Australian government policy – Afghanistan

Australian government policy – Afghanistan

Official statements of Australian government policy regarding Afghanistan from the 14 September 2001 invocation of ANZUS as applying to the 9.11 attacks on the United States onward.

See also


Speech by Minister for Defence [Senator John Faulkner] at Lowy Institute, transcript MIN100716/10, 16 July 2010

If we had any doubt of the relevance of Afghanistan to Australia’s own security, barely a year after September 11, Bali was bombed by Jemaah Islamiah terrorists trained and supported by al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  In Bali, 202 people were killed, including 88 Australians.  Since then, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Bali again, then two international hotels in Jakarta, have been bombed by terrorists, killing and wounding more Australians, and more innocent people. These attacks demonstrated that groups like al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah have a reach that impacts on our national interests.  Australia is not immune. And the Australian Government has a fundamental responsibility to act. Ladies and gentlemen, that is why we are in Afghanistan, with 45 partner nations, with a UN Mandate and on the invitation of the government of Afghanistan. We have clearly defined goals, which have been stated before and I will state them again now: to deny sanctuary to terrorists; to help stabilise Afghanistan; and to support our alliance with the United States.  We pursue these goals because we believe they will help protect Australia and Australians.

Ministerial statement on Afghanistan, Senator John Faulkner, Minister for Defence, Transcripts, Department of Defence, 2010-06-23

Our fundamental objective in Afghanistan is to combat a clear threat from international terrorism to both international security and our own national security.  Australia cannot afford, and Australians cannot afford, to let Afghanistan again become a safe haven and training ground for terrorist organisations. Organisations such as Al Qaeda, that receive Taliban support, have a global reach and are a global threat.  The Bali bombing on 12 October 2002 which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, was carried out by terrorists with direct links to Afghanistan.  These same individuals were involved in the 2004 attack against the Australian embassy in Indonesia, and the Jakarta hotel bombings last year that killed more Australians.  Left unchecked, the dangerous influence of such groups could again, as in the past, rapidly extend into our own region.  Progress is being made towards the goal of making sure Afghanistan is not a safe haven for terrorists.  It is steady, it is incremental, but it is progress nevertheless.

After the Netherlands starts drawing down after August 1, a new multinational International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) structure will take command in Uruzgan.  Under the new arrangements, the United States will lead a multi-national “Combined Team – Uruzgan” (CTU) under an ISAF flag.  Slovakia and Singapore will also continue to play valuable roles in this new multinational arrangement. Australia will provide a civilian leader for the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), increasing our role in stabilisation and rebuilding efforts. Working with our PRT leader will be around 30 other Australian civilians from the Department of Foreign Affairs, AusAID and the Australian Federal Police, contributing to governance and development, infrastructure reconstruction and police training.


Ministerial Statement on Afghanistan, Senator the Hon John Faulkner, MIN100318/10, Department of Defence, 18 March 2010

Mr President, today I present my third Ministerial Statement on Afghanistan.  As with the previous two statements, my intent is to be frank and comprehensive.  I remain committed to keeping the Australian people fully informed about progress in the campaign and our military contribution.

Recent Developments:

  1. Revised ISAF Strategy
  2. Operational Update
  3. Wounded in Action
  4. Leadership in Oruzgan Province
  5. International Engagement

Key Challenges:

  1. Civilian Casualties
  2. Detainee Management
  3. Reconciliation
  4. Pakistan

Barack Obama no-show gives Kevin Rudd leverage, Brad Norington, The Australian, 20 March 2010

Kevin Rudd said yesterday he was “pretty relaxed” after Mr Obama telephoned to inform him that the trip had been called off.

Australia appoints new senior position to NATO, Linda Mottram, ABC Radio, 19 March 2010

Australia has appointed a new senior military position to NATO and will send an adviser to the Afghan Defence minister, as the Rudd government defends it contribution to the war in Afghanistan.

Joint approach to stabilise and rebuild Afghanistan, Media Release, Department of Defence, 2 March 2010

Australia’s military, police and civilian agencies are taking a joint approach to stabilise and rebuild Afghanistan. Working together, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), AusAID, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF), are improving security, governance and development in Oruzgan Province.

