ADF – enemy engagements

ADF – enemy engagements

Government sources

One Australian soldier and an Afghan interpreter wounded in an Improvised Explosive Device attack, Media Release MSPA 87/10, Department of Defence, 29 March 2010

Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General John Cantwell, said the combined Afghan and Australian patrols were involved in 10 separate incidents over the weekend, eight involving IEDs and two small-arms fire attacks.

First Mentoring Task Force proves mission readiness, Media Release, Department of Defence, MSPA 54/10, 3 March 2010

The soldiers, on a routine security patrol in the Mirabad Valley Region, north east of Tarin Kowt, were attacked with small arms by a small number of insurgents on the 21st February 2010. Supported by Afghan soldiers from a nearby forward operating base, the Australian patrol immediately reacted to the attack by engaging the insurgent position with small arms fire before clearing and securing the immediate area.

Afghan and Australian Forces Offer No Let-Up against Taliban Insurgents, Media Release, Department of Defence, MSPA 190/09,15 June 2009

The Commanding Officer of the first Australian Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF–1), Lieutenant Colonel Shane Gabriel, has praised the growing capability of Afghan soldiers following the successful completion of a combined Afghan-Australian cordon-and-search operation. Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel said the Afghan and Australian forces recently completed ‘Operation Zamarai Lor’ (Tiger Scythe) in the Miribad region of Oruzgan Province, to the east of the MRTF’s main base at Tarin Kowt. Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel praised soldiers from the 2nd Kandak of the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) 4th Brigade, who are being mentored and supported by Australia’s Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT).

Australian troops in major battles with Taliban insurgents, Media Release, Department of Defence, 25 April 2009

Australian Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) and the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF) have been involved in major combat operations against Taliban insurgents during operations which began in March. SOTG operations supported coalition force operations in Helmand province which has taken Taliban insurgents by surprise and left their operations in north Kajaki in disarray.

Special Operations Task Group Soldiers Wounded In Afghanistan, Media Release, Department of Defence, 3 September 2008

“Nine Australian Special Forces soldiers have been wounded in action during an overnight battle with Taliban extremists in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. The soldiers were part of an ongoing Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) operation to disrupt Taliban extremist command and control networks at the time of the incident. Several Taliban extremists were killed in the contact.”

Diggers Open Vital Highway in Afghanistan, Media Release, Department of Defence, 29 August 2008

‘Soldiers from RTF 4’s Combat Team Dagger deployed over 400 kilometres from their base in Tarin Kowt to rebuild two bridges previously damaged by the Taliban and reopen the main highway between Kabul and Kandahar.

“Combat Team Dagger fought through a Taliban attack, heat and sandstorms, operating in a highly dangerous area to complete this operation.” Minister Fitzgibbon said.

“It was a significant task just to get to there, as the attack by the Taliban on our armoured column to the site shows. Thankfully the team came through the firefight unscathed and completed the operation with distinction.”Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Yeaman said.’


Aussies blow up own vehicle, Nick Butterly, The West Australian, 17 March 2010

Senior Defence Department officials have revealed that Diggers had a Bushmaster armoured vehicle destroyed after it was immobilised by a Taliban improvised explosive device. The commander of Australian forces in Afghanistan, Maj-Gen. John Cantwell, said a joint force of Australian troops and Afghan security forces was attacked by insurgents as it patrolled a remote area of Oruzgan province on Monday.

The IED did significant damage to the Bushmaster the Australians were in, but none aboard was injured. Afghan security forces on foot nearby had minor injuries. As the troops fanned out to put a security cordon around the damaged vehicle, the patrol began taking rocket and machinegun fire from Taliban fighters.

Assessing the situation, senior officers decided it was best to destroy the Bushmaster rather than risk lives and equipment trying to retrieve it. It was stripped of all sensitive equipment and the troops pulled back to a safe distance to call in an airstrike on the vehicle.

A coalition fighter plane dropped two bombs on the Bushmaster, blowing it to pieces. It is believed to be only the second time in the Afghan war that Australian forces have been forced to destroy a vehicle, rather than retrieving and repairing it.

Maj-Gen. Cantwell said the difficult terrain and the risk of lives being lost meant it was not possible to save the Bushmaster. “The longer they stayed on the ground, the more vulnerable they were going to be to insurgent fire,” he said.

Aussie special forces kill senior Taliban field commander, Mark Dodd, Australian, 2 April 2009

Australian special forces in Afghanistan operating outside their normal operations zone in southern Oruzgan have killed a senior Taliban field commander responsible for suicide and roadside bomb attacks on coalition troops. Mullah Abdul Bari, a former Taliban governor of Helmand province, was killed in an operation involving Australian special forces and their Afghan National Army allies.

Heat of Afghanistan battle bonds brothers in arms, Tom Hyland, Age, 14 June 2009

A veil of official secrecy shrouding combat involving Australian SAS troops in Afghanistan has been lifted in Holland, revealing details of harrowing fighting that is still withheld by the Australian military. The Australian Defence Force keeps a tight grip on all information about special forces troops, especially the SAS. But an official report on a Dutch soldier’s bravery award paints a detailed picture of the intense battles they have fought.

