Mentoring Task Force

Mentoring Task Force

ADF Mentoring Task Force (RTF) in Oruzgan Province forms part of the United States-led Provincial Reconstruction Team.


In May 2006 the Australian government announced the deployment of the Australian 1st Reconstruction Task Force (RTF) as part of the Netherlands-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Oruzgan province. In April 2007 the government announced that the deployment of the existing RTF Protection Company Group will be extended and will continue to provide close protection to RTF personnel until August 2008, and would be supported by the Special Operations Task Group being redeployed to Oruzgan Province.

Subsequently, the RTF was re-named the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force 1 (MRTF1). Based in the provincial capital Tarin Kowt, the MRTF  worked originally from the Dutch base of Kamp Holland. The Second MRTF (MRTF-2) was deployed in 2009.

Another re-naming followed as the MRTF became Mentoring Task Force (MTF 1) which began deployment in 2010.

Task Force rotations

Reconstruction Task Force 1 (RTF 1) 9.2006 – 4.2007

Reconstruction Task Force 2 (RTF 2)  4.200710.2007

Reconstruction Task Force 3 (RTF 3) 10.2007– 4.2008

Reconstruction Task Force 4 (RTF 4)  4.2008  – 10.2009

Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force 1 (MRTF 1), 16.10.2008 – 5.2009

Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force 2 (MRTF 2), 5.2009 – 2.2010

Mentoring Task Force 1 (MTF 1), 14.2.2010

RTF/MRTF/MTF commanders

  • Lieutenant Colonel Harry Jarvie, 4/2007 –
  • Lieutenant Colonel Mick Ryan, 5/2006 – 4/2007
  • Lieutenant Colonel David Wainwright, ?/2007 – 4/2008
  • Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Yeaman, 4/2008 – 10/2008
  • Lieutenant Colonel Shane Gabriel, 10/2008 – ?/2009
  • Lieutenant Colonel Peter Connolly, 6/2009 – 12/2009
  • Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hocking, 12/2009 -2/2010
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jason Blain, 2/2010 – 6/2010
  • Lieutenant Colonel Mark Jennings, 6/2010 –

After more than eight months of intense operations in Afghanistan, the 730 members of MRTF-2 have officially transferred authority for security, mentoring and reconstruction to the Brisbane-based Mentoring Task Force (MTF-1) on 14 February 2010.

The 1st Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF 1), formed by the Darwin-based 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Battle Group, took over from the 4th Reconstruction Task Force (RTF 4) in Tarin Kowt on 16 October 2008.

The 2006-7 budget provided $218.2m for the Reconstruction Task Force across three financial years, including $91.5m in 2006-07.

When deployed in 2006, the Reconstruction Task Force had three components: an engineering and indigenous capacity building group, a protective force, and command, logistics and support elements.

Capacity-building component (carpenters, plumbers, electricians and plant operators) composed of elements of:

Protection Company Group of motorised infantry drawn from:

Command, logistics and support elements from:

Mentoring Task Force

First Mentoring Task Force (MTF-1), Force Elements Currently Deployed as part of JTF633, Australian Operations in Afghanistan Fact Sheet, Department of Defence  [accessed 14 August 2010]

Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Mark Jennings, the bulk of the MTF is comprised of elements from the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade (Brisbane), with support elements drawn from the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force. MTF-1 includes five Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs), and one Combat Team (CT). These teams are structured to best support the mission of ongoing assistance in the development of the 4th Brigade of the Afghan National Army. Australian soldiers that operate in the OMLTs live with, train and provide support to their Afghan National Army colleagues at patrol bases in Uruzgan Province. The Trade Training School, run by MTF-1, conducts fixed steel and concreting, plumbing and basic construction skills courses. There is also a mobile training school, offering courses to local nationals in specific areas.

RTF bases

Tarin Kowt - Yaklenga, Google Earth
Google Earth image of section of Oruzgan province from Tarin Kowt to Yaklenga.

[Click image for larger version.]

Government sources

Australian soldiers help two Afghan civilians injured by unexploded ordnance, Media Release MSPA 113/10, Department of Defence, 19 April 2010

Personnel with the First Mentoring Task Force (MTF-1) at a nearby patrol base heard the explosion and responded to the scene. They provided immediate medical assistance before the two injured Afghans were airlifted to the ISAF medical facility in Tarin Kowt where they received further treatment.

MTF building relationships, Media Release MSPA 93/10, Department of Defence, 1 April 2010

Community engagement was the order of the day for soldiers of the First Mentoring Task Force (MTF-1), when they recently patrolled in the Mirabad Valley area with their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Blain. The patrol through Sarregin village was designed to enhance the relationship between Australian troops and local farmers, by providing an opportunity to informally chat about local conditions.