“We’ve all got different interests and angles to pursue, but we are able to do it in a very concerted way and a co-operative and collaborative way,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Govt reaffirms Afghanistan commitment, WAToday, 6 February 2010

Senator Faulkner has met with members of the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the non-NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) during a defence ministers’ meeting in Istanbul. “Australia’s own commitment of around 1550 troops – focused on training the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan Province – aligns closely with this strategy,” Senator Faulkner said in a statement on Saturday.

Pressure on Dutch over Afghan role, Dan Oakes, The Age, 2 February 2010

Senator Faulkner will meet Dutch Defence Minister Eimert Van Middelkoop at a conference of NATO defence ministers on Thursday and Friday in Istanbul, Turkey. ”The decision on a replacement lead nation in Oruzgan is a matter for NATO,” a spokesman for Senator Faulkner said. ”As the Dutch draw-down is scheduled to start in August this year, leadership replacement is becoming more urgent and Australia is obviously seeking a resolution.

”Australia’s hope is that the Dutch retain a role in Oruzgan province, particularly if they retain the Provincial Reconstruction Team, which has been very effective. The Dutch are working through this at present, and Australia is working through all possible contingencies.” The Dutch lead combat forces in Oruzgan province, where about 1300 Australian troops share a base with the 1900 Dutch troops.

Senator Faulkner and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith both emphasised late last year that Australia would not take a lead role in Oruzgan if the Dutch left.

Health and wellbeing of ADF members a priority, The Hon. Greg Combet AM MP, Department of Defence, 20 January 2010

Greg Combet, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, said today that the Government was determined to support ADF members who have been wounded overseas. “For example, the Government is investing over $150 million over the next decade into the ADF Rehabilitation Program which helps wounded ADF members return to service or transition to the care they need. This includes enhancing the mental health workforce, improving mental health training and expansion of programs to support members who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. These funds are also targeted at improving the transition services provided to members.”
Mr Combet also dismissed claims by the Opposition that the Defence Health budget may be subject to cuts under the $20 billion Strategic Reform Program.


Prime Minister welcomes President Obama’s announcement of a new strategy for Afghanistan, PM’s Office (Australia), 2 December 2009

The President’s strategy is entirely consistent with the approach that Australia is taking in Afghanistan where we are working to train the Afghan security forces so that responsibility for security can be transferred to them. At the same time we will increase our Police training and civilian development assistance. Australia, like the United States, is committed to a transition to Afghan responsibility as soon as conditions allow.

Australia expects the Government of Afghanistan to play its part in doing what is necessary to improve security and the delivery of Government services to its people. The Australian Government announced in April that we would increase our military commitment to Afghanistan by around 40 per cent to around 1550 troops. This increase is now almost complete.

Rudd urged to heed plea for more Afghan troops, ABC News, 29 November 2009

Mr Brown told the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in Trinidad and Tobago that he wants Britain’s allies to deploy another 5,000 troops in addition to the American increase due this week. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has previously said the Federal Government does not intend to send additional troops to Afghanistan.

Dr Mike Kelly’s Keynote Address to the ANU Conference on Afghanistan, Australian National University, 22 October 2009,  PARLSEC91022/09, 2009-10-22

Since 2001, over 100 innocent Australians have been murdered at the hands of terrorists with some type of linkage to terrorist infrastructure that existed in Afghanistan.  In today’s interconnected world, an unstable corner of the world can have calamitous effects elsewhere.  This is why we must work to deny international terrorism succor and safe haven in Afghanistan.

Australia’s contribution to Afghanistan, ladies and gentlemen, is significant.  It is underpinned by a coordinated strategy that comprises diplomatic engagement, aid and reconstruction, policing assistance and, of course, our military involvement.  These elements contribute to Australia’s three key objectives which are: stabilisation; denying sanctuary to terrorists; and, training the Afghan National Security Forces in Oruzgan to hand over security responsibility within a reasonable timeframe.

Our troops in Oruzgan are focused primarily on building the capacity of the Afghan National Army to take over security responsibility for the province once international forces withdraw.  Our troops are also focused on reconstruction and development efforts and disrupting the Taliban led insurgency.