SAS ‘assassinate’ Taliban leader Mullah Noorullah, Mark Dodd, Australian, 7 May 2009

Australian special forces have taken part in a targeted assassination of a senior Taliban leader, an operation army commanders claim will disrupt the insurgents’ campaign in southern Oruzgan. Mullah Noorullah was killed in a combined operation involving coalition troops and Australian special forces.

Australische commando levensgevaarlijk gewond, Uruzgan Weblog, 3 September 2008

Short update: Australian Special Forces run into ambush. 9 men wounded, of whom 1 in critical condition and 5 heavily wounded. All the transmitted to the field hospital on camp Netherlands. Official communication concerns Australians. Nothing has been said concerning the location, but according to the Taliban it was in the Eastern district Khas Uruzgan.

Nine elite troops ambushed in southern Afghanistan, Brendan Nicholson, Age, 3 September 2008

“Australia has suffered one of its worst battlefield incidents since the Vietnam War. The Australians, all elite special forces soldiers, were driving through rugged mountain country in southern Afghanistan on Monday evening when they were surprised by a barrage of rockets and machine-gun fire.

The attack occurred in fading light as the Australians were returning to their base at Tarin Kowt after a mission to hunt Taliban leaders and bomb-making factories in the heat and dust of Oruzgan province.

ADF spokesman Brigadier Brian Dawson said the Australians were in vehicles when they were ambushed. He said that as the northern winter approached, the Taliban were stepping up their activities before severe weather and snow limited their operations.”

Diggers Repel Taliban Attacks While Building Bridges in Record Time, Patrick Walters, Australian, 29 August 2008

“Australian combat engineers fended off Taliban attacks as part of an unprecedented mission in Afghanistan to help repair the Kabul-to-Kandahar highway. The special Australian contingent, from the Reconstruction Task Force, was attacked by Taliban fighters using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms in their initial move out of their home base.”

Taliban Attacks Rise in Region where Diggers Based, Tom Hyland, Age, 10 August 2008

“The security data paints a picture at odds with the Federal Government’s recent optimistic predictions of progress in Afghanistan. Data compiled by Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan (VSSA) says Taliban attacks in Oruzgan province jumped from 41 during the first seven months of 2007, to 91 in the same period this year. The number has risen since then, showing 100 incidents from January 1 to August 4 this year.”

Diggers Launch Strike on Taliban in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan Province, Mark Dodd, Australian, 20 May 2008

“Australian and coalition forces have launched a major strike against Taliban insurgents in the violence-prone Baluchi Pass of Afghanistan’s southern Oruzgan province. A Defence Department spokesman said the operation’s purpose was to evict Taliban extremists, restore vital infrastructure and establish a safe environment for Afghan people living there.”

Australian Forces Push into Taliban Territory, Press Release, Department of Defence, 19 May 2008

‘Australian soldiers have begun a major push into the Taliban heartland of Oruzgan Province in Southern Afghanistan with the intent of pushing out the Taliban, restoring vital infrastructure and creating a safe environment for the Afghan people. The Australian push is being spearheaded by engineers, infantry, cavalry and support troops of the 4th Reconstruction Task Force (RTF 4) who are drawn mainly from the Sydney and Brisbane areas. RTF 4 Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Yeaman, said the Task Force has moved into the Baluchi region, North of its base at Tarin Kowt as part of a joint Dutch and Coalition operation.

“This is an area of huge tactical and strategic significance for the Taliban extremists,” Lieutenant Colonel Yeaman said.   “This is the Taliban’s back yard and we are right on their main supply route between Helmand Province and their supply bases to the North. The aim of this series of operations is to clear out the Taliban, and then build the physical infrastructure – patrol bases particularly – which will allow the Afghan National Army (ANA) and police, with support from the International Security Assistance Force, to dominate these areas.”’

Apology after Raid on Enemy of Taliban, Ash Sweeting and Jonathan Pearlman, SMH, 7 April 2008

“Australian forces have apologised to an anti-Taliban Afghan tribal leader after mistakenly raiding his house and seizing his weapons in an incident that threatened to undo efforts to unite tribal leaders against the Taliban. The incident comes as the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, called for renewed efforts to win the “hearts and minds” of Afghans and prevent Taliban support.”

Resurgent Taliban challenge diggers, Tom Hyland, The Age, 30 September 2007.

“The Netherlands — Australia’s partner in Afghanistan — is rushing reinforcements to the south of the country, where a Taliban surge has confronted Australian reconstruction troops with their toughest fighting yet.

“At least 100 Taliban have been killed in Oruzgan in the past two weeks, according to US military figures. The count is certain to be higher. The Australian Defence Force does not release enemy casualty figures, but it says the Taliban suffered ‘heavy casualties’ when up to 80 attacked a smaller Australian force last week.”