“A key part of this patrol was to meet the local farmers and reassure them of our commitment to assisting Afghan National Security Forces, and the Afghan Government, in the provision of security and development in the area,” Lieutenant Colonel Blain said.

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

“Over the past couple of weeks, partnered 1st Mentoring Task Force and Afghan National Army patrols have been focusing on several key areas within Oruzgan Province as part of Operation PSARLAY ASKAR [SPRING SOLDIER in Pashtu],” Major General Cantwell said.

Operation PSARLAY ASKAR is an ISAF operation that combines 1st Mentoring Task Force, 4th Brigade Afghan National Army and other ISAF elements in a population-centric operation focused on key areas of the province.

Three IEDs disarmed by MTF-1 protecting Mirabad villages, Media Release MSPA 83/10, Department of Defence, 25 March 2010

A 1st Mentoring Task Force patrol recently uncovered three Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in a single day on a major civilian crossing point in the Mirabad Valley region of Oruzgan Province. The morning security patrol was alerted to the presence of explosives by a highly trained Explosive Detection Dog as it approached the major crossing point for a local village in the valley.

Australia ‘playing its part’ in Afghan surge, ABC News, 18 March 2010

He says the focus is now turning to the Taliban insurgency around Kandahar. “I expect Australian forces will again be involved in supporting General McChrystal’s strategy,” he said. “Australia will play its part, which could again see ADF elements and their ANA (Afghan National Army) partners supporting the fight.”

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.

Changing of guard for Australian soldiers – mission continues, Media Release, Department of Defence, 16 February 2010

Ongoing projects that will be managed by MTF-1 include the construction of girls’ high schools in Tarin Kowt and Malalai, and redevelopment of the Oruzgan Ministry of Energy and Water compound.

Afghanistan tour ends in success, Media Release, Department of Defence, 12 February 2010

Members of the second Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force have commenced their return home following an intensive eight month deployment to Afghanistan.

1000 troops farewelled in Brisbane, Department of Defence, 20 January 2010

Around 1000 troops about to deploy on operations to Afghanistan, the Middle East and East Timor were farewelled this afternoon at a parade in Brisbane’s Gallipoli Barracks. The deploying personnel are drawn from a range of units form across Australia but are predominantly from units of the South Queensland-based 7th Brigade. The troops are deploying as part of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Force, Timor Leste Task Group Seven, Force Support Unit Three and Force Communications Element Three.

Operation Slipper: RTF3, Department of Defence, 8 January 2008.

Reconstruction Task Force 3 (RTF3) consists of approximately 400 personnel providing command, security, engineering and operational support capabilities. It is equipped with Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMV), Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAVs) and armoured engineer plant equipment. RTF3 has a clearly defined role to work on reconstruction and improvement of provincial infrastructure (schools, hospitals, bridges, security points etc) and community based projects to assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) achieve a stable and secure future for its people. RTF3 also provides trade training to the local population and military engineering training to the Afghan National Army (ANA). This type of assistance is designed to benefit the people of Uruzgan Province well into the future and form the building blocks of a stable and prosperous community. RTF3 is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel David Wainwright from the Townsville-based 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment.

Diggers return home from Afghanistan, Image Galleries 2008, Operation Slipper, Department of Defence

Reconstruction Task Force 4 (RTF 4) soldiers have begun returning home to Australia after a six-month tour battling heat and dust, while working with the local community to improve vital infrastructure. During the tour, which began in April this year, RTF 4 pushed deep into the former Taliban stronghold of the Baluchi Valley, denying the area to the Taliban and building a major patrol base – Patrol Base Qudus. The RTF also deployed on an 800km, short notice operation to re-open the Highway 1 from Kandahar to the capital Kabul, countering a Taliban ambush on the way, and creating the conditions for a major ISAF operation to install a new turbine at the Kajaki Dam. The Engineers, with Infantry and Cavalry support, carried out $9.1 million worth of major and minor projects in the Tarin Kowt area, including Patrol Base Qudus and an all weather river crossing, school and bazaar in the Baluchi Pass.

Parliamentary sources

Topic: Afghanistan (Oruzgan) Governance, Answers to questions on notice from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Additional estimates 2006-2007; February 2007, Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

“Senator Evans asked:
In response to a Question on Notice (No.4969) the Government stated that there are no specific training targets for Afghan police and army and police in Oruzgan province.

(a)  What is the Government ís long term plan for Australia’s commitment to Oruzgan and what specific benchmarks is it using to gauge its success?