In Oruzgan today our military trainers are doing a first class job to train and mentor their Afghan counterparts and impart the skills and capabilities they need to make Oruzgan safer.  So far the results have been promising.  In 2009, we have successfully planned and conducted a number of combined operations that have reclaimed lost territory and have spread security throughout the villages.  Under Australia’s mentorship, Afghan Army elements have assumed responsibility for sectors within the Tarin Kowt area and are steadily growing in capacity.  By training the Afghan Army 4th Brigade in Oruzgan we are helping the wider counter-insurgency effort in Regional Command (South) to hold ground cleared from the Taliban.

At the same time, Australian army engineers are working to restore vital public facilities in Oruzgan.

Underpinning Australia’s military efforts is the superb work of our Special Operation Task Group (SOTG) which continues to target Taliban leaders and bomb makers throughout Oruzgan and its border areas.  Since 2007, they have captured or killed over 40 known insurgent leaders and bomb makers and seized countless caches of weapons and ammunition.

In terms of our own military commitment, the Australian Government believes that the current troop deployment of 1550 is appropriate to achieve the stabilisation and training goals we have set ourselves in Oruzgan.


Question and Answer Session, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston,  Media Roundtable, MSPA 90721/09,  21 July 2009

If we were to pull out all forces from Afghanistan at this stage – bear in mind, we are well on the way to basically training what will be a very effective army and a very effective police force, but we’re only about part of the way through that process, so if we were to all withdraw now, we would leave the country in a situation where I think there would be a civil war, if you like, and there is a very strong possibility that the Taliban would prevail. Now, if the Taliban were to prevail, I think we’re likely to go back to the circumstances that we had before 2001, where the Taliban hosted groups like al-Qaeda. There was a very extensive training infrastructure set up by al-Qaeda. They not only trained the terrorists who were part of al-Qaeda; they also trained terrorists from around the world. We know, for example, that some of the Bali bombers were trained in Afghanistan. So in a set of circumstances where we all pull out now, we’re going to have another set of circumstances in Afghanistan similar to what we had before 2001. I think the net effect of that will be the terrorists who are currently up in the High Country on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan will move back into the valleys, will conduct their training activities, and will do their planning for terrorist attacks around the world, and we’re likely to see major attacks effected in western countries; indeed, any country around the world where the terrorists decide they need to have an effect. And we’ve seen this before.

Faulkner wants limited Afghan role, Jonathan Pearlman, SMH, 15 June 2009

The new Defence Minister, John Faulkner, has told his Dutch counterpart that Australia will not be taking over Holland’s leadership role in southern Afghanistan. The move is likely to leave the US to fill the void, as it deploys more than 20,000 extra troops across southern Afghanistan.

Government announces increase in ADF forces in Afghanistan, Media Release, Department of Defence, 30 April 2009

The Government announced a decision to enhance its military and civilian commitment to Afghanistan and specifically its intent to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). These additional force elements will increase Australia’s troop contribution to Afghanistan to approximately 1550 Australian Defence Force personnel.

The increased contribution will be made up of:

  • two additional Operational Mentor and Liaison teams (OMLTs) of approximately 100 personnel
  • additional personnel for our current Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force efforts of approximately 70 personnel;
  • an increase to the number of HQ embedded staff by approximately 70 personnel.
  • an enhanced engineering element of approximately 40 personnel; and
  • an Election Support Force of approximately 120 personnel.
  • an additional 50 personnel consisting of logistics and transport specialists, including one additional C-130 aircraft and support crew, will get the new elements of the force established in Afghanistan.

Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister, Press Conference, Subject(s): Troop deployment in Afghanistan; COAG; Welfare; Tax Bonus Payments, Parliament House, Canberra, 29 April 2009.

In my National Security Statement to the Parliament last year, I indicated that Australia stood ready to play its part in regional and global security efforts that would strengthen the security of Australia, including security against terrorist attacks against Australians. In Afghanistan, Australia has two fundamental interests at stake. First, we need to deny sanctuary to terrorists who have threatened and killed Australian citizens. Second, we also have an enduring commitment to the United States under the ANZUS Treaty which was formally invoked at the time of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Afghanistan is a place that has served as the training ground for global terrorism for a decade. More than 100 Australians have been killed in terrorist attacks in recent years, many of which were perpetrated by terrorists who have trained in Afghanistan or Pakistan. We must not allow Afghanistan to once again become the unimpeded training ground and operating base for global terrorist activity. Nonetheless as US President Obama has stated recently, allied forces at present are not prevailing in Afghanistan. If allied forces fail in Afghanistan, there is a grave risk that the world will see a return to the intensity of terrorist activity emanating from that country prior to 2001, 2002. On the ground, our troops have been making a supreme effort and significant sacrifices to deny Oruzgan to terrorists.

