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The ASLAV finishes its tour of duty in Afghanistan

Members of the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment Task Group Mobility Support Combat Team (l-r) Lieutenant Tom Day, Trooper Mitchell Haig, Trooper Michael McSorley, Major Patrick Davison, Corporal Glen Grosvenor, Trooper Kenny O'Brien and Trooper Peter Chivers hold their unit flag at the Multi National Base - Tarin Kot heavy weapons range. The smoke in the background was used for effect, representing the unit's colour.

The last two Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAVs) serving in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) completed their tour of duty with a range shoot at the Multi National Base - Tarin Kot heavy weapons range in November.

The ASLAVs - eight-wheel drive amphibious vehicles – are known for their reliability, low maintenance costs and ability to travel quickly over long distances.

The vehicles have been serviced and disassembled prior to their journey home.

Officer Commanding 3rd Royal Australian Regiment Task Group Mobility Support Combat Team (MSCT) Major Patrick Davison said it is the end of an era for Australian Cavalry combat operations with the vehicles departing Afghanistan.

“ASLAVs were used extensively for nine years in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Major Davison said.

“We used our vehicles in 58 combat missions between June and early November.”

The MSCT, comprising ASLAVs, Bushmasters, a platoon of infantry, a Joint Fires Observer, a section of combat engineers and a medic, performed four main roles in Afghanistan.

“We provided mentoring support to the 4th Combat Support Kandak, provided tactical mobility around the provinces for Forward Operating Base personnel, escorted logistic convoys and served in a Quick Reaction Force function,” Major Davison said.

“We were extremely busy from the day we arrived and operated widely across Uruzgan province clocking up more than 4000km on the roads during operations.”

The MSCT had a wide range of experienced soldiers within its ranks; some had been deployed to Afghanistan before in their ASLAV operating roles.

Trooper Michael McSorley is an ASLAV gunner with Mentoring Task Force 4 (MTF 4) and deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 with Mentoring Task Force 1 as an ASLAV driver.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in Afghanistan during this deployment since being here two years ago,” Trooper McSorley said.

“For me Afghanistan feels safer now compared to back then.

“Two years ago there were a lot more contacts and IED [improvised explosive device] incidents.  The work done since then paved the way for us feeling safe, particularly around Tarin Kot.”

Trooper McSorley said the ASLAV vehicles were highly effective performing their combat roles working in and outside Tarin Kot.

“The shock factor they brought to the party assisted the Australian Mentor led forces here,” he said.

“Being a part of one of the last two crews to operate them in the MEAO was special for me.

“We trained all year and by the time we got to deploy it was a good feeling.”

MTF 4 was the first deployment for ASLAV driver Trooper Peter Chivers,

“It was a busy deployment in the beginning and we had a lot of jobs on in a short period of time,” Trooper Chivers said.

“As a driver I also took care of the maintenance of the vehicle.

“The toughest part of my job was dropping the belly armour each month to do maintenance.”

Trooper Chivers said it was a privilege to be one of the last troopers to operate an ASLAV in the Middle East Area of Operations.

“It’s a bit of history and I’ll look back on it and know I was one of the last to drive an ASLAV in Afghanistan,” he said.