(b)  What governance measures is Australia undertaking in Oruzgan to build the capacity of the local Government and justice systems?


“(a)  The specific benchmarks Australia and the international community use to gauge the success its commitment in Afghanistan are set out in the Afghanistan Compact, agreed to at the London Conference of January 2006.

“(b)  Australia is primarily involved in Oruzgan through our Reconstruction Task Force (RTF). The RTF is contributing to capacity building at the local level in areas related to small-scale reconstruction activities in Oruzgan. To this end, a trades training school has been established by the RTF which is, for example, providing training in carpentry. In 2007, AusAID disbursed $1m through the World Bank Trust Fund to the National Solidarity Program, a local governance program which to date has supported communities to manage around 7,000 reconstruction development projects in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. More
broadly, Italy is leading the international community ís efforts to improve the capacity of the justice sector in Afghanistan.”

Analysis and commentary

Diggers Start New Role in Afghanistan, AAP, Age, 21 October 2008

“Australian troops are entering a new phase in operations in Afghanistan with trainers embedding within an Afghan National Army battalion. Under this transition, the Reconstruction Task Force will become the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF) with members serving in Afghanistan for an eight-month deployment, rather than the previous six months.”

More Diggers to Fight Taliban, Dennis Shanahan, Australian, 4 October 2007.

“Australia is preparing to send hundreds more troops to Afghanistan’s southern Oruzgan province. In addition to an increase in troops to replace the Dutch soldiers, a mortar team has just been dispatched, 110 crew and support staff for two Chinook helicopters are preparing to go and there are plans for increased RAAF surveillance over southern Afghanistan.”

“So far the Government has not received a formal request from The Netherlands and has not lifted its ceiling, but the Dutch have been considering withdrawing some of their 1300 troops in Afghanistan for some time. The Dutch coalition cabinet has had to move slowly, but a decision is expected soon.

“Defence Minister Brendan Nelson warned a Dutch parliamentary committee in Kabul two months ago that a withdrawal of key elements, such as Apache helicopters, without replacement by other NATO forces would mean Australia would withdraw its 370 engineers working on reconstruction near Tarin Kowt.”

Australian Forces Try New Tactics against Taliban, Tom Allard, SMH, 20 July 2007.

“The main mission of the special forces task group is to provide security for the Australian reconstruction team operating out of Tarin Kowt in Oruzgan province. Oruzgan is considered a Taliban stronghold, and at present, the Australians will not undertake projects beyond a 20-kilometre radius around Tarin Kowt. In time, it is hoped the area of operations can be extended considerably.”

Tour of duty, Brendan Nicholson, The Age, 12 February 2007

“The role of Australia’s Reconstruction Task Group in southern Afghanistan is less warlike than in Iraq. When it arrived late last year its commander, Mick Ryan, headed into the villages near his base at Tarin Kowt to ask local chiefs what they needed. Lieutenant-Colonel Ryan was told armies had passed that way before and promised a lot but they’d all left without delivering.

His response was his own “backyard blitz”, heavily armed convoys laden with building materials and army engineers to tackle jobs immediately. In four villages the locals said they wanted damaged or rundown mosques rebuilt and they told the soldiers they would keep them safe from the Taliban while did the work. The soldiers brought in new furniture and prayer mats and built water towers to provide worshippers with fresh water for cooking, drinking and washing.

Lt-Col Ryan said the goal of the operation was not to kill the enemy. ‘It’s designed to make the enemy irrelevant.'”

Six months into the reconstruction of Afghanistan, ABC Radio Sydney, 31 January 2007

Series of interviews between 702 ABC Sydney’s Richard Glover and Lieutenant-Colonel Mick Ryan, Commander of the 1st Reconstruction Task Force.

Video: Australian Army Reconstruction Task Force, KGW Afghanistan Blog, 3 January 2007

“Synopsis: A great deal of effort in Afghanistan goes to what the military terms “non-kinetic” operations. These involve rebuilding and assistance projects that work to establish a stronger infrastructure while fostering strong relationships with the residents in the local communities. In a joint operation of the Australian Army’s Reconstruction Task Force, a Missouri Army National Guard Embedded Training Team, and soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s Combat Engineering company, a mosque is improved by installing a wash station for those that come to pray.”

Video: Australian Army Reconstruction Task Force, KGW Afghanistan Blog, 3 January 2007

“Synopsis: Of all of the NATO/ ISAF partners, the Australians are one of only two countries that have proven capable and willing to work as equal partners with the United States; Canada being the second. It is interesting to note that all three of the countries are former “colonies” and now lead the efforts here in Afghanistan.”

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Arabella Imhoff
Ronald Li
Updated: 14 August 2010