President Obama has defined the new mission in Afghanistan as, and I quote him “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future”. Australia concurs with this mission. To reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on Australian citizens in the future, the Australian Government has decided to increase our Defence Force commitment in Afghanistan. A measured increase in Australian forces in Afghanistan will enhance the security of Australian citizens given that so many terrorists attacking Australians in the past have been trained in Afghanistan.

I think this is going to become progressively an unpopular war. I accept that for the reality that it is. I am also seized at the fact that we have a responsibility to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a training base again for terrorists to go out and kill more Australians. And that we have a responsibility to our American ally consistent with our Treaty obligations.

Closer military co-operation in Afghanistan under security agreement, Matthew Franklin, Australian, 2009-03-31

Australia and the United Kingdom will dramatically intensify co-operation on their military activities in Afghanistan under a new security agreement signed in London overnight. The new National Security Partnership will also lead to greater sharing of intelligence in the fight against terrorism as well as an increase in secondment of security and intelligence workers between the two countries.

Australia Offers More Help, Military Training To Pakistan, Matt Wade, Age, 2009-02-18

Australia will increase economic aid to Pakistan and quadruple the number of Pakistani army officers it trains as the nation battles terrorism and economic crisis. The number of Pakistani security and defence personnel offered training in Australia will be increased four-fold to more than 40. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the Government was committed to strengthening Pakistan’s ability to combat terrorism, narcotics, people-smuggling and money-laundering.

No Western-Style Democracy in Afghanistan: Angus Houston, Patrick Walters, Australian, 2009-02-26

The US and its allies have scaled back their strategic objectives in Afghanistan, retreating from the political vision of a Western-style democratic state, according to Australian defence chief Angus Houston.

Aim to Withdraw Diggers from Afghanistan by 2012, Leo Shanahan, Age, 2009-01-12

The commander of Australian forces in the Middle East, Major-General Michael Hindmarsh, has indicated that Operations Plan 2012 is aimed at handing over control of Oruzgan province – where the majority of Australian forces are serving – by 2012. However Lieutenant-General Mark Evans has said there is no timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and that this is a decision for the Australian Government.


Australian Policy in Afghanistan, Kevin Rudd, Address to the C.E.W Bean Foundation Dinner, 2008-10-15

Our commitment to Afghanistan is critical, because it is clearly in our national interest. First and foremost, we have seen the dangers of allowing Afghanistan to fall under the heel of the Taliban. That threat is yet to be eradicated. We should not be complacent. Beyond the immediate and direct threat of terrorism, we have a second national interest at stake. Working with our partners in Afghanistan, we show that we are a committed to doing our fair share to tackle international security challenges as an engaged middle power and as a real partner in our alliance with the United States. We are a regional power with both regional and global interests. It is right for us to play a role in meeting global security challenges.

Why Are Australian Troops in Afghanistan? Peter Mares with Joel Fitzgibbon, ABC, 2008-05-02 [Audio]

Following the death of Lance Corporal Jason Marks in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Australia should “steel itself for hight casualties” there. He says the year ahead could be “difficult, dangerous and bloody”. So why are Australian troops there; and how long will they stay?

No Extra Troops for Afghanistan, Minister Insists, Tom Allard, SMH, 2008-03-25

“The Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, says there is no argument “whatsoever” for Australia to increase its troop commitment in Afghanistan, even after it withdraws more than 500 soldiers from southern Iraq. Given the continuing unrest in Australia’s immediate region, the Rudd Government wants more troops based here for any crises that may flare closer to home.”


More Troops for Afghanistan, Prime Minister, John Howard, Media Release, 10 April 2007

“We have a clear national interest in helping to prevent Afghanistan again becoming a safehaven for terrorists. This decision is also based on the Government’s steadfast commitment to helping Afghanistan’s democratically elected government create a secure and stable environment in that country.

“Approximately 400 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are already contributing to a Reconstruction Task Force [RTF] in Oruzgan Province, working closely with Dutch forces to deliver reconstruction and community-based projects. This valuable work includes skills development and engineering projects and helps both to strengthen local capacity and to increase Afghan security.

