and development in Uruzgan Province.

Command Arrangements – Combined Team in Uruzgan, Senator the Hon John Faulkner, Minister for Defence and Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Joint press conference, Department of Defence, 23 June 2010

John Faulkner: We have had no choice but to plan on the basis of the Dutch withdrawal from Uruzgan. The new arrangements for Uruzgan Province have been agreed and endorsed by the United States and NATO. The new structure will involve a United States led multinational effort under an ISAF flag known as Combined Team Uruzgan. Details of the United States force lay down in Uruzgan is of course a matter for the United States to announce. I think we all need to respect that, but I can categorically say that the role previously performed by our Dutch partners in Uruzgan will be more than adequately met by the new Combined Team Uruzgan arrangements. Combined Team Uruzgan will have a multinational headquarters. Our Slovakian and Singaporean partners will continue their involvement in Uruzgan Province and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them both for their strong commitment also to the new arrangement. Australia will take on a new responsibility by providing a civilian head of the Uruzgan Provincial Reconstruction Team, which will be a very important part of the new Combined Team Uruzgan and my colleague Stephen Smith will speak to you about that matter forthwith.

Enhanced Command and Control Arrangements in the Middle East, Brendan Nelson, Minister of Defence, Media Release 57/07, 18 Jun 2007

The Australian Government today announced that it has approved enhanced Command and Control arrangements for Australian forces deployed to the Middle East. In recognition of the recent decision to deploy more forces to Afghanistan, the Government has approved the appointment of a two-star National Commander for Australian operations in the Middle East. I would like to congratulate Major General Mark Evans on his appointment to this significant position which will better represent Australian national interests and further strengthen our strategic relationships throughout the region. The National Commander will be ably supported in this critical task through two Deputy Commanders who will continue to focus on our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Deputy Commander of Australian forces in Iraq is Brigadier Gerard Fogarty and Brigadier Jim Simpson will be the Deputy Commander of Australian forces in Afghanistan.  These two positions will enable a wider, more balanced and flexible approach to command and control for ADF operations throughout the Middle East.


Australians take over responsibility for Tarin Kowt base, Ministry of Defence, 28 July 2010,

On 24 July, the command of Base Command (Baseco), the unit in charge of day-to-day operations at Multinational Base Tarin Kowt (MBTK), was handed over to the Australians. They are now responsible for the security, accommodation, infrastructure and communications facilities, in other words for the welfare of all military personnel stationed in Uruzgan. A day earlier, the command of the Police Mentoring Team (PMT) in Tarin Kowt was handed over to the Americans. The PMTs are responsible for building up and training the Afghan police force. The Tarin Kowt region is the last to have command of its PMT handed over. Earlier handovers took place in Chora and Deh Rawod. Command of all forward posts and bases except Kamp Holland has now been transferred. Responsibility for the areas of Deh Rawod, Chora and Deh Rafshan West is also already in American and Australian hands. Due to the handover to Combined Taskforce Uruzgan, Base Command Tarin Kowt is now called Multinational Base Command Tarin Kowt.

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 16 August 2010