“Last week Australian reconstruction troops fought a four-hour battle with Taliban fighters. The Defence Force said the Taliban fired from strong positions and were reinforced by more guerillas during the fighting, forcing the Australians to call in airstrikes from Dutch aircraft. It was the heaviest fighting so far by the 385 soldiers in the Australian Reconstruction Taskforce, and their sixth sustained attack in two months. On the same day US and Afghan Government troops fought a similar battle with more than 80 Taliban in Oruzgan, killing more than 65 insurgents in an area where they had killed about 40 the week before, according to a US military spokesman. Again the guerillas fought from entrenched positions and were reinforced during a six-hour battle. Again the coalition forces called in air support. Despite similarities in the engagements, the Defence Force insists they were separate battles, fought 45 kilometres apart.”

Where Were the Aussies? David Axe, War is Boring, 24 June 2007

“Dutch and Afghan forces reportedly did most of the fighting in last week’s battle for Tarin Kowt in southern Afghanistan. So where were the Aussies? That’s a question I’ve been asked a dozen times by desperate Australian reporters, soldiers and members of the public.”

Killing Children on a Day of Prayer, Tom Hyland, The Age, 24 June 2007

“The Australian soldiers were lucky, missing death by chance. The Dutch army private, just 20, a boy really, had no such luck. He died slumped in an armoured vehicle as desperate comrades frantically pumped his chest. And the Afghan children, well they’ve never really had any luck. On this sunny morning, 11 were blown apart as they circled in play.

“The only Australian Defence Force report of what happened was issued last Saturday: it said a Dutch soldier and six civilians were killed in a suicide car-bomb attack on a Dutch convoy the previous day in Tarin Kowt, where 700 Australian soldiers and a larger Dutch force are based.”

Axeghanistan Day Eight: Dutch Battle Taliban, David Axe, Washington Times, 19 June 2007

“A car packed with explosives exploded beside a Dutch armored personnel carrier outside a girl’s school in this shambling town of 100,000 [Tarin Kowt]. The attack was the opening salvo in a major Taliban counter-attack against Dutch, Australian and Afghan forces that have been steadily extending their territory in rugged Uruzgan province north of Kandahar.”

Major battles


Battle of Chora, Australia in Afghanistan

27 September 2007 RTF Contact Video, Department of Defence [WMV format].

“Australian soldiers serving with the Reconstruction Task Force (RTF) in Afghanistan have successfully repelled a prolonged attack by a group of up to 80 Taliban extremists. This was the sixth sustained attack on RTF soldiers since July this year and involved their heaviest fighting yet.”

Diggers Defeat Taliban Attack In Heavy Fighting, Media Release CPA 338/07, Department of Defence, 27 September 2007.

“In their heaviest fighting to date, Australian soldiers with the Reconstruction Task Force (RTF) in Afghanistan have successfully repelled a prolonged attack by approximately 50 Taliban extremists. The failed attack was one of a number of decisive defeats suffered by the Taliban in Oruzgan Province and the neighbouring Helmand Province during the past week. The attack came as the RTF was conducting a reconnaissance mission for the construction of Afghan National Police outposts about eight kilometres north of Tarin Kowt.

“Taliban extremists fired automatic weapons and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) at the Australian patrol from the cover of an orchard. The patrol immediately returned fire and then engaged in an intense confrontation with the Taliban during the next four hours. Infantry Platoon Commander Lieutenant Glenn Neilson said the Taliban had established strong firing positions and were reinforced with more fighters as the attack progressed. ‘We were engaged with some very accurate fire from a range of about 300m and there were a lot of bullets coming our way. Making use of all the weapons at our disposal, including the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) and Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV), we held our ground.’”

“The soldiers were also able to employ Dutch F16 fighter aircraft and Apache helicopters.  Afghan National Army troops that were trained by Australian Forces in Oruzgan participated in the patrol and performed admirably. The Taliban are known to have suffered heavy casualties during the incident, but the ADF will not discuss specific details.”

The Battle of Chora on C-SPAN, 6 August 2007,

Two-part David Axe video report, available on YouTube. Unusual detail on Tarin Kowt and its surrounding region, Kamp Holland, Provincial Reconstruction Team Uruzgan, and the June 2007 battle at Chora north of Tarin Kowt between Dutch and Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents, leading to the deaths of several dozen Taliban and civilians, and two Dutch soldiers.  


Other media

RTF Afghanistan – Contact With Taliban, Youtube, 1 July 2009

Australian Army combat in Afghanistan – Interview with Lt Col David Wainwright, Youtube, 27 February 2008

Australian soldiers defeat Taliban – footage and interviews, Department of Defence Video Release, Youtube, 28 October 2007

Diggers defeat Taliban attack in heavy fighting, Youtube, 27 September 2007

Australian SASR in Afghanistan, Greg Jenett (ABC Clip), Youtube, 3 April 2007


See also


Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Page maintained by: Arabella Imhoff
Ronald Li
Updated: 30 March 2010