“The Government believes that it is strongly in the interests of Afghanistan and the international community that these efforts succeed, and therefore that we reinforce our existing presence.

“Accordingly a Special Operations Task Group of about 300 personnel will shortly deploy to Oruzgan province for at least two years. It will operate in direct support of ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] elements in Oruzgan. Its role will be to enhance provincial security by disrupting Taliban extremists’ command and control and supply routes. These forces will operate under an Australian commander working within the ISAF framework.

“The Task Group’s activities will directly support the Australian Reconstruction Task Force, support the development of the Afghan national security forces and help reinforce the legitimacy of the Afghan Government with the local population.

“The existing RTF Protection Company Group (about 120 personnel) will be extended and will continue to provide close protection to RTF personnel until August 2008.

“An RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] air surveillance radar capability (about 75 personnel) will deploy to Kandahar Airfield, where it will assume control of a portion of Afghan operational air space from mid-2007.

“Our expanded force in Afghanistan will be supported by additional logistics and intelligence capabilities, the planned return of two Chinook helicopters to Afghanistan in 2008, and the deployment of an additional C-130J Hercules aircraft to the Middle East.

“The total ADF deployment to Afghanistan will reach approximately 950 by mid-2007 and will peak at approximately 1000 personnel in mid-2008.

“The advice received by the Government points to an elevated threat environment in Afghanistan. Our personnel are very well equipped and superbly trained and led. But we should all be fully conscious of, and prepared for, the possibility of casualties.”


Chinooks To Deploy To Afghanistan, Senator the Hon Robert Hill, Minister for Defence, media release, Min1/06, 10 Jan 2006

An Australian Defence Force element made up of two Chinook helicopters and about 110 personnel will soon be deployed to Afghanistan as part of Australia’s continuing commitment to the fight against terrorism, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today. Senator Hill said the helicopter capability will provide additional aero-medical evacuation and air mobility support to Australia’s Special Forces Task Group in conjunction with support from Coalition forces.

The Chinook team will form part of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan and will be in addition to 190 personnel currently deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Special Forces Task Group. The helicopters are currently undergoing a $25 million upgrade to ensure they are combat ready to be deployed in February. They are expected to be fully operational by late March and will remain in Afghanistan for the balance of the Special Forces’ deployment that will conclude in September.

Senator Hill said that in the event of an Australian Provincial Reconstruction Team being deployed, the aircraft deployment could be extended until late November. The Government has given in-principle agreement to send an Australian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) to Afghanistan this year.

Defence Minister Dr Brendan Nelson Farewells Army Aviation Troops Bound For Afghanistan, Min26/06, 13 Mar 2006

As foreshadowed in early January, 110 members of the 5th Aviation Regiment will be deployed to Afghanistan with two CH47 Chinook helicopters. The Chinook team will provide transport for troops, heavy lift of equipment and supplies, and medical evacuation. The Chinook team will form part of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan and is in addition to 200 personnel currently deployed to that country as the Special Forces Task Group (SFTG). They are expected to be fully operational by late March. Australia is also planning to deploy a 200-person reconstruction task force to Afghanistan later this year as part of a Netherlands-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Oruzgan Province. The Chinook deployment could be extended to November 2006 to support the initial stages of our PRT deployment.

Reconstruction Task Force in Afghanistan, Joint Press Conference with the Right Hon John Howard Prime Minister and the Defence Minister and the Hon Brendan Nelson MP, Parliament House, Canberra. 8 May 2006

Announcement of 240 ADF personnel to Afghanistan, as a Reconstruction Task Force, together with an extension of the deployment of two Chinook helicopters until April of 2007 to support the RTF and the Netherlands-led Provincial Reconstruction Team. Cost of around $270 million. “About half of the 240 being deployed are tradies and engineers who will be involved in building water reticulation programmes, roads, flood mitigation and a variety of infrastructure projects which are nominated by the Afghanis themselves. And about half of the force will be light infantry including ASLAV’s [Australian Light Armoured Vehicles] and Bushmasters. In other words, the Australian Reconstruction Task Force will be under Australian command. Their immediate protection will be provided by Australian infantry and cavalry and of course we’re working in partnership with the Dutch military forces.”

Statement to Parliament on the Australian Defence Force commitment to Afghanistan, Transcript of the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, Parliament House, Canberra, 9 August 2006

“The purpose of this Statement is to inform the House of the Government’s decision to send to Afghanistan an additional 150 troops of the ADF to reinforce the Reconstruction Task Force and to provide enhanced force protection. The Statement will also provide the Parliament with the Government’s latest assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan and the challenges facing the Karzai Government and the Coalition.

After careful consideration, the Government has decided to increase the size of the Reconstruction Task Force from 240 personnel to 270. This will enhance the security, robustness and flexibility of the Task Force.

The Government has also decided that the Reconstruction Task Force deployment will include an infantry company group of about 120 personnel to provide enhanced force protection. The additional deployments will bring the total Reconstruction Task Force strength to approx 400.

The Reconstruction Task Force will be made up of a number of elements – command, security and protection, engineering, administrative support and tactical intelligence services. The force will be equipped with a number of Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicles and a number of Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAVs). The Reconstruction Task Force will be drawn primarily from the 1st Brigade in Darwin and will be under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Mick Ryan.”


Australia and Afghanistan Sign Counter-Terrorism Memorandum of Understanding [CT MOU], DFAT Media Release, FA161 – 20 December 2005

“This CT MOU provides a framework for cooperation between Australian and Afghan authorities in areas such as law enforcement, finance, defence, intelligence, security and border controls. This MOU brings to twelve the number of CT MOUs we have signed with countries in the region including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Papua New Guinea, Brunei and Pakistan.

Troop deployment to Afghanistan; Telstra; Rau family, John Howard and Robert Hill, Press Conference, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 July 2005

Dispatch of a Special Forces Task Group with 150 personnel, comprising SAS troops, Commandos and supporting elements, to be in place by September. Separate Australian national command, although the SAS [Special Air Service] Task Group will be under the operational control of United States forces.


Expansion of Special Forces Counter Terrorist Capability and New Special Operations Command, Media release, Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard, 19 December 2002

The proposal will involve the raising of an additional commando company with its logistics, heavy weapons and communication support along with the raising of a Special Forces Combat Service Support Team. It will deliver an additional 310 highly trained combat personnel along with associated support personnel to supplement Australia’s existing Special Forces. The Government will also accelerate the purchase of the Additional Troop Lift Helicopters to enable a squadron of helicopters to be based in Sydney. This would provide a potent addition to Australia’s East Coast Special Forces capabilities. The new Special Operations Command will comprise a joint Headquarters, the Special Air Service Regiment, 4th Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment (Commando), Tactical Assault Groups (West) and (East), 1 Commando Regiment and the Incident Response Regiment.

Strategic Leadership for Australia – Policy Directions in a Complex World, John Howard, Address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney, 20 November 2002

Largely as a result of coalition military efforts, the tasks for Australian special forces in Afghanistan are now much reduced. The focus of military operations is shifting towards support for reconstruction and institution building. These efforts are crucial for the future of Afghanistan but do not require the same level of involvement by our highly trained Special Air Service Regiment [SASR]. Therefore the Government has decided on the advice of the Chief of Defence Force, General Cosgrove, that this, the third rotation to Afghanistan, will complete Australia’s special forces contribution. The SASR Task Group will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in late November, and most will return to Australia before Christmas. The RAAF deployments of tanker aircraft to Kyrgyzstan and fighter aircraft to Diego Garcia have also been successfully completed. We still have two frigates deployed with the Multinational Interception Force in the Persian Gulf, and two P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft will join coalition forces in the region from January 2003.


Transcript of the Prime Minister, The Hon John Howard MP, Press Conference, Melbourne, 17 October 2001, Subjects: deployment of Australian troops in fight against terrorism

I now wish to announce that the Government has decided to make available to the coalition by deploying overseas the following military forces: two P3 long range maritime aircraft to augment coalition maritime patrol and reconnaissance capabilities; Australian special forces detachment to go to selected locations as decided by the Chief of the Defence Force in conjunction with coalition force commanders to conduct combined operations; two B707 tanker aircraft to support air to air refuelling operations.

In addition we will continue to maintain the presence of one guided missile frigate to support the multinational interception force implementing UN Security council resolutions. HMAS Anzac will be replaced by HMAS Sydney. It is possible that after consultation the tasks assigned to HMAS Sydney may extend beyond the current interdiction duties. In addition to these forces I wish to announce the additional commitment of the following; a naval task group comprising one amphibious command ship with organic helicopter capabilities and a frigate as escort; four FA 18A aircraft to provide support for the air defence of coalition forces; and one frigate with embarked helicopter capability to assist in the coalition’s naval protection of shipping effort. The total number of deployed personnel will be about 1550 when all our forces have been committed.

The locations and possible deployment of these forces are being worked out between our respective military planners and the details will not be made available publicly for obvious operational reasons. It can however be said that it is not intended at this stage that the FA 18As will operate in Afghanistan. It is expected that the bulk of the forces will have gone overseas by the middle of November.

Application of ANZUS Treaty to terrorist attacks on the United States, Media Release John Howard, Prime Minister, 14 September 2001

“The terrorist attacks on the United States were discussed today at a special Cabinet meeting that I convened on my return from the United States. The Government has decided, in consultation with the United States, that Article IV of the ANZUS Treaty applies to the terrorist attacks on the United States. The decision is based on our belief that the attacks have been initiated and coordinated from outside the United States.”

Transcript of the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, Joint Press Conference with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister For Foreign Affairs, Parliament House, Subjects: ANZUS Treaty; Ansett, 14 September 2001.

“PRIME MINISTER: Well ladies and gentlemen the federal cabinet had a special meeting today primarily to consider the consequences of the awful events that have occurred in the United States in recent days. We came very quickly to the view that the provisions of the ANZUS Treaty should be invoked in relation to the attack upon the United States. Quite clearly these are circumstances to which Article IV of the ANZUS Treaty applies. We have discussed this matter with the United States and I would expect that this is a view with which the Administration will concur. The consequence of that is that we will consult the Americans regarding responses which might be deemed appropriate to what does amount to an attack upon the metropolitan territory of the United States in accordance with the provisions of the ANZUS Treaty.

“As I indicated in Washington and I repeat today, and it’s the unanimous view of the Cabinet, that Australia stands ready to cooperate within the limits of its capability concerning any response that the United States may regard as necessary in consultation with her allies. I do want to stress of course that although the greater loss of life, the overwhelmingly greater loss of life as a result of these attacks, has been American, there are still some 80 or 90 Australians unaccounted for and there are confirmed deaths of at least three Australians. And at no stage should any Australian regard this as something that is just confined to the United States. It is an attack upon the way of life we hold dear in common with the Americans. It does require the invocation of ANZUS. The provisions of ANZUS do in our view apply and the Cabinet came to that view and I have released a formal statement to that effect that will be available to you at the end of this news conference.

JOURNALIST: Mr Howard, what type of military support [inaudible] United States?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I don’t think that’s the sort of thing I should speculate about in advance. I’ve said that we would be willing to participate to the limit of our capability. The Americans haven’t at this stage made any requests for particular support but we will consider any requests that is made. The important thing is that by invoking ANZUS, it puts us in consultation, it represents a determination on our part to identify with the Americans. If ANZUS is meant to cover a situation, surely it covers this.”

JOURNALIST: Did you invoke ANZUS as a gesture of solidarity on your own initiative or was it sought by the Americans?

PRIME MINISTER: Its sort of happened simultaneously. It was something that we though made a lot of sense and I think the Americans about the same time came to the same conclusion.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: We’ve been talking with each other about this.

PRIME MINISTER: Yes and it’s just something that emerged, I mean it wasn’t sort of a question that you know, we’ll ring you and you’ll ring me kind of thing, I mean it was just something that emerged.

JOURNALIST: Mr Howard, what does invoking ANZUS..[inaudible] ANZUS as a living document that doesn’t really need to be invoked. What is the formalising thing.?

PRIME MINISTER: There’s no I mean there’s no particular. there’s no form that’s laid down but the fact that I have said after a cabinet discussion with the full authority of the Government, and I did communicate the Cabinet’s decision, I couldn’t get Mr Beazley because he was in the air, but we communicated with his office our decision and I gather from the response, but I mean I may have misunderstood, that he would support the action that was being taken by the Government but that’s a matter for him to speak on. We think it appropriate to make it clear. It has both a symbolic resonance but it also means something in substance and it does mean that if there is action taken then we will naturally consider any requests from the Americans for assistance.”

See also

Project coordinated by Richard Tanter
Additional research: Arabella Imhoff

Updated: 28 December 2010